Solid Baby Blue Maxi Ruffle Dress (old from Zara, but I have so many other similar options I love in the widget below like this one & this one), Striped Midi Dress w/ Pockets, Brown Leather Cowboy Ankle Boots, Floral Mini Dress (not pictured, but I wore it to dinner while there & love it so much), Bag
Shop our Walland TN Blackberry Farm Looks::
As you guys know by now, no matter what topic we’re tackling here on Love & Specs we always look at it through the lens of our love for the cottage lifestyle, so whether that’s design and decor, his & hers style or unique travel, it’s all cottage charm, all the time around here. Which is why we’re SO excited for today’s post and have been since September (a lot of you have asked questions about this trip and I’m so sorry that this has taken me so long to finally finish… but hopefully it’s worth the wait)! As some of you may remember from our Instagram Stories during this trip, we spent a weekend in September celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary at the incredible, gorgeous, downright heavenly Blackberry Farm nestled inside the Smoky Mountains in Walland, TN just outside of Knoxville. To say that it was the most magical weekend is the understatement of the century. Our fam loves visiting and exploring exciting new destinations together filled with great food, adventure and the opportunity to make more epic memories, but this, this getaway will always be remembered as one of the most unique, special trips we’ve ever taken together.
Not long ago I saw Jaycie from Damsel in Dior’s delightfully candid post about their experience traveling to Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, which is often hailed as the pinnacle of luxury U.S. travel. Reading her honest review of the property was so incredibly enlightening (and refreshing). The consensus? She felt that though the setting was breathtaking and the views couldn’t be beat, due to the property’s shortcomings on the service, accommodations and dining front, which we consider kind of the trifecta of things that take luxury travel experiences from good to exceptional and downright unforgettable, it wasn’t necessarily worth the hefty price tag. And as an avid traveler and value seeker, I just really appreciate that kind of first-hand, honest insight into those much-lauded properties. That’s exactly the kind of stuff I want to know before I book. Because if you’re splurging your hard-earned dollars on a luxury travel experience, especially if it’s associated with a special occasion, the hope is that it’s all your wildest dreams come true and more. After all, we love being home so the allure of a destination or property, whatever it may be, kind of has to outweigh our desire to cozy up and enjoy the comforts of our own home, no? Which is why we felt like we really wanted to share this trip with you guys, much like we did when we visited the incredible Hotel Walloon last year. Normally we don’t dive that deep into our family vacations because we sort of consider them a sacred space, but when it’s this good, we feel like it needs to be shared. Not just for inspirational purposes and to give you a peek inside an incredible, awe-inspiring destination, but also for informational purposes in case you’ve heard about the wonder that is Blackberry Farm and are considering making the journey.
To just cut right to the chase, we feel completely confident saying that as far as luxury U.S. travel experiences go, we can’t imagine nor have we ever personally experienced a more worthwhile place to spend your money. Seriously. Yes, it’s a serious splurge for most. Yes, it’s not within everyone’s budget. But if you’re looking for an incredible, one-of-a-kind, memorable, all-around moving luxury travel experience within the U.S., or heck, anywhere in the world for that matter for that extra special occasion, event or getaway (in our case, my parents’ 50th anniversary), all that is Blackberry Farm is 100% worth the price tag. From the exceptional staff and service to the stunning, unique, restful accommodations to the abundance of activity and adventure of all kinds at your fingertips, to the world class, creative, downright life-changing dining, my entire family agrees it’s in a class of its own.
Now here on Love & Specs one of the things we love most about travel is the opportunity for design appreciation. It’s our jam – to go somewhere fresh and new and see how people dream up and bring their spaces to life around the country and around the world, and specifically spaces that somehow play on that cozy, character-packed cottage charm we love so much! And I’ll happily admit that my fangirl design drool was pretty much constant while at Blackberry. Every space was perfectly appointed in the most charming, inviting way, with guest comfort and convenience at the forefront of every intentional design decision.
