Brandywine, DE/PA: A perfect getaway vacation spot

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WASHINGTON, June 8, 2013 — Nothing beats a quaint town for rest, relaxation and a chance to take life at a slower pace than usual.

The Brandywine Valley is a perfect getaway destination often overlooked by the residents of the Mid-Atlantic region. Located just 2 ½ hours north of Washington D.C., the Brandywine Valley offers activities for everyone, including art museums, historic attractions and world class shopping.


SEE RELATED: B&Bs and hotels in Brandywine PA for your getaway vacation


The trip is even easier now, thanks to Amtrak service that delivers you from Union Station to Penn Station in Wilmington.

Many of Brandywine’s attractions are located within the ten mile radius that includes the towns of West Chester, Kennett Square and Chadds Ford Pennsylvania just across the Delaware boarder and are legacies of the DuPont family.

In the Brandywine Valley, Routes 100 and 52 loop through scenic château country where the present-day residents resolutely protect the pastoral views. The narrow, twisting roads that trace the river force slow progress through lanes shaded by overarching branches of tulip trees and oaks. Wildflowers, not billboards, line roadsides. 

The motto of the Brandywine Valley, The South of France, just a little west of Philly is a good description of the region but with the friendliness of Mayberry needs to be added to make it perfect.


SEE RELATED: Brandywine Museums & Gardens Alliance honors U.S. Military


Experiencing all that this beautiful region has to offer cannot be done in one trip, but here are some of the must sees for a first trip:

Brandywine River Museum

The Brandywine River Museum showcases the work of three generations of the Wyeth family; N.C., Andrew and Jamie. Thanks to the generosity of the Wyeth family, not only is the museum filled with the masterpieces from all three artists but the museum also offers three separate off-site tours.

With the proceeds from his illustrations of Treasure Island, N.C. bought 18 acres in Chadds Ford and build his home and studio overlooking the valley. The tour of N.C.’s first home in the region finds the buildings much the same as when the artist lived there.

The second tour is the Kuerner Farm. This nearby home of Karl and Anna Kuerner was a major source of inspiration for a young Andrew Wyeth. Over 1,000 drawings and paintings were created of animals or objects around the farm; many are on display in the main museum and a treat s to compare the true object to Wyeth’s interpretation.

The final off site tour of the Wyeth family is the Andrew Wyeth studio, which was given to the museum by Andrew’s wife Betsy. The studio has been restored to the time when the artist used it.  Jamie and his brother were raised in this home and it later became Jamie’s first studio as well.

All three sites are minutes from the main museum and shuttle buses provide transportation for all ticket holders. Each tour in one hour long and take place between the beginnings of April through the end of November.

http://www.brandywinemuseum.org/

QVC Shopping Network

Yes, QVC is located in Brandywine Valley in West Chester, Pennsylvania. A guided walking tour is available of the studio. Guests see how products are sourced, tested and brought on the air. The tour includes views from the observation deck of the live filming in process. For an additional fee, guests can take the All Access tour and go down to the production floor to see all of the studio sets. The All Access tour also includes a constantly changing large gift bag of QVC products. The QVC gift shop is available to anyone, even without a ticket.

If some of your group is not interested in the QVC tour, right around the corner is the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center. It displays over 35 helicopters that can be climbed in and explored. The museum also offers rides on certain days of the year.

The downtown areas of West Chester and Kennett Square offer hours of boutique shopping and strolling after the glitz of QVC studios.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens were founded by E.I. du Pont who bought the land and old farmhouse when he heard that the land and trees were going to be flattened in the name of progress. Although he had no plan for the gardens, he gradually turned them into spectacular gardens that can compete with any across the world. Longwood encompasses 1,077 acres with 20 indoor and another 20 outdoor gardens.

Throughout the year, the gardens host concerts, fireworks and performances to include the Festival of Fountains, The Philadelphia Orchestra, an International Organ Competition and a Summer Concert Series.

The children’s favorite part of Longwood is bound to be the grand tree houses that they can enter and play in. One of the tree houses is also accessible for children in wheelchairs.

Couples in love’s favorite spot will be the whispering bench. The semi-circle bench has acoustics that will carry a whisper from one person all the way around to another unsuspecting person sitting at the other end. The whispering bench has been part of more than one marriage proposal.

http://www.longwoodgardens.org/

Mushroom Festival

Those lucky enough to be in Brandywine Valley in early September will get to experience Kennett Square’s mushroom festival.

The areas around Kennett Square are prime mushroom growing lands.  Half of America’s mushrooms are grown here. According to local legend, around 1885, industrious flower growers were bothered by the wasted unused space under their flower beds and thought of growing mushrooms there.

The first festival was held in 1985 with the hope of raising enough money for scholarships to high schools students. Twenty-eight years later the Festival stretches more than half a mile and features culinary events, growing exhibits, farm tours, children’s entertainment, and nearly 200 vendors with attendance calculated at up to 100,000 guests.

This is a town that seems almost too good to be true. The residents will go out of their way to accommodate their visitors in any way possible. It will seem like home from the first step you take in town.

During this year’s festival, the main street will be blocked of and many of the merchants will bring their stores out to the sidewalks. There will be a carnival, farm tours, wine events (including a wine slushy machine), car shows, race and cook offs.

Bring a cooler and take home the freshest mushrooms available anywhere. The mushrooms will be kept cool until the purchaser is ready to take them home.

http://www.mushroomfestival.org/

Stop by or contact The Mushroom Cap for any additional information. While there, find some of the most unusual mushroom gifts including Snack N Shrooms a dried and tasty mushroom snack. Kathi will be able to provide any information on the mushroom industry and festival.

http://www.themushroomcap.com/

Going to Brandywine Valley for a long weekend is something that must be experienced. It is the ideal location for a romantic getaway or a family trip. At only 2 ½ hours away the trip can even be a spur of the moment idea.

Returning will become an annual tradition.

Contact the Brandywine Valley Tourism Information Center for any help or information that you may need.

http://www.BrandywineValley.com

Part II will cover some of the best places to stay while in Brandywine.

 

 


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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.

 

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