For a family of eight, it can be difficult to find a vacation spot that is relaxing yet keeps everyone entertained. As our family also covers a considerable age range from first graders to college students and married adults, it is even more difficult to find a place to go that everyone will enjoy. When we manage to find an opening between school and karate classes and homework, we jump on the opportunity to pack up the family and head to Blackberry Farm.

There is no wrong time to go to Blackberry Farm. Each season offers a new range of activities. Our latest visit was during this year’s incredibly mild February, so we had the opportunity to dabble in a bit of both outdoor and indoor activities. It all starts when you are handed the keys to your golf cart for the weekend. I don’t know who doesn’t like to trade in their regular car for one of these. It quickly transitions you into vacation mode.

Early morning breakfast at Blackberry Farm usually involves a misty golf cart ride to the dining room, followed by fresh pastries, thick bacon, and Eggs Benedict that melt in your mouth. Breakfast usually ends with someone spilling their drink across the whole table and onto the ground. But the staff at Blackberry Farm is always just a step away, assuring you that it is no big deal and it happens all the time. I’m sure it doesn’t, but they make you feel better anyway.

The women are booked for massages, and the men are set to shoot skeet and tour the farm for the rest of the afternoon. The young boys will trek along with the men, maybe fishing, or maybe searching for sticks to whack on things along the way. Everyone will meet back up for fly fishing; no one wants to miss that. The boys all head over to see the newborn truffle puppies, and the women head over for a some pampering at the spa.

If you have never been to the spa at Blackberry Farm, it is a must: without a doubt the most relaxing and refreshing spa I have ever been to. The ambiance is inviting and cozy as you step into the cottage-style lounge and wait for your masseuse. Herbal tea and raw almonds await you, along with a view of the entire valley in which Blackberry farm sits. The peacefulness you feel in those hours at the spa remains with you for the rest of the weekend, no matter what adventures you have planned.

Meanwhile, the men have tromped off to view the farm, starting with the Lagotto truffle puppies, Italian-bred dogs that have been trained to hunt truffles. There is much more to see on the farm, though: the gardens where most of the produce you will be eating is grown or the dairy barn where their homemade cheeses come from. These things remind you of the fresh and pure food that is put on your plate every day, just like the old days.

When it’s almost time for fly fishing, the men and the six- and seven-year-olds start to make their way to the creek. As they are walking, they come across a man with a walking stick, wearing traditional English hunting clothes. Following close behind him are about twenty beagles, all eager to go wherever their master is taking them. This is Blackberry Farm’s fox hunt, something that doesn’t happen often. The boys could not be more excited to chase after the little dogs as they trot down the path. If it weren’t for the boys in their Nike sneakers and jeans, you would think you were back in England.

Fly-fishing at Blackberry farm is an experience you will never forget. The picturesque fishing cabin, with its wood-burning stove, instantly transports one back into a simpler time. Everyone slips on waders and trudges over to the stream that flows through the land. While some of us are busy landing our flies in perfect line with the trout, others are trying to untangle their lines from the tree behind them. Nevertheless, everyone finishes the experience with a smile on their face—even the guides, though I’m sure it’s because they have never seen anyone lose more flies that we have

Dinner, though, is no doubt everyone’s favorite part of the day. Gathering together in the large red-barn-turned-formal-restaurant with the fire warming your back is the perfect way to end an adventure-packed day. We all enjoy watching the chefs work in the open kitchen, unafraid to let their guests visually explore their craftsmanship. The menu is limited, but you can’t pick a wrong dish. It’s comforting knowing that the food on your plate is grown or produced on the land that you have called home these past few days.

The remaining time is filled with horseback riding, canoeing, and exploring the farm.
As the weekend comes to a close, everyone is physically worn out but mentally rejuvenated. There is something about immersing yourself in a simpler way of life that tires you out and yet energizes you for the days ahead, and that is Blackberry Farms’ specialty.