Blackberry Farm has been on our bucket list for a couple years, and we made it happen last month. However, when trying to plan this family trip, I ran across the newest addition to the Blackberry family–Blackberry Mountain. Then, the indecision set in. Which one? How long at each one? Are they both kid friendly? Etc, etc. We’ve traveled to all sorts of places, with all sorts of surroundings, so trying to choose was difficult. Having had the chance to enjoy both over a few nights’ time, I’m here to share all of our thoughts so you can decide if it’s worth going to one or the other, or splitting your week like we did.
The Ultimate Experience
First of all, within hours to a couple days of booking (whether online or over the phone) you will get an email from the Blackberry Concierge to help manage your itinerary. They will send lists of activities and pricing and make recommendations based on their own experiences and what you might enjoy. The concierge provided quick communication and outstanding recommendations–all before we ever showed up!
If you end up considering both resorts, book over the phone to make your life easier.
The sticker shock is just that, shocking. The prices seem high, but remember that most of your meals are included. Only other activities are extra. More about that as we go.
I’m starting with Blackberry Mountain because it’s the newest, and there’s less information out there than you can find for Blackberry Farm. It’s also where we started our trip.
We had a pleasant ride over from Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson International Airport. The drive takes about 30 minutes and the closer you get to the resort, the more beautiful the views. You can arrange for private car transportation when you book.
Upon arrival to Blackberry Mountain, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. We chose to stay in the Thunderhead Cottages. Our room (or casita really) was spacious, modernly decorated, and well appointed with a Nespresso machine, TV, indoor AND outdoor fireplaces, soaking tub, and a fantastic view of the Smoky Mountains. You also get a golf cart to use on the property for your stay. This comes in rather convenient when you are looking for a night to get a little more dressed up, catch some beautiful views without too much hiking, or just to shield yourself from the rain. At Blackberry Mountain, your breakfast and dinner are included in the room price and snacks in the room are free as well. Lunch and activities come at an extra cost.
Blackberry Mountain is a place of calm, serene beauty. You are surrounded by it every minute of every day. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, you have your own little National Park right at the door. It’s rustic, but luxurious. Its a cabin but with all the modern amenities. It takes the idea of “glamping” to an entirely new elevation. The 5200 acre property is covered in both guided or independent hiking and biking trails meaning there is plenty to explore. There’s rock climbing, horseback riding, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, etc. My husband chose to do a sporting clays adventure where he spent 3 hours on a clay pigeon course with an expert guide/professional shooter. A month later and my husband is still raving about this experience, sharing videos with friends, and dying to do it again. It was about a 30 minute drive away (part of the fee for the adventure) and everything is taken care of for you–all supplies, etc.
For a slower pace, they offer yoga classes both indoors and outdoors, HIIT classes, cycling, pilates, and a climbing wall. They also offer cooking classes, wine tasting, mixology classes, and nutrition classes. Last but not least, for the adults they offer craft instruction like pottery, ceramics, painting, sketching, and basket making. I spent a couple hours with my instructor just free handing a painting based on my experience. I am no expert and do not consider myself an artist, but this was such a genuinely relaxing and enjoyable experience that I would like to try to do more of it here at home.
You didn’t take your kid, did you? Yes, of course we did! Our 2 year old accompanied us for this entire trip, and we are certain she enjoyed herself as much as we did. At Blackberry Mountain, she loved the short hiking trails we encountered, riding around in the golf cart, meeting people in the restaurant, and Camp Blackberry. While she is too young to truly attend Camp Blackberry, the babysitters that were provided by the resort took her to the location where she enjoyed painting, reading, and playing all morning while hubby and I were doing our own activities. They also babysat her in the room while we enjoyed a dinner to ourselves. Our daughter was excited to meet and see the Camp Blackberry teachers each time, and she’s still proud to show off her own work of art.
We spent 2 days and 2 nights at Blackberry Mountain. It was just enough time to explore most of the property, eat at all of its restaurants, including the Firetower for lunch, and have some time to ourselves. Firetower is a must for the views! About 48 hours after our arrival, we transferred over to Blackberry Farm with transportation provided by the resorts. Car seat included!
On arrival to Blackberry Farm, we had to wait to check in to our room for a couple hours. However, they provided us with our golf cart and we took our daughter to explore the property. Blackberry Farm looks nothing like Blackberry Mountain. They are about a 30 minute drive apart, but entirely different in most aspects. Arriving at Blackberry Farm felt like driving through the old horse farms of Kentucky. Green, lush, perfectly maintained, and Southernly picturesque.
