As you can imagine, when we’re traveling with children we are interested in saving money where we can. We are equally interested in keeping kids’ blood sugar levels up at happy level. (Keenly interested in both those things…) We’ve already talked about how to save money on Biltmore tickets and when to arrive; here is how we fed everyone during our visit.
In the main house complex there is an outdoor courtyard with tables and chairs; it is surrounded by multiple small cafés from which to order food and coffee, as well as a sit-down restaurant. As you might expect, the menus are not exactly bargain priced, but if you’re in need of some caffeine (as we were) or a little pick-me-up, the courtyard is a great spot to rest your legs and recharge. Given that we suspected food options would be pricey and we were feeding a crowd, we packed our lunch. If you do pack a picnic, you can’t eat your food in the café courtyard (picky, picky), but you are allowed to picnic in most areas around the house (though there are no picnic areas provided). Also don’t plan on carting your lunch with you on the house tour — food and drink are not allowed in the house, and they do check your bags!
This was our view as we ate lunch!
(Apparently they make food exceptions for small children; we didn’t test this out.) However, there are small lockers available next to the bathrooms down the ramp, as well as a water fountain.The lockers are 50 cents to rent (quarters only), single-entry/one-time use — you can’t pull things in and out. Be advised, the lockers are small, approximately 12” x 12”. We stashed a bunch of water bottles (this is our favorite kids’ water bottle) and enough snacks for everyone to eat while touring the gardens in ours; you could easily put sandwiches in too. If you have cold food only a personal soft-sided cooler would fit; think small! Even if you park in the closest parking lot and don’t have to take a shuttle it would still be a bit of a hike to get back to your car to eat, so I do recommend bringing what food you want while at the house itself with you and utilizing the lockers. Just plan on leaving any larger cold coolers in your car. There is much to see on the estate, so do pack one solid meal and plenty of snacks and drinks!
There are multiple restaurants around the estate, several with kids’ menus, but we didn’t visit any of them. (We are firm believers in this brilliant analysis of eating with children while traveling.) There are picnic tables next to the petting zoo/playground (more on that later), which makes for a nice stop for the adults to chill and the kids to wiggle.
If you’re reading this post, chances are pretty good you’re prepping for a visit to the Biltmore yourself. So if you’d like further food for thought (ahem, pun intended), here are two books we enjoyed reading about the history of the Vanderbilt family as a whole and the building of the Biltmore.