A family wedding in October gave the Louisiana Krewe and the Detroit Crew a happy excuse to meet up and spend some vacation time in Asheville, NC. On our list of things to see was the impressive Biltmore house with its spectacular grounds. All 15 of us (yes, 15: 7 adults and 8 children ages 8 and under) toured the estate. While our entire visit worked out well, we picked up some tips and tricks to make a first-time visit even smoother.
The first thing we had to figure out (and probably the one thing we spent the most time on!!) was how to buy tickets as cheaply as possible. Thankfully, having a bunch of little kids with us did not mean we spent more money:
- Kids under 9 are always free (major win for us!)
- During the school year youth ages 10-16 are half off (it looks like they’re free during the summer too!).
The website says you’re supposed to present a free ticket for the kids 9 and under, but we didn’t stop at the ticketing house to get any. However, no one asked us for one (or eight…maybe the sheer scale of our group scared them off).
There’s no real way around it; tickets are always expensive, though the price varies depending on time of year. When we went, prices ranged from $55 (non-holiday season) to $85 (holiday season, tickets at the door). There are, however, a few ways to cut down the cost:
- Advance Purchase: If you are able to plan on visiting on a specific day, there is a $10 discount on adult tickets if you buy them online at least a week in advance. The youth ticket is also discounted accordingly. Advance purchase has the added advantage of not having to stop to buy tickets on the way in.
- Military Discount: Both active duty military spouse and sponsor can each buy 4 tickets with a $10 discount, for a possible discount on up to 8 tickets. I don’t think you can purchase military discount tickets in advance, so it would require a stop at the ticket house, but it is a flexible option. (A military ID also gets you 10% off at restaurants and shops on the estate.)
- Costco Tickets: My personal vote is for what we did: buy your tickets at Costco! The price for the two-day Biltmore pass at Costco is cheaper than the discounted single-day ticket. I did not see any youth tickets for sale at Costco, but if one of your kids is in the 10-16 age group, you would be better off buying the two-day adult ticket for them for a two-day visit. The Costco pass will be still be cheaper and a lot easier than two youth tickets. (Unless, of course, it’s summer and they’re free!) If you also wanted to see a nighttime exhibit (at an extra $25 charge), that can easily be purchased at the estate. You will need to visit a Costco warehouse in person; the passes cannot be purchased online, and there isn’t a Costco in Asheville, but warehouses as far away as Atlanta, GA., and Louisville, KY., carried them. If you call ahead a warehouse can tell you if they have them in stock. Not only did the Costco pass save us some money, we loved having the flexibility to space our visit out and leisurely tour things.
- If you are visiting on a high-volume visit day, you will need to call ahead to make a house entry time reservation for your visit regardless of where you buy your tickets.
Additional Tour Costs: Audio guides for both adults and children are available at the door for $13; I did not see a way to save on these. (This was steep for my tastes, so I skipped it, but my mother-in-love rented one and thought that it was worth it.)
Now that you have your tickets in hand, next time we’ll discuss the logistics of arriving, getting around, and beating the crowds!
All of this information was current as of November 2018, but please check the Biltmore’s website before you make concrete plans.