21 Cost-Saving Tips For Visiting The Biltmore Estate On A Budget (2023)

Panorama of the backside of the Biltmore Estate looking out towards the French Broad River and Pisgah Mountains

Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC? Are you ready to make that a reality but concerned about the cost? Read on to learn my 21 tips for saving money when you visit the iconic Biltmore Estate.

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What is the Biltmore Estate?

The Biltmore Estate is a sprawling 8,000-acre property in Asheville, NC, home to the Biltmore House of George Vanderbilt and his family. In addition to housing the iconic mansion, the property also boasts gorgeous views of the Pisgah mountain range; beautifully landscaped gardens; flower conservatories in bloom year-round; a barn and farmyard; walking, biking, and horse riding trails; picturesque coastline along the French Broad River; a winery; rotating museum exhibits; restaurants and other eats; a playground; several accommodation options; and a spa! If you’ve already looked up the admission price, then you know it’s not cheap, but it does allow access to many of the areas of the estate mentioned above.

View of the Pisgah Mountains and the French Broad River from the balcony of the Biltmore House
View of the Pisgah Mountains and the French Broad River from the balcony of the Biltmore House

Why visit the Biltmore Estate?

In addition to being enticed by the variety of experiences you can enjoy while at the estate, one of the main reasons people visit the Biltmore is to take a step back in time while touring the mansion and its antiquities, bathing in the luxury of what it was like to live in this historic place at the turn of the 20th century. The tour of the mansion is for lovers of history, architecture, art, and antiques – or simply those who want to spend a day in the life of one of the wealthiest families at that time.

Visiting the Biltmore Estate On a Budget
The Biltmore House

How do you visit the Biltmore Estate?

You have to either purchase one of the tours, be an annual pass holder, or be accompanied by an annual pass holder in order to even enter the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. Shortly after you turn off Hendersonville Road onto Approach Road, you’ll reach the admission gate where a guard will check your tickets. So unfortunately, there’s no way to even just take a quick peak at the outside of the Biltmore House without meeting one of the three criteria listed.

Map of the Biltmore Estate
From what I can tell, the Biltmore Estate encompasses the majority of the undeveloped, green wooded area on the map. The diamond markers indicate different areas of the estate, really putting into perspective the vast expanse of the property.

21 Ways To Save Money When Visiting the Biltmore Estate

1. Plan your visit in the off-season and during a non-holiday period

The Biltmore uses dynamic pricing charging anywhere from $79 – $139 for the audio-guided visit of the Biltmore House (the cheapest way to gain entry to the Biltmore House). The least expensive rates will be on weekdays followed by Sundays, therefore prioritize these days for your tour when planning your trip if your schedule allows. Additionally, tickets are priced differently by season. The pricing ordered from least expensive to most expensive is as follows: winter, summer, spring, fall, and finally Christmas.

The audio-guided visit includes: 

  • A daytime visit to the Biltmore House with an audio guide
  • Access to 8,000 acres of gardens and grounds
  • Access to the Antler Hill Village & Winey with complimentary wine tasting* (see #16 below)
  • Complimentary parking
Approaching the Conservatory
Approaching the Conservatory

While the “gardens & grounds” tour is less expensive ($45-$85), it does not include entry to the Biltmore House. However, it may be a good option for those who cannot tour the house due to mobility limitations, for those who have already toured the house, or for those who aren’t interested in touring the house.

There are two other more expensive tour options for the Biltmore House including the “audio-guide visit plus” and the “expert-guided visit plus”. See the website for a more detailed comparison of all tour options.

Pricing calendar
Take note of the dynamic pricing climbing to $139 on Saturdays during the winter holiday season.

Good Dimes tip: visit towards the end of October to catch the fall foliage AND the Christmas decorations at non-holiday prices. Yes, the Biltmore starts decorating for the winter holidays in October! The lights won’t be lit until the first Friday in November, however, you will be able to see other decorations. For the best chance of seeing the most decorations at the lowest price, try to visit in the last couple of days of October.

