15 Quirky and Romantic Things to Do in Chester County PA: Tiny Towns, Ice Cream, and The Blob

WHY GO: One upon a time, the things to do in Chester County PA had mostly to do with gardens and flowers. While Longwood Gardens is still is the most visited attraction in Brandywine Valley’s Chester County PA, you’ll find an abundance of other romantically quirky attractions.

Martha Stewart at Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Martha Stewart at Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

Set off on a decadent Ice Cream Trail; Discover books in the unlikeliest places; meander through a 35-acre “pleasure garden” favored by Martha Stewart and Brits; wander two tiny “Brigadoon”-like hamlets with world-renowned cred; find the place where an iconic campy horror movie was filmed; and walk among the ruins of a medical hospital commissioned by George Washington.

Here, the Getaway Mavens discover Yellow Springs (aka Chester Springs), St. Peter’s Village, Chanticleer Gardens, and more. You want romantically offbeat? You got it!

To get the most out of a Chester County PA Visit, refer to this Romantic Things to Do in Kennett Square and Chester County’s Brandywine Valley post, and our Best Things to do in West Chester PA post.

For more romantic destinations in Pennsylvania, check out our Best Romantic Getaways in PA post.

Things to Do in Chester County PA

Hangry Bear Craft Creamery Kennett Square PA

DO: Chester County PA Ice Cream Trail

The whole state of Pennsylvania is a wonderland of ice-cream makers, so Visit PA just launched its latest Scooped: An Ice Cream Trail for frozen treat aficionados all over the land. Visit five locations, you get a scoop. Visit 10 locations – a t-shirt!

Three in Chester County PA make the list – but Chester County has its own terrific ice-cream trail, with shops visited by US Presidents and We the People alike.  So, by all means, spend a month on a state-wide ice-cream crawl. Or, go local in Chester County and try out the following:

Melinda Shaw at Ice Cream freezer, Hangry Bear Creamery PA

Make Your Own Ice Cream Flavors at Hangry Bear Creamery, Kennett Square

Members of Book Clubs, Birthday Party celebrants, company team builders, bro and girlfriend groups, and more will go gaga over Hangry Bear’s concoct your own ice-cream flavor studio.

Hangry Bear Creamery owner, the entrepreneurial Melinda Shaw, taught the Science and Business of Ice-Cream class at University of Delaware, and was Director of UDairy Creamery for 12 years before opening this unique establishment.

Not only can you create your own off-the-wall ice cream combinations, but if, say, you remember a mixture from your youth that you can no longer find – just contact Hangry Bear and they will make it for you.

Ultimately an educator, Shaw begins each ice-cream making session with the history of the stuff. (Harking back to the Romans who gathered snow and mixed it with fruit and honey). She goes on to explain about FDA regulations (e.g., all lawfully sold ice-cream must contain at least 10% butterfat: Hangry Bear’s is 14%).

And then, it gets really fun. Groups can choose up to four flavor mixtures – as there are four separate sterilized batch freezers. You or your group choose a base flavor, and then decide on three solid “inclusions” and one “swirl-in.” Our group chose a banana ice-cream base (made with real pureed bananas), mini chocolate-caramel turtles, toasted coconut, Nila Vanilla wafers, and caramel swirl. We called it “Bananas on the Brandywine.” It’s outrageously good, if I do say so myself.

Birthday parties are particularly popular (and what a deal). Up to 16 kids are entertained in the most delicious and participatory way. Party favors are built in: each child takes home 2 pints of their own creation. Just $329 for the whole shebang. (Luncheon extra).

La Michoacana Ice Cream Kennett Square PA

La Michoacana, Kennett Square

La Michoacana Homemade Ice Cream is famous for its Latin ice-cream flavors, like corn-cinnamon and avocado. At certain times of year, also, you’ll also find treats made from Kennett Square’s prime crop: Mushroom popsicles and ice cream. President Biden is a big La Michoacana fan, as evidenced by the photo of him with shop owner that hangs on the wall.

La Bamba, Kennett Square PA

La Bama Ice Cream and Snacks, Kennett Square

A bit out of town, La Bamas interior is a Technicolor fantasia – extending from the walls to furniture and frozen treats. So, find popsicles in electric blue and neon pink, and other Mexican street foods and drinks at this very lively place.

Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farms PA

Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm, Chester Springs

Dairy farms and ice-cream go together like PB&J. The Chester Springs Creamery at Milky Way Farm (a Century Farm on preserved farmland), is more than cows and ice-cream, however.

Owner Carolyn Matthews keeps a variety of animals on her farm (45 cows, 15 sheep, 11 lambs, 5 goats, 2 pigs, and 100 chickens), so visitors can gain a better understanding of where their food comes from.

But, we’re here to discuss the ice-cream – and wow! Those cows make some darn good frozen cream. In fact, flavors are named for the bovines here, and they should be very proud. Top sellers are the ultra-creamy Bessie’s Black Raspberry and Molly’s Mint Chip, but there are dozens more. Enjoy a cone or cup on one of the many picnic tables outside (and sure, bring your lunch). Then, visit the animals – always a hit with the kiddos.

Royce and Julie Dorman Mean Bean Coffee and Cream PA

Mean Bean Coffee & Cream, Glenmore

What’s with the name: Mean Bean Coffee & Cream? Well, owners, Royce and Julie Dorman and Justine and Rachael Behrndt thought the rhyme was cute.

What’s also cute? That this charming and adorable coffee and ice-cream shop has become a heartwarming hang out in the little Chester County PA  ‘burg of Glenmore. The Dormans moved back to their hometown from San Diego to pursue their dream. With tons of community support, they are realizing it.

Scoops and Smiles, West Chester

OMG – the Salted Caramel Truffle ice cream at Scoops and Smiles is one of the most decadent thing I’ve ever tasted. And, I’ve been on this earth a long time. But from the looks of the lines here, every crazy and non-crazy flavor is awesome.

D'Ascenzo's Gelato West Chester PA

D’Ascenzo’s Gelato, West Chester

For lovers of coconut – get D’Ascenzo’s Gelato Coconut Chip. You’re welcome.

Wellington Square Bookstore Exton PA

GO: Wellington Square Bookshop, Exton

The Wellington Square Bookshop – in the planned development of Eagleview Town Center – seems like the kind of place that, in a Hollywood movie, the owner sells an innocent kid a mischievous gremlin. Or perhaps hosts a wizard class.

Crows on the wing and mini Greek busts line tops of shelves. Baubles hang from the ceiling. There are comfy chairs, candles, toys, greeting cards, and other non-book items for sale. It’s so charming, visiting this bookstore has become one of the most popular things to do in Chester County Pennsylvania. It’s certainly worth a drive from anywhere in Chester County and beyond.

Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

VISIT: Chanticleer Garden, Wayne

Every gardener is like Oscar Hammerstein’s Optimist. For the very act of planting is based on hope for a glorious future. – Adolph Rosengarten, Jr., benefactor, who left this property to the Chanticleer Foundation upon his death.

Visitor's Entrance Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Visitor’s Entrance Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

At 35 acres, and with 60,000 visitors a year, Chanticleer Garden, opened to the public in 1993, is smaller and more intimate than nearby Longwood Gardens. (Longwood averages 1.5 million visitors per year).

But this former private estate of the aptly named Rosengarten family is a genuine “find” in the rural landscape of rolling hills, farms, and country homes.

Interestingly, people from England (and Martha Stewart, who comes on occasion) have discovered Chanticleer. Many compare this small “Pleasure Garden” favorably to Longwood.

Unique, Inviting Grounds

Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
House Corgi, Monty, on his daily rounds of Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

The grounds are embellished with hand-crafted and uniquely designed functional sculptures. Five titled gardeners fashion benches, water fountains (constructed to send excess water back into the flower beds) whimsical Plant List boxes, and even a pedestrian bridge shaped like a fallen tree with great care. Each of the five has complete authority over a designated section of the garden.

Bring A Book to Read in Blissful Surroundings

Overlook Terrace of Main Rosengarten Home Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Overlook Terrace of Main Rosengarten Home Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

Given extensive creative latitude, these horticulturalists have free reign to translate their unique visions into botanical and sculptural art. Visitors are encouraged to bring a book, pack a picnic, relax on the inviting Overlook Terrace of the Main House. Or just wander among the cheerful flowerbeds and shade trees.

Imaginatively raked gravel driveway Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Imaginatively raked gravel driveway Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

The main Rosengarten home – sometimes open for tours – features a circular graveled driveway. “Every day, the staff rakes the gravel in a different pattern,” says Chanticleer Director, Bill Thomas. “We never know how it will look.”

