Follow in Washington’s footsteps, discover beautiful gardens and world-class art museums, pick up a bargain at the outlet shops, enjoy an afternoon of golf, or go rafting down a pristine river. Regardless of your interests, age, or reason for visiting, the Brandywine & Valley Forge area has so much to offer. You’ll delight in a region blessed with a remarkable spectrum of attractions — from scenic natural beauty and amazing outdoor activities to vibrant history, fairs, and festivals.
The Brandywine Valley has a rich tradition of horticulture from the benevolence of the famed du Pont family to arboretums paying homage to Pennsylvania – Penn’s Woods. This heritage resonates throughout the greater Philadelphia region, earning the moniker – America’s Garden Capital.The horticultural influence of the famed du Pont family is particularly strong in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northern Delaware.
The Brandywine Valley is home to Longwood Gardens, the world’s premier horticultural display garden, founded by Pierre S. du Pont.Situated on 1,050 acres, Longwood features 20 indoor gardens as well as 20 outdoor gardens, breathtaking conservatory and spectacular illuminated fountains and fireworks. Built in 1919, the conservatory is one of the world’s great greenhouse structures; home to 20 different gardens featuring 5500 types of plants. Outdoor gardens overflow with gorgeous flowers and spectacular fountains. Throughout the 20 gardens visitors will be inspired by the Idea Garden, breathe in the fragrances of the Rose Garden, delight in the sites and sounds of the Chime Tower and waterfalls; take a forest walk and so much more.New in 2014 is the expanded Meadow Garden, growing from 40 to 86 acres featuring colorful, native wildflowers and meandering walking trails.
Experience Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Once the home of Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur's 1,000-acre country estate encompasses rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) developed an appreciation of nature as a boy that served as the basis for his life's work in the garden. He selected the choicest plants from around the world to enhance the natural setting, arranging them in lyrical color combinations and carefully orchestrating a succession of bloom from late January to November. Du Pont translated his love of the land into a unified work of art that embodies a romantic vision of nature's beauty. Fittingly this estate, close to American royalty, hosts the exhibition “Costumes of Downton Abbey” through 2014.
French – inspired Nemours is the three hundred acre estate of Alfred I. du Pont. The 47,000 sq. ft. mansion looms over the surrounding formal gardens. The grounds surrounding the mansion extend for one third of a mile along the main vista from the house, and are among the finest examples of French-style gardens in the United States. Highlights of this extraordinary garden include: a boxwood garden; a French parterre garden; a Canadian hemlock maze garden, elevated to be viewed from the mansion; a Colonnade, designed by Thomas Hastings; the Sunken Garden; and the Temple of Love, featuring a life-sized statue of Diana the Huntress cast by Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1780.A one – acre reflecting pool with 157 jets, other fountains and statuary are also elements of this spectacular property.
The Rosengarten family also left a legacy of horticultural philanthropy in the region. Chanticleer was the estate of Adolph Rosengarten, head of Rosengarten and Sons Pharmaceutical Company.His son, Adolph Jr. left the estate as a public garden; Chanticleer opened to the public in 1993 and is an oasis of majestic trees and verdant lawns.Foliage and flowers combine with unique containers, plant combinations and colors. Some highlights of Chanticleer include a ruin garden, pond garden and Asian woods. Bridges, benches, paths and unique stone furniture accentuate the natural landscape to make this “pleasure garden” an unforgettable experience. New in 2014, tours of the historic home will occur every Friday and Saturday at 11am.
Tranquil, stately arboretums round out the horticultural experience in the Brandywine Valley.Jenkins Arboretum and Garden is one of Pennsylvania’s major horticultural and environmental assets. It preserves and nurtures 46 acres of natural environment; showcasing native trees, shrubs, rhododendrons, azaleas, laurels, ferns, and wildflowers.
The Brandywine River itself serves as a horticultural canvas on the grounds of renowned Brandywine River Museum of Art, a showplace of nature as well as artistic treasures. Native plants and wildflowers populate the landscape around this historic gristmill, while the museum houses works from American landscape artists and three generations of the Wyeth family artists.