2. Skip the expert-guided tour and just use the audio guide

The audio guide provides detailed information about the history of the Vanderbilts, the Biltmore Estate, and each of the rooms you’ll visit during your tour of the Biltmore House. The audio guide includes about 1.5 hours worth of fascinating information. You can always skip ahead or revisit anything you may have missed by listening to a section again, but it’s highly worthwhile and it’ll save you hundreds of dollars in comparison to an expert-guided tour.

Inside the Atrium of the Biltmore House
Inside the Atrium of the Biltmore House

3. Book your tickets in advance

Despite the estate being massive and able to accommodate thousands of people per day, tickets do sell out. Book in advance to ensure you get your first choice date and to take advantage of any early bird discounts.

Pricing calendar
Take note of March 27th which is grayed out because of being sold out (one month in advance of this search). Also, note the dynamic pricing of $69 on Wednesday, March 1st, and Thursday, March 2nd. As of April 2023, the Biltmore has raised its prices and the cheapest tour price is now $79.

4. Follow the Biltmore Estate on social media

The Biltmore Estate advertises limited-time offers and flash sales across their social media accounts, so be sure to follow them so you don’t miss out on any extra discounts.

The Banquet Hall complete with an organ and massive chandeliers
The Banquet Hall complete with an organ and massive chandeliers

5. Purchase your ticket(s) online

By purchasing your ticket(s) online directly from the Biltmore, you can save $5 per ticket. However, you may qualify for better discounts through other sources.

6. Military discount

U.S. Military can save $8 on regular adult daytime admission when you show your Military ID at the Reception & Ticketing Sales Center.

7. Senior discount

Seniors can save $8 on regular adult daytime admission when visiting on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

8. AAA discount

AAA members can receive $8 off when purchasing their ticket(s) through the AAA savings portal.

A massive leaf inside the conservatory
Now that’s one big leaf!

9. Come back the next day for only $25

If you run out of time to see everything you want to see or simply just want to spend another day at the estate, you can upgrade your “audio-guided visit” to include next-day access for just $25 on the day you visit at any Guest Services location on the estate.

10. Book an “Outdoor Activity” on the estate for the next day

If you have your heart set on one of the outdoor activities that the Biltmore Estate offers, such as river float trips, horseback and carriage rides, fishing, wellness activities, marksmanship, or an off-roading Land Rover trek, among others, you can waive the $25 next-day access fee and only pay for the price of the outdoor activity.

The Grand Staircase
The Grand Staircase

11. If you’re a local, consider getting an annual pass

Being an annual pass holder provides you with year-round access to 8,000 acres of the stunning property, unlimited visits to the Biltmore House and Gardens with free use of audio guides, as well as many discounts and benefits to you and any guests. The property is a quiet oasis on the edge of the bustling city that provides access to beautiful walking, biking, and horse trails. Additionally, it is absolutely stunning, particularly during the spring season when the gardens are in full bloom, during the peak of fall foliage, and during the holidays when the House and grounds dazzle bright.

An annual membership typically costs $299, but when I checked the website in early April 2023, it was discounted to $209 until April 30th. So, if a membership is something you’re interested in, check during April in case that’s a yearly discount pattern, or check back often until the membership is discounted again. The membership will pay for itself in just a couple of visits.

You’ll receive two complimentary guest tickets as well as the ability to bring a mother for free during the month of May and a father for free during the month of June. It doesn’t actually have to be your mother or father, but rather any mother or father.

12. Befriend an annual pass holder

Everyone that holds an annual pass to the Biltmore Estate receives two tickets for guests to access the property for free between January and March. If you want to tour the Biltmore House, you’ll need to purchase a separate tour ticket which will be sold at a reduced rate.

The Underground Walkway to the Antler Hill Winery
The Underground Walkway to the Antler Hill Winery

13. Consider staying overnight on the estate

While certainly not the most affordable accommodation in Asheville, staying overnight at one of the properties on the estate would provide you free access to the grounds of the estate during your visit. You can also find discounts on estate accommodation on the Biltmore website, so if you’re dreaming of seeing the property but don’t have to tour the Biltmore House, this could be a great option to kill two birds with one stone.

Find cheaper accommodation in Asheville below through Agoda, my favorite booking site for the best deals!

