Toddler Friendly Sightseeing: The Biltmore
Thinking about visiting the Biltmore with a toddler? I give the Biltmore a big thumbs up for being a toddler friendly sightseeing destination that is fun for mom and dad too. As a family we have visited the Biltmore three times but I have to say this last visit was definitely our best. Nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore is in a perfect location. There are world-class hikes nearby, multiple filming locations (who doesn’t want to reenact a scene from Dirty Dancing?!), and Asheville all within a stone’s throw. And for us all of this is only two hours away. That means a visit to the Biltmore is literally only a nap time away, talk about a huge plus!
Most people know the Biltmore as the largest house in the United States or the US’s only castle. But it is so much more than that. There are the beautiful grounds right in front of the house as well as nearby gardens. But there is also horseback riding, water sports, segway tours, a winery, a petting zoo next to a playground, the list goes on! Making the Biltmore a really fun stop for all ages.
In our three trips to the Biltmore we have learned a few things. With a young toddler the inside of the house is pretty much out. There is nothing she can touch and a lot of people. If you have a child young enough to be content in a stroller or carrier then the house might work for you. Just be aware you will want to leave the main floor at some point so you will have to work around that with a stroller. At two our toddler is not in the right state of mind for the house. We tried the first room and she basically weaved in and out of people to skip the line, which necessitated me trying to weave in and out of people too. Spoiler alert! People waiting patiently do not tolerate a 30 year old woman crawling through their legs like they do a toddler…
If the house is your kind of thing (and everyone really should go in at least once) then splitting up is your best bet.
Since I have seen the house before and my husband only cares about a mansion if we get to live in it we stick to the outside. For this last trip I brought a picnic lunch for us. We ate on the lawn in front of the house before heading to the other gardens. If you are using a stroller the gardens are still very accessible. We brought our nicer stroller and easily maneuvered through all of the gardens. You can get basically everywhere without stairs if you are flexible with how you get there. Ours is light enough we carried it up and down a few flights. It’s not as if our toddler was actually in it most of the time anyways. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I bring it places…
We spent most of our time at a little lookout of the mountains where the ground is gravel. I’ve mentioned in a few of my past posts (like this one on Bow Lake) how much our toddler loves pebbles. Turns out gravel is just as good. So we parked it for the better part of an hour and let her play with the rocks before heading onto some of the more popular gardens. In my experience you find most people at the Walled and Rose Gardens.
At this point we had been at the Biltmore for about two hours. It was perfect timing for a nap so we popped our toddler in the stroller, leaned her back, and headed out to the Azalea Garden and Bass Pond & Boat House. The crowds definitely thinned out in these areas and you get a bit more shade. We did the full loop in about an hour of leisurely strolling and we finished right when she woke up.
We finished our trip to the Biltmore with a stop at the petting zoo. Within the petting zoo there are goats and chickens. In some of the adjacent fields there are donkeys, cows, and sheep. We easily spent another hour here watching the workers feed the baby goats and chasing chickens around. The petting zoo is close to the Antler Hill Village and Winery if anyone needs an adult break from the kiddos.
Typically we end our day with strolling around the historic town of Biltmore which is outside of the actual estate. We skipped it this trip but there are some great shops (chains like Lululemon but also some boutique kid’s clothiers). There is also a fantastic bakery called The Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe with cookies that are not to be missed! Seriously I almost drove there for a cookie on the way back home. The only thing that stopped me was an over tired grumpy toddler.
Tips for the perfect visit to the Biltmore with a toddler:
When to visit: We have been to the Biltmore in October, May, and July. I would strongly caution against a visit in July with young children. It is hot and the gardens and lawn offer little shade. And it is so crowded. We loved visiting in the fall and spring. You get different views of the mountains and gardens. Since North Carolina has such mild weather they both make for excellent visits. I would also recommend a weekday visit if you can swing it to avoid some of the crowds.
Cost: The Biltmore does not offer partial admissions tickets so even if you don’t plan on going inside the house you will pay for it. Unfortunately, a visit to the Biltmore is not cheap. Rates are: $65/adult, with children under the age of 9 free. You can get cheaper tickets if it isn’t peak time. Even if your child is under 9 make sure you get a ticket. During peak times they will have assigned times to enter the home to make sure it is under max capacity and your child still counts as a person (duh!).
What to bring: We brought an Ergo baby carrier when our daughter was younger and now bring her stroller. You are allowed both in the house which is really nice. In general, the walkways are nicely paved and easily traversed with a stroller. The trails to the Azalea Garden and Boat House have some spots which are just wood chips. However, my husband had no difficulty with the stroller on those surfaces. We like having the stroller so we can build in nap time at some point.
Make sure you bring plenty of water, sunscreen and sun hats. Most of the gardens/lawn aren’t shaded and you will likely spend a big chunk of time there. We also brought lunch for out on the lawn.
How long to stay: Our little family spent about four hours there. My in-laws did the house in about an hour, then spent two walking the gardens and another one at the petting zoo. We just skipped the house and spent an hour by the fountain looking at tadpoles and eating lunch.
Overall toddler friendly rating: 7/10. I love the Biltmore so this score may be a bit misleading but I have to be realistic the price is pretty steep considering how difficult it might be to get your child to actually want to go into the Biltmore house. Our daughter is too young for things like canoeing or horseback riding. Activities which would make the Biltmore a ton of fun. With that said, we have been three times and are planning on going back for their annual Easter egg hunt next year. I mean come on that lawn is made for an Easter egg hunt!!
The Biltmore is a really awesome destination with so much to do for kids of all ages.
Have you visited the Biltmore with a toddler? Let me know what your favorite parts were and how your trip went!