Just outside Washington, DC lies Loudoun County, Virginia where thousands of horses wander the countryside, sharing our time-treasured rural landscape with vineyards and historic estates.
It’s a place where thoroughbreds are raised, derby riders are born and Olympians are trained. It’s a place that serves as an idyllic country escape for Washington notables including the Obamas and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who spent countless hours riding horses along the trails.
With its historic towns and stacked stone fences along horse-dotted foothills, Loudoun preserves a simpler time and provides a glimpse into America’s past. Long before it became known as DC’s Wine Country and a premier East Coast wine destination, Loudoun was known as the horse and hunt capital of Virginia. Today, more than 14,000 horses, 92 properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places, and 40-plus vineyards and wineries call Loudoun home — providing an unparalleled visitor experience that intertwines the equestrian, historical and wine worlds.
Saddle up for a journey back through time as we uncover Loudoun's history as an American landmark with an equestrian spirit… Hopefully you’re inspired to make a visit to some of these iconic Loudoun locations with the history lover or horse lover in your life!
Aldie Mill Historic Park
As part of our Summer of Love tour, we transported back in time this past Sunday to Aldie Mill.
Aldie Mill was built between 1807 and 1809 for Charles Fenton Mercer, a prominent statesman, who took commercial advantage of the nearby Little River and proximity to three major turnpikes.
It was an active hub of the community that consisted of a merchant mill, country mill, and granary, and has Virginia’s only known tandem water wheels.
During the Civil War, the mill provided grain for both Federal and Confederate troops. President James Monroe was an early customer while living in nearby Oak Hill.
Just west of Aldie, at a bend in the Snickersville Turnpike, is a historic marker erected in 1880 attesting to the sacrifice of the northern soldiers, the only monument to Union forces on southern soil.
Visit on weekends in season to watch milling demonstrations when water levels permit. It is impressive to see the double overshot mill wheels working and the water-powered technology grind and bag corn.
National Sporting Library and Museum
Founded in 1954, the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) is located in Middleburg, the heart of Virginia’s beautiful hunt country.
The inviting, six-acre campus, world-class research Library and fine art museum highlights the rich heritage and tradition of country pursuits.
Angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, foxhunting, flat racing, polo, coaching and wildlife are among the subjects one can explore in the institution’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives and art collection.
The NSLM offers a wide variety of educational programs, exhibitions and family activities throughout the year.
Oatlands Historic House and Gardens
Oatlands, a National Trust site, encompasses 360 acres in scenic easements and features a Greek Revival mansion, circa 1804, rare 19th century brick dependencies including America's oldest restored propagation greenhouse, circa 1810, and a magnificent four acre English terraced garden.
Oatlands offers guided tours of the mansion and self-guided tours of the grounds and garden. The gift shop features unique gift and gardening items.
Oatlands is a lovely place to spend the day. Snack food is available in the gift shop, but visitors are welcome to bring a picnic. Oatlands is also the perfect site for elegant weddings, social gatherings, special events and corporate meetings!
Salamander Resort and Spa
This 340-acre estate uses the rolling Middleburg landscape as the backdrop for numerous equestrian programs. Take a trail ride or experience the one-of-a-kind Equine Communication program that unites horses and humans through a hands-on approach that puts you in the ring, communicating with the gentle creatures. Not to mention, you can meet Salamander’s very own award-winning mini horse, Cupcake! Each week, she graces the Living Room to greet guests and welcome them to their home-away-from-home with a signature Cupcake Cocktail.
George C. Marshall’s Dodona Manor
George C. Marshall's Dodona Manor is situated on 3.8 acres of gardens on the eastern end of Leesburg's Historic District. The site is designated a National Historic Landmark as the residence of General George C. Marshall from 1941 until 1959.
During his residency, General Marshall served our nation as Chief of Staff of the Army, as Special Envoy to China, as Secretary of State, as President of the American Red Cross and as Secretary of Defense. His career as a military officer spanned 44 years, including distinguished service in two world wars.
General Marshall was the architect of the European Recovery Plan (The Marshall Plan), and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. General Marshall was described as the "Greatest American of the twentieth century" by both Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
More than 90 percent of the items in the house belonged to the Marshalls when they lived here in the 1950s!
Morven Park, located on the northern edge of Leesburg was once home of Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis and his wife Marguerite.
More than 70 years after his death, the accomplishments and ideals of Governor Davis still resonate within the 1,000 acres of this one-of-a-kind place.
Each year, more than 100,000 people visit the park to participate in its highly competitive equestrian events, tour its three museums, attend educational and recreational programs, or just absorb the beauty of the woodlands, historic buildings and formal gardens.
Polo in the Park at the Morven Park International Equestrian Center
Another aspect of Morven Park that is great to enjoy is its International Equestrian Center where Polo in the Park is put on every summer!
The Summer of Love tour will stop at Polo in the Park this Saturday where EVERYONE is invited to come out in their most FUN “Lilly Pulitzer or Louder” outfits. You can even shop your favorite Lilly Pulitzer looks at an on-site pop up, provided by the Tysons Galleria Lilly Pulitzer store! Plus, capture your favorite Summer of Love memories with pictures in front of our vintage VW Tour Bus and a special Lilly Pulitzer photo op backdrop.
The sport is thrilling to watch for long-time fans and new spectators alike, with nonstop action in the arena. Families can look forward to the intermission between the matches, when kids of all ages are invited into the polo arena for exciting games, including tug-of-war. Polo guests are encouraged to picnic on the terraced viewing area next to the arena, bringing in their favorite snacks and drinks, or purchasing on site.