The images are heartrending, dramatic and so powerful that they are embedded in the nation's historical consciousness: Bloody footprints in the snow left by bootless men. Near naked soldiers wrapped in thin blankets huddled around a smoky fire of green wood. The plaintive chant from the starving: "We want meat! We want meat!"
These are the indelible images of suffering and endurance associated with Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78. "An army of skeletons appeared before our eyes naked, starved, sick and discouraged," wrote New York's Governor Morris of the Continental Congress.
The Marquis de Lafayette wrote: "The unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything; they had neither coats nor hats, nor shirts, nor shoes. Their feet and their legs froze until they were black, and it was often necessary to amputate them."
A bitter George Washington — whose first concern was always his soldiers — would accuse the Congress of "little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers. I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul pity those miseries, which it is neither in my power to relieve or prevent."
The suffering and sacrifices of the American soldiers at Valley Forge are familiar, iconic images, but there is another side of the picture. Valley Forge was where a new, confident, professional American army was born.
Three months of shortage and hardship were followed by three months of relative abundance that led to wonderful changes in the morale and fighting capabilities of the Continental Army.
France would enter the war on the side of the new nation. Valuable foreign volunteers and fresh replacements would trickle into camp.
Most important, it was at Valley Forge that a vigorous, systematic training regime transformed ragged amateur troops into a confident 18th century military organization capable of beating the Red Coats in the open field of battle.
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A mecca for garden lovers worldwide, has over 1,050 landscaped outdoor acres and 20 indoor gardens including the heated conservatory, the main fountain garden, Italian water garden and an open air theatre. A garden treasure, Longwood attracts more than a million visitors a year from all corners of the world. Longwood Gardens is open every day, year-round with special seasonal displays and events.
The Brandywine Battlefield visitors centre, just off Route 1 at Chadds Ford, is set amidst 50 acres of rolling park and woodlands. Inside are historical exhibits of uniforms, weapons and artefacts found on the battleground. On the park grounds, not far from the centre are both Washington's headquarters (the Ring House) and Lafayette's quarters (Gideon Gilpin's farm house). The actual battle took place over a 10 square mile area. The British approached Chadds Ford from Kennett Square, splitting their forces and trapping the American's between them. The battle's final conflict took place near the Birmingham Friends Meeting house.
The historic town of New Castle, Delaware, established in 1651, is just 25 minutes or so from Buckley's Tavern in Centreville, at the heart of the Brandywine Valley and about 10 minutes from Rodney Square at the centre of Wilmington.
The great thing about New Castle is that it's all real, not a colonial Disney creation. It is where you'll find great examples of colonial, Dutch and Federal architecture that are actually lived in by 21st century people, going about their daily lives as people have been doing in New Castle for quite a long while. They don't dress in colonial costumes and act at life, at least for 364 days of the year. Old New Castle Day, held on the third Saturday in May, is an exception.
The town is the where William Penn landed in the New World. A marker on the corner of The Strand and Delaware Street tells us he landed on October 27, 1682, proceeded to the fort and performed "livery of seisin", a common law ceremony transferring possession of lands. The ceremony in 1682 involved Penn taking a key, he was given "1 turf with a twig upon it, a porringer with river water and soil, in part of all".
While there may be nothing in Old New Castle that will raise your blood pressure, if you're looking for a relaxing stroll around a colonial town with a laid back attitude its well worth the effort.
The road into Old New Castle is Delaware Street, a tree-lined affair with bricked sidewalks that are, in places, being torn apart by tree roots so watch your step. The street is lined with homes, bed and breakfasts, shops, a tavern or two and townhouses that date back to the 1700s and earlier.
Delaware street opens into the Green where you'll find the Old Court House, built in 1732. The Court House was the place where the state's colonial assembly met from 1732 until 1777 when New Castle was Delaware's capital. You can tour the Court House Wed. - Sat. 10:00 - 3:30pm Sunday - 1:30 - 4:30PM. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and State Holidays. Free Admission. Reservations needed for groups of ten or more.
The Green, and the town itself, was laid out in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor. It was the place where whatever was happening at the time happened, and where the old jail and gallows were located. It was also where "grand fairs" were held and the site of the weekly markets. Today, it's a great place to park your car and explore the town on foot. On 2nd Street, a quaint, dappled cobblestone thoroughfare, behind the Court House, is one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in the country.
