Great Small Towns Near DC: Chadds Ford

A charming town that takes Halloween and pumpkin carving very seriously.

It’s the week before October 31, and as darkness descends on Chadds Ford, a field lights up with dozens of jack-o’-lanterns carved into spooky scenes. More than 2,000 visitors—and about 60 carvers—converge on this Pennsylvania town for a three-night pumpkin-carving festival, this year October 22 through 24, on the grounds of the Historical Society (festival admission $10 adults, $5 ages 7 through 17). The Great Pumpkin Carve was the brainchild, in the 1970s, of local artists, including Andrew Wyeth.

While in town, stop in at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, where Wyeth’s work is exhibited, or fortify yourself with spiced apple wine or hard cider at Chaddsford Winery. Hole up overnight at the family-friendly Mendenhall Inn (323 Kennett Pike/Route 52; 610-388-2100) and wow the kids with flambé bananas Foster by the dining-room fireplace. Breakfast calls for local-mushroom omelets at Hank’s Place (Routes 1 and 100; 610-388-7061), Wyeth’s favorite haunt.

Population: 3,680.

Distance from DC: 120 miles.

Nearby: Longwood Gardens, one of the country’s premier botanical gardens.