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A 60s-era use of pocket-watch fobs, several worn together as a bracelet.

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Diamonds in the Real Estate: Weekend Homes

While it hasn’t been a brutal winter in the District this year, it doesn’t mean we don’t get the fair-weather itch. Our minds race prematurely toward raspberry picking and the bounty of spring, maybe even a boat ride down the Chesapeake. Some of us jump even further into the future, planning our seaside beach weekends, wondering which shore to explore next. And if you found your ideal getaway spot, it might be worth trying to stay for more than just a long weekend. Renting a house or condo for the summer is a pleasure — and it’s a decent local economy booster wherever you wind up — but sometimes it’s just too painful to leave. If you’ve found a location that suits you, buying a summer and weekend home is a worthy investment. But the perfect getaway spot means many different things, depending on the person. Perhaps you’re looking for that white sandy beach surrounded by palm trees, golf courses, and world-class retail. Maybe you live a quieter existence and the Chesapeake Bay communities offer the lush solitude you seek. Others may seek a marriage of the two: relaxing beaches that afford your privacy with an array of fine dining and shopping to keep you busy through August. Of course, there are endless options when choosing where to build your getaway nest, and you could spend your life searching for that perfect place. Here are our favorite weekend and summer getaway spots: their solid economies have proven these areas to all be sound investments, and each has a unique culture and community that is hard to beat throughout the East Coast. Palm Beach, Florida West Palm Beach is the oldest incorporated municipality in South Florida. The city was founded by Henry Flagler and was intended for him to establish the Southern Florida Railroad. He aimed to establish a resort town and a “worker city” across from it. Instead, this city developed into the luxury homes and prestigious neighborhoods that it is known for today. Today, it is one of the world’s most desirable communities, acclaimed for its gracious lifestyle, luxury real estate and relaxed sophistication. Shopping and dining are enjoyed on internationally renowned Worth Avenue, while an active sporting life centers on world-class polo,golf, tennis, yachting and deep-sea fishing. Hosting an active calendar of events, noted cultural organizations include the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Flagler Museum, Society of the Four Arts and Norton Museum of Art. Palm Beach as an island is approximately 14 miles long and only one to four blocks at its widest point. The Atlantic Ocean forms its eastern boundary, with the western boundary along the Intracoastal Waterway or Lake Worth. Its beautiful beaches, golf, shopping, fishing, fine dining and upscale restaurants can keep anyone satisfied year-round. Of course, there are an endless variety of homes available in Palm Beach’s many neighborhoods Eastern Shore, Maryland Maryland’s Eastern Shore is probably best defined by “serenity.” Filled with lush inland forests, unspoiled wetlands and small, historic towns steeped in charm, any one of its towns is a great place to build a second home. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are endless opportunities for fishing, sailing, canoeing or kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay. Eclectic boutiques and antique shops line the streets alongside contemporary restaurants that feature the bounty of the surrounding farmland. History buffs can explore the centuries-old churches and homes, along with the preserved historic districts of Easton, St. Michaels and Oxford. And, lest we forget the seafood! There is a suprising diversity of real estate options in the Eastern Shore region, from waterfront to golf home communities, with single-family homes, condos or townhouses, new construction and living communities available. Talbot County and other counties of the Eastern Shore offer quaint waterfront communities, including St. Michaels, Oxford, Cambridge and Kent Island, with a variety of real estate options for water lovers. Here you’ll find luxury estate golf homes, active living communities, condos and townhomes, all along the Chesapeake and its tributaries. Luxury waterfront homes range in price from $2 million to $16 million. Golf course and in-town homes on the water range from $600,000 to $2 million. Waterfront condos and townhouses start around $350,000 and can go up to $1 million. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Are you having visions of moonlit walks on the boardwalk? Do you dream at night of cresting sandy dunes and gazing down at the Atlantic’s undulating tide as it gently sweeps the shoreline? Have you wished upon a star for low property taxes and zero sales tax? Okay, that last one is admittedly less romantic, but nevertheless, it’s still an integral part of Southern Delaware real estate’s growing appeal. Rehoboth Beach and its quieter neighboring communities of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, along with several other areas where you can find fantastic properties, collectively represent a Delaware real estate market that is drawing more savvy buyers every year. The word “Rehoboth” means “a place for all,” which makes the name apropos for this area, where people from all walks of life are equally welcome. The young, professional crowd from Washington comes for the beaches and the nightlife. Reader’s Digest has dubbed the famous Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, home to all manner of amusements, music, and spectacle, in its “Best in America” roundup.

