In the Brandywine Valley, straddling Pennsylvania and Delaware, country lanes meander past historic stone houses, clapboard barns, undulating hills, and swaths of forest. A great time to visit is autumn, when the area—a 2½-hour drive from Washington—comes alive with foliage, festivals, and outdoor events.
The Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, opens its gates most fall weekends for a harvest market, where artisans set up on the courtyard alongside the Brandywine River to sell honey, wool, and quilts. The museum is home to the artwork of three generations of Wyeths—N.C., best known as the illustrator of Treasure Island; Andrew, creator of “Christina’s World” and other iconic American paintings; and Jamie, a contemporary-realist painter.
On October 2, the nearby town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, shuts South Broad Street to traffic for the Kennett Brewfest, featuring more than 60 local and regional breweries. This is one of the area’s liveliest towns, known for its excellent restaurants and independently owned boutiques.
The Hagley Craft Fair in Wilmington, Delaware, is an artisan showcase for the Mid-Atlantic. On October 16 and 17, artists gather to exhibit glass and iron work, pottery and sculpture, textiles and mosaics. The festival is held at Hagley Mills, a 235-acre tract along the river that was the first du Pont family estate and gunpowder plant.
One of the region’s most beloved events takes place October 21 through 23 in the historic township of Chadds Ford. The Great Pumpkin Carve features enormous carved pumpkins, candlelit jack-o’-lanterns, hayrides, music, and food.
The Washingtonian has negotiated special rates for readers who mention the “Washingtonian package” when booking any of these accommodations in Brandywine Valley.
SIX BRANDYWINE BARGAINS
Fairville Inn Bed and Breakfast
The sun-drenched Fairville Inn, built around 1830, has all the charm of the past combined with flat-screen TVs and wi-fi. Free afternoon tea features house-made breads and muffins.
Book any night from Sunday through Thursday—rates start at $185—and add a second night for a 20-percent discount. Or book Friday and Saturday, starting at $390 for the two nights, and add a third night for a 30-percent discount.
Readers who book either deal for a weekend stay receive free admission for two to two museums; choices include Longwood Gardens, the Brandywine River Museum, or Winterthur Museum & Country Estate—the former estate of Henry du Pont, which houses one of the world’s most important collections of American antiques. Readers staying midweek receive two tickets to one museum. Plus, weekend travelers get a bottle of wine or Champagne per night as well as chocolate truffles. Midweek guests receive one bottle per stay. Both deals are valid through December.
Chadds Ford, Pa.; 877-285-7772.
For quintessential Brandywine, stay at Sweetwater Farm, an 18th-century stone manor surrounded by 50 acres of fields and vineyards and boasting a billiard room, golf chipping range, and den with fireplace. Washingtonian readers receive 20 percent off room rates—which start at $150—when they book any night midweek through October.
Glen Mills, Pa.; 800-793-3892.
Pennsbury Inn is a comfortable spot with a lovely garden, eight acres of walking trails, and two pretty ponds. For romance, request the Winterthur Suite, which has a private entrance. Book any night midweek and get 20 percent off regular rates, which start at $155, now through March. Or get 20 percent off any weekend rate, January through March.
Chadds Ford, Pa.; 610-388-1435.
The Brandywine River Hotel
The Brandywine River Hotel is steps from the pumpkin-carving festival. This affordable option has hotel services such as a business center as well as B&B touches including free afternoon tea with house-baked cookies.
Readers who book any room Sunday through Thursday until March—rates start at $125—receive two free tickets to the Brandywine River Museum. Readers can also buy a $75 gift card to Brandywine Prime, one of the area’s best steak restaurants, for $60.
Chadds Ford, Pa.; 877-320-0664.
Stebbins-Swayne House is an old-school B&B in the heart of charming Kennett Square, run by friendly Rosemary Malatesta.
Readers get 20 percent off a midweek stay through March and 20 percent off any weekend stay January through March. Because the region is known as “the mushroom capital of the world,” guests who stay two nights also get a basket of mushrooms to take home.
Kennett Square, Pa.; 610-444-9097.
Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast
Gracious, Civil War–era Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast has a library and winter porch, and it serves a robust breakfast by candlelight. Readers can get 20 percent off their stay through February. Regular rates begin at $135.
West Chester, Pa.; 800-505-3233.
This article first appeared in the October 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.