The Biltmore Estate in nearby Asheville never disappoints. While the enormous home is a big draw, the estate has exhibits, events, and lots of other entertainment for the whole family. One such exhibit is the Biltmore Gardens Railway, a huge model train exhibit that runs at the Biltmore through September 29th. We sent contributor Kristina up to the Biltmore to check it out.
Media passes were provided for this review but all opinions are those of the author.
Trains are interesting and my children have always loved looking at model train exhibits and riding on trains. And our readers ask all the time about where to see trains because their kids are obsessed. Needless to say, I was excited to see the Biltmore Gardens Railway exhibit at the esteemed estate. And because it’s the Biltmore, the exhibit is not just a model train show. Words nearly fall short in an attempt to describe just how intricate and detailed the railway exhibit is – but I’ll try.
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Garden Railway at Biltmore
Perhaps the name of the exhibit comes from the location of the trains. They are housed in the stunning Conservatory, a giant greenhouse of sorts where guests are engulfed in every kind of flower and plant they think of. I knew only a handful of the flowers I saw but it didn’t matter because they were all gorgeous and beautiful and radiant. Put the elevated tracks inside all of those beautiful plants and flowers and you’ve got a Biltmore-worthy exhibit.
Once inside the Conservatory, which is located in the gardens outside the main Biltmore house, you walk through the bright rooms full of plants and flowers. The Biltmore Gardens Railway consists of eight trains on over 800 feet of tracks that run in and out of the rooms, on overhead tracks, and on tracks at eye-level. Everyone is able to see them as they breeze by replicas of the Biltmore House and other structures on the estate.
The railway looks like a posse of woodland elves created the tracks. They are made from all-natural elements like twigs, branches, leaves, and bark. I’m not sure I believe actual humans created such structures.
Details, Details, Details
I’m a fairly detail-oriented person and like to think I have a talent for catching the interesting minutiae of daily life. This exhibit puts that to shame. The meticulous details of not only the trains but the replicas of the Biltmore Estate are astounding.
For instance, the replica of the Biltmore house took six designers over 1700 hours to create and it looks identical to the house that sits only a 10-minute walk away. There are even replicas of the arbors outside the house with twisted vines running up the bases. It’s mind-blowing.
The replica of the Biltmore House is actually going to be part of the display at the U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC. Since I lived in the DC for more than ten years, I went to the Botanic Gardens often and especially loved the Christmas display – they have replicas of the major monuments all over the gardens. This replica of the Biltmore House, I dare say, will be better than those.
More Trains in Antler Hill Village
Once you see the railway exhibit in the Conservatory, drive down to Antler Hill Village & Winery, where more trains await your visit. These trains are all outdoors and are displayed within gorgeous plants and flowers. The tracks run through replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the London Bridge and kids will be delighted to see Thomas the Train making his way through these tracks.
The Biltmore Gardens Railway exhibit in Antler Hill Village is situated in between the winery and the farm and playground. There are plenty more trains to enjoy here and the environment is the same as the one in the Conservatory – lots of natural elements like bark, trees, and twigs. Basically, the elves came here as well.
Where and When to see Biltmore Gardens Railway
The Biltmore Gardens Railway exhibit is open daily from 9 am – 7 pm at the Conservatory and at the Antler Hill Village (you have to drive there from the Conservatory).
The exhibit runs through September 29th and is included in your admission to the Biltmore Estate. While there, certainly make time to enjoy everything the Biltmore offers like complimentary wine tastings at the winery, a rafting trip, horseback riding, bike riding, crafts and games, and even grape stomping.
Tickets to the Biltmore are available online. Prices range from $60-$99. Kids ages 9 and under are free with a paid adult except for the summer, when kids 16 and under are free. Annual passes are available as well and kids ages 16 and under are free with the passholder.
One Lodge Street, Asheville