Family Vacation Ideas: Biltmore Estate

For many who visit the Asheville, NC area, seeing Biltmore Estate is the number one item on their itinerary. A trip to Biltmore Estate provides a glimpse of the lifestyle of one of the wealthiest families in the United States, the Vanderbilts, at the turn of the 20th Century. Most who visit the Estate want to tour the house, gardens and winery. This tour is highly recommended to those who have never been. When visitors ask me what else there is to do at Biltmore Estate, I always have ideas. In spring, summer and fall, I like to suggest outdoor activities at Biltmore Estate for families, small groups and individuals who would like to see another side of this vast, 8,000 acre estate.

To make a reservation for an outdoor activity, you must purchase a Day Pass to Biltmore Estate or hold a Twelve-Month Pass. There are additional fees for outdoor activities, and the weather must be good to engage in most of them.

Segway Tour
For those seeking a more comprehensive view of Biltmore Estate without walking up and down hills, the Segway Tour is ideal. Participants stand upright on this motorized, two wheel device that is easy to operate and fun! A guided, 3.5 hour tour of the Lagoon area also includes a training lesson on Segways. The basic Segway tour is conducted on paved roads. For those who are even more adventurous - select an off-road Segway Tour. Segway tours are available from April through December, weather permitting.

Land Rover Driving Lesson
Four-wheel driving enthusiasts - get ready for this exciting tour of Biltmore Estate. There are two choices for the Land Rover tour. For those who want to learn how to drive off road and test their skills, Land Rover driving lessons are available. Book a one or two hour lesson and a tour of Land Rover trails. For visitors who prefer to take the passenger seat on the Land Rover tour, opt for the Land Rover Ride-Along Expedition and sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Take a Float Trip Down the French Broad River
Floating on a raft or kayak down the French Broad River is a pleasant and relaxing way to see Biltmore Estate's extensive farms, fields, forests and riverfront land. Float trips are available from April through October and are dependent upon weather conditions. Choose a guided raft trip or a self-guided kayaking trip.

Fly Fishing
Imagine spending a half day or full day fly fishing at Biltmore Estate. If you are new to the sport of fly fishing, select a 2-hour or half day fly fishing lesson first. It is not necessary to have a NC fishing license for either of these options. Participants will learn casting, landing the fish, knots, and other essential skills from experienced guides. Intermediate and advanced level fly fisherman are encouraged to participate in a full day Guided Fly Fishing Adventure. Participants can take a float trip down the French Broad River and fish for Smallmouth Bass or wade into a private trout stream in their quest for the biggest fish. A NC fishing license is required for the full day Guided Fly Fishing Adventures. Participants must be 7 years of age or older.

Sporting Clay Lesson
Many of Biltmore Estate's earliest guests visited the Estate to go on hunting expeditions in the forested, wilderness areas. Today's visitors have the opportunity to shoot moving clay targets instead of live targets - with a Beretta shotgun. Guests may shoot sporting clays under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Or, advanced marksman may opt for the Trapper Program, gaining access to a 5-stand sporting clays course that will challenge any rifleman. All equipment is provided. Participants must be 12 years or older and all guests under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Biking at Biltmore Estate
Ride some of Biltmore's extensive bike trails with your own bike - or rent one at the Bike Barn. Woodland trails offer challenges while the paved path along the French Broad River is an easier grade, for a more leisurely pace. A bike trail pass costs $5 in addition to a Biltmore Estate day pass. Bikers must register at the Bike Barn and will receive orientation and trail maps at this location. Hourly, full day and half day bike rentals are available at the Bike Barn, too. Or, take a guided bike tour.

Horseback Riding or Carriage Rides
Experienced or novice horse enthusiasts will be thrilled to take a trail ride through Biltmore Estate's fields and woodlands. Opt for a guided one hour trail ride, or select a private trail ride. Some will prefer a horse driven carriage ride at a more leisurely pace. Hop up onto a 12-person carriage driven by a guide and two horses, and treat yourself to exclusive views of Biltmore Estate's grounds. Or, if you prefer, book a private carriage ride.

When engaging in outdoor activities at Biltmore Estate, always dress appropriately for varied weather conditions, bring plenty of water, sunscreen and bug spray.

Incorporate any of these outdoor activities into a visit of Biltmore Estate for an active, fun trip that includes sights you may never see on the traditional tour of the house, gardens, farm and winery. Bring your family, a friend or loved one to share the adventure and a camera to record images of your visit to this special place.