Wednesday, September 25 2019 12:25

Across County Lines

Written by Mercedes Thomas

This fall take a drive through the stunning landscapes and small towns we get to call home—Chester County & Beyond.

Leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping and pumpkins are taking center stage—it must be fall in County Lines Country! If you’re looking for great shops, interesting dining, historic landmarks or fun events, look no further. We’ve rounded up a tour of some of our favorite towns and destinations worth exploring this month.


West Chester

West Chester, PA

How great is West Chester? It’s a Great American Main Street Award winner with plenty of events, dining options and distinctive shops for the whole family to enjoy. What’s not to love?

The Borough is known as a dining destination, and for good reason. The restaurant scene continues to welcome newcomers, like coffee shop Gryphon Café on Gay Street, Sterling Pig Brewery’s new location on Market Street, and retro eatery Slow Hand on Church Street. Plus there’s local hot spot Andiario, an upscale Italian eatery named Best Suburban Restaurant by Philadelphia Magazine.

Catch a show at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center—comedy, concerts and the Resident Theatre Company’s Cabaret and Into The Woods are in their fall lineup. For shopping, find the latest fashions at boutiques like Jane Chalfant and Phineas Gage, designer jewelry at Sunset Hill Jewelers and gorgeous flowers for every occasion at Matlack Florist.

On October 26, enjoy early Halloween fun at the American Helicopter Museum’s Haunted Helicopter event. And mark your calendar now for the West Chester Christmas parade on December 6. Broadcast live, the parade draws tens of thousands and features local schools, marching bands, floats, antique vehicles and more. A West Chester Christmas tradition.


Downingtown & Exton

More than just malls and shopping centers, these towns are just a short distance apart on Route 30 and worth visiting together. There’s fun for the kiddos, places to dine or grab a drink and of course, shopping.

Start in Downingtown with a hand-spun milkshake or scoop of salted caramel pretzel ice cream at the new Creamery at the Farmhouse Coffee & Espresso Bar. Or enjoy great home-brewed beer at the 2nd Annual D’Town Brew-Down on October 26.

Get active at Urban Air, a year-round indoor trampoline amusement park full of climbing, jumping and obstacle course adventures, or check out the 10,000-square-foot indoor rock climbing gym, aptly named Downingtown Rock Gym.

On to Exton to enjoy a fine dining experience with filet mignon Béarnaise or seared duck breast at longtime favorite Vickers Restaurant,  or one of the specials at the new steakhouse ChopHouse Grille, like kona-crusted New York strip steak. Under new ownership and a new name, check out Marchwood Tavern for live entertainment from local musicians.

Before leaving Exton, stop at the outdoor mall that is Main Street at Exton. Check out local favorite Appetites on Main, grab a drink from World of Beer, browse clothing, jewelry and more at Exton Place boutique, and try an evening at Pinot’s Palette, a BYO beverage painting studio.


The Main Line

Next up, drive where there are fewer rolling hills but many more gorgeous homes with lush grounds and almost non-stop shops and restaurants to visit. That’s the Lancaster Avenue (Route 30) corridor along the Main Line.

For some history, plan a trip to Malvern to tour Historic Sugartown, a preserved 19th-century crossroads village, then on to Paoli Battlefield for a self-guided tour, picnic or walk through the pristine Revolutionary War battlefield. And there’s spooky fall fun at the Paoli Battlefield Paranormal Tour on October 12, food and drink provided. Come back for Christmas on King (Malvern’s main business street) on December 7, for family fun, tree lighting and a Santa visit.

If you’re looking for new treats and dining along the Main Line, you’re in luck. Brick and Brew is a hot new spot in downtown Malvern, or you may also enjoy the relaxed vibe at Locust Lane Brewery or the Pennsylvania Distilling Company for a drink.

Bua Loy Cuisine just opened in Devon in May, and Bryn Mawr welcomes newly opened Avalon Bistro (also in West Chester) and La Cabra Brewing’s satellite location, Bodega.

Be sure to come back for Christmas in Wayne on December 6 for caroling, horse-drawn carriage rides, face painting, ornament decorating and the tree lighting, followed by the Santa Parade on Saturday.


Southern Chester County

Every visitor to Southern Chester County should at least consider going to Longwood Gardens. This fall you can see international entertainment at their Performance Series along with poinsettias, pinecones, snowflakes and more during the holidays for A Longwood Christmas.

