WHY GO: This choice corner of Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia has been termed “America’s Garden Capital.” With 31 world-class horticultural assets within a 30-mile radius, Brandywine Valley encompasses the greatest concentration of public gardens than anywhere else on the continent.
The typical tourist comes to Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley – Southern Chester County PA to see the world-famous Longwood Gardens, and then leaves. But you know by now that The Getaway Mavens don’t do “typical tourism.” So, come to see the gardens, then stay to tour and mingle with the stars at the world’s most popular home shopping studio, eat some fungi in the Mushroom Capital of the World, step into the “inner sanctums” of three generations of Wyeths, and meet the artisans behind your soon to be favorite foodstuffs . Of course, all while staying in amazing inns and eating the best cuisine this spectacular region has to offer. Combine this getaway with this more remote Northern Chester County escape for a Chester County PA extravaganza.
START: Brandywine Valley Tourism Information (near Longwood Gardens). This former Quaker Meeting House, where Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and others spoke, should be a first stop for visitors who want to get the most out of this region. There’s an interactive information board, plenty of brochures, and friendly folk who are happy to make suggestions based on your timeframe.
VISIT: Longwood Gardens. With 11,000 plants on over 1,000 acres, and programming to make a media executive humble, Longwood Gardens has been called a “wildly extraordinary place” and is Brandywine Valley’s biggest draw, bringing in over a million visitors a year. In the main sundrenched Conservatory room, flower beds change weekly. As does Mother Nature, Longwood Gardens transforms with the seasons, so even if you come often, you’ll never see the same flowers twice.
In 1907, Pierce’s Park, one of the nation’s finest collections of trees, originally part of a William Penn Land Grant, was in danger of falling into the hands of a lumber mill. Pierre Du Pont, head of both Du Pont Corp. and General Motors, and hobby horticulturist, purchased the property and designed his very first garden on what was to become one of the Earth’s most magnificent public attractions.
Du Pont built the 4.5-acre indoor Conservatory in 1919 in order to grow vegetables year round, and then, after a trip to Italy, the M.I.T Engineering grad was inspired to fashion the breathtaking 600-jet Italian Water Garden in 1925, designing the complicated and intricate hydraulic system himself.