Often called the "Wyeth Museum" for its extensive collection of works by the internationally acclaimed Wyeth family - grandfather N.C., father Andrew and son Jamie - the Brandywine River Museum is housed in a converted 19th-century grist mill on the banks of the Brandywine in Chadds Ford, Pa.
Works by Brandywine school founder Howard Pyle and students including Maxfield Parrish, as well as paintings by American illustrators Charles Dana Gibson, Rockwell Kent and others. Other works include 19th-century landscapes, still life’s and interior scenes by artists including Jasper Cropsey, George Cope and Jefferson David Chalfant.
QVC, the No. 2 network in America in terms of sales ($3.4 billion in electronic sales per year) is located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes from the heart of the Brandywine Valley. You can take a tour of their studios and if you're lucky can even sit in as part of their live audience. During a tour you might catch a glimpse of the live broadcast from five studio views where monitors feature state-of-the art, pullback cameras in eight different locations within the studio. The Tour is designed for ages six and older.
Rockwood Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an English Country Estate in America. The Mansion, built between 1851-1854, is an excellent example of Rural Gothic Revival Architecture. Rockwood Mansion was built for Joseph Shipley, a merchant banker originally from Wilmington. The Mansion was Shipley's retirement home. Shipley spent most of his life in Liverpool, England where he became wealthy. Rockwood Mansion was inspired by Wyncote, Joseph Shipley's English country house designed by George Williams. Shipley had Williams design Rockwood Mansion, though he had never seen the site. Joseph Shipley moved his entire household from England bringing his favourite dog and horse (Toby and Branker) as well as gardener Robert Shaw and housekeeper Audrey Douglas.
The 6 acre historic garden of Rockwood is surrounded by a ha-ha (a sunken wall used on English estates instead of a fence to keep livestock away from the house, so it appears that the lawns are continuous). The landscape is referred to as Gardensque, a style that is characterized by long vistas, curving paths, and trees and shrubs bordering the lawn.
Garden Tours are by reservation only. Trail maps and Historic Garden Guides are available for self-guided tours at the mansion. Visit Wednesday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. or call 302-761-4340 for more information
The parlour rooms are lavishly furnished with period pieces and fine examples of English, Continental and American decorative arts from the 17th and 19th centuries.> The gardens are comprised of six acres of exotic foliage and a conservatory filled with examples of Victorian flora. Some of the specimens in the garden are just incredible in terms of size. Pine trees near the mansion must be 200 years old and there are rhododendrons that are as big as small houses.
The picturesque, rolling hillsides of 3,600-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park are a peaceful reminder of freedom won by men’s sacrifices long ago. It was here that General George Washington forged his Continental Army into a fighting force, during the winter encampment of 1777-78.
No battles were fought, no bayonet charges or artillery bombardments took place. Nonetheless, some 2,000 soldiers died – more Americans than were killed at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown combined. Valley Forge is the story of an army’s epic struggle to survive against terrible odds, hunger and disease.
Here, too, is a reminder of our nation’s diversity. Washington’s troops were the most racially integrated of any army our country fielded, up until Vietnam. An estimated 5,000 soldiers of African descent served in the Continental Army. Native Americans also played a role; members of the Oneida Indian Nation in particular had a crucial impact during the Valley Forge encampment.
Today, Washington’s original stone headquarters has been restored and furnished; log huts have been reconstructed; and statues and monuments throughout the park remind visitors of our national heritage. Among them are statues of General “Mad Anthony” Wayne and Baron Friedrich von Steuben; and the Monument to Patriots of African Descent.
The Welcome Centre features exhibits, artefacts, a gift shop, light refreshments and an 18-minute film. From here, take a self-guided or scheduled tour on a scenic drive through the park, or explore the ten miles of horse trails, and six miles of multi-use trails that wend throughout the park’s rolling hillsides.
Built as a wayside chapel for prayer and reflection for those who visit Valley Forge, the Chapel is a vibrant home for a faithful congregation of the Episcopal Church, part of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Each year its Gothic Revival architecture, stained glass windows and interior furnishings, coupled with its congregation’s religious and patriotic mission, continue to attract and inspire many thousands of visitors.
