Brandywine Valley

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  • 1. Brandywine River Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    In a converted Civil War–era gristmill, the Brandywine River Museum contains the art of Chadds Ford native Andrew Wyeth, a major American realist painter, as well as his father, N. C. Wyeth, illustrator of many children's classics; and his son, Jamie. The collection also emphasizes still lifes, landscape paintings, and American illustration, with works by such artists as Howard Pyle and Maxfield Parrish. The glass-wall lobby overlooks the river and countryside that inspired artists from the area. The museum uses a system of filters, baffles, and blinds to direct natural light. Outside the museum, you can visit its wildflower and native plant gardens and follow a 1-mile nature trail along the river.The N. C. Wyeth House and Studio, where N. C. painted and raised his children, is open part of the year. The 1911 home, set on a hill, holds many of the props N. C. used in creating his illustrations. His daughter, Carolyn, lived and painted here until 1994. You can also tour the Kuerner Farm, a mile away. Andrew discovered it on a walk when he was 15; he used the farm's landscape, buildings, and animals as the subjects of many of his best-known paintings. A shuttle takes you from the museum to the house and studio or to the farm for an hour-long guided tour.

    1 Hoffman's Mill Rd., Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 19317, USA
    610-388–2700

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $15 museum, free until noon on Sun. from mid-Jan.–mid.-Nov.; $8 house, $8 studio, $8 farm; combination admission packages are available, No children under 6 permitted on tours of outbuildings. Tours hrs for each building may vary from day to day
  • 2. Longwood Gardens

    Garden

    Longwood Gardens has established an international reputation for its immaculate, colorful gardens full of flowers and blossoming shrubs. In 1906 Pierre S. du Pont (1870–1945) bought a simple Quaker farm and turned it into the ultimate early-20th-century estate garden. Attractions include magnolias and azaleas in spring; roses and water lilies in summer; chrysanthemums in fall; and camellias, orchids, and palms in winter. You can stroll in the Italian water garden or explore a meadow full of wildflowers on the garden's 350 acres. Bad weather is no problem, as 4 acres of cacti, ferns, and bonsai plants, and the biggest green wall in North America, are housed in heated conservatories. Outdoors is the Bee-aMazed Children's Garden, with a honeycomb maze, queen bee throne, and small splashing fountains. The Indoor Children's Garden has a bamboo maze, a grottolike cave, and a drooling dragon. There is a regular summer concert series, as well as special fireworks and fountain events. The cafeteria (open year-round) and dining room (closed January–March) serve reasonably priced meals.

    1001 Longwood Rd., 3 miles northeast of Kennett Sq. along U.S. 1, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 19348, USA
    610-388–1000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $20 off-peak, $27 peak season, including the winter holiday season, Some nighttime events keep the gardens open as late as 11 pm but require separate admission tickets
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  • 3. Valley Forge National Historical Park

    The park is the location of the 1777–78 winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army, where winter tested and proved the army's perseverance. Stop at the temporary Valley Forge Visitor Center for touring information; a renovated center is due to open in late 2020. The renovated center will have park and regional information, a new orientation film, and the Encampment Store, as well as displays of historical objects and engaging, immersive displays about the encampment. Take a driving tour (free cell phone guide) or buy a CD ($14.95); hire a guide for your car; or take a narrated trolley tour (limited times other than summer) for $17.50. Stops include reconstructed log huts of the Muhlenberg Brigade and the National Memorial Arch, which pay tribute to the soldiers, and Washington's headquarters. In 1777 the army had just lost the nearby battles of Brandywine, White Horse, and Germantown. While the British occupied Philadelphia, Washington's soldiers endured horrid conditions—blizzards, inadequate food and clothing, and disease. Although no battle was fought at Valley Forge, 2,000 soldiers (of about 12,000) died here. The troops did win the war of will, regaining strength under the leadership of Prussian drillmaster Friedrich von Steuben. In June 1778 Washington led his troops away from Valley Forge in search of the British. The park contains more than 8 miles of jogging and bicycling paths (bike rentals available in summer) and hiking trails, and you can picnic in designated areas. A leisurely visit takes about half a day.

    1400 N. Outer Line Dr., Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 19406, USA
    610-783–1077

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Park daily 7 am–dark (½ hr past sunset); visitor center daily 9–5 (9–6 June 14–Aug.15); Washington\'s Headquarters, Mar.–Dec., daily 9–5 (9–6 June 14–Aug. 15), Jan. and Feb., weekends and Presidents Day 10–4; Washington Memorial Chapel, Mon.–Sat. 11–5, Sun. noon–5; Varnum\'s Quarters, June–Aug., weekends noon–4
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  • 4. American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

    Museum/Gallery

    Ever since Philadelphian Harold Pitcairn made the first rotorcraft flight in 1928, the Southeastern Pennsylvania area has been considered the birthplace of the helicopter industry. In fact, two of the three major U.S. helicopter manufacturers trace their roots to this region. This heritage is represented here, and you can learn about and climb aboard nearly three dozen vintage and modern aircraft that reflect the copter's historic roles in war and rescue missions, in agriculture, and in police surveillance.

