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Visiting Longwood Gardens with children


Are you looking for a fun day trip destination that both adults and children will enjoy?  Love going to the flower show but hate the crowds?  Need a place to take the kids to run around and explore to shake the winter blahs and deal with spring fever?  A trip to Kennett Square to visit Longwood Gardens may just be the answer.

Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA  offers a beautiful array of entertainment for everyone in the family.  Originally it was a historic arboretum that was doomed for the lumber yard, but in 1906 philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont purchased the property and saved the trees.  The original arboretum, Pierce’s Park, is the heart of today’s Longwood Gardens, which covers over 1,077 acres.  That’s a lot of room for little boys and girls to run and jump and play!

Recently Groupon.com featured discounted tickets to Longwood Gardens and I jumped at the chance to get them.  I hadn’t been to Longwood for more than 12 years and I was overdue for a visit.  Plus, I wanted my three year old son to have the chance to see the children’s garden there, which I had heard was fantastic.  I packed up the snack bag, the kid and his grandparents and headed south to Kennett Square!  From the Bucks County/Montgomery County area it took me just a bit over an hour to get there via the PA turnpike and RT 202.  My GPS gave perfect directions.  General admission for adults is $18, Seniors (the grandparents) is $15, Students ages 5-18 (or with student id) is $8 and kids 4 and under are FREE!  They also offer a 25% discount to Military members and their families with valid ID.  There are special events held throughout the year that may require additional tickets. Parking is free and plentiful.

We arrived, purchased our tickets, hit the potty (complete with baby changing table if needed,) and headed out for a walk through part of the gardens to the Conservatory.  Since it was technically still winter, most of the outdoor gardens are not in bloom and several were closed.  This was not a problem since Longwood Gardens is so vast there is many options to explore.  My favorite part of Longwood Gardens is the Conservatory, a large glass enclosed building that is always in bloom.  The displays are magnificent and immaculately cared for by many gardeners.  Just walking into the entrance took my breath away, especially after this never ending winter we’ve had.  We were greeted by this display:

Until March 27th, Longwood Gardens is featuring the Orchid Extravaganza, so everywhere we looked there were beautiful orchids blooming.  The only reminder I had to give my son was that he could not walk on the grass inside the Conservatory and to not pick the flowers.  This was not an issue for us and many access points to the displays are blocked.  We headed to the children’s garden next, which had a whole section just for kids to explore with their senses.  There were fountains that could be touched, a small fishing fountain with nets and little toys to capture, paintbrushes for water painting the walls and sculptures, just to name a few!  There was a maze lined with blooming flowers for kids to explore, along with a walkway lined with an herb garden that smelled amazing!  There was a spiral staircase that led to a hallway that ended in a tiny alcove with beautiful xylophone for kids to play.  Everything was kid-sized, so the adults had to duck under doorways, but it was fun to explore.  They really made the children’s garden magical and completely kid-friendly.  My son loved painting the dragon fountain and the walls.  While he got a little wet, there was one little girl who was just drenched from ducking into the water fountains and painting with her whole body.  She was having a blast.  It might be wise to bring a change of clothing, or at least a dry shirt, for your adventurous child.  They did have towels available to use for drying off.

 

 

Besides all of the indoor gardens to explore, there were three outdoor tree houses that were open.  We had fun following the paths through the gardens trying to find the tree houses and we were glad we took the time to discover them.  Made mostly of recycled and reclaimed wood, along with a steel structure to support them, so they are not actually attached to or harming the trees that surround them.  Each tree house was completely different and beautiful.  We had fun climbing through them, checking out the views from the tops of the houses, and seeing the different types of woods used to make them.  My three year old had just as much fun checking out the tree houses as he did in the children’s garden.

Longwood Gardens offers two style choices at the Terrace Restaurant, a sit-down, more formal one and a cafeteria style one with plenty of seating.  There is a picnic area that opens mid-April.  I did see many kids with lunch boxes.  We chose to get lunch in the cafe.  They had several kid-friendly choices, both hot and cold, along with fresh sandwiches, salads, and soups for adults.  They even sell little bottles of wine!  They featured a variety of desserts too.  We had a great dining experience and would definitely return again to the cafe.

We only explored a fraction of the gardens, but it seems that every season there is something different to explore at Longwood Gardens.  This mama will definitely be returning!  It was a great excursion into nature and a refreshing taste of spring to come!

Longwood Gardens is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Check their website for the most up to date info for the time of year you go, as the hours change seasonally.

Mama Diane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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