14. Check for any additional special offers prior to making your reservation

Visit the Biltmore website to take note of any special offers prior to your visit and try searching online for additional discounts or coupon codes. I checked Groupon prior to making my reservation but to no avail. Apparently, Groupon has provided discounts in the past, so it’s worth a quick search in hopes you’ll get lucky. Ingles supermarket, found in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia, has offered coupons in the past, so definitely stop by to see if they have any if you live nearby an Ingles or know someone who does that can check for you.

If you are an annual pass holder of other organizations and even some state parks in North Carolina and Tennessee, you may be eligible for discounted tickets to the Biltmore Estate, so check any affiliations that you have prior to reserving your ticket. At the time this post was written, the Biltmore noted affiliations with Chimney Rock State Park, Dollywood, Grandfather Mountain, and the Tennessee Aquarium, so if you have memberships to any of those places, check with them to see if they offer reciprocal discounts for visiting the Biltmore Estate.

Beautiful balcony overlooking the Pisgah Mountains and the French Broad River
Beautiful balcony overlooking the Pisgah Mountains and the French Broad River

15. Bring the kids

Tours of the Biltmore House and Gardens are free for children 9 and under! Kids 10-16 receive discounted admission. Additionally, there’s a farmyard near Antler Hill Village with horses, roosters, chickens, ducks, goats, and pigs that the kids are sure to enjoy and as well as a playground and an ice cream shop if you need to do any bribing.

Ornate detailing of one of the entrances to the Biltmore House
Look at that ornate detailing!

16. *If you want to take advantage of your complimentary wine tasting, you must make a reservation

Reservations are required for all wine tastings, and at the time this post was written, they can only be made on the day of your estate visit. Make your reservation as soon as you arrive at the property, prior to your House tour, to ensure availability. Trust me, when I went, we missed the memo on reserving ahead and when we showed up at the winery, we were extremely disappointed to find out that there were no more reservations available for the day. We were still able to enjoy a wine tasting at the bar, but unfortunately, we had to pay out-of-pocket for it.

The Bar at the Antler Hill Winery
The Bar at the Antler Hill Winery

A customer service representative I spoke with suggested arriving at the estate earlier in the day, obtaining a Welcome Guide, and using the QR code to book the complimentary wine tasting on your phone. She also suggested placing your wine-tasting reservation no later than 2 PM as that’s when reservations typically begin to become fairly full. However, this varies from day to day based on how many visitors are at the estate, so take the recommendation with a grain of salt and plan to make your reservation in the morning for sometime later that day.

The North Carolina Flight (Chardonnay, Rosé, and Cabernet Franc) - $15
The North Carolina Flight (Chardonnay, Rosé, and Cabernet Franc) – $15

To reserve your complimentary wine tasting:

  • Use your mobile device to scan the QR code in the Welcome Guide or to scan QR codes on signs posted throughout the estate.
  • Visit any Guest Service location including the Reception and Ticketing Sales Center, Biltmore House, Antler Hill Village, and the Winery.

When making your reservation, keep in mind that the estate is HUGE and it takes a while to get from point A to point B. It took us about 15 minutes to drive from the estate entrance to the Biltmore House & Gardens parking lot, about 8 minutes to walk from the parking lot to the Biltmore House and the start of the Gardens (one direction), and about 20 minutes to drive to Antler Hill Village & Winery from the Biltmore House & Gardens parking lot. However, if you visit on an extremely busy day, it can take significantly longer to drive from point A to B to C. Additionally, if it’s really busy, you may have to park farther away which will tack on additional walking time.

The Underground Wine Cellar at Antler Hill Winery
The Underground Wine Cellar at Antler Hill Winery

For all of the aforementioned reasons, you’ll want to plan to spend the better part of the day at the Biltmore Estate allowing you to really get a lot of bang for your buck and fully enjoy the experience you spent your hard-earned money on. Even if your tour isn’t scheduled until the afternoon, you can arrive at the estate when it opens and make a day of it. And to ensure you don’t miss your tour, you should plan to be driving through the entrance of the estate grounds no later than 45-60 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure time.

