Virginia's horse country in Middleburg may be the state's best-kept secret for family luxury and fun. This little town is home to one of the top resorts in the Shenandoah Valley, hosts major equestrian events, serves up one tasty meal after another, and will keep your kids entertained in unexpected ways. Museums, cooking classes, and polo abound in this tucked-away playground for the horse-centric or those just looking for a break, making it the perfect weekend getaway for anyone living in or visiting the Washington, D.C. area.
If you are a luxury-minded traveler, then the Salamander Resort and Spa is for you. This gorgeous property is less like a hotel and more like walking into your favorite aunt's living room, library, and dining room. Since this resort is smack dab in the middle of horse country, you will see many horse-themed touches throughout, including saddle purse chairs and octagonal shaped restaurants. If a horse show is in town you will see more than a few riders walking around in their boots and riding pants. Kids will love the outdoor swimming pool with splash area, while parents can relax in the heated spa pool and relaxation rooms if they need a break. The rooms are lush with massive tubs and separate showers. Families will definitely want to hang out on the Great Lawn to play with the giant chess set and roast S'Mores over the fire pits. If you have a horse lover in the family, make sure you check out their equestrian programs. They offer riding lessons, pony rides, and trail excursions for riders of all skill levels.
While Salamander Resort and Spa is definitely the most family-friendly option in Middleburg, the Red Fox Inn and Tavern also allows children for a slightly lower price in town. Most of your other options are small inns and B&B's that cater more towards couples though. If you are looking for more traditional hotel options you will need to stay in one of the neighboring towns.
Picnics are easy to prepare for with a stop at Salamander Market, where you can grab prepared salads, cured meats, sandwiches, cheeses, and drinks. Eat in or take your meal to your favorite park or a polo match.
The Hunter's Head Tavern is the place to go on a warm day when you need your English food fix. They have a lovely family-friendly Sunday brunch that won't break the bank, but most people know it for their lunch and dinner menu. Their burger gets two-thumbs up by parents and kids alike, while the bangers and mash and meat pies will keep any Anglophile content.
Any given morning you will find plenty of people sitting outside at Common Grounds to get their caffeine and breakfast fix. This is a great place to people watch, let the kids get sugared up on donuts, and enjoy a quiet cup of coffee with the locals and your fellow visitors to the area.
Who would have thought that Twilight Polo at Great Meadows Polo Club in the The Plains, Virginia would be a great nighttime activity with kids? I certainly would have never guessed, but then I took my 5-year-old son to a match. Within minutes he had picked his team and was shouting for the blue team to win. I was ready to leave after the first half of the first game. Nope. That kid wasn't going to budge until he knew who won. Neither of us had ever seen a polo match so we had to figure out the rules, but it wasn't hard and pretty soon we were both cheering. If you decide to check out a game, bring a picnic basket and some beverages to make a night of it. There are plenty of kids running around and families camped out on the lawn. This is a weekly summer event and you can tell which families never miss a match.
Horse lovers will easily find enough to do in Middleburg with the many horse related events throughout the year, but what about families who aren't into horses? What about the ones with little kids who need to be entertained, especially on a rainy day? The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum swoops in to the rescue. This kid wonderland is located just a 40-minute drive from Middleburg in Winchester, VA. Piles of LEGOS, an ambulance, a huge triceratops, build your own roller coaster set, and an apple processing station complete with pulleys and wheel barrels are just a few of the exciting activities kids can get into. There are multiple projects offered almost every day for kids to join in on, and parents can even get in on the action if they like or sit back in the cozy chairs located in a few key spots around the museum.
Young chefs may want to spend the morning at the museum and then head to Nibblins for a cooking class. This cookware shop offers classes for adults and children plus kid cooking camps. Isn't it time mom and dad stopped sweating in the kitchen and let their kids take over? We think so.
What are some of your favorite weekend escapes?
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