Just a few minutes from West Chester, Northbrook is the pinnacle, the apotheosis, the ne plus ultra of summertime: Northbrook Canoe Company
Northbrook is absolutely everything you could possibly want in a canoe-rental outfit. Headquartered in an old stock-feed depot on the banks of the Brandywine, every sign in the place is a hand-painted one-off made by one of the many affable art students on staff, and BURSTING with Tripper Harrison bonhomie. Big, brawny schoolbuses pull trailers full of canoes — each with its own name — up the Brandywine, where you put in and float back down the river to the Northbrook Food Shack.
The Brandywine is cool (but not cold!), shady, and shallow (but not annoyingly so!) It’s the perfect river to paddle on with a five-year-old, with occasional stops to jump out of the canoe and splash around in the water, like we did today:
The West Chester Guerilla Drive-In showed the Bill Murray summer-camp classic “Meatballs” in the canoe barn at Northbrook on a rainy May night in 2007, and the atmosphere could not have been ANY better:
Oh, and did I mention? The Northbrook Canoe Company is also the home of the Brandywine Scenic Railway, that will take you and your canoe ON A FLATBED TRAIN CAR up the river ON A TRAIN. For the past ten (twenty?) years, Northbrook has been trying to get the rights to do this once again, and it is my fondest wish ever that they are able to make this happen.
I’ve gushed about Northbrook several times before, but that’s just because it’s so fantastic. They open on May 3rd, with canoeing, kayaking, and tubing trips available. If you go, please be sure to say “hi” to Ezekiel C. “Zeke” Hubbard for me, who founded Northbrook in 1977, and is just about the awesomest guy ever. I’m warning, you, be prepared to come home humming “Are you Ready for the Summer?” the whole rest of the week.
Previous reasons why you should move to West Chester: