So we did it. We brought our kids and my sister to Blackberry Mountain on a summer vacation!
We contemplated the idea back in January when we were there for our anniversary. A lot of their amenities change in the summertime and it opens up the mountain more, the valley pool and the coolest pond with slides so we knew we had to do it.
With our love of their wine and culinary experience, we knew we would love it just the same, maybe more and to experience more outdoor activities with our kids in an environment they aren’t really accustom to was super appealing. The quick flight from Sanford to Knoxville (an 1hr 30 max) with a car to pick us up made it even more worthwhile.
We rented the Wild Crabapple house which was perfect. All of their lodging options are beautiful and exquisitely designed, but this was practical for our family – with two queen bedrooms, two full baths, bunk room, powder and kitchen, laundry, living and outdoor space it couldn’t have been more perfect.
So the two big questions I got from sharing our trip on Instagram was
- When is the best time to go? And I think this is a little tough – for me, it’s Fall. The weather gets chilly enough at night and warm enough during the day and the Smoky Mountains just radiate with all their golden colors BUT if you plan on bringing kids – summer all the way.
- What was it like with kids? Well, let me start by saying that we weren’t the only family there. There were a ton of families there, some with kids younger than ours. They have amazing amenities open in the Summer that kids , I think, 4+ truly enjoy. Wells, being only 19 months, was the hardest to manage with nap times, meal times and bedtimes – so if we were to do this again, we’d just take the big kids and leave Wells at home
With all that being said though – here are some highlights that I would recommend if you decide to take the family:
Leverage Camp Blackberry – they have a great camp program that will watch your kids for you while you enjoy adult activities (think Mixology class, mountain biking, spa session, dinner date etc) All three of our kids did Camp Blackberry at one point and they all loved it. From arts/crafts, sports (they have a full gym), outdoor scavenger hunt – they will keep the kids entertained in the best way.
Family activities – We did the hike to breakfast which was super fun. It has views of the on property waterfalls and the reward at reaching the lodge for breakfast wears the kids out just enough to sit through it. We also did a guided family hike – our boys wanted to learn and stop questions more than anything which the guides catered to. They will learn about plants, insects, wildlife in a very interactive way. Truthfully though, you don’t need to schedule a hike – the paths down by the meadow/valley are super family friendly and available to you at your leisure. The golf cart is also a hit – we would just explore on the golf cart and look for animals – we saw bears, snakes, bunnies and turkeys!
Valley Pool – probably one of biggest highlights! The valley pool is a beautiful large (heated!) pool with a diving board, water fountains, a cute splash pad area and close to a large chess set up and the pickle ball courts. It has umbrellas, picnic benches and a covered area to get out of the sun if you need it. Equipped with toys, goggles, sunscreen and a spot to grab drinks, cold turkey sandwiches, snacks and popsicles! Kids loved swimming, eating the popsicles, finding bugs and making friends.
Pond / Slides – such a unique spot on the property. With lifeguards on duty and an array of life jackets it was as rugged and as safe as you could get. With a sandy beach and other water activities like paddle boards and canoes the two biggest kids really flourished here. Nick, too. The pond doesn’t open til 12pm so I didn’t make it most days with Wells’ nap schedule, but I did make it the last day and the big slide is FAST and also really FUN. This little dream spot is a core memory maker.
Kid Meals – they do have kid menus with just enough variety on them. They will, however, cater to whatever you ask for. Wells never really had a true breakfast, we would get fresh fruit and a muffin for him and he was set. Also, they will pack up food for you to go – whether a kiddo didn’t finish something and they can eat it later, or if you need to order and run. Also, ask for coloring sheets and crayons – they will gladly supply.
Blackberry Farm Brewery – we’ve always wanted to jump off property and check out their brewery but never found the time or the past few times we’ve been there it wasn’t open. They gave us a Lexus SUV with a booster and car seat and we took the crew to the brewery about 20 mins away. It’s no frills, but the beer is great, the food is also really good and it is family friendly with games and things to play. The staff here was also super nice and a nice change of scenery. Highly recommend!
S’mores Kits – most of the houses have fireplaces (indoor and outdoor) and they offer a simple s’mores kit that the kids looked forward to after dinner.
Side note – I snagged this Paper Shoot Camera before the trip and it was awesome to hand the kids the camera to take photos through their lens. They have a vintage feel that I was hoping for and will certain add to the memory book.
I know this place might be my husband’s favorite – but because we took the kids and made these special memories with my sister in tow, I now officially love the place that much more. The solid family time, crazy customer service, delicious food and wine – it was a beautiful retreat that I hope our kiddos talk about for years to come.