Thomas loves his job, and his sense of humor is readily apparent. Pointing to a copse of hand-made ceramic bamboo – each stalk topped with an orange comb – he quips, “This bamboo has been genetically crossed with rooster genes.”

250,000 Yellow Daffodils

Fallen Tree Pedestrian Bridge Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Fallen Tree Pedestrian Bridge Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

In Spring, the Magnolia and Cherry Trees burst into various shades of pink, and 250,000 yellow daffodils sprout from the earth. It’s a spectacular time to come. But every season from April through October has its charms, with “luxuriant foliage and exotic flowers” at every turn.

Elevated Walkway Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Elevated Walkway Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

A new Elevated Walkway, paved with springy shredded tires and pervious material, snakes downhill, making it easy to get to the meadow, an area blitzed through with bulbs that bloom in the Fall.

Japanese Pee House

Reflections in "The Ruins" Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA
Reflections in “The Ruins” Chanticleer Garden Wayne PA

The Asian Garden, with plantings from China and Japan, is farthest from the Visitor’s entrance. When gardeners realized the need for a restroom here (for themselves and guests), they built the “Japanese Pee House” in the image of a…. well, you know.

Innovations at Chanticleer

The Ruins, Chanticleer Garden, Wayne PA
The Ruins, Chanticleer Garden, Wayne PA

Besides the Main House, two other homes, built for the Rosengarten’s children, were located on the property. Once now serves as the Visitor’s entrance. The other was demolished and replaced by “ruins” on its former footprint. Here, the walls come alive with flowing plants reflected in small pools of water. Captivating.

Spring pathway, Chanticleer Garden PA
Spring pathway, Chanticleer Garden PA

There are more surprises amid the creeks and footpaths. Sticks of Ostrich Fern form an organic “fence” that protects vulnerable spring flowers. And shredded tires have been dyed to look like wood chips in the Native Plant Garden. Best of all, these gardens help the community.

The small vegetable garden is harvested three times a week in season. Two thirds of the gleaning goes to staff members – the last third to a local homeless shelter. Open seasonally. Check website for days, hours, special events, and admission costs.

St. Peter's Village Historic District
St. Peter’s Village Historic District – Chester County PA

EXPLORE: St. Peter’s Village Historic District, 40 minutes from West Chester PA

A quaint ‘burg, St. Peter’s Village, in Chester County PA, is not gussied up or interpreted for tourists.

French Creek, St. Peter’s Village PA

But seekers of off the beaten track will find much to love here – especially the rocky, tree-studded French Creek that both rages and meanders over and through boulders behind Main Street. It’s so stunning a scene, those who know how to find St. Peter’s compare it to Brigadoon. A former quarry town, St. Peters had to reinvent itself when that business closed down in the 1960’s.

St. Peter’s Bakery

St. Peter's Bakery PA
St. Peter’s Bakery PA

Most locals flock to St. Peter’s Bakery for coffee and flakey pastries fresh out of the oven. On sunny days, patrons take their crispy croissants, sandwiches, and lattes out to the back deck to watch the water dance around and over boulders and tree roots on French Creek.

Healing Bowls, Healing Spirit Cafe St. Peter's Village PA
Healing Bowls, Healing Spirit Cafe St. Peter’s Village PA

Shops in town run the gamut of antique stores, a wine tasting room, an old fashioned pinball arcade, and Healing Spirit Café, owned by Terry, who, besides offering Reiki sessions, sells crystal and hammered metal “Healing Bowls,” along with elixirs, salt lamps, and a bounty of other transcendental accoutrements.

Glasssblowing class Glasslight Studio
Glasssblowing class Glasslight Studio

DO: Glassblowing at Glasslight Studio, St. Peters Village

Having had experience with half a dozen drop-in glassblowing classes in other studios around the country, I can honestly say that the full-day make-and-take class at Glasslight Studio is the most hands-on, immersive experience you will ever have as a novice. It is worth a drive from anywhere.

Contemporary Menorah Glasslight Studio St Peters Village PA
Contemporary Menorah Glasslight Studio St Peters Village PA

But, to me at least, that was not the biggest surprise in this small, seemingly middle-of-nowhere artist studio.

