The most-visited historical attraction in North Carolina? Biltmore Estate by a long shot with 1.3 million visitors in 2011. More world history may have taken place at Kill Devil Hills, but attendance at the Wright Brothers National Memorial there was less than half of what the largest Privately owned residence in America posted.
Biltmore (www.biltmore.com) is simply the kind of opulence people dont build anymore: When New York tycoon George Washington Vanderbilt created a retreat just south of Asheville in the 1880s, he bought 125,000 acres just south of downtown Asheville and had a French chateau erected on a choice rise there.
A majority of the land was sold or given away. But while the mansion itself hasnt been occupied for more than a half century, it is still owned by descendants (they live elsewhere on the grounds). Room by room, the house has been restored to its late Victorian look.
Through the year, various events show off seasonal flourishes for the house and its gardens. Theres also a working winery, said to be the most-visited in America.
A variety of tour packages are offered, but its the house most of which you can see that draws tourists and film crews (Being There, Hannibal, Richie Rich, etc.).
On a 2010 Asheville vacation, President Obama and his wife paid a visit; he was especially taken by the library: The huge, antique globe attracted him, as did the breathtaking views mountain views from the portico adjoining it.