Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blackberry Farm (Top Ten Things to Do)

Rob and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.  I had seen articles about the farm in various publications, so I subtly displayed these magazines around the his the breakfast table...beside the bed... 
Fortunately, he took the bait! 


 In four and a half hours we arrived at this lovely Eden.  Peak season is typically in the fall, when the foliage and mountaintops are an array of orange, red, brown, yellow and green. 
While I am sure the fall is spectacular, summertime at Blackberry Farm is breathtaking and serene with cool evenings and lush scenery dotted with the most beautiful wildflowers.
There are so many outdoor activities available to the guests, it was difficult to narrow our choices.  Most of the activities are guided and do cost a fee, so consider what you are willing to spend, in addition to how much time you have at the farm.  If you are planning a quick, weekend getaway to Blackberry Farm, our list of the "Top Ten Things to Do" might be helpful!
1.  Saddle up and see the 4,200 acre estate with a personal guide. 
  This is the best way to see the farm!  It offers hidden trails and spectacular views.  Joseph was our guide for the day.  Geared up with cowboy boots and spurs, and a degree in natural horsemanship from the University of Montana, Joseph is a real cowboy.  He knows his horses and is an excellent teacher.
 His staff argued about who would take 'Rob Thomas' on the tour of the farm.  Many famous people visit the farm...Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Rob Thomas of the rock band Matchbox Twenty...and then, there is Rob Thomas (my husband) of Rock Hill, SC.  Poor Joseph!  He 'won' the argument and got to take 'Rob Thomas' and his wife of Rock Hill on the tour.  Hilarious isn't it?  We laughed and laughed, but figured we had the best horses on the farm ready and waiting for us!
2. Have a picnic on the terrace of the main house or on one of the picnic tables overlooking the Tennessee mountains. 
3.  Diet the week before you go to Blackberry Farm and starve yourself on the day you go, so that you can enjoy all the wonderful meals and organic foods offered at the farm. 
Every fresh bite that goes into your mouth has been carefully grown and prepared at the farm.  This scrumptious lunch was an incredible feast of short ribs, catfish with lemon tartar sauce, salads from the garden, side dishes, deserts and a Mason jar of sweet tea to wash it all down. 
 There are no words for the artistic, culinary feast provided each night at the barn.  Dinner is certain to expand your taste palate and your waist.  Smaller portions are available upon request, but who is requestin' such a thing at this fine establishment?  My advice?  Make a late reservation, because you just might (likely) be full from the lunch feast.  Save the small portions for home.  Go all out for this dining experience!  Men, wear a jacket and order a bottle of wine from their extensive list to compliment your meal.
Later in the evening, IF you are still hungry, gather around the huge bonfire near the main house for S'mores.  Even if you aren't hungry, join the other guests for some lively conversation! 
(To our pleasant surprise, Executive Chef Joseph Lenn attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in our beloved Charleston, SC.  He worked at the Peninsula Grill in downtown Charleston before returning to Tennessee.  Recently, he was given the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast.  We are not 'foodies' but certainly appreciated all the talent!)
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On the second night of our stay, we missed our reservation at the barn!  Since we had scheduled a late reservation, it could not be rescheduled.  One option was to have 'Simply Supper' in the casual (relatively speaking) part of the barn.  Designed by Suzanne Kasler with a monochromatic scheme, massive fireplace and over-sized chairs with linen slipcovers, it has a more relaxed feel than the more elegant dining room.  Collards with black beans and ham, Charleston Shrimp and Grits, fresh breads and berry crisps for dessert left us full and satisfied in this most relaxed and comfortable setting! If you are planning a visit to Blackberry Farm, understand the different options for dining.  If culinary artistic dining, dinner jackets and fancy wines are not your thing, consider the 'Simply Supper.'  You will not be disappointed!  The photo on the right shows our quaint dining spot.  Next to the grand fireplace, I could have stayed all night!
4.  Sit and Relax and enjoy the view. 
Electronics and phones are discouraged during the meals.  Plus, cellular service is weak on the complaints here!
5.  Meander down to the Boat House to relax and enjoy some fishing. 
Check the closet for a stash of fishing poles.  This was one of my favorite spots!  It was so quiet with the occasional visitor being a horse or golf cart passing by.
6.  From the Boat House, take a peaceful canoe trip around the pond.   
7.  Hike the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains...
...or hike the grounds of Blackberry Farm
  ...and discover the many different mountain wildflowers.
One of the staff members made these for a creek side campfire at the Yallerhammer Pavilion.
Far removed from the hub of Blackberry Farm is the Yallerhammer Pavilion. With the creek rushing just behind, it is an open space with a fireplace, rocking chairs, and small round tables for picnics.  A large outdoor fire pit sits just to the right of the building and beside the creek with several rocking chairs.  It is the perfect, quiet spot on a cool night!
8.  Explore the beautiful vegetable gardens of Blackberry Farm... 
 ...starting with the Garden Shed.
Herbs and flowers grow all around the shed, but this is only a snapshot of the beautiful gardens at Blackberry Farm.
9.  Reserve one of Blackberry Farm's luxury vehicles and wander through Cades Cove and the Great Smoky Mountains.  
Blackberry Farm has a contract with Lexus, so vehicles are provided for personal use.  My husband is not a sports car kind of guy, but I talked him into driving this sporty thing through the mountains!  Compliments of Blackberry Farm, so why not?  Twenty years of marriage, middle-aged, no kids to pile into a
Cades Cove was home to early settlers and pioneers.  A part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,  It has changed very little since those early settlements. 
It was beautiful and definitely worth the drive!  I was sure Laura Ingalls was going to come running out of this little house on the prairie with her lunch pail in hand and long braids blowing in the wind as she began her several mile trek to school.  All of a sudden, I felt kind of lazy riding around in a convertible!
cades cove loop road map
Cades Cove is an eleven mile loop, but be warned!  It won't take eleven minutes, even in a sports car!  Folks come here to drive two miles an hour through the park to absorb the beauty.  It is absolutely breathtaking and there are many sites to stop and admire. It would be uncommon not to see a local bear or deer grazing in the field.  Give yourself two hours to see the park.  Study the map and become familiar with the shortcuts, so you won't be late for your dinner reservation at the Barn! 
10.  Photograph the beauty of Blackberry Farm.


