locally sourced products here. It’s second-
to-none in the region.”
Area rose growers initially took up mush-
room culture as a way to earn money in the
floral off-season. The region centered on
Kennett Square, now known as the “Mush-
room Capital of the World,” produces more
than a million pounds of mushrooms a
week, or about 65 percent of the nation’s
supply. Kennett Square celebrates its
fungal cash crop with a mushroom festival
each September. The Mushroom Cap in
Kennett Square is a perfect place for groups
to shop for locally made mushroom good-
ies such as soup mixes, dried or marinated
mushrooms and mushroom-growing kits.
The Brandywine Valley is also known for
its cheese. Eight cheese farms dot Chester
County, producing unique cow’s milk and
chevre varieties often from their own herds.
Specialty cheeses include raw milk varieties and cheeses flavored with local honey,
nuts and herbs. September Farm welcomes
visitors to shop for its award-winning
cheeses, dine in its sandwich shop, and
view cheese-making during specific hours.
Longwood Gardens is a must-see for
groups meeting in the region. The attraction, created by Pierre du Pont in the early
1900s, comprises 1,077 acres of indoor and
outdoor gardens and picturesque performing arts venues. Entry is discounted for
groups of 15 or more. Guided or unguided
group tours are available. Spaces available
for rental include the glass-walled Fern
Floor and Alcoves exhibition hall and an
elegant ballroom, both capable of seating 230 for banquets, and the scenic East
Conservatory Plaza, which can host 600 for
Longwood restaurants include the
upscale 1906 Fine Dining Room and a
cafe focused on local ingredients. In the
summer months, Longwood offers a beer
garden with beers brewed by the nearby
Victory Brewing Company from ingredients grown at Longwood—this year the
lemony Summer Zest and honey-tinged
Autumn Harvest. From August through October, Nightscape lights up dark evenings at
Longwood with spectacular lighting shows.
Brewery culture is alive and well in Chester County. Victory Brewing Company, Iron
Hill and Sly Fox all have multiple brewpub
locations in the area. Sly Fox Brewhouse
& Eatery in Phoenixville has a private
function room. Other watering holes noted
for their pub cuisine include The Whip for
upscale English fare in Coatesville and the
Liberty Union in Chester Springs for live
music and fresh American food. Half Moon
Restaurant & Saloon in Kennett Square can
welcome parties as large as 60 for private
events. Its brick-walled rooftop space seats
40. The saloon’s menu is heavy on wild
game and Belgian and craft beers.
Chaddsford Winery offers group tours
and tastings as well as special events such
as barbecues, chocolate pairings and food
truck gatherings at its main location in
Chadd’s Ford. Downtown wine-tasting
rooms are also popular with groups. These
include Black Walnut Winery’s location
in Phoenixville and that of Kreutz Creek
Vineyards in West Chester.
For spirits enthusiasts, consider an outing to Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna,
about 45 minutes south of Wilmington.
When it opened in 2013, it was Delaware’s
first distillery in more than 100 years. Today
Latest + Greatest
➜ The Westin Wilmington (www.westin
wilmington.com) opened in spring
2015. The riverfront property is connected to the Chase Center on the Riverfront and has 87,000 square feet of
flexible meeting and exhibition space.
The hotel itself offers 5,000 square
feet of dedicated meeting space. The
LEED-certified Westin has 180 guest
rooms. Amenities include the upscale
River Rock Kitchen restaurant and an
indoor pool and fitness center.
➜ The Chase Center on the Riverfront
( www.centerontheriverfront.com), the
largest special-event facility in the
Brandywine Valley, earlier this year
completed extensive energy conservation upgrades.
➜ New in 2015, Four Points by Sheraton
Newark ( www.fourpointsnewark.com)
has 120 spacious guest rooms and four
➜ Embassy Suites by Hilton Newark Wilmington South (http://embassysuites3.
hilton.com) completed a multimillion-dollar renovation in December
2015. The upgrade comprised a
makeover of the property’s 154 suites,
public space and 10,000 square feet of
➜ Desmond Hotel and Conference Center
( www.desmondgv.com) completed an
extensive renovation project in early
2016. The upgrade refreshed all 194
guest rooms. The property boasts
26,000 square feet of conference space
and three dining options.
➜ Residence Inn Philadelphia Great Val-ley/Malvern ( www.marriott.com) opened
in April. Located in the Great Valley
area, the 127-suite property offers a
small meeting room.
➜ Days Hotel West Chester reflagged in
March to Centerstone West Chester Inn
( www.centerstonehotels.com). The 141-
room property has 10,000 square feet
of meeting space and offers complimentary Wi-Fi.
➜ The 115-room Home2 Suites by Hilton
Downington Route 30 (http:/home2
suites3.hilton.com) opened in July.
Amenities include an indoor saline pool,
24-hour business center and outdoor
grill and patio area.
➜ Sheraton Great Valley Hotel ( www.star
woodhotels.com) finished a total renovation project in late 2015. The property
features a new lobby, new wine bar and
allergy-friendly guest rooms. The dining
room and bar were also refreshed. There
are 7,100 square feet of space and 193
➜ Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Philadelphia Airport Ridley (www.micro
telinn.com) opened in late 2015. The
79-room property offers a fitness center,
a business center and meeting space.
CHADDSFORD WINERY, CHADDS FORD, PA.