Art Excursions, Inc.



Biltmore Estate and Gardens

Built between 1889-1895 for George Washington Vanderbilt II, Biltmore is America’s largest privately-owned home. Famed architect Richard Morris Hunt designed for Vanderbilt a French Chateau style mansion with numerous historical references.

Hunt’s other projects include The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and The Administration Building at the famed World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

The mansion’s 250 rooms awe visitors even to this day. Yet its impressive size incorporated progressive amenities such as indoor plumbing, fire alarms, forced-air heating, a bowling alley, and an intercom system.

The magnificent house is enhanced by stunning grounds and gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Read on for more information about Olmsted’s contributions to Biltmore.

Our tour gives you two full days to experience all the estate has to offer. Enjoy the splendor of breathtaking spaces, antiques and artwork in the house. Take time to explore the grounds and gardens at your own pace.

We have included two private specialty tours to enhance your experience. One private tour enables you to go behind the scenes at Biltmore mansion. The other focuses on the gardens.

Still in the Vanderbilt family today, Biltmore opened to the public in 1930. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Since then the Biltmore mansion and its remarkable setting have been featured on every list of must-see American sites.

Biltmore is an essential experience for anyone interested in American history and architecture.

Perfect timing: The Festival of Flowers and Biltmore’s spectacular grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted

Biltmore welcomes spring with a celebration of roses, tulips and other blooming plants in its 4-acre walled garden and its conservatory building. Throughout the estate azaleas, dogwoods and other blossoms will take your breath away. Six distinctive gardens provide a range of experiences...from the formal Italian garden to the naturalistic woodlands and ponds.

Olmsted began with overfarmed land with little to offer inspiration and created out of this an expansive landscape design that makes it appear that the plants, trees and shrubs have been in place for eternity. As with his design for New York’s Central Park, Olmsted also sculpted the terrain to offer intimate immersive spots, stunning vistas, and a dramatic approach to the house itself.

To experience Olmsted’s project from an insider’s perspective we’ll enjoy a private guided tour of the gardens and grounds.

You’re invited to “A Vanderbilt House Party” (the special exhibition)

Imagine yourself as a 1900s-era Vanderbilt houseguest in a new special exhibition installed in the historic Biltmore mansion. To make this experience possible, curators and historians collaborated with Oscar-winning costumier John Bright and the London-based costume house Cosprop (the key costume supplier for “Downton Abbey”). The result? For the first time in Biltmore’s history, visitors can see reproductions of clothing from the Vanderbilts own wardrobes displayed in the settings in which they were originally worn -- the elegant rooms of their Asheville estate house.

Using resources in the Biltmore archives such as correspondence and receipts, the exhibition team recreates in vivid color garments previously only seen in period photographs or described in letters written by the Vanderbilts and their guests.

A new audio experience combines realistic 360 degree sound technology and stories told from the perspective of those who lived and worked at Biltmore during the age of fabulous “house parties.” You’ll hear staff plan a gala evening reception, chefs discuss a multi-course menu, an opera singer rehearsing for her evening performance, and other stories sure to transport you back to the gilded age.

Biltmore’s winery and Antler Hill Village

There is a great deal more to Biltmore than the house itself. In the two full days our itinerary devotes to the estate you’ll have the opportunity to experience the history and design of the home as well as take in some of the more casual experiences that make this destination so unique. Antler Hill Village features a winery offering tastings and tours as well as a farmyard and kitchen garden -- evidence of the working estate that Biltmore was and continues to be. A variety of shops offer local crafts, accessories, jams, jellies and the like.

A trolley tour highlighting Asheville’s unique history and Art Deco landmarks

Tucked among the Blue Ridge Mountains and the banks of the French Broad River is one of Asheville's most breathtaking man-made collections. Asheville is home to the Southeast's largest collection of art deco architecture outside of Miami, a designation that came out of hardship but has left the city with an impressive architectural legacy.

After the stock market and international economic crash of 1929, the residents of Asheville shouldered a per capita debt burden that was greater than any other city in America. As a result, the municipality was so poor for so long that older, supposedly outdated, buildings never faced the bulldozers of urban renewal.

Asheville today is a city where architecture that stood still for several generations is now highly valued and protected with landmark status. It is distinctive because in the year time stopped, 1929, it was a boom town. The Vanderbilts, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and other historic luminaries called Asheville their home. The city became a magnet for young architects following the example set by Richard Morris Hunt at Biltmore but working in a more contemporary art moderne style.

