The small, quaint town of West Chester has a concentrated area of shops and restaurants, along with a few interesting sights. The Chester County Historical Society (225 N. High St., 610/692-4800, www.cchs-pa.org, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m., $8 adult, $6 senior, $5 student and child 6–17, free under 5) has a small museum, library, and shop that make a good starting point to the area. The museum contains over 60,000 items celebrating the area’s history, including furniture, clothing, and other artifacts. Galleries offer permanent and rotating collections.
For more local history, visit the William Brinton 1704 House and Historic Site (21 Oakland Rd., 610/399-0913, www.brintonfamily.org, Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat.–Sun. noon–5 p.m. May–Oct.), a restored Quaker home furnished in medieval English style.
The American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (1220 American Blvd., 610/436-9600, www.helicoptermuseum.org, Wed.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m., $6 adult, $5 senior, $4 child and student) is the premier museum devoted exclusively to helicopters in the country. Pennsylvania is considered the birthplace of the helicopter, and this museum displays more than 35 civilian and military helicopters, autogiros, and convertaplanes to celebrate this slice of local history. The artifacts and exhibits span from the earliest machines to the latest military technology.
Baldwin’s Book Barn (865 Lenape Rd., 610/696-0816, www.bookbarn.com, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.) is more than just a bookstore. Not just for book lovers, the barn is worth seeing as much for the building and grounds as for the books and antiques inside. The original dairy barn, built in 1822, has been headquarters for the Baldwin family’s used book and collectible business since 1946. The dairy barn has since been converted to a residence and the large stone barn is now the bookshop. Today, its five floors are filled with more than 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps, paintings, prints, antiques, and collectibles. Exposed wood ceiling beams, cozy reading nooks, and a wood-burning stove create a lovely atmosphere for perusing the books and antiques.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition