Much More Than Mushrooms
Time to go deeper into Southern Chester County
From the mushroom-shaped water tower proudly marking the Mushroom Capital of the World, to the two-day fungi festival in September drawing six-figure crowds, to the Mushroom Cap half-marathon in November, and various shops selling mushroom-themed souvenirs plus restaurant names declaring that they honor more than toadstools, Kennett Square is clearly known for mushrooms.
But there’s so much more to the charming town and its surroundings.
Take a Tour
To start, this area is home to the top three area tourist destinations, all within an easy drive—from legendary Longwood Gardens to the treasure trove of Wyeth-family art at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, to the stately former du Pont estate at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
For those who prefer to forego museums to tour vineyards and breweries, this area has additional appeal. Southern Chester County enjoys a micro-climate similar to the south of France, so it’s not surprising to find a noteworthy collection of local wineries. From one of the first—Chaddsford Winery, now rebranding as CFW—to the highly touted Va La, the area is home to nine other stops for your wine tour—Galer, Grace, Penns Woods, Paradocx, Harvest Ridge, Kreutz Creek, Wayvine, Borderland and 1723 Vineyards.
Beer fans also have reason to head to Southern Chester County. Victory Brewing and Kennett Brewing are scheduled to be joined soon in Kennett Square by Braeloch Brewing.
Head farther south and you’ll find Bog Turtle Brewing and Hollow Earth Brewing just a few blocks apart in downtown Oxford. Read more about your sipping options in our sidebar at the end of this article.
Collect Some Collectibles
Antiques collectors will find a range of dealers to visit, with most clustered along Route 1, aka Baltimore Pike. No less than Condé Nast Traveler put Brandywine River Antiques Market on their list of “The Best Antique Stores and Flea Markets, According to the Pros”—up there with the Crystal Palace Antiques in London—and describing it as “alcove after alcove of treasures.”
More variety awaits just down the road at Pennsbury-Chadds Ford Antiques Mall, with two levels displaying over a hundred dealers in everything from architectural items to signed Wyeth prints. Brandywine View Antiques offers three levels and five thousand square feet worth browsing. And Springhouse Furnishings specializes in custom furniture handcrafted from reclaimed local barn wood.
You’ll also find an artisans village at Chadds Ford Barn Shops—art gallery, florist, accessory shop, plus a café, salon, yoga studio and more—clustered together in a charming oasis in the middle of Chadds Ford.
Around the corner is a not-to-be-missed gem, the Sanderson Museum, home to a truly avid collector, Christian C. Sanderson. Eight rooms house 200 years of history and 30 thousand artifacts! A wonder in Southern Chester County.
Check Out Kennett Square
A first stop on your town tour of Kennett Square should be on the outskirts of the downtown shopping and dining area, in a developing area called the Arts & Culture Community District.
Though relatively new, worKS (note the strategic capital letters) has become a hip shopping destination and offers a “curated group of high end purveyors of artisan, designer, handcrafted, vintage and one-of-a-kind good for the home, the person and the connoisseur” or so wrote Philadelphia Mag in their Best Shopping award.
Savvy shoppers from New York join Philly folks to pick up mid-century treasures, handmade jewelry, caressable pottery and more from the eclectic collection of booths that fill the up-cycled space. Repeat visits are required to see each month’s featured artist, including photographer Natale Caccamo’s work in November.
Around the corner is the site of The Creamery, a bold experiment that housed a beloved seasonal community beer garden and active event space used for the after-party for the November Mushroom Cap half-marathon and a Holiday Village in December. Plans are afoot to host those two events again this year. Here’s hoping the beer garden reopens in 2019 after missing 2018.
The third leg supporting the emerging Arts & Culture Community District is Braeloch Brewing, scheduled to open in November. Actually, it was scheduled to open sooner, but this 9,000-square-foot space is an ambitious undertaking that’s taking a tad longer to get up and running.
A passion project for two couples— Kent and Amy Steeves along with Kathy and Matt Drysdale—the site will house three main areas: the impressive 10-barrel brewery, visible through glass garage doors from the tap room, which will have a mix of booths, community tables and comfy sofas in addition to a massive bar, plus an annex with a meeting/conference room and warming kitchen providing bar food. If that’s not enticing enough, there are plans for an outdoor beer garden, too.
Fans of walkable small towns with plenty of options for dining and browsing will enjoy Kennett Square. Forbes magazine recently profiled the town, dubbing it “head of its class in the world of fungi-culture” and a must visit for tourists who enjoy “small towns and great cuisine.”
Mainstays, like the Kennett Square Inn, known not surprisingly for their mushroom soup and serving guests for over 180 years, are joined by new additions including Verbena BYOB (photo at left courtesy: Casey Robinson), Chef Scott Morozin’s 40-seat gem featuring modern American cuisine.
Many popular spots have hit or are approaching the ten-year mark—the golden years for restaurants. For over a decade, the farm table at Talulah’s Table has been the toughest reservation in the country, which might strike some as unnecessary given the number of other choices nearby. La Verona serves up fine Italian favorites and hosts a vibrant “Happier Hour, while Portabellos offers a menu featuring exotic mushroom crepes, portabello fries and roasted mushroom soup, and is now moving into a larger space down the block.
Sunshine Café has you covered for breakfast, while Lily Asian Cuisine’s got lunch and dinner, plus all-you-can-eat sushi on Tuesdays. And Michoacana is the name on the spots for the best ice cream and authentic Mexican food around.
