The heart of horse country; Middleburg
"in and around middleburg"
From: carlos ]
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:42 PM
To: Bein, Kent, CIV, OASD(HA)/TMA
A friend of mine is visiting Middleburg with his family in the Fall. Could you recommend hotel and restaurants to stay & eat. They want top quality money is not a concern...
The Red Fox Inn ( http://www.redfox.com/ ) is the premier inn in Middleburg. George Washington used to stay there en route to Winchester, etc. It's a fabulous, beautiful little inn. John Kennedy held press conferences there in his day when Jackie was out riding with the Orange, Piedmont or Middleburg Hunts. Ask for the Martha Washington suite.
Middleburg itself is only 800 people, so it's a small, small place. Red Fox has great for food, but the real place in town is the Coach Stop; not because the food is so great, but because of the ambiance. Everyone in town goes there. You'll always see someone you know. The talk in the Coach Stop is invariably horses, with a smattering of dog lover talk, as opposed to "hound" talk. Fox hunters hunt with "hounds", not dogs. The female fox hound is a b itch, the male is a dog. All other canines in fox hunters' culture are "curs", regardless of pettigree... Regardless. You could have a seven hundred thousand dollar show dog and the hunters would still refer to it as a cur....That's just the way they are. Interesting culture, the fox hunters....
Others of us talk dogs in the Coach Stop, and our Fox Hunter friends good naturedly call them dogs right along with us. Horses and dogs are the mainstay conversation in the Coach Stop. Mike and Mark are two brothers who have owned the Coach Stop for fifteen or so years. The staff, owners, waitresses, cooks, bus people, have been there for years. Turnover is rare. Pat is my favorite waitress. She's had a hard life and is such a sweetheart. I wish I could do more for her.
Brenda Gentry doubles as either cook or waitress in the Coach Stop, and when she's not doing either she is rescuing homeless dogs, on her own nickle. She's not a fox hunter, so "dogs" in this case refers to all canines. She would never denigrate a dog by calling it a cur, and throws every spare dollar she can find into saving those homeless creatures, just because she loves them. Our Newfie/Great Pyrenness mix came to us from Brenda. The Coach Stop, our post office, and the bank are the three places you will always see people you know in M'burg.
South of M'burg is The Plains. Willard Scott's horse farm is in The Plains, as was Robert Di Nero's farm. The best place to eat there is the Rail Stop ( http://www.railstoprestaurant.com/ ). DeNiro used to own it, but I believe has since sold it and moved west. There's another nice restaurant right on the rail tracks just as you get into the village; Girasole. (no web site I could find). It's a very nice place.
"Triangle forming the horse community"
Because huge horse farms are the area's mainstay, some of these small villages work as a homogenous community. Midleburg, The Plains and Upperville form the nucleus of horse country, with the Hunter's Head ( http://www.huntersheadtavern.com/ ) being the best restaurant in town. It's really my favorite of all of them, actually.
Just to the west of Upperville is The Blackthorne Inn ( http://www.blackthorne-inn.com/ ). Wonderful place! and just west of the Blackthorne is Ashby Gap, part of Paris, Virginia.
Paris Virginia is another significant stop. It's right at one the state's most beautiful scenic treasures, the Ashby Gap. There is no more beautiful vista anywhere on the planet than cresting Route Fifty from the west across the Ashby Gap. Paris has a population of 51 people, unless someone recently died... The Ashby Inn is known far and wide as one of the top inns to stay when doing horse country. http://www.ashbyinn.com/.
A few miles beyound the Gap is the Blue Skillet, a small dive barbecue joint that's pretty good, complete with a bullet hole in the bar from the 1950's. It's straight country, complete with overweight, salt of the earth proprietors. Blue Skillet (540) 837-1726,
1316 John Mosby Hwy, Paris, VA 20130. Everyone stops there sooner or later, at least once. Do not expect anything resembling refinement.
Not far from there is the Long Branch Historic House and Farm, Millwood Virginia. ( http://www.historiclongbranch.com/ ). Speaking of Millwood, Project Hope is headquartered in Millwood, as too are three or four exceptional antique stores. It's a surprising little gem in what may seem the middle of nowhere.
Berryville has some magnificent buildings nestled among a lot of insignificant looking nothings. Grace Episcopal Church, the County Court House, and a vey impressibe set of residences attest to this village's once economic power inside the "bread basket of the Confederacy, the Shenandoah Valley.
Winchester has a RICH Civil War history, changing hands 42 separate times during the war. It was the cross roads of the bread basket, and thus held immense strategic importance. Old Town Winchester is fabulous, and if your friends are there for the Apple Blossom Parade in the fall, they could not do better. It's a great parade. Set up folding chairs in a compfratble location and enjoy a great parade all day long. Events flow for hours in that parade.
And I've only touched the surface... I wish I could spend the day putting together a write up for you. There's so much to see and do, and even more when you get to know these great people out here. I've never enjoyed any place I've lived as much as I've enjoyed Middleburg.