America’s Most Jaw Dropping Piece of Real Estate

The mountain air is fresh in Ashville, North Carolina. The huge, beautiful trees sweep across the 3-mile driveway. The winding narrow approach road gives visitors time to sit and relax, but wonder what is around the next corner, until you eventually get to a large iron gate, and then……….…the HOUSE!!!!!

If you ever wanted over the top drama and opulence and have a few hundred million to spend, then the Biltmore Estate is it. Some might say it looks like an English manor house, but you could put a manor house inside this gigantic mansion many times. It even makes Downton Abbey look like a dollhouse!

The Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in the nation. It was built by George Vanderbilt as a country escape and a place to bring his family and friends as a country retreat. However, the Biltmore Estate became “home” when George Vanderbilt married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser. The couple had a daughter named Cornelia and a pet St Bernard named Cedric.

The house has a staggering 178,926 square feet of living space, 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, 35 bedrooms, and 43 bathrooms. I can hear George Vanderbilt now, asking his wife where he left his car keys! George Vanderbilt loved to travel and wanted his house to look like a French chateau. He took his architect, Richard Morris Hunt, to the Lorie Valley in France to study the chateaus before starting on the plans for his house.

The mansion originally sat on 87,000 acres! Don’t worry, there are still 8,000 acres to explore. When you look out of one of the many windows, you can see mountains in the distance. That’s how far the Vanderbilt’s owned the property!

While building in 1889, they had to build part of a railroad to carry the building material to the job site. About 32,000 bricks per day were manufactured on site! It took 1,000 men and six years to complete the house. The Biltmore had the latest and greatest. The 70,000 gallon, indoor swimming pool has underwater lighting. Keep in mind that during this period, most homes still were lit by candles! Biltmore House was an example of modern technology for the 19th century. It boasted central heating, electricity, a central plumbing system, mechanical refrigeration, fire alarms, and elevators.

In 1930, the family opened up part of the mansion in order to raise money during the depression. Entrance cost was just $2. With 178,926 square feet, 250 rooms and about 60 of those rooms open to the public, who would know if anyone was even visiting? In 1963, the house was officially named as a National Historic Landmark.

The library is a beautiful room, with a high ceiling that allows for a second floor book gallery. George was a very well read man and was recognized as “one of the best read men in the country” by New York media. Over 22,000 volumes were amassed in the home. At the age of 12, he kept a log of books that he had read, including the title and author of each book. In 1914 he passed away, his log book showed 3,159 entries! George was good friends with many famous authors and often invited them to stay as his guests. The list included Henry James, Paul Leicester Ford, and Edith Wharton.

Not leaving any detail untouched, the Vanderbilt’s hired the landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted who created Central Park in New York to do their 8,000 acre gardens and grounds.

According to USA Today, the house and grounds are now worth over 300 million dollars!!!

If your feet are hurting from walking around the house and grounds, you can take a break at the coffee shop, bakery, ice-cream shop or the beautiful restaurant that is housed in the old stable. There you will also find some unique stores.

The estate has 1.4 million guests per year and 3,800 visitors a day. Visitors can choose to stay at one of the two hotels located on the estate. The Inn on Biltmore Estate and Cottages and the brand new, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.

The Biltmore winery that opened in 1985 is the most visited winery in the U.S. It is located right behind the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore House is still owned by George Vanderbilt’s descendants. His great-great grandson, William “Bill” A.V. Cecil, Jr., is the current owner and CEO of The Biltmore Company,

How many Floridians visit the Biltmore per year?
Tampa – St. Pete – Sarasota: 14,027
Orlando – Daytona Beach: 13,518
Jacksonville: 7,550


One of the crown jewels of George Vanderbilt’s estate was the expansive property, which lent itself to hours of enjoyment for Vanderbilt, his family and friends. Guests back then explored the estate on foot; on horseback; fished in the Lagoon or tracked wild game on hunting excursions.

Today, guests at Biltmore may enjoy the same thrill of exploring the beauty of the estate’s 8,000 acres of manicured gardens, rolling hills and dense forests. Several options are available.

Bike Rental and Trail Pass: Bring your own bike or rent one to explore miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult.

Carriage Rides: Enjoy a relaxing ride through meadows and woods on a 12-person wagonette or a twoperson carriage.

Horseback Rides: Novice and experienced riders alike will enjoy trail rides through peaceful woods and pastures. Guided group and private trail rides are available.

Land Rover Experience Driving School: Tap into your sense of adventure with off-road driving lessons in a Land Rover. Our experienced instructors offer lessons, trail drive and a full-day experience.

Fly-Fishing School: Plan for a two-hour, half-day, or full-day fly-fishing excursion. Orvis equipment and world-class instruction provided.

River Float Trips: Float down the peaceful French Broad River and enjoy riverbank wildlife and incredible views of the estate. Guided raft trips and self-guided kayak trips available. Offered April-October.

Segway Tours: Travel in a new way with guided Segway tours of the estate. Options include basic rides down paved estate paths, off-road tours, advanced offroad tours and tours on the West Side of the estate.

Sporting Clays: Take your best shot and learn precision shooting techniques from our experience instructors using a Beretta shotgun. Call the Biltmore for availability and prices.