Washington Memorial Chapel stands as a testament to liberty, political and religious, and as a living memorial honouring George Washington and the sacrifice of patriots encamped at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778. Remembered also are all those past and present who have contributed to the freedoms we enjoy. Located within Valley Forge National Historical Park, our buildings and grounds are open year round.
The Chapel is also home to the Washington Memorial National Carillon and the Justice Bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell used in the women’s suffrage movement.
Tour the Chapel or attend one of the special events or worship at the weekly services:
Sunday 8:00 am & 10:00 am – Holy Eucharist
Wednesday 10:00 am – Rector's Forum
Saturday 5:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Green Lane Park offers fishing, boating, picnicking, horseback riding trails, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, family camping, equestrian camping, tennis, playgrounds, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice fishing.
Boating - The Park consists of over 3400 acres and three bodies of water totalling 870 acres. The Reservoir section at Hill Road has electric rental boats. Rental row boats and private boat racks are available at the Walt Road Launch and Deep Creek Lake.
Trails- There are several miles of nature trails that attract hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians to enjoy the natural beauty of the seasons.
Rich in modern recreational facilities and historical significance, Fort Washington blossoms with flowering dogwood in the spring. The park takes its name from the temporary fort built by George Washington’s troops in the fall of 1777, before heading to Valley Forge. The park is popular with hikers and picnickers. Birders enjoy the seasonal migration of raptors from the Observation Deck.
Central Perkiomen Valley Park on Plank Road is situated along the scenic Perkiomen Creek in the centre of Montgomery County. This 800-acre park extends over 10 municipalities, offering a wide variety of family activities. Visitors can enjoy a children’s playground as well as vistas of the Perkiomen Creek while fishing. Picnic tables and grills are available throughout the park’s picnic grove. There is one large pavilion available by reservation for large groups. Nearby are recreational offerings of volleyball, shuffleboard and restroom facilities. Visitors can walk, jog, bike or horseback ride on over 19 miles of the Perkiomen Trail winding along the Perkiomen Creek. Central Perkiomen Valley Park is an alcohol free park. Park Hours are from 8:00 a.m. until Dusk.
This sylvan setting of 107 acres in the southernmost section of Upper Providence Township attracts the recreational sports minded and the nature lover alike. With lovely views along the Perkiomen Creek, the Park serves as a trail head for those seeking access to the Perkiomen Trail, the Schuylkill River Trail or the Audubon Loop. Bicyclists, joggers, roller bladers, x-country skiers or just those wanting a stroll in the great outdoors are often found in the Park, taking advantage of the trails. This active Park is conveniently located along Rt. 422 and is contiguous via the trail system to Mill Grove and Valley Forge National Historic Park. Picnic pavilions, with electric and modern amenities may be reserved for family fun and group outings. Outdoor picnic tables and grills may be enjoyed year round on a first come, first served basis. For smaller children, an attractive playground can occupy their visit for hours of fun and frolic. A basketball court, volleyball nets, tetherball areas and horseshoe pits can provide hours of fun and exercise for visitors. Creek-side fishing in the Perkiomen Creek is a quiet pastime for the avid outdoorsmen.
Special events occur throughout the year. The Park is open from 8:00 am until sunset every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Adjacent to Valley Forge and boasting seven world class department stores and more than 400 stores, boutiques, and restaurants, King of Prussia has more pure retail shopping space than any other attraction in America and it features stores that cannot be found elsewhere in the region.
Brand loyalists and cost-conscious shoppers cheered the opening of Philadelphia’s newest addition to its already stellar roster of retail offerings. Located just 35 highway miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia and minutes from Valley Forge, the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick feature more than 150 designer and brand-name outlet stores in an astounding 425,000-square-foot space. Upscale merchants such as Calvin Klein, Coach, J.Crew and Sony are among the outlet stores tempting shoppers.
Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown welcomes over 130,000 visitors annually for an educational adventure in a fun, clean, and family-oriented environment. The zoo houses a collection of over 300 animals representing 100 species.