1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348
Adults: $18 Kids under 4: FREE
Click here to see ALL of our photos from this trip
I will be honest when I would hear of Longwood Gardens and when I used to see ads for it I would think of my grandmother and her garden club. I never really had a desire to go and it never seemed very hip for a lack of better words. So I was really surprised to see some really cool things on their website when I was planning our trip. Truthfully they had me at the word treehouse. So I packed for “Armageddon” which is what I do for anything more than 30 minutes away and we set out on the 45-55 minute drive from Center City to Kennet Sq, PA.
After we got our tickets and entered the grounds is when I wished I would have looked at the map the night before. Now my anxiety comes from my first screw up. I brought the stroller but I did not bring the step that attached to it for Henry. So I KNEW this would be a little painful. For two toddlers it is a big places and everything is spread out. On the right we saw the signs for the Birdhouse Treehouse and followed those. I figured we should do those before they got tired. On our way we did a detour at the Peirce-du Pont House (no bathrooms, not stroller friendly) which was pretty but boring in toddler terms.
The Birdhouse Treehouse however the boys loved. We climbed the stairs and at the top was a basket of birds and binoculars and a few other things. The climb was easy for Henry (3) and Ollie needed help (21 months).
Then we hit the Lookout Loft Treehouse which is a stones throw from the Birdhouse Treehouse. This is a really cool structure with a giant tree growing out of the middle and forest microphones which amplify the sounds of everything around you.
All in all the treehouses were great but the boys loved to run up to them, into them and then pretty much right after that run out of them.
Now here is my second screw up. I really wish I would have gone to the Italian Water Garden and Canopy Cathedral from there. I saw the long beautiful walkway but by that time I was pushing one in a stroller and had one on my shoulders (resembling more of a crazy sherpa than a mom) and we were not even 45 minutes into our trip so I chickened out.
MAIN FOUNTAIN GARDEN
From there we did go to the Main Fountain Garden. My boys love playing with water so the huge sprawling lawn, waterfall steps and fountains they could touch were right up their alley. There are no ramps into this section. You can bump the stroller down the few steps to the lawn but I just left mine and let them run around.
Next we hit the Conservatory. The red Chinese lanterns that drip from the ceiling at the side entrance have photo-op written all over them. Once we were inside we made a b-line for the Children’s Indoor Garden. First thing you need to know. Your kids will get wet. They have towels but really what you need is a back up shirt. Next thing you need to know is that it can be really slippery. If you have a new walker or clumsy little one (cough) they just might totally bite it when you least expect it. Basically I turned around for two seconds and Ollie slipped and hit his face hard on the stone textured floor. They have a list of instructions at the entrance and not one warning that it is slippery. You have now officially been warned.
In this section there are pools, fountains, sprinklers and jumping water. This section is small but can easily take up 45 minutes with all the different sections to explore. They ask that you leave your stroller parked outside. *I did hear moms wishing they had brought their baby carriers. So if you have a toddler and an infant toss that in the bottom of the stroller. So you can be more hands on with your toddlers and give your arms a break.
WATER LILY DISPLAY
We moved through the Conservatory and as I was asking a guide how to get to the cafe I peeked outside to the Outdoor Water Lily Display. I never knew that lily pads could grow to the size of creators. The photo-ops in this section are hands down the best. Now this section is only open until the end of October. After that the lily pads are no more and are turned into compost. In this section make sure you take your kids to see the “don’t touch me” plant that is in the corner of each of the pools. It is a type of mini fern that curls up when you touch it with you hand.
From there you can easily scoot over Mrs. du Pont’s bridge to the Terrace Cafe. *Mrs. du Pont was deaf and since a public road cut through the property at that time Mr. du Pont built his wife a bridge because he was afraid she would not hear the cars and get hit by one. See what info you get if you hang out with the guides.
The Terrace Cafe is nice. There is a formal dining room to the left but the main area is set up like a college cafeteria with the food stations. You have your salad and sandwich bar, pre-packaged section, hot food station and then the kids basics: hot dogs, chicken fingers and mac-n-cheese. Oh and I don’t want to leave out the giant chocolate chip cookie which is the first thing you see when you walk in. My hungry explorers pretty much ate everything in front of them. They split a kid’s meal + 3 drinks + my small side salad was $19.00. They discourage you from bringing in your own food but could you have a homemade sandwich from, say one treehouse to the next….totally. They do not check your bags like at amusement parks. Just don’t bring a picnic basket and set up shop. There are picnic tables out front.
There was plenty of seating but here is what I loved the most. They have someone who helps you or will clear your table for you. The bus boy saw me packing up the boys, came over and took care of everything. At that moment that was so awesome because the boys were pretty tired and I was trying to get out of there without anyone falling or making a scene.
Our day was great and I do think it was worth the drive. We missed a few things which gives us a reason to go back but the boys were clearly wiped out. I pushed my crew pretty close to their limit. In the end Ollie won the final battle as he refused to wear his shoes anymore. He left prestigious Longwood Garden’s and crossed the parking lot in his Paul Smith socks as other people’s confused grandparent’s pretended not to be looking.
Longwood Garden’s: great for old people and toddlers: CHECK.
Good to Know:
- Directions: I shot right down 95 South, Exit 3B-A to 322 West, Left on Baltimore Pike and then about 7 miles later you see a giant sign on your right for Longwood Gardens. Tons of trucks but super easy.
- We arrived at 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday and there was tons of good parking.
- You need to bring a stroller that fits all your children. Longwoods is not what I would call huge but it is big and for little legs it is a lot of walking, ramps and stairs. You can rent strollers for $6.00. I only saw double but they might have single.
- There was an issue with our tickets b/c the machine was not working that prints them out. The cashier called the manager over and they quickly realized that these two little ones were not going to be able to wait until they fixed the machine. So the manager walked us over to the entrance and told the ticket checker to let us through. I loved that they did not make the malfunction our issue and kept us moving.
- Bathrooms: The grounds are big and everything is spread out. If you are potty training there will almost never be a bathroom when you need one. (If a toddler pees in the woods and no one is there to see…you get where I am going with this.) There is one a the Visitor’s Center where you start and get your tickets. There is one in the cafe and one in the Conservatory which are in the middle. There are more and they are labeled on the map but those are the most central ones. There are also changing tables in every men’s and women’s bathroom that we were in.
- It took us a long time to walk in-between each sections b/c they saw a squirrel or Ollie wanted to walk along the walls…yatta, yatta be prepared for that.
- Ask a Guide. There are tons of retired staff all over the place and they are super helpful so ask them questions.