Feeling the wind as the rush of bicycle racers pass by just inches from the curb certainly ranks among the most thrilling experiences in West Chester. But after the races are over, there’s still so much to do and see in this unique and authentic historic community.
Simply stroll around West Chester, with its lovely town center and famed brick sidewalks to sample the rich history where interpretive signs tell stories of events and people that shaped the town. You will see the places where Abraham Lincoln began his quest for the presidency; where the great African-American folk artist Horace Pippin lived and painted; where America’s preeminent music composer Samuel Barber was born and raised; and where the first women’s rights convention in Pennsylvania was held. West Chester is a shopper’s paradise with over 75 retail boutiques offering great selections of fashionable clothing, fun gifts, quality jewelry and regional art. Check out the new WCU Ram Shop at the corner of High and Chestnut Streets for items related to West Chester’s internationally recognized university.
You will also find delectable gourmet items including world-acclaimed caramels at Eclat Chocolate and flavored oils at Taste of Olive, both on South High Street. There’s a vast selection of cheese, pasta and prepared foods at Carlino’s Specialty Foods on West Market Street. Sample local wine at Kreutz Creek Winery tasting room on the corner of Gay and Walnut Streets.
When it’s time to sit down and eat, there’s no better place to be than downtown West Chester. Over 50 award-winning restaurants, several offering entertainment, fulfill every taste and budget. There’s truly an international flare with Asian, Italian, Mexican, Indian, and Thai cuisine on every block. Healthy choices are also abundant serving up fresh dishes from food mostly grown in the Brandywine Valley making West Chester a locavore’s delight.
Stay the night or a week downtown at West Chester’s new Hotel Warner, an 80-room facility, featuring well-appointed rooms, indoor pool and hot tub, on-site exercise room, as well as indoor and outdoor gathering spaces. Old meets new as the recently constructed lodging wing features geothermal heating and cooling plus solar electric. It is blended into the facade of the historic Art Deco Warner Theater where the original theater lobby now serves as the lobby for the hotel. It was recently given a Best of Philly recognition for the perfect staycation.
The West Chester Railroad, one of the nation’s earliest railroads, now operates a scenic train between West Chester and the village of Glen Mills. Excursions are scheduled during the summer months with theme-rides occurring periodically. Just outside the Borough in West Goshen, the American Helicopter Museum houses the nation’s largest collection of helicopters. Other must-see attractions such as Longwood Gardens, the Brandywine River Museum and Brandywine Battlefield are located in nearby southern Chester and western Delaware Counties.
With its dynamic downtown, commitment to historic preservation and many wonderful attractions, it’s easy to see why West Chester has been recognized as a distinctive destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation – By Malcolm Johnstone