With summertime settling into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Biltmore’s 8,000-acre backyard offers a number of get-out-and-get-some-fresh-air options, perfect picnic spots, vibrant gardens to safely explore, and more.
July is National Picnic Month
The picnic is the ultimate summer tradition, and can be made even more special when enjoyed on the highhill across from Biltmore House. A marble statue of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, stands at the top of the hill, while below a sweeping, majestic lawn offers one of the most spectacular views of George Vanderbilt’s 250-room house. The setting is historic, and perfect for dining al fresco.
Diana is one of three locations at Biltmore where guests are invited to bring a picnic on their visit. Along with Diana, the Bass Pond area and the Lagoon are the estate’s designated picnic spots.
The shore around the Bass Pond offers views of the brick Bass Pond Bridge that was featured in the 1991 film “The Last of the Mohicans.” Trails around the pond lead to a waterfall, and curl around to a rustic boat house, which is original to the estate and was built as a resting point for the Vanderbilt family’s guests while visiting the gardens.
The Lagoon awaits with its tranquil setting, enhanced by a reflection of the house on the water’s surface. With the French Broad River ambling by on one side, the lagoon is a unique spot for picnicking. Like the Bass Pond, the Lagoon has a tie to movie-making. It was featured in the final scene of “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine.
Visit Biltmore’s website for more details about picnicking on the estate.
Make a day of exploring Biltmore’s summer gardens
“July is primed for a beautiful start, and everywhere one looks the views are lush,” says Parker Andes, Biltmore’s director of horticulture. In addition to picnicking, planning a day outdoors at Biltmore should include exploring the property’s stunning and diverse summer gardens.
Nearly every area on the property features a mix of flowering gardens, blooming shrubs, and patches of wild flowers. Later in the summer – fields of sunflowers will bloom in every size. Butterflies and other pollinators are prevalent, as they buzz around looking for nectar in the estate’s colorful summer blooms and sourwood trees. The Italian Garden pools teem with exotic Victoria water platters, canna lilies, papyrus, lotus, and multi-colored koi swimming beneath the surface.
Biltmore Gardens Railway
Starting July 1, Biltmore Gardens Railway is back for another season in Antler Hill Village. This model train exhibition displays G-scale locomotives and railcars traversing tracks through plant-based recreations of the country’s most well-known train depots. The whimsical display was handcrafted out of all-natural materials by Applied Imagination, an award-winning crew of artists, botanical experts, and landscape designers known for popular exhibitions across the U.S. Biltmore’s horticulturists landscaped the display with evergreens, colorful shrubs and dozens of flowering plants.
And for something indoors, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition
Now through Sept. 7, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is open with limited capacity to allow for social distancing while touring the exhibition. The immersive exhibition offers a chance to relive the story of the Crawley family in the beloved television series – complete with set recreations, exclusive multimedia elements, and an up-close look at more than 50 official costumes worn by actors on the show. Entrance to the Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is included with daytime estate admission.
Biltmore House and additional estate areas
In addition to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, the following guest experiences are open with reduced hours and limited capacities to allow for social distancing:
- Biltmore House
- The Inn on Biltmore Estate & Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
- Antler Hill Village & Winery
- Select Outdoor Activities & Tours
- Select Retail Stores
- Select Restaurants
Health and safety protocols
The health and safety of Biltmore’s guests and employees remain the company’s top priority. Health and safety protocols have been established throughout all estate operations that are in line with CDC, state and local guidelines.
Guests are required to wear a face covering inside all buildings per Buncombe County mandate. Biltmore employees are also required to wear face covering. Outside of areas requiring guests to wear face masks, guests will be asked to wear masks if proper social distancing is not possible. Signage is posted throughout the estate noting where masks are recommended and where they are required, and spacing indicators are in select locations to minimize gathering points and allow for distance between guests.
Biltmore is following guidelines from the CDC, N.C. DHHS, and Buncombe County Health Department and will continue to monitor for changes to ensure the company is planning accordingly. For complete information on hours, FAQs, and details on specific safety protocols in place across estate operations, please visit Biltmore.com/Update.