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Virginia Vacation

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  • Virginia Vacation

    My next history vacation, 2014, is going to be Mount Vernon-Monticello-Montpelier. When are gardens at their height in Virginia...and are there any horsey-events that would coincide?

    Any suggestions are appreciated!!
    Proud Member of the League of Weenie Eventers
    Proud Member of the Courageous Weenie Eventers Clique

  • #2
    March - foxhunting, point to point season/witch hazel, spice bush, lenten roses
    April - point to point season, Morven Park CIC/cherry blossoms
    May - Virginia Gold Cup, Virginia hound show, hunt trail rides/all sorts of flowers
    June - Upperville Colt and Horse Show, Colonial Downs race meet, hunt trail rides, polo/""
    July - Warrenton Pony Show, local shows every day of the week, polo/""
    August - hound walking, polo/roses!
    September - Warrenton Horse Show, cubhunting season/fall flowers
    October - Virginia Hunt Week, International Gold Cup, Washington International Horse Show, Morven Park CIC/fall colors
    November - Montpelier races, foxhunting - many opening meets/fall colors
    * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


    • #3
      HR, you didn't mention which flowers are in bloom for those COTH hunting weekends.

      (Seriously, I would add that Memorial Day weekend, in addition to hound show, the barn tour in Upperville is worth the detour, I assume it still occurs?)


      • #4
        Virginia Historic Garden Week is usually in April. Google it; each regional chapter has its own tours; some are more interesting than others; some are more house tours, some are more historically oriented, some are more garden-oriented.

        I would recommend last two weeks of April through May. I was at Monticello with friends visiting from Massachusetts week of April 20, and it was just beautiful. Not too hot yet, and bugs aren't too bad. The gardens at Monticello would be lovely in April too. Avoid UVA graduation weekend!

        Both Montpelier and Monticello have beautifully done Visitor's Centers that are good starting points, even if you are already up to speed on your history. You should also throw in visits to Civil War sites in Fredericksburg, Wilderness, Chancellorsville, and maybe Guinea Station, where Stonewall Jackson died, as they'd sort of be on the swing down from Mount Vernon toward Montpelier.

        Maybe consider adding Stratford Hall, the Lees' home (2 signers of the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary War generals, before that guy Bobby E.), a really unusual house in a huge park like setting with a working grist mill. They have a big equine driving event there every year. It's off the beaten path, but magnificent, and just a few miles from George Washington's birthplace, too.

        All of these historic homes have great Christmas observances, also.

        Kid in a candy store!

        I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


        • #5
          ETA --
          May -- Memorial Day weekend includes the Hunt Country Stable Tour
          * www.huntersrest.net -- Virginia hunt country's best Bed-and-Breakfast-and-Barn.


          • Original Poster

            Thank you both, Hunter's Rest and Martha Drum!! So many great ideas!

            When I mentioned this vacation idea to my sister, she suggested I go to facebook for ideas. A good suggestion, but I knew of greater fonts of wisdom!
            Proud Member of the League of Weenie Eventers
            Proud Member of the Courageous Weenie Eventers Clique


            • #7
              Also in April, Foxfield Steeple chases take place in Charlottesville, which I assume is where you'd stay at least some of the time given the places you want to visit. Definitely avoid UVA grad weekend - its usually the first weekend in May, and the town center is impossible then.

              I have great memories of visiting Appomattox Court House as part of a Civil War study in 7th grade. Its not too far of a detour from C'Ville depending how much time you have, and the drive is beautiful.
              "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
              "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


              • Original Poster

                Since you're all familiar with terrain and travel times: would you suggest a central base of operations, as it were, or a few days up by DC and a few days further south?

                Thanks again.
                Proud Member of the League of Weenie Eventers
                Proud Member of the Courageous Weenie Eventers Clique


                • #9
                  Foxfield races in April is WONDERFUL!!!! Also check out the Polo matches at King Family Vineyards. Opening weekend is usually Memorial Day weekend and they have them every Sunday (weather permitting). Wine and horses! What could possibly be better? There are several wonderful vineyards throughout the state. It is definitely worth visiting a few of them while on vacay. As for the UVA graduation, definitely avoid at all costs. Here are the dates through 2016 for final exercises so you can avoid them!

                  Final Exercises
                  Final Exercises 2014: Sunday, May 18.
                  Finals 2015: May 17
                  Finals 2016: May 22

                  Can't wait to hear what you plan! Keep us posted!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CarrieK View Post
                    Since you're all familiar with terrain and travel times: would you suggest a central base of operations, as it were, or a few days up by DC and a few days further south?

                    Thanks again.

                    I would do a few days in DC, and spend one touring Middleburg/The Plains/Upperville which is beautiful horse country. Spend a night in Middleburg then drive to Charlottesville through Keswick, which is also stunning horse country with views of the Blue Ridge. You could also hit up Mount Vernon en route. It is just about an hour out of your way.

                    C'Ville is a great base for Monticello and Montpelier (home of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation which is a very cool organization). Appomattox is not far from C'Ville if you decide to head there...it would be a good day trip. Also make sure you do a tour of UVA - you could probably combine that with Monticello, so do Monticello in the morning and UVA in the afternoon then dinner on the downtown mall. I'd save a day for the Blue Ridge Parkway too, especially if you make the trip in Spring or Fall (check best dates for leaf colors, but usually late October - early November).