Every space from the guest rooms to the common spaces felt like it was imagined to bring you in and wrap you up in a big, warm, cozy southern hug and for a major design lover and appreciator like myself (and my mom), that part of our stay was pure heaven. Each space was totally unique, too. No two spaces were the identical, yet they all felt like well-dressed sisters, all spawned from the same fashion-forward mother. If I had to describe it just from my own guest perspective, the design vibe throughout Blackberry felt delightfully traditional-southern-cottage-meets-modern-farmhouse-cool. Though every room and every space was expertly outfitted and clearly designed with the utmost intention and care, none of it feels fussy. Comfort is everywhere – from the heated bathroom floors to the heavenly, cloud-like beds to the cozy, rustic, warm, downright enchanting dining space at The Barn to the common spaces like sitting rooms, bars and lounges draped in soft, fabrics and blankets for snuggling up, with the most charming pattern and color palette play in abundance.
The other thing that we all just found so awe-inspiring and unique was the setting and the landscape. As mentioned, Blackberry Farm is nestled inside a ultra quiet, serene slice of the Smoky Mountains in Walland, TN just outside of Knoxville and the views from all around the sprawling property as well as the lush landscape in this region makes it an especially unique corner of the U.S. that I think is so often overlooked. And that’s best illuminated at sunrise when you look out from your room and a rainforest-like mist covers the mountains in the most striking way. On Blackberry’s site they say, “As the sun rises over the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the morning mist fades to unveil one of America’s greatest hidden treasures, Blackberry Farm” and that description really captures it. You wake up in the clouds and feel like you’re snuggled inside some sort of rainforest dreamscape that can’t possibly be the U.S. and yet… it is.
Of course the main attraction of Blackberry Farm is the endless opportunity for both exciting and adventurous activity and max relaxation. What your visit to the farm looks like is entirely up to you, and the decision is yours whether you want to pack your stay with hiking, fishing, riding, paintball and wake surfing or focus on their extensive list of culinary delights like wine tours, whiskey tasting, cooking demonstrations and the farmstead tasting tour, or take it slow and make the most of their absolutely stunning spa (which also happens to be housed inside the most chic, zen barn you’ve ever seen) full of an array of both traditional and more novel services. Another options is to completely forgo any planned activity and simply see where your stay and the day takes you. You certainly don’t need a packed schedule to thoroughly enjoy the farm. Simply taking in the views, relaxing by the gorgeous pool (which also has the most incredible view and is attached to the spa), walking or golf-carting the property, enjoying the delectable meals and visiting the dogs would be just as heavenly as a more structured stay. One of the questions we’ve gotten since we visited, though is about the extensive list of activities they offer and which activities on that list we’d recommend. When you book your stay, you’ll be sent said huge list of activities, and it can be a little bit overwhelming to navigate if you’ve never visited before (though their amazing concierges will be happy to personally help you craft your perfect stay via email or phone and walk you through all of the activity offerings before you arrive. So we thought it would be helpful to reflect on our stay and the activities we loved and the activities that got rave reviews from staff and fellow guests alike, and walk you through those to give you some insight into what some of the fan favorites are. Though it should be reiterated that no matter how you choose to spend your stay at Blackberry, you cannot and will not go wrong. Nor will you miss out. It’s simply not possible, so rest easy knowing it’s all spectacular!
Also keep in mind that Blackberry is open for guests year round, though we visited in the fall when all of the warm weather activities were available to us. Some of these activities aren’t available in the winter when snow’s on the ground, but if you hop over to their site you can see all of the amazing winter activities they offer, including dreamy horse-drawn carriage rides through the snow. Yes, please!
