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The largest privately owned home in the US, Biltmore House was completed in 1895 for shipping and railroad heir George Washington Vanderbilt II, and modeled after three châteaux that he'd seen in France’s Loire Valley. It’s extraordinarily expensive to visit, but there’s a lot to see; allow several hours to explore the entire 8000-acre estate. Self-guided tours of the house itself take in 39 points of interest, including our favorite, the two-lane bowling alley.
To hear the full story, pay $11 extra for an audio tour, or take the behind-the-scenes Upstairs Downstairs Tour ($20) or the more architecturally focused Rooftop Tour ($20). A 5-mile drive through the impeccably manicured estate, which also holds several cafes and two top-end hotels, leads to the winery and dairy farm in Antler Hill Village.