Bunny Mellon’s Greatest Treasure: Oak Springs Farm in Upperville

Bunny Mellon’s expansive Oak Springs Farm just hit the market, listed by Washington Fine Properties. Rachel Lambert Mellon died at the remarkable age of 103 earlier this year, and her Upperville, Va., property has just arrived on the market for a whopping $70 million. The farm was the fabulously wealthy Mellon’s greatest treasure – a private hideaway where she pursued her deepest passions and entertained some of the world’s biggest celebrities. In Washington, D.C., Bunny and her philanthropist husband Paul Mellon are best known for their generous donation of more than 1,000 18th- and 19th-century European paintings to the National Gallery of Art. The couple also forged a fruitful relationship with the Kennedy family in the 1950s. The friendship was born on a visit to Oak Springs by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who was so inspired by the property that she requested Bunny’s advice on fine arts and antiques for the White House restoration. Later on during the presidency, Bunny was invited back to redesign the White House Rose Garden. She also landscaped Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis’s Martha’s Vineyard home and the JFK Presidential Library and arranged flowers for President John Kennedy’s funeral and Caroline Kennedy’s 1986 wedding in Hyannis Port, Mass. Her Oak Springs estate embodies the things we remember most about Bunny – her passion for the arts, her love of horses, her zeal for gardening and her aversion to public attention. Bunny cultivated the farm’s breathtaking 2,000 acres to the tee, with vine-draped arbors, sprawling meadows, neatly arranged flowerbeds and secret gardens. She added barns, stables, guest houses, a pool house, a small farmhouse that acted as Mellon’s home in later life, and the “Brick House,” a neo-Georgian mansion, designed by William Adams Delano. Additionally, the property is sprinkled with beautiful outdoor sculpture -- including a bronze statue of the Mellons’ Kentucky Derby winning horse, Sea Hero -- enchanting garden fountains and classically inspired, half-draped nude stone figures. The famously private Mrs. Mellon even installed a private mile-long airstrip, a rarity at the time for a private home in the mid-Atlantic states. Exquisite details drip from ever corner of the property’s interior space. Murals in the greenhouse trick the eye, with their trompe l’oeil portrayal of baskets, water cans and a host of other gardening supplies. Also depicted are personal items, like Bunny’s gardening hat, coat and cigarette case. The tromp d’loeil continues in the form of painted sun shade on the kitchen tiles inside Little Oak Spring, a small farmhouse, designed by H. Page Cross as a cozier house for the Mellons later on in life. Bunny’s ardor for horticulture led to the creation of the Oak Springs Garden Library, a collection of art, artifacts, rare books and manuscripts on all things gardening. The library was expanded in 2010. Before her death Mrs. Mellon, established the Gerald B. Lambert Foundation to maintain the building and the collection it houses. While Bunny owned properties in locales ranging from Antigua to Paris to Nantucket, she considered Oak Springs Farm her home. Accordingly, she and her husband displayed their impressive art collection, spanning centuries of work, all around their estate for their own and their guests’ enjoyment. As America’s quintessential trendsetter, Bunny was an avid collector of jewelry, clothing and other decorative objects. She even employed her own carpenter to design custom pieces for Oak Spring Farm’s interior. Unfortunately for potential buyers, Bunny’s personal estate is not being sold alongside the farm – her treasured possessions will begin being auctioned off by Sotheby’s in November. Sales are expected to net more than $100 million with proceeds, benefitting the Garden Library and a number of other entities dear to Bunny’s heart. However, the property itself represents an opportunity for prospective buyers to own a piece of history and become a part of the Mellon’s far-reaching legacy. [gallery ids="116093,116100,116089,116106,116103,116097" nav="thumbs"]

