Across County Lines
This fall, take a drive through the scenic Brandywine Valley
Autumn has arrived, and there’s no better time for a road trip across the Brandywine Valley. Take in the fall colors, scenic landscapes and charming towns in our special corner of the country.
Celebrate the season with a drive through County Lines country, full of shopping, dining, exciting events and fun for the whole family. Let us be your guide.
We start in Chester County’s distinctive county seat of West Chester. Wend your way down walkable brick sidewalks and tree-lined streets to find unique shops and over 60 tempting restaurants in this award-winning downtown.
West Chester’s dining scene is abuzz with new developments. Have a traditional English tea party at newly opened Mimi’s Tea Cottage on High Street. And just outside town, Ground Provisions: Market & Dining, the new vegan market and restaurant from the couple behind Philly’s Vedge, continues to garner praise, including raves by Inquirer food critic Crain LaBan.
Keep an eye out for two new restaurants coming soon. Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani is opening 9Prime, a steak and seafood restaurant in the former First National Bank building, planned with a glass-topped terrace. And the folks behind Imprint Beer Company are launching Serum Kitchen & Taphouse on Market Street, complete with a rooftop bar.
Pair your dinner with a show at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center. From music and theater to comedy, dance and film, there’s always something to see. Magical Mystery Doors play a tribute to The Beatles, Doors and Led Zeppelin on October 7, and the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers perform contemporary Asian-American dance on October 20.
The popular Open-Air Market continues to close Gay Street to traffic on weekends (Friday to Monday morning) through October for outdoor dining, shopping and more. And on First Friday, October 6, explore West Chester’s vibrant art scene at the Fall Gallery Walk. The self-guided tour features over 20 stops, including local art galleries like David Katz Gallery and Gingko Arts, as well as special one-night-only venues including Taylor’s Music Store and Pine + Quill. For more, take a detour to the new Corner Art Collective on South Matlack Street.
Come back on Sunday, October 8 for the 21st annual West Chester Chili Cook-Off. Over 50 chili-cooking teams compete for the coveted People’s Choice Award and a $2,500 cash prize. Hosted by the Rotary Club of West Chester, the event benefits local nonprofits.
Fall is a busy time at West Chester University. For the first time, Family Weekend combines with homecoming for a weekend jam-packed with activities — including a football game against Bloomsburg — September 29 to October 1. The Department of Theater & Dance presents Kiss Me, Kate, a musical retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, October 19 to 22. And October performances from the Wells School of Music include the Fall Choral Festival on the 24th and a Wind Ensemble concert on the 29th.
Finally, for you long-term planners, mark your calendar for the West Chester Christmas Parade on Friday, December 1, with 6abc’s Adam Joseph returning to host alongside WMMR’s Kathy Romano.
Western Chester County
Head west on Route 30 to three vibrant towns that combine for a great daytrip — though each shines on its own.
First stop: Exton, home to shopping and dining galore. Find all your favorite brands at Main Street at Exton and stop by for a bite at Appetites on Main. For something a little different, drop by Wellington Square Bookshop in Eagleview Town Center. This local, independent bookstore houses a cozy reading room, café and, of course, plenty of books. Later, check out one of Exton’s many restaurants — including staples like Ron’s Original Bar & Grille as well as newcomer VK Brewing Co. & Eatery, a veteran-owned brewpub at the historic Ship Inn property.
Or, start your day at the Downingtown Farmers Market, Saturdays from 9 to 1 at Kerr Park. Hosted by Growing Roots Partners, this market features locally grown fruits and veggies, fresh meats and cheeses, baked goods and more, along with live music. While in Downingtown, check out De La Terre BYOB, an upscale, modern French restaurant that’s been attracting serious foodies.
Finally, find out what’s new in Coatesville. Chester County’s only city is becoming a dining hotspot with new restaurants opening and more to come. Late last year, the former Coatesville Record offices became The Record Kitchen + Bar, with newspaper front pages adorning the walls and appropriately named cocktails. This spring, it was joined by The Iron Eagle on Lincoln, serving up modern takes on classic comfort foods in the former Coatesville Cultural Society building.
Southern Chester County
Moving south, you’ll find stunning views, fine food and drink, and fun for the whole family.
Fall is a great time to visit Longwood Gardens. From September 30 to November 12, the Chrysanthemum Festival fills the Conservatory with vibrant blooms. And the kiddos will love the Pumpkin Playground, with whimsical displays of pumpkins, gourds and corn-husk towers in the Children’s Corner from October 6 to 30.
While in Kennett Square, stop by State Street to visit new additions to the dining scene, including Sweet Amelia’s, an upscale New American restaurant with a seasonal menu, and Patisserie Lola, a French bakery with artisan pastries made fresh daily. Visit on Third Thursday on State Street (last one on October 19) for outdoor dining, extended shopping hours, live music and family-friendly activities.
In the mood for wine? Just a short drive from downtown Kennett, Va La Vineyards in Avondale hosts weekend tastings (Friday to Sunday) in their century-old barn and outside overlooking the vines. Stop by on a Sunday afternoon, October 8 and 22, for a live concert by pianist Glenn E. Williams. For more, try Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford. Their family- and dog-friendly outdoor lawn is open through October, offering vineyard views, wine by the glass and bottle, local beer and charcuterie.
While in Chadds Ford, we recommend a stop at the Brandywine River Museum for fine art overlooking the Brandywine Creek. Two new exhibits open this month — “Allan Freelon: Painter, Printmaker Teacher” on October 6 and “Rooted: Family and Nature in Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration” on October 14. Or share the artistic spirit at a Plein Air Day at Kuerner Farm, October 13 and 15.
