Chester County has no shortage of charm, thanks to its rolling hills and pastoral farms dotted with horses. Beautiful throughout the year, it’s an especially magical place to experience the holidays. Whether hopping in the car to explore the region, or showcasing it to out-of-town relatives, there’s a wealth of family-friendly holiday fun.
As the air gets crisp and cool and Christmas looms, it’s time to select a tree to grace your living room. After all, there’s nothing like the fresh scent of pine to elevate the spirit. Start your afternoon at CT Farm in Parkesburg, where visitors can meander rows and rows of neatly spaced Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, Balsam Fir, Concolor Fir and Colorado Blue Spruce trees. Once you’ve found that perfect one, families can cut it themselves in that age-old tradition. “The experience of picking a tree from CT is even more special when you’re treated so well – Charlie and Tom are super nice guys and make it a fun place to take my family. They add the Christmas spirit to one of the year’s most fun excursions,” said KC Kulp.
After securing your tree, take a lunch break at The Whip Tavern, just a short drive away. The winding roads that lead to The Whip traverse the bucolic countryside. Lined with trees, farms and open fields, the drive is an experience itself. On snow-dusted days, it’s all the prettier, with white flecks of snow glinting in the sun.
The Whip’s menu changes seasonally to focus on fresh ingredients, with a nod to traditional English tavern favorites. Warm up with Shepherd’s Pie, a savory serving of lamb, vegetables and gravy, topped with decadent mashed potatoes. Or perhaps a burger or classic fish and chips is more your style. You can never go wrong with a bowl of soup, whether it’s the daily special—never the same and made from the freshest available ingredients—or the Kennett Square mushroom, it’s sure to warm you from the inside out.
It wouldn’t be the holidays in Chester County without a visit to the iconic Longwood Gardens. Each year, from late November through early January, the 1,077-acre garden transforms into a winter wonderland, replete with half a million lights, a fountain display set to classic Christmas carols and its four-acre conservatory filled with holiday displays for A Longwood Christmas.
Visiting this Kennett Square gem is a seasonal highlight for many local families and is sure to regale visiting relatives. Remember, Longwood requires advance purchased tickets for assigned times. Plan a visit for the late afternoon, giving you time to explore the gardens and displays both in the daylight and in all their glory at night. Wandering around such a large display, you’ll work up an appetite. Just 20 minutes away, enjoy dinner as you relax and unwind at The Whip. Guests indulge in hearty winter fare like British classic, Bangers and Mash, braised short ribs or shrimp and grits. Be sure to try small plate favorites like the Scotch Egg and the Welsh Rarebit.
Executive Chef Tim Baker said, “I really enjoy preparing those comfort foods that embrace the ingredients and flavors of the colder months…as if my cooking brings folks to a place that reminds them of being home for the holidays.”
If you’re lucky, you can even snag a seat near the fireplace to warm up. The hearth adds a cozy feeling, and pairs perfectly with a wealth of libations, like a pint of Moreland Old Speckled Hen, For Fox Sake – an English-style dry cider produced exclusively for The Whip by Big Hill Ciderworks in Adams County, and seasonal offerings like Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome.
For a full day of holiday spirit, plan a visit on the same day as the West Chester Christmas Parade, which draws thousands of visitors from around the region to see floats, local school bands and Santa take over West Chester. This year’s event will take place on Nov. 30 at 7:15 p.m.
Or, make them separate visits and grab bar snacks at The Whip after the parade. A Bacon Sarnie, an upscale cheesesteak and the Black Mack—angus beef, Russian dressing, lettuce, onion, pickles and American cheese on ciabatta—will have you coming back for more.
Bedecked with Christmas trees, twinkling lights and plenty of equestrian decorations, The Whip has become a holiday destination in Chester County in and of itself. This year, Santa will visit with diners during a lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 15 and a brunch on Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For those with a particular penchant for all things British, pre-order specialties like Sticky Toffee Pudding, Pork Pies and Welsh Rarebit to keep the spirit going at your holiday gathering.
Whatever your holiday tradition, The Whip is the perfect cozy spot to unwind and appreciate the joys of the season.
The Whip Tavern
1383 N. Chatham Road
Coatesville, PA 19320