Steeplechase Races

Following is a sampling of the race meets and point-to-points scheduled for the spring of 2010. For a complete list of Virginia’s 2010 steeplechase events, visit the Virginia Steeplechase Association’s Web site at Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point Saturday, March 13, 12:30 p.m. Airlie Race Course Warrenton, VA 540-219-1400 Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point Saturday, March 20, 1 p.m. Salem Course Upperville, VA 540-687-3455 Bull Run Hunt Point-to-Point Sunday, March 21, 12:30 p.m. Brandywine Park Culpeper, VA 703-866-0509 Orange County Hunt Point-to-Point Sunday, March 28, 1 p.m. Locust Hill Farm Middleburg, VA 540-687-5552 Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point Saturday, April 3, 12 p.m. Ben Venue Farm Washington, VA 540-364-4573, 540-636-1507 Loudoun Hunt Point-to-Point Sunday, April 11, 12:30 p.m. Oatlands Plantation Leesburg, VA 703-777-8480, 540-338-4031 Middleburg Spring Race Meet Saturday, April 17 1 p.m. Glenwood Park Middleburg, VA 540-687-6545, 540-687-6595 Fairfax Hunt Point-to-Point Sunday, April 18, 1:30 p.m. Morven Park Leesburg, VA 540-687-0611 Middleburg Hunt Point-to-Point Sunday, April 25, 1 p.m. Glenwood Park Middleburg, VA 540-454-2991, 540-687-6069 Virginia Gold Cup Race Meet Saturday, May 1, 1 p.m. Great Meadow The Plains, VA 540-347-2612

Polo Is in!

The Oaks 8600 John Mosby Highway Upperville, Va. 20184 TWILIGHT POLO SATURDAYS: Twilight Polo is back and here to stay until Sept. 7. Every Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. in The Plains enjoy a polo match, hosted by Aspen Dale Winery. The polo matches are perfect for a family night out, with events like tug-of-war for the children, but can also be a fun date night for all couples. After each match, dance awaywith a DJ set in the pavilion. Tickets are $30 a carload. Great Meadow 5089 Old Tavern Road The Plains, Va. 20198 7TH ANNUAL VAN METRE POLO CUP: If you need another filling of polo besides twilight Saturdays, the Van Metre Polo Cup will take place on June 15 at Great Meadow. The celebrity polo players this year include Ignacio Figueras from Ralph Lauren and John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted. The Cup benefits Capital Caring and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Come to watch the celebrity match, dressed in your best pastels and sun hats, of course, knowing that you’re helping a good cause. General Admission tickets are $30. Great Meadow 5089 Old Tavern Road The Plains, Va. 20198 WEEKLY SAILBOAT RACES: Wednesday Night Sailboat Races at Annapolis Harbor will run until August 28. Sit dockside to view the some 150 boats race to the finish line at the Annapolis Yacht Club. Continue to kick off your weekend early with their post-race party. Races start at 6 p.m. and last until around 8 p.m. Annapolis Harbor 2 Compromise Street Annapolis, Md. 21401 [gallery ids="101321,151345" nav="thumbs"]

