It’s hard to beat the vistas of horse and wine country when they’re ensconced in the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds of fall. But in Chester County’s Brandywine Valley, it gets even better than that. With its generous helping of lively towns and pre-19th century wood and stone structures added to the visual beauty, Chester County has all the makings of an idyllic fall drive and overnight stay.
Head out of Philadelphia on I-95 South, to Route 322 West, to Route 1 South, into Kennett Square, the mushroom capital of the world. Visit The Mushroom Cap and The Woodlands at Phillips to learn about the mushroom industry, or just grab coffee and some breakfast at Philter before setting out for the open road. But first, don’t leave Kennett without packing a cooler full of treats from Talula’s Table.
Once you have your provisions, meander north on Route 82 through Coatesville, a newly re-energized former steel stronghold. On the way there, drive by Speakman Covered Bridge, a 75-foot-long bridge with a distinctive Burr arch truss design. Stretch your legs in the Lukens Historic District along the Brandywine River or continue northbound on Route 82, where you can admire the trees, farmland and (possibly) deer. Eat your lunch by the lake at Hibernia County Park, decked out in fall colors, or detour farther north to French Creek State Park, site of Hopewell Village National Historic Site, where a preserved “iron plantation” tells the story of America’s early industrialization efforts. Make your way back to Routes 82/345 and Route 401 East: You’re on your way to Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show and Country Fair, where several Underground Railroad routes are said to have crossed. It’s also the site of Citadel Country Spirit USA, a three-day country music festival taking place in August 2021.
Turn southbound onto Route 100, which leads to multi-hued hiking trails at Marsh Creek State Park, or bypass the park and drive straight to West Chester, the post-Colonial and current seat of county government. On your way, check out another Burr arch truss covered bridge: Harmony Hill (also known as Gibson’s Bridge), a 78-foot bridge that crosses the east branch of the Brandywine Creek. Shopping opportunities abound in bustling, yet quaint downtown West Chester, home to fantastic shops and boutiques like Jane Chalfont Kiki Boutique, Kaly, Green Eyed Lady, Tish and Eclat, an internationally recognized chocolatier.
Before dinner, check into your hotel: The Hotel Warner or historic Faunbrook Bed & Breakfast Inn. Dining options include Limoncello, Teca or Iron Hill Brewery. Tomorrow, cruise down Route 842 West, then Route 82 South and Route 926 East for a visit to the magnificent Longwood Gardens, one of the world’s most renowned public gardens. Situated on 1,077 acres, Longwood features 20 indoor gardens, as well as 20 outdoor gardens and a breathtaking conservatory.
Also Check out our blog Instagrammable Locations for Fall Foliage in #BrandywineValley: Click Here