Favorite Blackberry Farm Walland TN Activities
Visit the The “Truffle Dogs”
As you guys could probably guess and may have seen on my Instagram Stories, getting the chance to hang with the famous Blackberry “Truffle Dogs” was a highlight of the trip for me. Mingling in a yard full of Romagnolo Lagotto puppies… aka truffle-hunting dogs… that were leaping over me in excitement and snuggling up to me with all the enthusiasm in the world, showering me with fluffy love was honestly one of the top 10 moments of my life. These dogs have such special dispositions and their trainer and dog dad, Jim Sanford is so passionate about them. Trained as expert truffle hunters (yes, those tasty truffles), there’s an 8-year waiting list to adopt one of these special pups from Blackberry and they come to you only after going through Jim’s school of training (and let’ be honest, Jim’s school of snuggles, too). If you take the Farmstead Tasting Tour you’ll visit the kennel as part of that tour, but I have this as a separate activity because the endlessly accomodating staff at Blackberry will take you down to the kennel any time you ask, and we asked about three more times after the Farmstead Tasting Tour. Life = made.
The sporting clays is a classic shotgun experience that was an activity that the men in our group participated in while me, my mom and sisters visited the spa, and when we all convened for lunch afterward the guys absolutely raved about how fun this was. And I saw the videos… it looked like an absolute riot! This activity is an off-site activity at the Smoky Mountain Sports Club, which the staff at Blackberry will drive you to. The private course offers a beautiful wooded 14 station sporting clays course as well as skeet, trap, 5 stand, double wobble, and flurry and the experience includes the use of Berretta shotguns and all the gear you could need for max enjoyment. The course is also perfect for all skill levels, from the complete novice to the experienced shooter in your group, so there’s something for everyone! After hearing how much fun it was, my sister and I decided that if we ever get the chance to return to Blackberry, we definitely need to have this activity on our list!
Farmstead Tasting Tour
In our humble opinion, this is an absolute must! The working farm on property represents the very ethos of Blackberry Farm. Blackberry sources a good portion of all of the delectable food served on property from their working farm, which features sustainably harvested ingredients as the essence of their much-celebrated “Foothills Cuisine”. They grow, harvest and eat according to the seasons and seeing and learning how it all functions and all about their overall farmstead philosophy is really magical, not to mention how tasty the treats are at the end. The heirloom gardens and heritage livestock pasture you’ll visit are not only something to behold and reason enough to choose this activity, but you’ll also get to visit the “truffle dog” kennel on this tour and meet all of the fluffy pups.
This was another one that the guys got into on their own several mornings throughout our stay, and was another one that they couldn’t stop raving about. Though all of the guys in our group are fishing and fly fishing enthusiasts, they noted that you absolutely don’t need to have any fly fishing experience whatsoever to thoroughly enjoy this activity. Blackberry has all of the fly fishing gear you could possibly need to not only succeed, but truly enjoy fly fishing in their well-stocked stream on the property, including waders, and their helpful guides will make sure you walk away not only feeling the magic and peace of the river in the woods, but also catch some big ones. This is one that Chris couldn’t stop talking about. Another regular activity made exceptional and elevated by the staff and amenities at Blackberry. They also offer longer, more involved fly fishing excursions off-property in the Smoky Mountains, which we also heard fellow guests raving about, so if you have a day to dedicate to that and love fly fishing or are have been wanting to give it a try, I can’t imagine a better place to do it.
This is such a magical way to see the property. If hiking isn’t your think or you want to see the property from a different, slightly higher vantage point, you’ll love visiting Blackberry’s dreamy horse barn and taking a spin around the property through the streams and wildflowers by horse. We took a short one-hour ride around the property and through the most stunning fields of wildflowers and the stream, and it was nothing short of dreamy. It was an easy, leisurely ride, and we got to see another part of the property that we may not have otherwise seen as it’s quite far away from the main house and where our rooms were. I absolutely loved this and really enjoyed seeing the natural beauty of the Blackberry landscape this way.
