You Can Enjoy the Brandywine on a Budget... Really!
Yes, that's right... you can enjoy some of the best the Brandywine Valley has to offer and spend next to nothing doing it. Just because the area is nicknamed "Chateau Country" and boasts its share of pricey zip codes where many of the 1% live, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy visiting without spending a fortune.
Like Art? How about seeing some for free?
On any given Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon, January through mid November, you can visit the Brandywine River Museum for free. The museum mounts special exhibitions year-round and has America's largest collections of paintings by three generations of Wyeths. You can have "Breakfast on the Brandywine" (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.) in the Museum's cafeteria-style restaurant that overlooks the Brandywine River. The revolving menu changes weekly and costs just $6 per person which includes juice and coffee, tea or milk. A child's breakfast is just $3.75.
Don't want to eat at the Museum, across route 1 you will find Hank's Place, a Chadds Ford fixture known for home-style cooking that has been serving breakfast to the locals and visitor's for years. But be prepared for a wait, especially on Sunday, but the people are friendly.
Sundays are also free at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE, just about 10 miles away from the Brandywine River Museum. Sunday hours are noon to 4PM which gives you time for lunch and a drive through the Brandywine countryside. From the Brandywine River Museum or Hanks,take route 100 (Creek Road) south toward Wilmington. It's a wonderful winding road that travels along side and over the Brandywine River and ends up behind Winterthur and Hagley Museums and the Wilmington Country Club. You will also pass by the historic Inn at Montchanin Village with its eccentric Krazy Kats Restaurant, housed in a building that was once the village blacksmith. You can lunch there or if you prefer you can pick up provisions in nearby Greenville and enjoy a picnic overlooking the Brandywine River near Hagley. We recommend Janssen's Market for picnic provisions and The Wine & Spirit Co. of Greenville for wine if you decide to go in the wine and cheese direction. Of course you can eat in Greenville as well at the BBC Tavern & Grill or Pizza by Elizabeth's to enjoy some of the local color. Both are in the Greenville Shopping Centers alongside route 52 also known as Old Kennett Pike, the road from Wilmington to Kennett Square, PA.
Antiques, Old Books & Booth's Corner
Antique shops and dealers are tucked away in every conceivable corner of the Brandywine Valley. You'll find them in Delaware and Pennsylvania, in Kennett Square, Greenville, Centreville, Glen Mills, Fairville, Chadds Ford and in between. Heading south on Rt. 1 between the Brandywine River Museum and Kennett Square you will find Brandywine View Antiques, formally The Carriage House Antiques with two floors of furniture and what not. Almost next door is Springhouse offering antiques and accessories, custom furnishings and what they call seasonal necessities. If you want a reproduction chair or table, they can help you out as well. Keep heading south toward Longwood Gardens and Kennett Square and just past the light at Independence Drive you will see a large white barn on your left. It's the Brandywine River Antiques Market, a multi-dealer co-op where you will find antiques, estate furniture, accessories, and collectibles in various styles and periods. You'll have to make a U-turn to stop in, but you will then be oriented correctly to stop as well at the Pennsbury-Chadds Ford Antique Mall just a bit down the road next to the Chaddsford Winery. Explore the mall... a two-level co-op. Top level shops feature furnishings, books, collectibles, china and jewelry. Thursdays-Mondays, 10am - 5pm. Lower level shops have even more.
For old books and maps, you won't want to miss Baldwin's Book Barn a 19th-century Chester County barn filled with thousands of used, out-of-print, fine and rare books, maps and prints. Open Weekdays 9am - 9pm, weekends 10am - 5pm. You can find them on Creek Road going north from Chadds Ford to West Chester. Turn at Hank's and follow the signs north.
For a totally different experience, visit Booth's Corner in Boothwyn, PA. This a one of a kind market where you'll find people from all walks of life with at least two things in common; they like to eat and they like a bargain. The market is open Fridays 9am to 9pm, and Saturdays 9am to 8pm only.
Where to Stay
With some much to do you are going to want to stay over. Here too there are a lot of options from historic B&Bs and country inns to every type of hotel including the historic and charming Inn & Spa at Montchanin Village, the Brandywine River Hotel in Chadds Ford and the branded chains including the Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Staybridge Inn, Doubletree, Best Western, Days Inn, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites West Chester, Microtel, Fairfield Inn and others. Many of the B&Bs and hotels offer packages that bundle rooms with admission tickets to the top area attractions. You can find a complete listing of B&Bs, Inns and hotels with one click online reservations in our Lodging Directory.
There is a lot more to explore and discover in the Brandywine Valley than we can fit on one page and we invite you to click around our site to see what else may interest you. And remember, the valley is only about 35 minutes from Philadelphia, 45 minutes from Lancaster's Amish Country so you can visit both while staying here and enjoying our country casual hospitality and avoiding city prices.
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