'The Barn' is actually a combination of three barns from various Pennsylvania farms which were disassembled and shipped here to Blackberry Farm.




 This horse stuck his tongue out at me right when I said, "Cheese!"
Now, there's a smile!

The master of fly fishing told us about this path through the woods which led to this little chapel.  This felt like another scene from "Little House on the Prairie."  If you go to Blackberry Farm, find this hidden gem, take a picnic and stay awhile.

The Fly Fishing cabin sits alongside the creek in a remote spot on the farm.   Fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and shotgun sports are a few of the activities available.  Tennis, golf and swimming are additional activities for guests.  Carriage Rides are also offered, as well as, spending 'a day in the life of the master gardener' and a tour and seed talk.  Cooking demonstrations, wine, whiskey and brewery tastings are also available.  There is a lovely spa if you need a little R&R after all that playtime!
Our un-wed, equestrian guide, Joseph, asked us what the secret to marriage is.  As if I have any wisdom concerning the matter, I answered, "Pull up your boot straps and keep walking, even when the mud is knee deep!  Expect that there are mud puddles in marriage, but resolve to get through them!  When there is no mud, enjoy the blessings and good times, and thank the good Lord for them, but never, never take your boots off!

Today, I am thanking the Lord for twenty years of marriage, mud puddles and all, and for the beautiful gift of celebrating at Blackberry Farm!

Thank you for stopping by!
**I am unable to attend the Haven Blog Conference in Atlanta.  If you are interested in my spot, please e-mail me at**

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