As you’d probably imagine, Blackberry’s location in the Smoky Mountains means it has access to some pretty spectacular hiking. Within the property alone there are more than nine miles of hiking trails, which you can tackle with a local guide that will share stories, local history and insight into the flora and fauna you see around you, or you can go it alone (which my mom did and really enjoyed one morning) or with your group, although I think the guided route would be tons of fun and probably slightly safer (remember, the Smoky Mountains are the Smoky Mountains, animal population and all). Then there’s the off-site hiking options. There are over 900 miles of trails in the Smoky Mountain National Park and Blackberry offers guided options for incredible off-site hiking, too so you can take in the spectacular beauty of this incredible corner of country.
The Wellhouse Spa
As mentioned, the Wellhouse Spa is absolutely gorgeous and housed inside a massive barn-like structure… and by barn-like I mean the most luxe, zen, rustic-fresh-modern-southern-farmhouse-inspired space I’ve ever stepped foot in. Within our group we tried the more traditional services like Swedish massages, which were, like everything else at Blackberry, tastefully elevated and delightfully relaxing, and the more novel offerings including the Smoky Mountain Skin Glow, which my sister said was every bit as incredible and rejuvenating as you’d hope it would be. She said her skin had never felt so refreshed! Inside the Wellhouse spa there’s also a fresh juice and smoothie bar (where you can also grab a cocktail, if that’s your vibe that day) and the gorgeous pool with the most incredible view sits right outside its doors overlooking the mountains. To make an entire day of the Wellhouse Spa would be completely understandable!
Dinner at The Barn
This isn’t necessarily an “activity” per se, but needs to be included on the activity list so no one misses out on this one if you’re visiting Blackberry. My entire family agrees that our dinners together at The Barn, the most drop-dead gorgeous dining space we’ve ever seen, were a highlight of our visit and should not be missed. Not only is the rustic, cozy, elevated-southern-farmhouse-inspired setting positively magical, but the food is beyond creative and delectable. It’s otherworldly. Each course is so delicious in all of the most surprising and exciting ways, and paired with an equally incredible wine selection and cocktail list, it’s simply heaven. I really just can’t imagine a more perfect, stunning setting to dine.
Wine & Whiskey Tastings
One thing that’s particularly special at Blackberry is their wine cellar, beer production and whiskey selection. Their Blackberry beer production is quickly making a name for itself across the country amongst beer enthusiasts and the general public alike, so it’s totally worth trying while visiting if you have yet to taste it, but their massive 160,000 bottle strong wine cellar full of some of the world’s finest, most interesting, unique and exciting wines is the real star of the show. Also nestled inside this wine cellar is a collection of some of the most sought-after whiskies from all over the world, which yes, includes all (or most) of the beloved Van Winkles. If you’re into whiskey or wine, either of the tastings would be really exciting and worth enjoying because their offerings and the cellar space are so unique, but really the most exciting thing for us was simply touring the incredible wine cellar with one of Blackberry’s Sommeliers after dinner at The Barn, taking in the wonder of the tunnels and the space and hearing about their cooler than cool wine program and philosophy from such a passionate expert.
Wakesurfing & The Mastercraft Experience
This activity is one that we didn’t have time to tackle (and we get a lot of boat time in up on the lake in the summer in Michigan), but an activity that fellow guests and Blackberry staff absolutely raved about. You and your group can spend the afternoon learning how to wake surf behind one of their beautiful MasterCraft boats off-site on the lake, or if water sports aren’t your style you can simply soak in the natural beauty of the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains while you tour one of the beautiful East Tennessee Lakes by boat. If you head out on the MasterCraft experience, not only will you get to tour the lake by boat, you’ll also be picked up by members of the MasterCraft customer service team for a private exclusive tour of their factory nearby to see how these beautiful boats are built!
Highlights From Our Visit to Blackberry Farm in Walland TN
At Blackberry, it’s both the little and the big things that make this place to exceptional, peaceful and over-the-top luxurious. So I thought it would be fun to point out some of our personal favorite touches and moments that made this our favorite family trip of all time.
The full-sized refrigerators and freezers right outside your room fully stocked with all of the refreshments you can handle from ice cold cokes and lemonades to entire drawers full of ice cream bars ready for you should you need a little midnight (or midday) snack.