There is a shuttle service, however, it has some nuanced details. Accessible parking for guests with mobility disabilities and state-issued parking permits is available in Lot B and has a complimentary ADA-accessible shuttle service around the grounds. There is a complimentary shuttle service from Lots C, D, and E to the Biltmore House only when Lots A and B are full. Complimentary shuttle service from the Biltmore House to the Conservatory in the Walled Garden is available from April through October. There is also accessible parking located next to the Conservatory for the Walled Garden. Otherwise, the shuttle to other areas of the estate is only complimentary for guests staying at The Inn on the Biltmore Estate. For those who wish to purchase tickets for the Biltmore Express shuttle service ($15 per person per day), call 800-411-3812.

The Music Room
The Music Room

17. Want to take home a bottle of wine? Compare prices first

Ingles, the local supermarket in Asheville, and Total Wine both sell Biltmore wines. Do a quick search on the internet to check competitors’ pricing prior to purchasing from Antler Hill Winery to be sure you’re getting the best deal.

Joining the wine club is another way to receive discounts on Biltmore wines. This is best for locals who are able to visit often and reap the benefits of their membership, however, you can also have the wines shipped to most states in the US.

Inside the Conservatory
Inside the Conservatory

Book other Asheville tours below through Get Your Guide!

18. Pack your own water

Clear, plastic water bottles are allowed inside the Biltmore House, so be sure to bring a bottle with you to avoid paying the steep prices on site. Since the mansion and surrounding gardens and grounds are huge, you will be doing a lot of standing and walking before you get back to your car and drive to the next location on the grounds. Pair that with a hot and humid North Carolina day and you have a recipe for disaster, especially since the Biltmore House isn’t air-conditioned and many of the gardens don’t have much shade.

Therefore, I recommend bringing a clear, lightweight, collapsible water bottle to reduce the weight of your bag. Fill your bottle up once you’re inside the grounds prior to starting your tour. There’s a water fountain near the bathrooms and shops to the right of the Biltmore House. You’ll want to go to the bathroom before your tour starts anyway since the tour takes about 1.5-2 hours and there are no public restrooms inside.

View of the outside of the Biltmore House
How about those incredible windows?

19. Pack a picnic lunch

Since the estate is so large, you will likely want to stay on the property for a minimum of several hours or even the better part of the day. In order to avoid paying the high food prices on the estate, bring your own food from outside, but be sure to enjoy it in one of the designated picnic locations where outside food and beverages are allowed. Please note that no outside alcohol is ever allowed on the estate. 

The designated picnic locations are:

  • The sloped lawn in front of Diana (space may be limited at this location when private events are in progress)
  • Bass Pond and surrounding trails
  • Lagoon and surrounding trails
  • Picnic tables in the Antler Hill Village

Speak to Guest Services for additional picnic location recommendations.

A visitor on horseback
A visitor on horseback

20. Bring bikes (and wear comfortable walking shoes)

Visitors to the Biltmore Estate have full access to the walking and biking trails around the estate, so why not come prepared to enjoy the property to the fullest? The easy 3-mile Lagoon Trail is a great, picturesque option. If you don’t own a bike or can’t bring yours with you, you can rent standard and e-bikes on the estate.

Book your rental car below!

21. Float down the river

Bring a raft or kayak to enjoy this pristine section of the French Broad River. Stretches of the river near town are quite industrial and leave a lot to be desired, thus the secluded section surrounded by nature within the estate is truly exquisite. You can rent a kayak from the Biltmore if you don’t have your own and they also provide guided trips, at a price, of course.

Inside the Conservatory
Inside the Conservatory

Let the community know in the comments below if I missed anything or if any of the information provided in this guide is no longer accurate.

Enjoy your visit and be sure to check out the incredible Dale Chihuly glass installation in the wine shop!

Chihuly Glass
Chihuly Glass

Interested in more content on mountain towns?

Check out my post about the 13+ best things to do in the oh-so-quaint Stowe, Vermont and be sure to read my detailed savings guide for how to save money when you go to Stowe Mountain Resort before you hit the slopes.

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