Later in the month, spooky vibes abound at The Great Pumpkin Carve, hosted by the Chadds Ford Historical Society, October 19 to 21. This longtime favorite event features over 70 giant pumpkins carved by local artists, a kid-friendly haunted trail, raffle prizes and live music, as well as food, wine and local craft beer for sale.
Take a drive down Lancaster Avenue in Philly’s western suburbs to sample the Main Line. Cruise down residential side roads and admire gorgeous architecture and well-tended gardens, and be sure to check out the charming towns along the way.
On Sunday mornings (10 to 1) through October, stop by the new Berwyn Farmers Market at Bronze Plaza. Shop from over two dozen rotating vendors, ranging from farm-fresh produce and dairy products to jewelry and artisan pieces.
In Malvern, catch a show at People’s Light. Their season opener, Bonez, is a social horror, perfect for the Halloween season, running through October 15. Up next is A Christmas Carol, on stage starting November 15.
Keep the spooky vibes going at this year’s Paoli Battlefield Paranormal Tour, October 21. Supernatural experts from Interstate Paranormal Research lead a nighttime tour and paranormal investigation of the battlefield. Or, for a much less scary experience, visit during the day for a self-guided tour of the Revolutionary War battlefield and picnic on the grounds.
Speaking of Paoli, the Paoli Blues Fest is back on September 30 at a new venue, Wilson Farm Park in Wayne. This free festival features local blues bands, a variety of vendors and KidsZone.
While in Wayne, pop into Main Point Books, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with a major expansion. In addition to book clubs and visits from local authors, they’re hosting their second annual Boozy Banned Books Fair on October 7 at Theresa’s Café.
After spending a fun-filled day on the Main Line, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Luckily, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ new-ish Amada location in Radnor is open for Spanish tapas — and weekend brunch.
Over in Delco, you’ll find our neighbor to the east is home to fine art, shopping and plenty of fall events.
First, mark your calendar for Delco Arts Week, September 30 to October 8. The Delaware County Arts Association hosts over 60 events across the county, including concerts, festivals, films, gallery exhibitions, kids’ activities and workshops.
Next, stop by Newtown Square. On September 30, Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation hosts its first annual Fall Fest, featuring colonial brewing demonstrations, cider pressing, pottery, music, food from Philly Hots and more. While in town, pick up some special Halloween candy from Christopher Chocolates and get started on your fall planting and front-door decorating with mums and more from Mostardi Nursery.
Then make your way to Glen Mills, where Newlin Grist Mill is hosting its Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 7. The festival highlights historic skills and trade demos, along with fun activities for kids of all ages. This year’s theme is “Food Traditions Past and Present,” featuring both 18th-century cooking and modern food truck fare. Plus, the 160-acre park is open seven days a week for hiking on more than eight miles of trails, fishing, birdwatching or simply enjoying the fall scenery.
Of course, no trip to Delco would be complete without a visit to the county seat, Media. “Everybody’s Hometown” found itself in the national spotlight this summer at the Little League World Series, when Media’s Little League team made an impressive run and found support from the Phillies in the stands. The team’s currently raising funds to add lights to their complex — contribute at MediaLittleLeague.net.
Delco also offers quality local theater, including the Media Theatre’s two shows this month: James and the Giant Peach Jr. (weekends through October 8) and The Prom (October 3–29). Just outside town, the Hedgerow Theatre Company is celebrating its 100th birthday. See The Philly Fan, a tribute to Philly sports, September 27 to October 15.
Feeling brave? The Media Arts Council’s annual Fright Fest, September 30 at the Media Community Center, is a horror film festival with over 20 vendors, the Rivalry on State food truck, music, raffles and more. For something a bit more wholesome, the Media Business Authority hosts the State Street Fall Festival on October 8, boasting food, music, artists, crafters, nonprofits and family fun.
Finally, take a drive on beautiful Route 52 — known as the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway — across the state line to Wilmington, where inspiring art, renowned museums and much more await you.
First, climb aboard the Wilmington Western Railroad for a seasonal ride through the Red Clay Valley on the Autumn Leaf Special. Kids will love riding a converted railroad flatcar on the Hayride Express (Fridays in October) or alongside a friendly witch on the Halloween Express, October 29.
Next, see what’s on at The Grand Wilmington. America’s Got Talent’s Preacher Lawson will be cracking jokes at the Baby Grand on October 5, and the First State Ballet presents Coppélia at Copeland Hall on October 21 and 22. Plus, see Pretty Woman: The Musical at The Playhouse on Rodney Square, October 13 to 15.
There’s also plenty to see at Wilmington’s museums. Visit the Delaware Art Museum’s newest exhibit, “Drawn,” featuring contemporary drawings from Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. Just outside the city at the Delaware Museum of Nature & Science, Halloween costumes are encouraged at the “Monsters, Myths & Multiverses: The Science of Imagination” event on October 28. And a tour wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, hosting the exhibition “Ann Lowe: American Couturier,” featuring 40 iconic gowns from the acclaimed fashion designer.
As you make your way through these vibrant towns, be sure to slow down and take in the stunning fall colors and scenic vistas that make our area so special. Happy trails!
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Our Favorite Resources
- Berkshire Hathaway Holly Gross
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- Chester County Community Foundation
- Chester County Hospital, Penn Med
- Delaware Museum of Natural History
- Key Financial, Inc.
- King Construction
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- Sugarbridge Kitchen & Bath
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