Dappled Grey is proud to feature this post from guest contributor Annemarie Cochrane of Tackculture.com
Rich in tradition and beauty, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its suburbs offer the Devon-bound traveler an array of unusual pleasures. From the simple life of the Amish to the suburban lights of a famous horse show to the renowned Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia gives the equestrian visitor a chance to explore a historic and picturesque setting.
Art and Architecture
If you enjoy art, you will relish what Philadelphia has to offer. Lovers of Impressionist Art will want to spend part of the day at the Philadelphia Museum which is home to Impressionist paintings from all over the world. You will see works by fine artists such as Monet, Pissarro and Pennsylvania’s own Mary Cassatt. The Michener Museum in Bucks County, the newly expanded Barnes Foundation, and the Brandywine Museum, in Chadds Ford, with works by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, will all be excellent places of interest. Historic and beautiful old Philadelphia houses still line the old fashion narrow streets of the city, interrupted by gleaming parks, some of which William Penn had planned.
After making a quick stop to view the symbol of American Independence, the famous Liberty Bell, at Independence Hall, history lovers will head west to Valley Forge Park. Jump on the Schuylkill Expressway on your way out of town but be brave as this road is notorious for traffic and long waits. Valley Forge, a 3500 acre national and historic park, is where General George Washington gathered and saved his army during the encampment of 1777-78. Visitors can tour Washington’s headquarters, view the soldiers’ log cabins, get pictures taken by historic statues and monuments, and stroll part or all of the 20 miles of multi -use trails. Bike rentals and bus tours are available. Don’t be surprised when you view horseback riders enjoying themselves on these trails as well!
Devon- Where Champions Meet In Late May & Early June
One of the oldest horse shows in the country, the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair IS truly where champions meet! Established in 1896, and celebrating its 116th year, (WOW-can you believe that!) the show runs for ten days over the traditional Memorial Day weekend. From the sold out Thursday night crowd to see the Grand Prix Show Jumping to the adorable and competitive lead line class, there is truly something for everyone.
For many equestrians, across the country, it’s a lifetime dream to finally get to ride in the famous Dixon Oval. The family class is a show in itself and it’s a delight to see members of different generations ride side by side year after year. The Hunt Teams are also a local draw. Some people attend the country fair, shop and enjoy food such as traditional Devon fudge and lemon sticks. Diehard horse addicts spend a week either at ringside or in their coveted box seats watching their friends and talented horses from across the country. Rick’s Heritage Saddlery and Malvern Saddlery are two local tack shops that cater to the Devon equestrian crowd.
Lancaster County and the Amish
Lancaster County, just short of an hour and a half drive from Philadelphia, is home to the oldest Amish settlement in the country. Many Amish still travel in horse and buggy and they live entirely off their own land. When visiting, put your cell phone down, slow down and breathe in the country air. There are horse and buggy tours where you will learn about the simple life. When being escorted through the countryside, stop and admire the beautifully handmade Amish quilts for sale at small roadside stands. These pieces are treasures and you may want to take one home.
Think Local and Wine & Dine
The Philadelphia area has a large and varied selection of restaurants. After a long day touring one of the above hot spots, you may finish at the White Dog Café. They have two locations; one in Philadelphia and the other in Wayne (conveniently located just down the road from Devon). Take your pick and you won’t be disappointed. The atmosphere is whimsical with dog themes everywhere you look. It is a cozy place to unwind after a busy day. You will be served a delicious meal where menu items are from locally grown produce, and meat and fish from sustainable and humane sources. The wine and beer list is unusually interesting. For brunch you can’t beat the $10 unlimited Mimosa’s, Blueberry Lavender Mojitos and Bloodhound Bloodies made with heirloom tomatoes.
Cheers to Philly!
Born and raised in Phoenixville and still residing in Chester County, PA, Annemarie Cochrane is a direct descendant of Isaac Anderson who served in the Revolutionary War, became a member of Congress and among other things was one of the first signers of the Louisiana Purchase. Annemarie began riding at seven and horses have been a distinct part of her life ever since. She has her Masters Degree in Education but it wasn’t until twelve years ago that she found the job she truly loves which combines her love and passion for horses with her career. She now works as an independent sales representative for some of the finest brands in the equestrian industry and she travels the Mid-Atlantic area selling products and apparel to tack shops. Annemarie lives with her husband Bill and their dog Molly on their family farm just a half an hour from where she grew up. She comes from a background of writers so last year she established her own blog site called Tack Culture. Follow her on TackCulture where she writes about products, business and her life experiences as an equestrian.
Special thanks to photographer Brenda Carpenter – Devon’s 2012 “Champion of the Year” – for the images noted above.
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