This post is part of a series on The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, our 10-month, 15,000-mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
North Carolina’s Top Pet Friendly Attraction: Biltmore Estate
George Vanderbilt received his first guests at the 250-room country retreat he named “Biltmore” on Christmas Eve, 1895. The house is an architectural wonder, with more than four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. It’s still owned by Vanderbilt’s descendants and remains the largest privately-owned home in the United States.
Envisioning a park-like setting for his home, Vanderbilt hired landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead to lay out the grounds. The result was a spectacular collection of formal gardens covering 75 acres, including Italian, rose, azalea, shrub, spring, and walled gardens, plus a conservatory with rooms for palms and orchids.
Pets at Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate has always welcomed pets. George and Edith Vanderbilt’s Saint Bernards and wolfhounds lived in the lap of luxury. Their daughter, Cornelia, followed in her parents’ footsteps, having not only dogs, but also a parrot named Coco, and a pet skunk! This tradition has been carried on, and pets are able to enjoy the outdoor spaces with you throughout the estate.
Pet Rules at Biltmore House and Gardens
Pets must be on leash
Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly
Pets are welcome in the gardens, on all paths and hiking trails, and at the outdoor seating areas at most restaurants
Pets are not allowed inside the buildings, on the carriage tours, at the equestrian center, or on horse trails
Pets may not enter fenced enclosures that protect farm animals
Enjoying the Gardens
Paved, gravel, and wood chip paths meander though the lush gardens, providing views of the surrounding mountains and peeks of the stately roofline of the house. Visitors do have to navigate some steps, but walking is easy to moderate, the distances are between a quarter- and half-mile, benches allow you to catch your breath and admire your surroundings, and the payoffs are well worth the effort!
Exploring the gardens may make you thirsty, so head over to the back patio of the Conservatory – it’s open seasonally and serves light snacks, small plates, and Biltmore wines.
Hit the Trails
In addition to the garden paths, there are 23 miles of hiking trails to enjoy on the 8,000-acre estate. Maps are available at the information kiosk at the Outdoor Adventure Center. From the house, you can stretch your legs by following the Deer Park Trail for 2.5 miles down to the lagoon and French Broad River. If you’re really looking for more of a workout, pick up the Lagoon Trail there – it runs for three additional miles to Antler Hill Village and provides striking views of the back of the house.
Antler Hill Village
When you’ve seen all there is to see at the house, jump back in your car and take the 5-mile drive over to Antler Hill Village for a completely different side of Biltmore. Here you’ll find the Village Green, surrounded by the estate’s winery, eateries, shops, and adventure center. Settle near the bandshell to enjoy the live musical entertainment, take turns savoring the estate’s wines with a complimentary tasting at the winery, or choose a table on the pet friendly patio at Cedric’s Tavern, Village Social, or Bistro for creative and delicious fare fresh from the estate’s kitchen garden and fields.
Tips for Touring the House
There so much to do at Biltmore, you could easily spend a day without setting foot in the house! However, if you do want to tour the massive château – and you have your dog with you – we have a few suggestions that will help:
- Take turns doing self-guided tours of the mansion. Guided tours or audio tours can take two hours or longer, but a self-guided tour allows you to set your own pace.
- Purchasing your admission tickets after 4pm give you access to the estate for the remainder of that day and the entire following day. The house is only open until 5pm, but the gardens, trails, and Antler Hill Village are all available into the evening. Take advantage of the daylight to see see as much of the estate as you can, so the time spent touring the house doesn’t come at the expense of the outdoor opportunities.
- There are outdoor kennels provided at no charge to Biltmore’s visitors. They’re in a shaded location, have concrete floors, and are divided with concrete block and sheets of plywood. If you’re comfortable with this accommodation, locks are provided on each kennel, and you’ll need to bring a water bowl for your dog.
Asheville Meet Up
It was a full day of fun with the wonderful folks from Asheville Humane Society! We started with a meet-up and adoption event at the shelter, giving special attention to the thirteen “long-timer” dogs who’d been in the shelter for more than 60 days – and four of those pooches found their forever homes!
From there we went down to Sanctuary Brewing Company in Hendersonville for “yappy” hour (Sanctuary is now Oklawaha Brewing and dogs are always welcome at this pet friendly brewery). Blue Ridge Humane Society had some adorable puppies available for adoption. We’re sure they’ll make someone’s perfect travel buddy!
Thank You to our Sponsors
Visiting these attractions with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!
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