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Close-In Getaways
Comments () | Published February 1, 2010

Hunt Country Escape

People are drawn to Middleburg for many reasons: Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountain views, a quaint downtown with good shopping and restaurants, and hiking on the Appalachian Trail. But the scenic Loudoun County town of 600 is best known for its horses.

Middleburg’s rolling countryside, about 40 miles west of Washington, is a mecca for horse farmers and equestrians. Residents play polo, join hunt clubs, and attend shows and races. During the Memorial Day Weekend Stable Tour, many of the horse farms open their doors to the public.

Founded in 1787, Middleburg has more than 160 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Brick sidewalks are lined with restaurants, antiques shops, and art galleries. “The downtown shops are really eclectic,” says Lisa Patterson, who owns Mello Out, a cafe that makes marshmallows and other desserts. “A lot of them have a European feel.”

Market Salamander is a high-end carryout with gourmet sandwiches, seafood, cheeses, and fresh bread. Two blocks away, the Red Fox Inn has been open more than 280 years. Vineyards dot the surrounding countryside—Loudoun County has 26 wineries.

The most sought-after properties are estates with enough land to raise and ride horses. Long & Foster manager Michele Stevens says equestrian estates—which can sit on as many as 100 acres—start around $4 million. Properties on five to 15 acres usually fetch between $700,000 and $1.5 million. In town, newer townhouses and homes on less than five acres start around $700,000.

Middleburg’s scenery and slower pace of life tend to attract urbanites. Marc Swedenburg runs a winery on the outskirts of downtown Middleburg. In his twenties, he lived in Alexandria and loved city life. Says Swedenburg: “Now I like the peace of country.”

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Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 02/01/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles