The annual Easter Egg Hunt on the front lawn of the Biltmore House is one of the largest events of its kind in the state. With three hunts on Easter Sunday, plus magic shows and take-home crafts for children, it’s sure to be a popular destination for many families this weekend.
Once the plastic eggs are collected, prizes awarded and photos with the Easter Rabbit taken, however, there are still plenty of family-friendly outdoor activities on the grounds over the weekend and throughout spring.
• Visit the gardens. The Biltmore Blooms celebration continues through May 23. Despite the cold this week, the thousands of tulips in the Walled Garden should be close to peak through the weekend. It’s a perfect spot for family photos.
• Antler Hill Village. “Antler Hill Village transforms into the perfect playground once warm weather arrives,” said Marissa Jamison, Biltmore public relations manager.
“Young kids can climb, dig and slide at the new Pisgah Playground or get lost in boxwood trees at the Children’s Maze. Sometimes there are classic games set up such as the Game of Graces, a ring toss and a bean bag toss.”
Another favorite way to burn off energy is the Grape Stomp outside the Antler Hill winery. There, kids jump in a tub and squish grapes with their toes. Before they wash off their feet with a tub of water nearby, participants may record their purple footprints on a piece of paper to take home.
“Older kids like to get in there and jump around and squish, but they may not be too keen on getting their footprints,” Jamison said. “It’s OK for parents to get in there, too. It’s really intended for younger kids, but it’s fun for anyone.”
• Antler Hill farmyard. Further good times await in the Antler Hill farmyard, where new life abounds this time of year.
“In addition to historic farm equipment that kids can climb on, families can also meet horses, lambs, goats, chicks, bunnies and roosters,” Jamison said.
“Iris, one of our dairy goats, will birth her kid a little later in the month or in May. Early arrivals are just the start; we have quite a few additional expectant mothers this spring.”
Also at the farm is the estate’s resident blacksmith Doc Cudd, whom Jamison calls “a hidden gem.” Though he provides regular demonstrations of his craft, which has been practiced by his family for more than 400 years, Cudd repairs items on the estate ranging from locks to farm equipment and packs an additional artistic talent.
“He also plays the anvil like a musical instrument. It’s transfixing to hear him play it,” Jamison said.
• Land Rover Kids Adventure Course. One of the newer offerings on the estate is the 30-minute Land Rover Kids Adventure Course, which has been popular with children ages 4-8 and costs $30. Saturdays through May, drivers at the young end of that scale practice basic maneuvers in electric mini Land Rover while those at the older end test their skills on a driving course full of entertaining obstacles, all under the guidance of a trained instructor.
• Horses, biking and more. Regular music at the Antler Hill bandstand, Biltmore’s 22 miles of hiking and a romp in the Walled Garden and tropical Conservatory likewise make for quality full family activities. But for groups with slightly older children, more adventurous options are available, beginning with horseback riding for those ages 8 and older and starting at $55 per person.
Visitors who prefer to go by wheels may bring their own bikes to take advantage of the easy paved trail that runs along the French Broad River or the estate’s more rigorous woodland trails. Bicycles may also be rented from the Bike Barn on the second floor of Antler Hill Barn.
• Segway tours. A slightly different wheeled experience is a choice of four Segway tours (starting at $50 per person), where visitors ages 13 and older and weighing at least 100 pounds may explore the estate on the popular two-wheel devices.
“All are charged via solar power and we have the largest fleet in the country,” Jamison said.
• Water fun. And as the temperatures rise and cool water beckons, families (including those aged 3 and older) may float down the gentle French Broad River on a guided raft trip or try their luck at stand-up paddleboarding.
Kids ages 7 and older may also fish for two hours at the adjacent lagoon with one of the estate’s instructors using conventional spinning or baitcasting rods and tackle. All fishing equipment is provided and no fishing license is required. The session goes for $125.
But first, those Easter eggs aren’t going to collect themselves. Baskets ready? On your mark, get set, go!