Chester County abounds with wonderful parks, playgrounds, museums, wineries and more! From Longwood Gardens and the Brandwine Valley to the Valley Forge National Park, you’ll never tire of the rich beauty and historical significance in this region.
Here is a recent post I wrote on Marsh Creek in Downingtown, PA…
Photo by Claire Richards
Marsh Creek, Downingtown, PA
Did you know that we have a unique summer retreat in our own backyard? When I first experienced Marsh Creek, I was overwhelmed. Where is the creek? This is more of a lake that looks as if it belongs in Minnesota.
I was blown away seeing so many folks in their colorful sail boats, fishing boats, kayaks and canoes all cooling off under the blue skies of Chester County. Of course being originally from Delaware County I was always under the impression that I would have to visit the NJ shore or the MD Eastern Shore for all of this. What a happy surprise.
And yes there is a public pool and tons of picnic tables for large gatherings. You don’t have to bring a boat because you can rent them there. You can even grab a drink and a burger from the luncheonette on the dock. So just grab your suit, a blanket or a chair and relax on a grassy knoll or the white sandy beach. You will love this small wonder.
For more on Marsh Creek: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/marshcreek.aspx
For visitors of all ages–and especially the youngsters–the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center brings the adventure and history of rotary-winged flight to life.
A living history village that teaches all about the art of Colonial iron-casting. Lots of live demonstrations.
Located in the heart of the Brandywine Valley near Kennett Square, PA is the nation’s foremost horticultural garden, Longwood Gardens. The property today known as Longwood Gardens was originally owned by William Penn who in 1700 sold 402 acres of land to George Peirce. Peirce’s descendants established a working farm and also began planting an arboretum which by the mid 1800’s contained one of the finest collection of trees in the nation. The area became known as Peirce Park.In 1906, when trees on the land were about to be sold for timber, Pierre Samuel du Pont, chairman of the Dupont Company and General Motors Corporation, purchased the property. Throughout his life, du Pont continued to develop the property and welcome the public to share in its beauty. Mr. du Pont maintained a summer retreat on the property.When du Pont died in 1954 he left the Gardens “for the sole use of the public for the purposes of exhibition, instruction, education and enjoyment.”The gardens, today, are run by Longwood Gardens Inc., a not-for-profit organization which receives no government funding. The primary funding for the upkeep of the Gardens still comes from Pierre du Pont’s endowment as well as from admission income and sale of merchandise.Longwood Gardens today consists of 1,050 acres of gardens, woodlands and meadows; 20 outdoor gardens, 20 indoor gardens, numerous fountains including the Main Fountain Garden near the Conservatory. Longwood maintains numerous educational programs and is well known for producing some of the best trained experts in horticulture in the world. Throughout the year, numerous arts and entertainment events are held in the Gardens.
Wineries in Chester County, PA
The wineries along the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail are geographically spread out, which allows a dedicated visitor to tour a large swath of this famous region.Each of the six wineries/vineyards hosts regular tastings, concerts, crafts fairs, wine dinners and many other activities that provide a perfect excuse to spend an afternoon or evening sipping in the sunlight or under the stars.For more information visit www.bvwinetrail.com.
632 Baltimore Pike Chadds Ford, PA 610-388-6221The biggest and one of the oldest wineries in Pennsylvania is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2007. International awards keep piling in for the husband-and-wife owner team, who will be constructing a new café near the winery’s picnic area to serve gourmet food and wines by the glass to visitors who flock here for Chaddsford’s many outdoor concerts, festivals, special events and regular tastings and tours.
5697 Strasburg Road Gap, PA 717-442-4915This 18-year-old winery is located on land granted to the Religious Society of Friends by William Penn’s brother nearly 300 years ago. Built into a restored 19th-century wooden barn, the winery still retains its historic character. A fall concert series adds to the summer music schedule and means live music sessions run until mid-November.
8820 Gap Newport Pike Avondale 610-268-2702Wine lovers can combine their passion for the grape with an affection for art at Va La Vineyards, where the works of local artists are on display in the “Galleria,” located in a loft overlooking the vineyards. This charming winery has a definite sense of humor and an irreverent image, but that doesn’t keep winemakers from crafting their small batch wines with serious fervor.
Valley Forge National Park – Valley Forge, PA
Valley Forge National Historic Park offers a glimpse into American history amid a picturesque 3,600-acre landscape.
Visiting Valley Forge Park
A visit to the Park should begin with a stop at the Welcome Center. Grab a map and check out the exhibits, artifacts, and gift shop. An 18-minute film offers insight into the lives of the soldiers at Valley Forge. Complete with uplifting music complete and canons firing, it’s sure to put you in a patriotic mood before exploring the sprawling grounds.The winding roads and trails of the park can be traversed on foot, by bike, horseback, or by car. Six miles of pet-friendly, multi-use trails connect the park to Philadelphia and to the Appalachian Trail, and are as popular with locals as they are with visitors. A car (or guided trolley tour in the spring and summer) is the best way to see all the historic sites, which are spread out over several miles.A free cell phone tour is available. Just dial the number posted at key stops along the Encampment Tour, including George Washington’s Headquarters, the Muhlenberg Brigade huts, the Memorial Arch, and enter the code for that stop to learn more about its history. Be sure to stop at Washington Memorial Chapel, which also has a great used book store, gift shop and café in the back.
When to Go
There is always something to see and do at Valley Forge Park, but there is no better time than Summertime at Valley Forge. There are special events, storytelling benches, and a variety of ways to explore.
Go have lots of fun ….