The idle rich have been seeking refuge from summer's urban heat in the country for generations, most frequently masquerading as farmers on so-called "gentleman's farms." That's the term for a farm that has all the space and capability to serve as an agricultural producer, but instead is maintained purely for the enjoyment of its wealthy owner. America's version of the landed gentry got their start in the plantations of Virginia and the tradition persists in that area today. This 1,466-acre estate in Warrenton, Va., centered around a stone manor dating from 1776 and several outbuildings, boasts an impressive 22 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms over 38,500 square feet. Accessed by a long, gated, tree-lined drive, the Historical Register estate is listed for $22.95M.
? The famed summer colony of the Hamptons might be known mostly as a beach community, but the horse set also rears its well-quaffed head on the East End of Long Island. This famous farm, known as Two Trees and owned by the Walentas family (developers of Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood), may be one of the largest plots available in the area. Currently listed for $55M, the Bridgehampton, N.Y. property hosts an annual polo classic, but also manages to squeeze in some farm houses, making it at least somewhat homey.
? Despite the East Coast origins of this phenomenon, California has its fair share of gentleman's farms. Take this equestrian facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., a stylish combination of functional barns and stylish living space, the property is currently listed for $14.9M. That price includes no fewer than eight guest cottages, lush foliage, a riding ring, yoga pavilion, barns, a tennis court and a "sophisticated private security system."
? Back in the East, in the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington, Pa., this massive estate was designed by Rafael Viñoly to transform 70 acres of Pennsylvania farmland into a pastoral escape for a captain of industry. The cost to create the 37,000-square-foot home and accompanying 20,000-square-foot "playhouse" is said to have far exceeded even the current asking price, a heady $30M. Two stone farmhouses and a three-bedroom caretaker's apartment complete the offering.
? In Greenwich, Conn., that tony New York suburb, the gentleman's farm is something of a standard, as finance types compete for the most elaborate country estates. This one, at "the top of Round Hill Road," has the necessary acreage—17 acres to be exact—but currently sits vacant, the only structure being the near-abandoned, boarded-up stone stables. The lack of an inhabitable residence hasn't done much to reduce the asking price, which was no doubt set based on the rarity of the land, at $24.5M.