                    Oh, PS - if you go in the summer check for outdoor plays/musicals/concerts at Mount Vernon. Such a fun evening, and everyone brings picnics to have on the lawn before.
                    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                    • #11
                      Mount Vernon/Manassas battlefield stuff/Middleburg/Warrenton/Morven Park/if you go in Virginia Garden Week, things in that area, Fairfax County/Loudoun County are vaguely one area. Mount Vernon a little off to the east side, but could strike all these from one location.

                      Then, take 29/15 South -- be sure to stop at the Moo Thru -- and stay closer to Charlottesville and Montpelier, Keswick, Monticello, Charlottesville/UVA, Foxfield, Appomattox (which is worth the trip, wonderfully recreated village, also a funky historical sign on the way there commemorating the man who was the "Popularizer of the Banjo") and any Albemarle/Madison/Orange Garden Week events there. Also, a few miles from Monticello is Ash Lawn/Highland, once home of James Monroe (you can't swing a dead cat without hitting the home of a founding father or president here), and they have some outdoor concerts there too. There are farm tours in Keswick in early June, the date this year is June 8 (Grace Church Farm Tour). All good stuff. Lots of great restaurants in Charlottesville.

                      I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


                      • #12
                        Carrie, Please let us know when you plan on coming. The Hunting Princesses would love to see you!
                        By the way, Gunston Hall, near Mount Vernon, is the home of George Mason, author of the Virginia Resolves, which became the Bill of Rights. George Mason University is named for him. He is a relative of ours, so I can tell you some of the family stories to go with that tour...
                        Intermediate Riding Skills


                        • #13
                          Take a look at the Morven Park in Leesburg. There's a newly-restored historic mansion, gardens, and the Equestrian Center which has something horsey almost every weekend, including the aforementioned hound show, horse trials and dressage shows.


                          • #14
                            I'm jealous of this vacation, I love Virginia and haven't been since last August .
                            "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                            "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                            • Original Poster

                              So, my sister and BIL have a gazillion time-share points. Can't pass up lodging for pretty much free. Guess I'll just have to suck it up, stay at some fancy-ass place, and drive a little farther to my destinations. I mean, I could stay at a more central, moderately fancy-ass place, or a more central, cabins-in-the-woods place, but my BIL said if I'm going to go might as well go big. And since it's his time-share... :: shrugs :: what's a girl to do?

                              Tentative schedule is April 26-May3rd. Maybe a couple more days.

                              Tentative things to do:
                              Mt Vernon
                              Crozet--yes, for a fan-girl picture near the "Welcome to Crozet" sign or whatever they might have
                              Horse Country
                              And fit in historic garden week and horsey things when I can

                              Thanks again for everyone's suggestions; I've copied them all down!
                              Last edited by CarrieK; Aug. 25, 2013, 05:12 PM. Reason: forgot stuff
                              Proud Member of the League of Weenie Eventers
                              Proud Member of the Courageous Weenie Eventers Clique


                              • #16
                                Whenever you end up going, check to see if Morven Park is hosting an upper level eventing competition. The place is beautiful the Mansion is beautiful as was the carriage museum (have not seen that for a long while so cannot say if it is still the same) The grounds to watch the horses go is so spectator friendly I would certainly suggest that. As far as public gardens in the area, I am afraid unless you find that it coincides with the farm and garden tour put on by Loudoun County, you are out of luck. That is a good one though, many gorgeous private gardens there.
                                "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                                • #17
                                  Since you'll be at Mt. Vernon, stop by River Farm (once part of Washington's farm) on the way, it's about 2 or 3 miles before you get to Mt. Vernon.


                                  It's now the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, so they definitely do flowers and gardens.
                                  Horse & Dog Designs: Clothing, Home Decor, Custom Gifts, ETC:
                                  WoofNWhinny*GIFT IDEAS for Horse Lovers!
                                  Fabric, Shoes, & Nail Art
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                                  • #18
                                    If you get to Middleburg, the National Sporting Library is a must-see. If you get to Warrenton, be sure to hit Horse Country Saddlery -- GREAT selection of elegant, horsey gifts and books (including used and rare books!!) in addition to all the usual tack-shop stuff.

                                    National Sporting Library

                                    Horse Country Saddlery
                                    Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Alas, my Virginia vacation for this April is cancelled.


                                      :: clears throat :: Sorry about the unrestrained excitement. But I just took and passed the civil service test (the job is a different classification than the one I'm in) so I'm waiting to be called for an interview, which skuttlebutt told me would probably be in the middle of April.

                                      Of course, all this was before I knew that a certain Puppy Party with a petting zoo and everything is going to be held right when I would have been down there. ZOMG!! PUPPIES!! :: lip quivers :: I'm sure there'll be another Puppy Party next year, because puppies must be born. But still... :: pouts, wipes eye ::
                                      Proud Member of the League of Weenie Eventers
                                      Proud Member of the Courageous Weenie Eventers Clique


                                      • #20
                                        Good luck to you on your interview!

                                        POOH on having to cancel your visit.

                                        Puppy breath!! Oh, you will be missing the puppy breath.