The first thing we did was stop off near the farmstead and meet the truffle puppies. The resort raises Lagotto Romagnolo dogs that are ideal for hunting truffles! After meeting the puppies, our daughter spent some time chasing the chickens and meeting the sheep and donkey on the farm.
Again, I wasn’t sure what our room had in store of us and was more than pleasantly surprised. We booked our stay for the Singing Brook Cottage Suites and had no idea it would be so spacious. A large room, closet, and bathroom, with plenty of luxury amenities. Again, we found a large soaking tub, large shower, Blackberry Farm’s own toiletries, an indoor fireplace, and a great porch on which I loved enjoying a cup of coffee and the sounds of the forest each morning and evening. All three meals for each guest are included in the nightly price for Blackberry Farm. These meals alone are astoundingly delicious and make it worth the price.
Our first night at Blackberry Farm, we had reservations at The Barn for dinner. Our Blackberry Farm arranged babysitter met us the cabin with enough time to get to know our girl and her bedtime routine. We took our golf cart over to the Barn and proceeded to enjoy one of the best meals we’ve had in quite some time. The only meals I’ve ever experienced in a similar way cost us well over $400. The food was outstanding, but our sommelier really made my husband’s night. I am pregnant, so I can only speak for all the mocktails on property which were all delicious. But the sommelier knew her wine AND her bourbon. My husband collects bourbon and he was able to try elixirs he’d only heard of and not been able to find, and new ones he thought he’d never try. Also, we are fairly certain that Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart were dining in the booth across the room from us. Yes, this property is often visited by celebrities, and it was nice to see them be able to enjoy a sense of calm like every one else.
The following morning our daughter woke up and asked us about our babysitter. That’s always a good sign! The babysitter arrived soon thereafter, and my husband and I went off to the spa for a couples massage. We were able to easily relax knowing how excited our daughter was to see the babysitter again. The massage was fantastic, and the spa itself is a true treat for the eyes. Again, the babysitter took Ava to Camp Blackberry for some time to play and they returned with crafts and plenty of stories of a good time. We did a horse-drawn carriage tour of the property where we learned about its history, its owners, and how it came to be the fabulous Southern resort it is today.
We had dinner as a family that night at the restaurant in the Main House, The Dogwood. The food and service were top notch, although not quite the magnificent experience we had The Barn. If you go to Blackberry Farm without children, I highly suggest reservations at The Barn as often as possible. We followed up dinner with roasting marshmallows and making s’mores by the fire pit outside of the Main House before returning to our cabin and calling it a day.
Our final day we enjoyed a late breakfast, one last drive around the property, a goodbye to the chickens, and some time in the billiards room where you can find chess, connect four, checkers, and a pool table as well as TVs for your enjoyment. We had private transportation arranged back to the airport and sadly our stay came to an end.
This is the second time a bucket list item has ended up being a “must-do-again-and-again” experience.
Some simple notes for your stay:
At Blackberry Mountain, everything is a little more outdoorsy, and slightly more casual. At breakfast, athleisure seems to be the mainstay for dress code. At dinner, you will see jeans to cocktail dresses. No shorts or flip flops at dinner time! Make time to see the Firetower and enjoy a meal here as well.
As for Blackberry Farm, it’s slightly more “Southern” and resort like. During the day, many people are very casual–best for walking trails, tennis, and outdoor activities. (There are adult and family pools and plenty of other activities we did not have time to enjoy.) At The Barn, men are required to wear jackets and slacks, and women are required to dress accordingly. The Dogwood is slightly more casual for all meals and one could likely wear jeans to dinner, as long as you still look snappy.
Babysitting and activities (outside of pools, billiards, and non-guided hiking/biking/canoeing) do cost extra, so plan accordingly.
If you’re looking for the ultimate outdoors getaway but aren’t willing to give up luxury amenities and fantastic decor, spend at least a weekend at Blackberry Mountain.
If you’re looking for a Southern feel, perfectly maintained grounds, and over-the-top culinary experiences, check out Blackberry Farm.
If you simply can’t decide between the two (because we sure couldn’t), call to arrange a stay at both places for the best of both worlds.
This was so helpful – thank you! Your travel with kids recommendations are much appreciated.