While you’re in Kennett Square, stop into Purebread Deli’s new location for unique sandwich combinations with canine-themed names—like the Jack Russell, with chicken, bacon, cheddar and peppercorn ranch on grilled cheddar bread. And visit local favorites like La Verona for premier Italian dishes, Lily Asian Cuisine for sushi, sashimi and other delicious Asian cuisine, or the soon-returning Byrsa Bistro for Mediterranean delights.

Need more options? Check out Portabellos’ new location on East State, get a brew and a tour at Braeloch Brewing, and have a bite to eat before throwing axes at The Creamery—all in Kennett Square. Just a short drive away is yet another new brewery at Twelves Grill & Café, West Grove’s first brewery since the 1940s.

And finally, for historical fun, the Brandywine Battlefield’s Patriot’s Day is November 30—see firing demos, military fife and drum music, 18th-century baker with fresh goodies, open fire cooking and military medical displays.


Delaware County

To the east in Delaware County, there’s plenty to do in Newtown Square. A big attraction is the long-awaited Whole Foods and their Darby Creek Café, an in-store, casual eatery with a wood-fired oven and a menu filled with vegan and vegetarian options.

While you’re in town, pick up sweet treats and Halloween goodies from Christopher Chocolates, get your mums and fall garden essentials at Mostardi Nursery, and be inspired for your next interior design project at Main Street Cabinet’s showroom.

On October 5, stop by Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation for their Spirits at Sunset, a haunted happy hour for adults with specialty themed cocktails, light bites and historical tour of the 1720 farmhouse and property.

Moving south, you’ll find Media is a great stop for dinner and a show. Catch Matilda, The Musical, October 2–27, and Elf: The Musical, November 13–January 12, both at The Media Theatre. While you’re there, grab a pre-show cocktail at Ariano or an Italian dinner at Spasso Italian Grill. And be on the lookout for Chaps Pit Beef, coming to Granite Run Mall soon. History buffs will love Glen Mills’ Newlin Grist Mill, built in 1704. Join them on November 2 for their Tavern Night, with 18th-century food and drink, live period music and games.



Travel south into Delaware—we suggest Route 52 for a scenic route—and enjoy all Wilmington and its suburbs have to offer. Downtown Wilmington’s recent revival into a vibrant town means there are always new things to see and do.

You’ll find plenty of museums worth the drive—Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Museum of Natural History and the Delaware Contemporary.

For a fun shopping experience, check out the two-day Hagley Craft Fair on October 19–20, with fine arts, crafts and gourmet items from more than 50 artisans. Or go antiquing at the Delaware Antique Show on November 8–10. Browse and buy furniture, paintings, ceramics and jewelry from more than 60 of the country’s most distinguished dealers.

Feeling hungry? Stop by the DE.CO food hall for quick dining options, from sushi and tikka misala to pizza and chicken and waffles. Or shop for local products and made-to-order foods from Faire Market & Café, a new neighborhood grocery owned by the folks from Stitch House Brewery.

Before you leave, take a ride on the Wilmington Western Railroad—try the Autumn Leaf Special (October 12 to November 3), the Halloween Express (October 27) or the Santa Claus Express (November 29 to December 23). If you’re over 21, grab a ticket for one of their Brews on Board events, a 1½-hour round-trip where you’re served two different beers and a pretzel.



There’s even more to see on your way to Wilmington … Take a quick detour to Centreville, Delaware for some tax-free shopping—find unique home goods, accessories and gifts at Adorn Goods, taste carefully selected domestic and European wines at Collier’s of Centreville, browse art at Hardcastle Gallery, and find treasures at Found Antiques and Decorative Furnishing.

Bring your pup to Centreville on October 12 for Doggerel Day, a fun-filled, family-friendly afternoon with sheep herding and police dog demonstrations, food trucks, pet adoptions and a dog Halloween costume contest and parade! Or stop by November 30 for The Santa Stroll to join St. Nick as he walks through the village accompanied by carolers.

Just south of Centreville, finish out your trip at one of our area’s gems, Winterthur Museum & Garden, the premier museum of American decorative arts set amidst a 1,000-acre preserve. And from November 30 to January 5, see breathtaking trees, beautiful room displays and a magical dollhouse during Yuletide at Winterthur. Another great way to catch some holiday spirit.

Tagged under: Chester County, Towns