Take the short trip to the Countryside of Philadelphia and you’ll be rewarded with rich, rolling hills, charming towns and an abundance of attractions. Here is where you will discover many of the gardens that make the Philadelphia region America’s Garden Capital, including two of North America’s 10 most dynamic gardens, according to the North American Garden Tourism Awards.
Located within driving distance of Philadelphia, the Brandywine Valley flaunts a rustically cultured vibe, packed with art, gardens, shopping, breweries and vineyards.
The greater Philadelphia region abounds in horticultural assets with over 37 attractions within 30 miles – earning it the moniker “America’s Garden Capital.” The crown jewel of the region is the world-renowned Longwood Gardens. Longwood combines the best of Italian, French, and English traditions to create one of America’s most memorable gardens. Longwood encompasses 1,077 acres, offering 20 outdoor gardens and a breathtaking conservatory and is home to the most significant fountain collection in North America.
Stop by the Brandywine River Museum of Art, 45 minutes southwest of the city. An art treasure known internationally for its collections of works by three generations of the Wyeth family — N.C., Andrew and Jamie — the museum has a fine collection of American illustration, still life and landscapes.
While in Chadds Ford, tour historic houses, three pre-Revolutionary buildings that are open to the public as museums, through the Chadds Ford Historical Society. Sample wines at Penns Wood Winery, a family-run winery also hosts a variety of mouthwatering events like wine and cupcake pairings and sangria tastings.
Wharton Esherick, known as the “Dean of American craftsmen,” was a sculptor who worked primarily in wood, molding furniture, interiors and buildings – creating sculptural environments. His work can be seen today in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and many others. His hilltop studio/residence, in Paoli, Pennsylvania, remains one of his most creative endeavors. The studio is a National Historic Landmark for architecture and became the Wharton Esherick Museum in 1972 featuring more than 200 of his works on exhibition.
The 35-acre pleasure garden Chanticleer received the 2019 North American Garden Tourism Award for best garden and features lush courtyards of tropicals, perennials and containers, colorful cut-flower and vegetable garden, exotic woodlands ruin garden and ponds and water garden teeming with life.
Learn about rotary-wing aircraft at the American Helicopter Museum, located in a 20,000 square-foot hangar in West Chester. Check out restored historic helicopters, including a V-22 Osprey, then hop in the pilot’s seat and run the controls yourself.
Take a trip to Valley Forge National Historic Park, site of the encampment of George Washington and the Continental Army during the winter of 1777-1778. Participate in one of the many guided tours available, or stop by General Washington’s headquarters.
The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove offers a brand-new 18,000-squarefoot museum and nature-based facility, as well as 175 acres of landscape and outdoor trails. Enjoy interactive and family-friendly ways to explore the famed ornithologist, two galleries for art and conservation, birding exhibits, interpretive demonstrations with live great horned owls, and red-tailed hawks.
The tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes that you enjoyed in Philadelphia extends into the Countryside. One of America’s most iconic and largest shopping malls, King of Prussia attracts visitors from around the world with several department stores, a collection of luxury retailers unsurpassed in the region, and more than 450 shops and restaurants.
Unique shopping opportunities can also be found throughout the quaint and cozy small towns and villages that populate the Countryside of Philadelphia. Popular spots include Ambler, Ardmore, Skippack, West Chester, Lansdale, Phoenixville, and the “Mushroom Capital of the World” – Kennett Square.
After shopping, feel the rush of skydiving thousands of feet above but only a few feet off the ground. iFLY Indoor Skydiving’s vertical wind tunnels offer a safe, thrilling experience for all.
Enjoy Bucks County, approximately one hour north of Center City, where old and new combine in effortless fashion. New Hope offers boutique shopping and sophisticated entertainment in a small-town setting. It also has many LGBTQ+-owned shops and restaurants. Noteworthy art collections can be found at the nearby James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown.
Andalusia Historic House, Gardens and Arboretum is a 65-acre riverside estate in Bucks County. The ancestral home of the Biddle family, this sprawling property is home to formal gardens, native woodlands, as well as the “Big House” — a historic mansion and National Historic Landmark that is considered one of the finest and earliest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the nation. Tours are available Mondays through Wednesdays in the spring, summer and fall, with occasional weekend access on select “Open Saturdays” throughout the year.
Lancaster County & Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Pennsylvania Dutch Country is 1.5 hours west of Philadelphia. Horse-drawn buggies on the side of the roads will signal your arrival. Visit the Amish Farm & House to learn about the traditional Amish lifestyle and take home a handmade quilt or apple butter. TIP: Philly Tour Hub offers a Lancaster and Amish custom driving tour that transport visitors from downtown Philadelphia to and from Lancaster County.
For a great view of the rolling countryside landscape of Lancaster County and other regions of The Countryside of Philadelphia, book a hot air balloon rides offered by the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team.
To learn more, visit CountrysidePHL.com.