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Romantic Winter Getaways

With the first snow in what seems like well over a year, it is safe to say that we have a real winter on our hands. We tend to worry about the dog days of summer, but this is the time of year where cabin fever can really set in. If you want to defy the cold, now is the perfect time for those of us itching to take off on a relaxing weekend getaway. Pastoral bed & breakfasts and luxury hotels surround the D.C. area. The landscapes of these mountain and riverside resorts are in a rare, hushed state of wintry serenity, and the weather, while perhaps brutally cold, can be a good excuse to cuddle up in front of a fire with the one you love. The Ashby Inn and Restaurant In the town of Paris, Va. sits The Ashby Inn and Restaurant. Just an hour outside the city, this popular travel destination offers a respite for those jaded city dwellers seeking nature’s tranquility. A small inn with ten double rooms, it has a restaurant with 70 seats that tends to fill up every Saturday. For the adventurous couples, nearby Sky Meadow State Park, which can be seen from the porch of the Inn, offers great winter hiking. There’s nothing quite like stomping through the woods and hearing nothing but the rustling of bare branches and the crunch of snow under your feet. If you are looking for less strenuous quality time, the nearby town of Middleburg is well known for its antique shops, equestrian culture and, of course, the National Sporting Library and Museum, where you can take in the beauty of the wilderness through paintings without shivering in the cold. If it’s warm enough, stop by Middleburg Common Grounds, just across the street. They have great coffee, a cozy atmosphere, and a great chicken salad sandwich. Another great activity for those who want to relax but explore is a trip to any number of the over twenty local wineries located within 30 minutes of the Inn—the tasting rooms at Chrysalis Vineyards and Barrel Oak Winery are open year round, and their wine is worth stopping in to try. This resort is quite popular—they are often fully booked—so call to see what’s available. The Greenbrier The Greenbrier has the hallowed distinction as “America’s Resort”. Way out in West Virginia, The Greenbrier has entertained guests for generations. Under the ownership of Jim Justice, the hotel has built new amenities offers more entertainment opportunities for visitors, including a casino, live music, and its own PGA Tour event, the Greenbrier Classic, July 2-8, an event that will also feature a concert series with Toby Keith, Rod Stewart featuring Lionel Richie, Bon Jovi. All this may seem far away, but The Greenbrier now has its own place in Washington. The Greenbrier Upper Lobby, at 1427 H Street NW, is a space where travelers can book vacations at the Greenbrier. Decorated by Carleton Varney in his signature, colorful style, the Upper Lobby transports individuals to the halls of the hotel. The Greenbrier is offering a special getaway package that includes transportation to the hotel. Read more about it at The Homestead Resting on 3,000 acres of Allegheny Mountain terrain, The Homestead is a luxury mountain resort that has been spoiling their guests since before the American Revolution. This National Historic Landmark of a retreat is ranked among the world’s finest spa destinations, and has enough activities to keep you busy through the entire winter. There are a variety of suite accommodations from which to choose, including pet friendly rooms. Their world-class spa alone would nearly be worth the trip—even more so in the winter months, when the brittle cold leaves skin is particularly sensitive. After you revitalize the body and spirit with a hydrotherapy treatment, you can go see a movie at the in-house theater, or swim in the naturally heated indoor pool, play tennis on the indoor courts. Go ice skating, bowling, or even snow tubing. You can pretend it’s any season you want! The Homestead understands how to make the most out of every time of year. With nine restaurants to choose from, guests can dine in almost any manner they please. Put on your evening’s best to enjoy French American cuisine at 1766 Grille, or enjoy a poolside lunch wrapped in a beach towel with a view of the snowcapped mountains just outside the window. Goodstone Inn and Estate Close to The Ashby Inn and Restaurant, you can find The Goodstone Inn in Middleburg, Virginia. It is a luxurious, romantic country inn and gourmet restaurant set on 265 acres of rolling pastures and woodlands in the heart of wine and hunt country. Breathtaking vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding countryside appear from every vantage point. At Goodstone, the finest hospitality, dining, personalized service and attention to detail ensure that every