On a recent road trip around Pennsylvania, I stopped in the region known as the Countryside of Philadelphia.
Less than an hour’s drive from the city, this turned out to be a brilliant and beautiful addition to my trip. Brandywine Valley and Valley Forge would be my stomping ground for the next day or so.
Brandywine River Museum of Art
My first stop was the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford. Here I discovered a magnificent collection of regional and American art housed in a 19th century mill overlooking the lush green banks of the Brandywine River. This treasure trove of art houses works by three generations of the Wyeth family of artists and is internationally recognized for its fine collection. N.C. Wyeth illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson’s book “Treasure Island” in 1911, and the original pieces are on display.
Outside, two young men floated past leisurely on their inflatable dinghies, while Helen the Pig and Miss Gratz the Cow looked on from the riverbanks. The air was filled with the sweet scent of magnolias and Virginia sweetspire.
Admiring the artwork at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford
Beautiful Longwood Gardens
Just a short drive east, I found the amazing, and quite breathtaking, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. Featuring over 405 hectares of stunning displays, this is quite the visual feast.
There are 1.6 hectares under cover at Longwood, inside one of the most fabulous conservatories I have ever seen. Gardens include an orchid room that contains more than 5,000 plants (including a vanilla plant, which I learned is part of the orchid family), a banana house, a fern passage, the Tropical Terrance, an indoor children’s garden, and my favorites, the Acacia Passage and Silver Garden. They also have the largest green wall in North America. Designed by UK-based Kim Wilkie, it covers more than 370 square meters and features about 47,000 plants.
Every day, music is played to visitors on the massive 10,010-pipe organ and there are special concerts scheduled throughout the year. As I strolled toward the Cascade Garden, surrounded by all of the beautiful displays, I came across a young couple who had just gotten engaged. The young man did good – the ring and the surroundings were both jaw-dropping.
Inside a conservatory at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Next, I headed northeast to Valley Forge National Historical Park, a place that is significant for its connection to the eight-year American Revolutionary War.
I began my tour at the Visitor Center to learn about all of the historic structures and monuments that cover the 1,416-hectare picturesque landscape that you can drive, bike or cover by foot via one of the numerous roadways, pathways and trails. I picked up a self-guiding Encampment Tour leaflet and set out.
My first stop was to see some of the replica soldier huts that are spread throughout the lush, green landscape. I then headed over to the National Memorial Arch, before visiting the original stone house that served as General George Washington’s headquarters during the winter spanning 1777 and 1778.
Exploring the history of Valley Forge National Military Park in the Visitor Center
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping
My last stop before I continued my road trip was Philadelphia Premium Outlets, which has more than 150 stores, including brands such as Banana Republic, Gap, Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren. I came away with bags full of tax-free finds on shoes and clothing!
Whatever you crave, you’ll find it here in some of the most beautiful landscapes around – the Countryside of Philadelphia!
Shopping for bargains at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets