The South harbors more world-class horse farms and equestrian facilities than one can swing a crop at, and many of them love pulling out the fancy boots for visitors. Whether you’re a horse-crazy kid at heart or prefer to appreciate from a distance the natural beauty of horses in panoramic habitats you can’t find anywhere else in the country, there’s an adventure for everyone. Here are seven equine getaways for making life-long memories—in or out of a saddle.
Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort
Mill Spring, North Carolina
From spring through fall, Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort welcomes visitors to “Saturday Night Lights,” a free event showcasing Grand Prix show jumping. Explore the venue on a beginner-friendly trail ride through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains or take a (literal) spin on the full-size iconic Venetian carousel. Be on the lookout for miniature horses Pumpkin and Daisy who mingle with guests during their evening strolls.
Lodging Options: Park your RV in the campground, get a room at the Stable House Inn, or rent one of the resort’s luxury log cabins.
Where to Eat: Grab dinner from the plethora of onsite restaurants, and head over for drinks and live music at the Silo Bar—a pub created from an actual grain silo.
Non-Equestrian Activities: Enjoy golf and shoot sporting clays at the Cleghorn Golf & Sports Club or a picnic at Pearson’s Falls and Glen.
A trip to Lajitas in historic Big Bend is the ideal desert retreat for families looking to enjoy scenic trail rides (sunrise or sunset is highly recommended) across its 27,000 acres of rugged countryside as well as myriad outdoor activities.
Lodging Options: A variety of suites and villas are available, or big-rigs can book a space at the nearby Maverick Ranch RV Park.
Where to Eat: Lajitas’s restaurant Candelilla features unique spins on Southern and Tex-Mex dishes like fried quail legs. For more casual dining, head to the Thirsty Goat Saloon or snag a late-night pizza from the Boardwalk Bakery.
Non-Equestrian Activities: Play golf at their renowned course Black Jack’s Crossing, stand-up paddleboard down the Rio Grande, or visit the Longhorn Museum.
Since 1978, the Kentucky Horse Park has been an oasis for horse lovers. Visitors can hobnob with dozens of breeds, tour four museums, watch an exhibition, or take a guided ride throughout the 1,200 acres. Swing by the Hall of Champions to ogle a few living legends who reside at the park, such as Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Lodging Options: The KHP campground is convenient and runs a shuttle service to the park—plus, it has a pool, on-site grocery store, and modern bathhouses.
Where to Eat: There are a handful of cafes throughout the park, but Bluegrass barbecue is just down the road at Blue Door Smokehouse or Red State BBQ.
Non-Equestrian Activities: Go bourbon tasting at a local distillery, take a tour of the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, or stroll through the University of Kentucky’s Arboretum.
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Ever dreamed of taking your horse with you on vacation? Sugar Ridge Ranch on the Outer Banks offers short-term boarding with individual stalls. Saddle up and head to the beach—the Cape Hatteras National Seashore sits minutes away via a short trek through the maritime forest.
Lodging Options: Rent an on-site cabin within walking distance of the barns, or book at a local hotel, such as the waterfront Inn on Pamlico Sound.
Where to Eat: The cabins have full kitchens and grills for easy meal prep. Or venture up the road for seafood at Hatteras Sol.
Non-Equestrian Activities: The Outer Banks is a sportfishing paradise with a bevy of offshore and inshore angling opportunities. For history buffs, visit some of the local museums and historic sites, such as the Roanoke Island Festival Park.
Aiken, South Carolina
With its rich history of foxhunting, polo, and Thoroughbred racing, Aiken has long been a hotspot for equestrians—and The Willcox’s central location downtown makes it the ideal place to stay. For a true Aiken horse country experience, trail ride or hike through the longleaf pines of nearby Hitchcock Woods, a 2,100-acre urban forest, watch a polo match, or head to Stableview to cheer on Olympic riders.
Lodging Options: Reserve a room or suite in the main hotel or stay in the quaint Chef’s Cottage.
Where to Eat: The Willcox’s award-winning restaurant is a must-try, although downtown Aiken contains plenty of hidden gems, like the eclectic Whiskey Alley.
Non-Equestrian Activities: Book a spa session (they have options for kids, too), go antiquing, or birdwatch at Audubon’s Silver Bluff Sanctuary.
Perched atop the slopes of Big House Mountain, this scenic bed-and-breakfast gives vacationers the chance for a true mountain escape. Seeking the solace of nature? Take a hike through the fifteen miles of well-marked wooded trails, or fish in the stocked ponds. Horse lovers can book a guided trail ride through the Shenandoah Valley or pop over to the nearby Virginia Horse Center for a variety of equine events.
Where to Eat: The inn offers a three-course dinner each night, but just a short jaunt downtown are other restaurants, including the Red Hen, a small-but-mighty local favorite.
Lodging Options: There are plenty of cozy rooms and suites available, including a cabin for larger groups.
Non-Equestrian Activities: Kayak down the James or Maury Rivers, visit Natural Bridge, or catch a theater performance at nearby Washington and Lee University.
Black Prong Equestrian Village
Tucked alongside central Florida’s 53,587-acre Goethe State Forest, Black Prong is a haven for horse owners and nature lovers. The secluded equestrian village has all the amenities you (and your horse) need for a weekend getaway. Trail ride in the forest or watch carriage drivers train in the arenas. For off-site entertainment, the World Equestrian Center is just a half hour away in Ocala.
Where to Eat: The two on-site restaurants have a delectable selection for every meal, such as breakfast burritos, brisket burgers, and fresh seafood.
Lodging Options: Choose from a variety of cottages, airstreams, or tiny homes at the resort.
Non-Equestrian Activities: Hike or bike through the extensive Goethe trail system, explore Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, or kayak down the crystal-clear Rainbow River.