Our trolley tour features expert commentary by a local historian and stops at important city landmarks. Learn the story of Asheville’s revitalization and its unique personality.

The North Carolina Arboretum and The Blue Ridge Parkway

The North Carolina Arboretum is nestled in one of the most beautiful natural settings in America and is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visitors to the region enjoy the abundance of natural beauty and cultural history the Western North Carolina region offers. The Arboretum's 434 acres feature outdoor exhibits such as art installations and 65 acres of cultivated gardens, including one of the finest, most unique bonsai collections in the United States.  Some highlights include:

The Quilt Garden, located near the Heritage Garden is a unique interpretation of traditional quilt block patterns with seasonal plants. It represents the close ties between heritage crafts and gardening and the contemporary art and craft of quilting in the Southern Appalachian region. This garden consists of 24 in-ground beds divided by gravel and slate foot path walkways. The photograph at left is from an observation area that provides a stunning overview of the entire garden and the surrounding mountains.

The Heritage Garden serves as a living museum garden devoted to the Southern Appalachian culture, horticulture, and craft. A covered teaching shed and gathering space provide opportunities for distance learning, UNC-TV educational programming, and hands-on learning about cultivation techniques that support the multi-million dollar craft industry. This garden showcases plants associated with four hand crafts: broom making, basket making, hand papermaking, and natural dyes, as well medicinal plants used as botanical remedies historically and today.

The Southern Appalachians are the result of ancient rivers and streams that carve through deep gorges, cascade over high cliffs and tumble down mountainsides into wide valleys. These forces have inspired The Stream Garden, a stream-side plant community reflecting the region's natural heritage in a formal setting. Trees, shrubs and perennials are planted around an abstract representation of a mountain stream course.

Enjoy a private guided tour at the arboretum.

Upscale accommodations in Asheville’s Biltmore Village neighborhood

Art Excursions understands that our choice of accommodations contributes to the overall experience of the boutique tours we design and lead. Consequently, our clients have come to expect a high standard of hotel as well as an in-town location that is convenient to shops, galleries, museums, restaurants, theaters and concert venues.

For this tour, we have selected a hotel located 1 block away from the entrance to Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Village.

Tour study leader and host -- art historian Jeff Mishur

Art historian Jeff Mishur, co-owner of Art Excursions, hosts this tour. In a recent article about “Top Private Art Guides,” The Wall Street Journal referred to Jeff as an expert armed with an advanced degree and “equipped to give the most veteran aesthete the thrill of a new perspective.“

Jeff is a sought-after guide for private tours of architecture, public sculpture and museum collections. He is also a very popular lecturer on art and architecture.


  1. Accommodations for three nights in Asheville’s Biltmore Village district

  2. Fully guided itinerary

  3. Welcome dinner

  4. Admissions, special exhibitions and tours as highlighted above

  5. Full breakfast daily

  6. Lunch daily

  7. Private guided tours at all venues including two private guided tours at Biltmore Estate

  8. Independent time to take in what you like at each event on the itinerary

  9. Opportunity to add on nights at a special rate

  10. Transportation to and from itinerary elements

  11. Driver gratuities

  12. Tour design, planning, hosting, commentaries and handouts provided by Art Excursions


Gratuities for tour director, tour guides and hotel staff; incidentals at hotel; costs for items not specified above; Airfare and airport transfers. We can book airfare on your behalf if you prefer not to make your own arrangements.  We do charge a $45 per ticket booking fee for this service.


$1,875 per person in a room with 1 bed (based on double occupancy)

$1,895 per person in a room with 2 separate beds (based on double occupancy)

$290 single supplement


Our boutique tours are ideal for single travelers, singles traveling together, or couples. We typically have a mix of these types of travelers. If you wish to know why we charge a single supplement or have any other questions, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or email us.


Group size is limited. Reservations accepted first-come, first-served. For more details please email artexcursions@yahoo.com or call 630/671-9745.


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Biltmore Festival of Flowers in Asheville: Exploring America’s “Downton Abbey”

A four day fully guided tour of art, architecture and gardens -- May 6-9, 2019

PO Box 92, Riverside, IL 60546 • 630.671.9745 • ae-news@artexcursions.comwww.artexcursions.com

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