Famous Hanukah Menorah

Glasslight owners, Joel and Candice Bless, are the designers of a well-recognized contemporary glass Hanukah Menorah. Joel had been experimenting with glass casting right around the Jewish Holiday of Lights. Candy said, “why don’t you make something useful – like a Menorah we can use?”

And thus, the Shofar Menorah was born. The Bless’s design was included in the Bloomingdales catalog that year, and according to Joel, “we had to work 7 days a week to fill orders.” The Shofar Menorah is still for sale in many Jewish Museums and Judaic Shops. In fact, in 2010, the clear and blue menorah graced the cover of the book, 500 Judaica: Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art.

Hands On Glassblowing Glasslight Studio PA
Hands On Glassblowing with owner, Joel Bless, Glasslight Studio PA

Glasslight Studios still creates custom pieces for homes, businesses, and houses of worship, fabricating metal in house as well. And though you might be tempted to purchase something in the studio shop, visitors eager for a more immersive experience will want to sign up for a One Day Class on the weekend.

You’ll help “pull molten glass” from the furnace, blow it till you look like Satchmo, help shape and cut it, and learn firsthand how glass art is made. Check website for classes, and fees.

Historic Yellow Springs PA
Historic Yellow Springs PA

GO: Historic Yellow Springs/Chester Springs – Chester County PA

Years ago, I wrote a short story about a cowboy who wins a whole, nearly abandoned, “tumbleweed tract” town in a poker game. Yellow Springs PA, which has changed hands multiple times, could have been that fictional town.

The Village itself is on the National Historic Register, with a history dating back to before the American Colonies, when the indigenous Lenape Tribe named the area “Yellow Springs” for the iron-tinted color of the spring water.

Colonial Era

Remains of Revolutionary War Hospital Yellow Springs PA
Remains of Revolutionary War Hospital Yellow Springs PA

Researchers discovered a newspaper announcement from 1722, enticing visitors to bathe in the springs for their medicinal qualities. George Washington was well aware of this “Spa Town” when, after loosing the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, and during one of the deadliest Winter Encampments in nearby Valley Forge, he petitioned the Continental Congress to build a 126-bed state of the art Military Hospital here.

It served as a Medical Center until 1781, when the War moved south. Visitors can climb a small hill to see the ruins of this historic building.

Spa Resort Town

From 1810 until the Civil War, Yellow Springs was a bustling resort town – a place to see and be seen – with bowling alleys, ice-cream parlors, and hotels. Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, brought to the USA by P.T. Barnum, stayed in Yellow Springs to recover from her whirlwind American Tour.

By 1838, the entrepreneurial Margaret Holman owned a “good chunk” of town. She wrested the reins of property ownership away from her drunk, n’er do well husband, Frederick, at a time when women were not allowed to own property. (Holman’s son acted as her agent after Frederick died in 1820).

From Orphans to The Blob

Walking Tour Historic Yellow Springs PA
Walking Tour Historic Yellow Springs PA

After the Civil War, the appeal of spa towns waned. And in 1868, Yellow Spring was converted into an orphanage for war orphans, and a boarding school for children of destitute military veterans. These operated until 1912, when the whole village was put up for sale.

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts owned Yellow Springs from 1916-1952, until the genteel art of “plein aire” painting lost favor, and the town was once again on the block.

This time, Irwin “Shorty” Yeaworth saw Yellow Springs as the ideal place to shoot religious films and promote Christian messaging through his Good News Productions. But those “holy” endeavors weren’t financially successful. So Yeaworth and his wife, Jean Bruce, turned to making campy horror movies, establishing the for-profit Valley Forge Productions. Yeaworth’s most enduring Cult Classic? The Blob, partially filmed in nearby Phoenixville (see below).

Art History

By the 1960’s, a local group rented the buildings in Yellow Springs for art classes. It finally formed a 503(c) Nonprofit organization and purchased the town outright to promote the arts in Chester County PA.

Dedicated to the visual arts, environment, and the village’s 300 year history, Historic Yellow Springs now hosts one of the largest Annual Art Shows in the region, showcasing the work of 209 artists over a 2-week period every spring.

Wood Kiln Yellow Springs PA
Wood Kiln Yellow Springs PA

Though a variety of art classes are offered here, Yellow Springs is distinguished by its very active Ceramics Studio with a large wood kiln (built in 2014) that draws students from Philly and elsewhere (the nearest one of comparable size is in Baltimore).