visit is a special and memorable occasion. With 18 rooms spread about the rustic estate, it is a choice romantic destination—and it is at its most intimate during the winter months. There are many different activities available at The Goodstone. The estate grounds hold possibilities for hiking, biking and canoeing, all of which are included in the rates. For explorers, The Goodstone Inn can arrange activities such as hot air ballooning, horseback riding and history tours, while the many wineries in the area are a good choice for those seeking a more gastronomic experience. The Restaurant at Goodstone features a farm-to-table menu and uses only the finest, fresh ingredients available — mostly sourced from Goodstone’s own organic herb and vegetable gardens and the finest purveyors in the country. They Inn and Restaurant are currently offering winter getaway packages, so indulge in a special winter retreat while it still counts. The Inn at Willow Grove Moving south, The Inn at Willow Grove is located close to the town of Orange, Virginia. Just under two hours’ drive from Washington, this eclectic country inn presents itself as an upscale, luxury retreat. Recently renovated, the Inn has eleven rooms and a gourmet restaurant. The surrounding scenery combined with the beauty of the Inn attracts guests throughout the year. With heated floor tiles, soaking tubs and fireplaces, the accommodations are worth the trip alone. You might find yourself not wanting to leave the room—which is exactly the point of wintering away. But should you want to explore, there are plenty of things to do. Guest favorites include wine tours to the various wineries in the area. Keswick Hall at Monticello Just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, lies Keswick Hall at Monticello. A little more than two hours away from Washington, this Hotel is a great combination of a romantic Inn and a large resort. Guests travel here from all over the world to stay at this intimate haven, rated the number-one small resort in the country by Conde Nast. Located in the heart of Virginia, it is the perfect spot for a long weekend getaway. The Keswick Hall at Monticello offers a range of activities designed for couples. From couples massages and private cooking classes, to fireside billiards and couples tennis matches, there are countless activities to suit any mood. For wine enthusiasts, Keswick Hall has its own private vineyard, and offers tours of the other renowned Charlottesville vineyards nearby. Having all the amenities of a large resort with the intimacy of home, you can spend an entire weekend exploring the wondrous fall terrain of Keswick Hall. The Inn at Monticello Just a stone’s throw from Monticello proper, The Inn at Monticello is a five-acre bed & breakfast, and a convenient base of operations while exploring all that nearby Charlottesville has to offer. Just far enough outside the city to enjoy the rolling landscapes from your private porch or cottage, and down the street from a handful of vineyards, the Inn is still only a ten-minute drive from the center of town. Once in Charlottesville, across the street from the UVA campus, visit the Corner. A stretch of coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores and nightspots frequented by the local academic community, the Corner is a cultural watering hole, and a perfect place to enjoy a simple cup of coffee with a good book, grab dinner, or have a few drinks. Among the scenery, UVA’s historic chapel and the “Academical Village” are noteworthy sites. Restaurants to check out around Charlottesville include The Ivy Inn Restaurant and Hamilton’s at First and Main. Producing cuisine inspired by seasonal and locally grown ingredients, The Ivy Inn offers classic American fare with modern twists, such as pumpkin ravioli or veal osso buco with sautéed bok choy. At Hamilton’s at First and Main, inventive pairings such as roasted halibut stuffed with chèvre, or crab cakes with lemon-basil aioli are the highlights of the menu. The Inn at Little Washington When discussing luxury dining and accommodations in Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington garners the same reactions that one gets if mentioning Disney World to a four-year-old. The lovechild of renowned restaurateur Patrick O’Connell, a self-taught chef often accused of having “perfect taste” and a pioneer of the local-organic movement, The Inn at Little Washington is one of the most highly decorated restaurants and hotels in the country—and just about the only nationally lauded two-for-one. This time of year, O’Connell’s celebrated kitchen is hunkering down and making some of the most innovative and delicious comfort food you could ever imagine, using the hearty ingredients and earthy flavors of winter. [gallery ids="101146,140744,140727,140739,140734" nav="thumbs"]