Plan a Farm Stay or B&B Getaway in West Tennessee
My husband and I once made a pact to stay in bed-and-breakfasts as much as possible when we traveled. Then we became parents. Bed-and-breakfasts didn’t exactly want us anymore, and we understood: As much as we loved our daughter, her early wake-up calls, mealtime shenanigans and unmitigated volume shattered the sanctuary B&Bs held for us (and our fellow guests). Nonetheless, we wanted to introduce her to the B&B concept and its openness – the serendipity of meeting, maybe even getting to know, your fellow guests as well as your proprietors. So, we determined to find kid-friendly stays of the sort in West Tennessee. Here, our favorites:
Peaceful Oaks Bed, Breakfast and Barn, Medina (just north of Jackson): Peaceful Oaks feels home-y because it is: Proprietors Chris and Johnnie Sampson raised their sons here and turned the property into a bed-and-breakfast once the boys left home:
Inside, the home is now configured as a guestroom and a suite. For two, the “Mellow Master” features a large bedroom, private bathroom and a screened porch with a hot tub. For families, the Serenity Suite offers two bedrooms, one full bath, a full-sized kitchen with an eat-in area and a living room. This was the suite we reserved. If you’ve stayed in a traditional hotel room with a four-year-old, you know how hard (impossible) it can be to convince him or her to sleep while you’re still awake. We, and she, loved having a bedroom just for her. Also, having our own kitchen simplified being away from home – we stocked all of our daughter’s preferred snacks in the full-sized refrigerator and prepared meals at our convenience:
Bonus: The Serenity Suite opens to Peaceful Oaks’ giant pool. A covered patio, surrounding deck and plenty of water toys and floats made us feel as though we’d discovered the ideal family-friendly mash-up where B&B meets resort. After playing all day in the pool together, we tucked our daughter into bed and wandered out onto the deck. When Miss Johnnie came by to say goodnight, we invited her to sit with us, sharing beer and stories under a big moon. For us, that’s the stuff B&B stays are made of.
This was two summers ago. The next morning, Miss Johnnie served us breakfast in the main house. (I haven’t forgotten her sausage and cheese gravy to this day.) Then, she and Chris toured us around Peaceful Oaks’ 36 acres, pointing to walking paths and fishing ponds amid the fringing woods; inviting our daughter into their pocket-sized garden to pick a handful of strawberries; showing us a dusty old barn where Chris was storing some of the vintage cars he likes to work on. Today, the barn looks like this:
…and includes this loft, the Moonshadow Barn Suite:
You can reserve it if you’re flexible: Since the Sampsons began hosting weddings in the barn last spring, the suite is frequently booked. Still, a stay this downhome, with proprietors as warm as Chris and Johnnie, is worth the wait.
Stillwaters Farm, Henderson (just southeast of Jackson): The Cottage at Stillwaters Farm isn’t a B&B by strict definition – more like a rental home with a complimentary basket of breakfast foods (and a full kitchen, naturally). But The Cottage’s coziness, and the kindness of farmers/owners Valeria and Rich Pitoni, capture the essentials of a B&B stay in a setting that’s made for families: 130-plus acres of fresh air and fast friends, namely chickens; miniature donkeys and zebu cows; horses and sheep:
The Cottage itself is a full-sized home – about 1,000 square feet including two bedrooms, one bathroom, the kitchen with an eat-in area and a living room. (It’s all yours with a reservation.) Outside, it’s cheery with bright red doors, rocking chairs and a butterfly and bird garden cultivated by Valeria:
Inside, it’s everything you’d expect from a B&B – closets and shelves full of books and movies (plus games all ages can play together); thoughtful details including Valeria’s photography and pretty antiques:
It’s a welcoming space to rest during your farm stay, which includes a “Critter Tour” with Valeria. The tour begins next door to The Cottage, where Jacob and Romney Cross Sheep cohabit with chickens inside this barn:
Next, you’ll climb in the golf cart (if the miniature donkeys will let you – they tend to swarm the vehicle in search of cuddles), and don’t be surprised if Bob the terrier or any of the farm’s Great Pyrenees tag along:
Beyond the pasture where the donkeys and cattle graze, you’ll stop at the horse stable to pet Rocky and friends:
…and then pass through woods and meadows to see what you can see. For my family, the tours have revealed bunnies in summer and deer in winter.
Depending on your crew’s interests and ages, you might even add farm chores to your agenda (just ask Valeria). We’re looking forward to returning so our daughter can help collect eggs from the hen house; other guests have volunteered to help with gardening and painting projects.
What’s your favorite West Tennessee respite when you’re traveling with children? Tell us in the comments section below.