Though guided walking tours of Historic Yellow Springs can be arranged for groups of 10 or more for a fee, you can pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure in the Lincoln Building. Free.

Colonial Theater The Blob Chester County PA

VISIT: Colonial Theater, Phoenixville

The movie theater is packed.  Suddenly, a ball of icky goo murders the projectionist and starts going after the rest of the gang.  Mayhem ensues. Moviegoers run from the theater: a young Steve McQueen among them.

The Blob, as memorable as a B-movie gets, was filmed right here in Phoenxville, PA. To raise money for the theater that by the 1990’s was in its final frames, the newly formed Association for the Colonial Theater screened The Blob. The event was an instant hit.  Now, every year over a weekend in July, BlobFest takes over Phoenixville, drawing The Blob lovers from all over the world.

The rest of the year, the Colonial serves as both a movie theater and event venue. So, even if you don’t come in July, check out the flicks playing during your visit.


STROLL/SHOP/EAT: Downtown Phoenixville

What was once a steel foundry town has been reinvented as an arts and epicurean hot spot.

Or down a custom Italian Soda, coffee, or vegan treat at Steel City (a venue for local and regional musicians).

Plan to spend more time than you originally allotted for a perusal of the Diving Cat Gallery (named after owner Markels Roberts’ philosophy to just dive into life the way cats dive after prey). Roberts considers her store as “one big sculpture.” You can definitely loose yourself amid the ceramic cats, Buddha’s, clothing, scarves, jewelry and thousands of can’t resist impulse purchases.


Before leaving town, make one last stop at  Artifaqt, both a factory and artist studio. It’s not generally open, but if you press the door buzzer, owner/craftsman John Luttman, and his two sons, might let you into their world and work. This includes designing for Disney, the Bronx Zoo, Longwood Gardens (cheeseboards made from Longwood’s fallen trees), star chef and restaurateur, Jose Garces and others.

Great chefs and Disney bigwigs make pilgrimages here to see the artist at work and discuss their newest projects, but you can, too.  Just push the buzzer.  “The curious are always welcome.”

Restaurants In Chester County PA

Ludwig's Inn famous French Onion Soup PA
Ludwig’s Inn famous French Onion Soup PA

EAT/PROVISION/SHOP: Ludwig’s Grille and Oyster Bar, Glenmoore

What was once the General Store and Post Office (built in 1848) on the rural intersection of Routes 100 and 401 (“Cornerstone Pike”), and then the Black Angus Inn, has, since 1992 been restored, strangely enough, as Ludwig’s Grille and Oyster Bar with a New England theme.

The original “Buck A Shuck” – $1 per shucked oyster on select days- has not gone up in price in over 30 years!

No wonder Ludwig’s sells on average 3,000-4,000 oysters per week. But that’s not all Ludwig’s dishes out – and other items are equally excellent.

Take the popular French Onion Soup – chock full of sweet, caramelized onions and capped with a prodigious amount of melted gooey cheese. Or the “Wedge Salad” deconstructed and chopped, with Bibb Lettuce to soften each fresh bite.

These, and craft cocktails, steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and of course those oysters, keeps this crossroads restaurant hopping.

In the same complex, find a small upscale Ludwig’s Village Market  perfect for provisioning and picnics.

EAT: Black Lab Bistro, Phoenixville

Highly rated, often cited as the “best restaurant in town,” accolades for Black Lab Bistro are well deserved. Try the warm sushi-rice and seaweed salad topped Tuna Tartar ($12) with a texture/flavor combination that leaves a gal wanting more. The menu is inventive and the room cheerful – and not a Blob in sight.

Interior of farm to table Restaurant Alba, Malvern, PA

EAT: Restaurant Alba, Malvern

Chef Sean Weinberg, a James Beard darling, dedicated to high quality, locally produced foods, opened up his big city caliber eatery, Restaurant Alba, in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Malvern  years ago. And the great reviews are never ending.

Hotels In Chester County PA

Desmond Hotel Malvern PA

STAY: Desmond Hotel, Malvern

Though the hotel itself is sized for a corporate clientele, rooms at the Desmond (A Hilton flagged hotel) are nevertheless charming. Some rooms sport four-poster beds and Federalist furniture.  Three on-site restaurants assure that you’ll find something as casual or as fine as you’d like. And in fact, the service and dishes in the in-house Fork & Bottle are very fine indeed.

Chester County PA Pin


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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