The Goodstone Inn and Estate in Middleburg, Virginia, tucked amid thickets of forest and rolling fields, is so vast that even a 900-pound pig can escape detection.
When my seven-year-old daughter and I arrived, our first question was, "Where's Oliver?" Oliver being the enormous rescue pig that now calls this estate home. Although we circled back to what we were told was his pen by the big red barn, Oliver managed to elude us, as did the horses, much to the dismay of my equine obsessed daughter, although we did mange to startle a mother sheep and her skitterish babies.
Goodstone Inn is nestled in the heart of horse country about 40 miles from DC, but another world entirely. The town of Middleburg is known for its historic stone buildings, upmarket shop and country chic restaurants.
The inn is only a few minutes drive away, but what a few minutes it is.
The approach is nearly as atmospheric as the property itself. A winding lane, which is contoured by a creek, rambles past horsey estates and dense forests. In spots, the branches of the trees overhead touch, creating an arching canopy to drive beneath.
There are charming cottages and stone homes scattered about the Goodstone estate, each unique and inviting, but my daughter and I couldn't have chosen a better location that our suite (called the Stallion) inside the Carriage House. The décor is French country meets horse country with notched hardwood floors, white washed wood paneling offset by florals and checked tapestries, marble-topped antique dressers and shabby chic painted chests.
The Carriage House is ground central for the property, and happens to be where Goodstone's acclaimed restaurant is. Relying largely on locally sourced ingredients, the menu reads like a farm-to-table advertisement: A strudel of wild forest mushrooms, a garden salad so fresh it was picked just outside the window, a vegetable risotto studded with local fava beans. And it doesn't get more local than the honey, which comes from hives on property.
The 265-acre property is where you go to master country idyll, which my daughter and I managed rather well. After meandering along one of the trails that sliced through a stand of tall oaks, we landed at a stone-lined pool that was framed by pillars, looking as though it had emerged from ancient Greece. The water was so clear that you could see to the very bottom of its seven-foot depth.
After a cool-off dip, we padded down a hill, through a garden gate to a field where we pumped our legs in unison on a swing hanging from a tree branch and cuddled up on a hammock watching clouds drift before dedicating an hour to trying out old school shuffle board.
I am sure there are some families who would find the diversions here too few, but I pity them. Goodstone provides families with ample time and space to simply spend time together amid one of the world's most spectacular landscapes. We spent time chasing butterflies and running from bees, scampering along garden paths and picking up fallen petals.
That night as we tucked ourselves into the four-poster bed dressed in mega-thread count sheets, we vowed to return next year. A 900-pound pig can't hide forever.