- The basket of Blackberry’s house-made pimento cheese waiting in your room upon arrival. There’s pimento cheese and then there’s Blackberry pimento cheese. Again, another southern tradition Blackberry elevated and made exceptional in a delightfully personal way.
- A post-dinner, private family tour of their incredible wine cellar by one of their sommeliers. This cellar isn’t just a cellar, either. It’s underground, entirely massive and truly something to behold. The entirety of the 160,000 bottle strong Blackberry Farm Wine Cellar runs underground between The Barn and their event venue and is connected by what they call “the tunnel” which is full of wine and actually divided into two separate tunnels by an underground whiskey tasting room. Cool doesn’t even begin to describe this experience and it’s yet again something that makes Blackberry one of the most unique, exceptional culinary destinations on the planet.
- Visiting the truffle-hunting dogs and the “truffle puppies”. Having the ability to go visit these fluff balls of lovable energy whenever we wanted was completely magical. For a dog/animal lover like myself, I just can’t express enough how life-changing that part of the trip was.
- The rooms. The Blackberry Farm accommodations are just incredible from head to toe and our gorgeous room was honestly such a highlight and as mentioned, all are designed and decorated for max luxury and comfort in Blackberry’s special blend of traditional-southern-cottage-meets-modern-farmhouse-cool. The rooms at Blackberry are spread throughout the property and located within different houses and cottages, so there is a lot of variety to choose from depending on your needs or preferences. But make no mistake, you can’t go wrong. You can choose an Estate Rooms in the Guest House that overlooks the Smoky Mountains and is located right next to the Main House, which is where me, my sisters and our husbands stayed, suites in the Carriage House that also have stunning views of the Smoky Mountains, suites in the Singing Brook cottages (where my parents stayed), the Holly Glade cottages or the Hill Cottages, Blackberry’s intimate, original Historic Rooms, the cozy Farmstead Cottage, or one of their unique, beautiful homes on property to house a larger group. Favorite elements of our room? Big plush club chairs draped in velvet for curling up in and lounging, cozy, heated bathroom floors, a big, bright, luxurious shower, and the cloud-like, heavenly bed. Relaxing, refreshing and ridiculously comfortable.
- The morning view of the mist-covered Smoky Mountains from the huge tree swing next to the main house. The incredible, life-changing sunrise views at Blackberry will convert any night owl to a morning person with ease. We were so excited every morning waking up knowing what awaited us outside.
- A private family dinner al fresco at Blackberry’s Yallarhammer Pavilion that the kids organized to celebrate our parents’ 50th anniversary. This was such a special night for our family and especially my parents, and the Blackberry staff went above and beyond to make it the most magical evening filled with more incredible Blackberry food (fried chicken was on the menu and it did not disappoint). From the gorgeous tablescape complete with wildflowers picked especially for my mom in her favorite color palette to the dreamy outdoor setting next to the pond, this was a really fun night we’ll never forget and another elevated experience made possible by Blackberry.
- The food the food the food. Make no mistake, Blackberry is one of the most exciting, interesting, elevated, completely mind-blowing culinary destinations in the country, if not the world. From mouthwateringly delicious, southern-inspired, delightfully decadent breakfast each morning enjoyed on the patio overlooking the mist-covered Smoky Mountains to the most enchanting, creative, unforgettable dinners in the rustic, elegant Barn, the food in and of itself is an experience and reason enough to visit. Which is exactly how Blackberry likes it. The food isn’t an afterthought… it takes center stage and that’s such a beautiful part of the whole experience.
I hope you guys enjoyed this little peek inside a true treasure of a travel experience and feel inspired to tackle all of your 2020 travel dreams with gusto! This was definitely an incredible experience that we’ll never forget, and if you have any questions about Blackberry Farm in general or what to know before you go, comment below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to chat all about it and provide insight wherever we can!
Shop our Walland TN Blackberry Farm Looks: