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Getaways from NYC, D.C. & Baltimore
The Brandywine Valley in southeastern Chester County is just about two hours by car from New York City and Washington DC and less from Baltimore which makes it a great destination for a close-to-home getaway weekend or short vacation without the hassle and expense of air travel.
What does the Brandywine Valley have to offer?Some amazing, unspoiled scenery and winding country roads for a start. This is the place where the DuPonts settled because the countryside reminded them of France and much of the rolling hills and idlyic vistas remain today, protected from development by the Brandywine Conservancy. The greenway (Rt. 52/Kennett Pike) that connects Wilmington, Delaware to Pennsylvania and the world famous Longwood Gardens is one of the more beautiful drives in America if you like open space with rolling hills, historic small towns like Centreville, DE founded in 1750 with it's quaint small shops and the landmark Buckley's tavern. On a drive you will pass Winterthur Museum & Gardens, one of the area's top attractions and the venue for the Point-to-Point steeplechase races every spring. You'll also pass the Delaware Museum of Natural History and the small historic district of Fairville on the way to Longwood Gardens. The road is still green because P.S. du Pont bought it in 1920, widened it and and turned it over to the state of Delaware with the provision that no trolley car lines or advertising signs be erected without the consent of every landowner along the road.
As beautiful as Kennett Pike is, the real countryside can be seen by turning off 52 and taking one of the small winding side roads like Centre Meeting Road. It winds past the Friends Centre Meeting House that dates back to 1711 and leads to the Smith Bridge over the Brandywine Creek from which you can see the DuPont estate of Granogue high atop a hill. Or take Snuff Mill Road or Burnt Mill Road back to the town of Hockessin, Delaware or Kennett Square, PA where you will find a selection of one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants for lunch and/or dinner.
You can take the crazy, winding, bumpy, quirky, some say haunted, Cossart Road past the farm where M. Night Shamalan's shot The Village and turn on to Rt. 100 which will take you to Chadds Ford, PA and the Brandywine River Museum that houses America's largest collections of paintings by three generations of Wyeths.
From there you can follow the Brandywine River and Creek Road all the way to the county seat of West Chester, PA, another historic town whose history connects it to the Brandywine Valley by way of the Revolutionary War's Battle of Brandywine. The wounded were tended to in a makeshift hospital at the corner of High and Gay Street where Iron Hill Brewery now stands.
There is a lot to explore here and a lot more to enjoy beyond the pleasure of driving through the beautiful and historic Brandywine Valley countryside.
History, Culture, Gardens, Art, Antiques & Special EventsChadds Ford, PA is where the Battle of Brandywine was fought, and northern New Castle County, DE is where the paper was milled for the Declaration of Independence and America's first currency. Here is where the duPonts made their fortunes, and built their mansion, now museums you can visit and enjoy including Winterthur with it's gardens and antiques, Hagley with its gunpowder mills and the Nemours Mansion and Gardens a time capsule of early 20th century life in grand style For art lovers there is the Brandywine River "Wyeth" Museum with its collections of American illustrators and the Delaware Art Museum with it's premier collection of British Pre-Raphaelite Art. Art lovers will also find small art galleries scattered about the Brandywine Valley offering prints and original paintings by local artists.
If you like Williamsburg, VA then you must visit the historic town of New Castle, Delaware, established in 1651 where you'll find great examples of colonial, Dutch and Federal architecture that are actually lived in by 21st century people.
Come in the spring for horse events including Winterthur's Point-To-Point Races, Willowdale Steeplechase, Radnor Hunt Races and the nearby Devon Horse Show. Not a horse person? How about A Day in Old New Castle where early American history comes to life? Or the Brandywine River Blues Festival, Brandywine River Museum Antiques Show, New Sweden Days or the Clifford Brown Jazz Fest in Wilmington, DE. For links to all of theses events and many more click to our, Calendar of Events.
Come in the fall and you can see the Revolutionary Battle event at the Brandywine Battlefield Park (cancelled in 2009), or attend the other annual events including Kennett Square's Mushroom Festival, Chadd Ford's Colonial Days, Kennett Brewfest or the Newlin Grist Mill Harvest Festival. For a more complete listing of events click to the Brandywine Valley Annual Events Calendar.
Antiques enthusiasts will love the Brandywine any time of year. A must-visit is Baldwin's Book Barn on Lenape Road on the way to West Chester, PA. Just wandering through this place is worth the drive, which by-the-way involves a wonderful drive on winding Creek Road next to the Brandywine River. Click for a listing of antique shops in the area.
If you like gardens and/or gardening the Brandywine rules, starting with, of course, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. But there are many more gardens to experience as well. All kinds of gardens, from formal to wild flower. Click here for a listing.
Food & WineLocal specialties include fresh mushrooms grown locally in Kennett Square, the "Mushroom Capital of the World", and prepared in soups at many of the local restaurants. You may like to try a submarine "sub" sandwich, scrapple or Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs when in season to get a real taste of local specialties. For it's size, the Brandywine has more than it's fair share of excellent restaurants preparing a variety of cuisines and you can find them listed in our Restaurant Directory. Due to the many corporate headquarters in the area and the high per capita income levels, the demand for good food has fostered the appropriate response. Many chefs trained in the kitchens of gourment restaurants in Philadelphia have found their way to the countryside to the benefit of all who enjoy the art of cooking and the pleasures of eating.
Local wineries also offer a taste of the Brandywine. Click to our listing of area wineries to see what might please your palette. Several vineyards are nearby and offer regular tasting events.
Shopping, Golfing & Other RecreationYou can enjoy a lazy summer afternoon tubing down the Brandywine, a day at the races at Delaware Park or a challenging round of golf at any number of excellent public courses right in the Brandywine Valley or within an hours drive in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. You can also watch a Sunday polo match, fish for trout, take a hot air balloon ride or a wilderness canoe trip. It all depends on how ambitious you are feeling. Click to Recreation in the Valley for a listing of these activities and others. And don't forget shopping. Delaware has no sales tax and the local shopping malls and discount centers are a shopper's delight. For a truly unique shopping experience visit Booth's Corner Farmers Market in Boothwyn, PA. The market is a one of a kind, down home, real people kind of place. You'll find people there from all walks of life with at least two things in common; they like to eat and they like a bargain.
Where to StayWith 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 top-of-the-line Hotel duPont in Wilmington, the historic Inn & Spa at Montchanin Village, the Brandywine River Hotel in Chadds Ford and the branded chains including Hilton, Hampton Inn, Staybridge, Doubletree, Best Western, Days Inn, Comfort Inn, 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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