Outside of town, but still part of Kennett, are two other notable dining options: Savona Bistro near the Willowdale Steeplechase and Hearth Kitchen, the latest venture of Bryan Sikora, of La Fia fame in Wilmington.
Stroll State Street
State Street is the main, one-way street through Kennett’s shopping district, lined with unique boutiques alongside the restaurants, making a postprandial stroll an obvious choice. Window shopping will take you past trendy clothing shops like Ashely Austin, for shoes and accessories, No. 109 for women’s clothing and accessories, Chantilly Blue for premium denim, Penny Lane Emporium for surprises for the younger set or “fresh finds for hip kids.” Newly opened Maura Grace adds to the mix.
While two jewelers—Bove and Kennett Jewelers—face off across the street from each other on the west end of State Street, Alexis Kletjian’s bespoke jewelry shop greets you on the east end.
You’ll find inspiration for your house in Marché, a lifestyle goods boutique filled with must-haves for your home plus women’s apparel and perfect hostess gifts, like scented candles. If art is what you’re after, there’s the Square Pear Gallery.
Of course there’s more to discover. Molly Johnston’s delectable pies at Nomadic Pies—from sweet to savory—are always worth a visit. And finally, on your way out of town, stop by Treetops Kitty Café and you may just find a new furry friend among the rescued cats needing forever homes.
And mark your calendar to return for Midnight in the Square for the 5th annual Mushroom Drop on New Year’s Eve. Yes, there’s an eight-foot, 500-pound stainless steel … mushroom.
Find out more at HistoricKennettSquare.com
Enjoy a Beer. Or Two.
Southern Chester County is full of places to enjoy a cold one. With plenty of breweries and taprooms, beer fans have their pick. From well-known old favorites like Victory Brewing to the promising newcomers like Braeloch Brewing, your pint glass will surely runneth over.
Here’s our guide for your next visit to Southern Chester County.
Victory Brewing: Headquartered in Downingtown, this 22-year-old brewery has been expanding, with its second big brewpub in Kennett Square. Offering pub grub plus flavorful and innovative beers daily, Victory also has seasonal beers like Winter Cheers. 650 W. Cypress St., Kennett Square. Victorybeer.com/BrewPubs/Kennett-Square.
Kennett Brewing Company: After 12 years of research, the founders crafted a unique beer style featuring flavorful experiences from around the world. Try their Anniversary Ale—Gordy’s Walkabout—crafted from 30 pounds of blueberries or Bollocks Bayard Black IPA that’s considered “black as night.” 109 S. Broad St. #2, Kennett Square. KennettBrewingCompany.com.
Braeloch Brewing: Opening soon, this 10-barrel brewery will offer a broad range of beers from its 12 taps, including one for experimental beers. Tap room will serve bar snacks, supplemented by food trucks on weekends and a beer garden come summer.
225 Birch St., Kennett Square. BraelochBrewing.Beer.
Bog Turtle Brewing: With a thirst for the science that goes into making good beer, this brewery takes their brewing game seriously. With almost 30 years of brewing experience, the brewers have created their formulas with the utmost care. Try their large selection of beer and live music. 14 S. 3rd St. Ste #1, Oxford. BogTurtleBrewery.com.
Hollow Earth Brewing: Constantly creating new craft beers, this brewery’s tap list rotates often so best to be quick about trying their new releases before they’re gone. Check out their new sour beer, Good Belly, or the fun mix of Motueka and Mosaic hops in their new release, Righteous Earth. 19 N. 3rd St., Oxford. HollowEarthBrewing.com.
Tap Rooms & Beer Gardens
The Creamery: Opened during the warm months of 2017, this seasonal beer garden was a big community hit. Zoning issues interrupted its beer flow in 2018, but not its use for events. 2019 looks promising! 401 Birch St., Kennett Square. KennettCreamery.com.
The Gables Beer Garden: A seasonal treat to anticipate, this beer garden pops up to quench beer fans’ thirst every now and then (often on Thurs. and Sat.). Enjoy your beer bottled, canned or on tap. In cold months a strong beer list is available at their inside bar. Try dark and delicious Milk Stout Nitro. 423 Baltimore Pk., Chadds Ford. TheGablesAtChaddsFord.com.
Grain: Although this taproom has won awards for its food, it also has 23 different beers on tap and more than 50 in the fridge, along with a unique “Beer Bible” for you to peruse all the choices. With two different bar areas to serve you, there are plenty of options to explore.
108 W. State St., Kennett Square. MeetAtGrain.com.
Two Stones Pub: Started in Delaware and expanded to Kennett Square, this pub has not only a large food menu but also their own selection of brews to go with any order. Pop in for their Happy Hours, Monday–Friday, or enjoy their Game Day Features every Sunday until Dec. 30. 843 E. Baltimore Pk., Kennett Square. TwoStonesPub.com.
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Our Favorite Resources
- Berkshire Hathaway Holly Gross
- Brandywine Fine Props./Karen Nader
- Chester County Hearth & Home
- Devon Senior Living
- Dilworth’s Custom Design
- Flowing Springs Landscape
- Kent County Office of Tourism
- Key Financial, Inc.
- King Construction
- Spring Oak by JP Orleans
- Stoltzfus Builders
- Walter J. Cook