While Longwood Gardens is one of the most visited attractions in Chester County, Pennsylvania, there are lesser known worthy hidden gems that beckon travelers to visit. Here are 10 unique locations that you will only find in Chester County’s Brandywine Valley.
Wharton Esherick Museum
- The Wharton Esherick Museum: Wharton Esherick, known as the “Dean of American craftsmen,” was a sculptor who worked primarily in wood. He molded furniture, interiors, and buildings – creating sculptural environments. His work can be seen today in the collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and many others. His hilltop studio/residence remains one of his most creative endeavors. The studio is a National Historic Landmark for Architecture and became the Wharton Esherick Museum in 1972 featuring more than 200 of his works on exhibition.
Antique Ice Tool Museum
- The Antique Ice Tool Museum: discover the unique history behind the natural ice trade in the United States. The museum is housed in a beautifully renovated 1834 stone bank barn. Step back in time and walk in the footsteps of the iceman. From the ‘harvesting” of ice to its delivery, learn how this process profoundly impacted America’s growth. The museum houses the largest collection of antique ice tools and memorabilia in the nation.
The American Helicopter Museum & Eduction Center
- The American Helicopter Museum is the nation’s premier aviation museum dedicated to the incredible history of rotary flight. Learn about the over 35 unique aircraft and for a special thrill, schedule a helicopter ride for a birds-eye-view of the beautiful countryside.
Baldwin’s Book Barn
- Baldwin’s Book Barn in the heart of Chester County’s Brandywine Valley is one of America’s most distinctive booksellers. A 5-story historic barn with cozy nooks, stone walls and wood- burning stove; it is a treasure trove of over 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps and other valued collectibles.
The Colonial Theatre
- Historic Phoenixville is home to the Colonial Theatre. The Colonial is a premier independent arts destination operating three distinct venues and multiple event spaces in two adjoining historic buildings. It is the home of the annual Blobfest, a quirky festival paying homage to the 1950’s cult classic film – The Blob. For over 2 decades, cult movie geeks have flocked to the historic Colonial. The theatre served as a backdrop for scenes in the iconic sci-fi classic; there is a plaque in the theatre commemorating where the Blob oozes out in the film. Blobfest, a campy, family – friendly event, is a weekend-long street party featuring a costume contest, live re-enactments from the movie and an amateur filmmaking competition. Blobfest takes place annually in July.
ST. PETER’S VILLAGE
St. Peter’s Village
- A trip to St Peter’s Village is like a step back in time. This charming 19th century industrial village, narrow and just a ¼ mile in length, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The main street, St Peter’s Road, runs parallel to the rocky French Creek, which adds to the charm and unique experiences of the village. Hiking the paths along the creek and exploring its waterfalls and boulders is an experience itself. A visit to St Peter’s Village must include a stop at St Peter’s Bakery, once named the “Best Little Bakeshop in America.” This delightful artisan bakery café makes every item on site, daily from scratch. There are no preservatives and their dough starters date back 100 years! The rear patio offers amazing views of the French Creek accompanied by the soothing sounds of rolling water and native birds.
WYETH ART STUDIO TOURS at BRANDYWINE MUSEUM OF ART
N.C Wyeth Studio Tour
- The N.C. Wyeth House & Studio Tour offers a glimpse at the life and work of the family patriarch, Newell Convers Wyeth. It is here that he raised a family of extraordinary creativity and began the legacy of the Wyeth family in the Brandywine Valley. Tour the family homestead and separate artist’s studio located behind the home. The property is a designated National Historic Landmark.
- The Andrew Wyeth Studio, originally a schoolhouse, was built in 1875 and was Wyeth’s home for over two decades. He and wife Betsy raised their two boys here and son Jamie’s first studio was also in the family home. Andrew Wyeth painted in the studio from 1940 until 2008 and thousands of works are associated with the building and surrounding landscape. A shuttle bus provides transportation from the Museum to each site; tours are approximately one hour in length and require a separate ticket. The season begins April and runs through November.
Tree House World
Tis the season to play outdoors, and Treehouse World in West Chester is the place to go for natural adventures. This unique venue has become a favorite destination for family outtings, birthday parties and group escapades. Treehouse World has over 10 amazing tree houses to explore and dozens of other platforms and activities in the trees. Are you ready for a challenge? – climb into a harness and fly through the trees on their zip lines, or jump off the Pirate Ship Tree House if you dare! Our adventures are for everyone, young and old and designed to get your adrenaline pumping
Chester County History Center Museum
Chester County History Center (CCHC) serves as a resource for cultural enrichment, management of collections, manuscripts, photographs, and other priceless archival materials for Chester County, Pennsylvania. The history museum allows visitors to learn about Chester County’s vital history as a way to learn about the past but also achieve a greater understanding of changing the future on a regional and global level. CCHC has many events through out the year from walking history tours to a Halloween Ball in October. Check out whats coming up at www.mycchc.org.
THE NATIONAL IRON & STEEL HERITAGE MUSEUM
National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
People can interact with, explore, and learn about the past at the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum with a wide range of audiences and the distinctive history of Chester County at its core.The Lukens Executive Office Building (1902–1916), the former headquarters of the company’s executives, and the 120" Mill Motor House (1942), the power plant for the complex of 120" rolling mills, are all included in the general admission price, which also includes a tour guide.