    1220 American Blvd., West Chester, Pennsylvania, 19380, USA
    610-436–9600

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10
  • 5. Brandywine Battlefield Park

    The quiet park is near the site of the Battle of Brandywine, where British general William Howe and his troops defeated George Washington on September 11, 1777, after which the Continental Army fled to Chester, leaving Philadelphia vulnerable to British troops. The battle covered 10 square miles and played an important role in the larger war. The small visitor center has a film and displays about the battle that are a good introduction to the area's history. On the site are two restored Quaker farmhouses, one of which once sheltered Washington and General Lafayette; several guided tours of these are offered daily when the park is open. The 50-acre park is a fine place for a picnic. Ask for info about driving to see key battlefield sights like the Birmingham Friends Meeting house, where soldiers lie in a common grave, and Birmingham Hill.

    1491 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 19317, USA
    610-459–3342

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Park and grounds free; house tours, museum, and film $8; museum admission and film only $3, Mar., Fri. and Sat. 9–4, Sun. noon–4; Apr., Thurs.–Sat. 9–4, Sun. noon–4; May–mid-June and Sept.–Dec., Wed.–Sat. 9–4, Sun. noon–4; mid-June–Aug., Tues.–Sat. 9–4, Sun. noon–4, Closed Jan.–mid-Mar.; Mon.–Thurs. mid-Mar.–May and Oct.–Dec.; Mon. June–Sept.
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  • 6. Chaddsford Winery

    Winery/Brewery/Distillery

    In a restored barn, the Chaddsford Winery offers tastings and tours of its wine-making facilities. Bring a picnic and enjoy music under the stars during regularly scheduled summer concerts and festival weekends.

    632 Baltimore Pike, U.S. 1, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 19317, USA
    610-388–6221

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free. Weekday wine tastings $7, weekend wine tastings $10–$20 depending on tasting options, Complimentary guided tours at 2 and 4 on weekends; no reservations required
  • 7. Chanticleer

    Chanticleer, the onetime estate of the owner of a local pharmaceutical company, is now a 30-acre garden that bursts with color in the spring when 10,000 bulbs bloom. The grounds offer a range of settings, including lush woodlands with rare Asian specimens, a formal house garden, and a serpentine-shaped "avenue" lined with young junipers, wheat and barley, and gingko trees.

    786 Church Rd., Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 19087, USA
    610-687–4163

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Vistors may be turned away if the parking lot is full, Apr.–Nov., Wed.–Sun. 10–5; May–Aug., Fri. 10–8; some 8 am openings scheduled in summer
  • 8. Chester County Historical Society

    Donated objects and acquisitions help tell the story of Chester County from the late 1600s to today. The society's architectural complex, known as the History Center, includes a former opera house where Buffalo Bill once performed. Galleries tell about the Delaware Valley's settlers and the decorative furniture they crafted; quilts, period clothing, and grandfather clocks are some key collections, as well as American cross-stitch samplers. A hands-on history lab lets kids churn butter and dress up in a hoop skirt.

    225 N. High St., West Chester, Pennsylvania, 19380, USA
    610-692–4800

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $8, Tues.–Sat. 9:30–4:30, Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 9. John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

    A small but lively museum, opened in 2019 on a site that holds the first American home of Haitian-born artist and naturalist John James Audubon (1785–1851), captures the wonders of the avian world as well as Audubon's life and his mission to paint all of North America's birds. Kid-friendly interactive exhibits explore nests, birdsongs, feathers, and more; galleries on Audubon's artistic process (with original prints and a copy of his massive Birds of America) will appeal more to older children and adults. There's also a bird-themed outdoor play space. Admission includes a tour (one tour daily, at 1 pm) of Mill Grove, Audubon's stone farmhouse home, built in 1762 and filled with displays relating to Audubon. Managed by the National Audubon Society, this site 2 miles north of Valley Forge National Historical Park is within the 175-acre Mill Grove estate, which has 5 miles of marked walking trails.

    1201 Pawlings Rd., Audubon, Pennsylvania, 19403, USA
    610-666–5593

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Museum $14, grounds and trails free, Grounds Tues.–Sun. 7–dusk
  • 10. Wharton Esherick Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    The Wharton Esherick Museum preserves the former home and studio of the "Dean of American Craftsmen." Best known for his sculptural furniture, Esherick (1887–1970) shaped a new aesthetic in decorative arts by bridging art with furniture. The museum, a National Historic Landmark, houses 200 examples of his work—paintings, woodcuts, furniture, and wood sculptures. The studio, in which everything from the light switches to the spiral staircase is hand-carved, is one of his monumental achievements. The museum is 2 miles west of Valley Forge National Historical Park. Reservations are required for the hourly tours. On weekdays a minimum of five people is required for a tour.

    1520 Horseshoe Trail, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 19355, USA
    610-644–5822

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $15, Tours by reservation only; children\'s tour offered Sat. at 11; not handicapped accessible

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