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Fun Things to do with Kids at Longwood Gardens

Updated on March 28, 2013
Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens | Source

Kid-friendly things to see and do at Longwood Gardens.

A favorite of back-yard gardeners and horticulturalists alike, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square Pennsylvania is one of the top botanical gardens in the world. It also features some amazing, fun and educational attractions for children.

Longwood Gardens:
1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA

get directions

The history of Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens began its life in the 1700s as a farm owned by the Pierce family, who eventually grew an arboretum on the property. In 1906 the farm was purchased by Pierre du Pont, grandson of Eleuthere du Pont, founder of the famous and very successful E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company gunpowder works. Pierre turned his grandfather’s company into a corporate giant and used the money he earned to preserve the amazing collection of trees on the farm, as well as to continue the work of the Pierce family by adding to and expanding the botanical collection. In 1946 the property was turned over to a foundation created by Mr. du Pont for the purpose of maintaining and continuing the gardens.

Today Longwood Gardens consists of 1,077 acres on which over 11,000 different species and varieties of cultured plants are grown in 40 different gardens. There is so much to see that it can take a full day (or longer) to tour the entire property. If you are traveling with young children there are several attractions that the whole family will love as well as two gardens designed specifically for kids.

Water Gardens and Fountain Exhibits that Kids will Love

Water plants grow at the conservatory at Longwood Gardens.
Water plants grow at the conservatory at Longwood Gardens. | Source
The Italian Water Garden at Longwood Gardens.
The Italian Water Garden at Longwood Gardens. | Source

The Italian Water Garden

Almost everyone loves fountains. The beauty of water shooting into the air and cascading down again can be quite mesmerizing. Longwood Gardens has an amazing collection of fountains located through-out the property. However, if you are visiting with kids then I highly recommend that you put the Italian Water Garden near the top of your list of things to see. The garden is formal in style and is designed in a symmetrical format that children (and adults) find quite attractive. There are a number of dancing fountains that shoot water higher and then lower in intriguing patterns.

Lilly Pads at the Conservatory

Another amazing water garden can be found in the courtyard of the conservatory where a series of pools contain a variety of water plants including some very large water lilies. Kids can get a close look at the giant lilly pads and perhaps even see some fish hiding underneath them.

Feed Your Child's Imagination at Longwood's Tree Houses

The Canopy Cathedral tree house at Longwood Gardens,
The Canopy Cathedral tree house at Longwood Gardens, | Source
The Lookout Loft at Longwood Gardens.
The Lookout Loft at Longwood Gardens. | Source
The Birdhouse tree house at Longwood Gardens.
The Birdhouse tree house at Longwood Gardens. | Source

There are three fun and fanciful tree houses located at Longwood Gardens. One of them, the Canopy Cathedral, is located next to the Italian Water Garden. This tree house is enormous in size and yet has somehow been tucked in amongst the trees on the edge of the woods. Kids (and their families) are invited to climb inside and enjoy the amazing view. With just a little imagination the tree house can become a castle, the wind chimes hanging nearby can become fairy bells and if you look very carefully you just might see a dragon peeking out at you.

The Lookout Loft (located in the Forest Walk) and the Birdhouse (located in the Terrace Woodland) are equally charming in their own ways. Lookout Loft is wheelchair-accessible and crafted in an Adirondack style. The Birdhouse is a quaint little cottage in the sky that any bird would love to call home. The Birdhouse also has specially-crafted listening posts that allow children to tune in to the forest sounds all around them. Or they can whisper messages back and forth with a friend. The tree houses at Longwood are wonderful places for kids to romp and play and to allow their imaginations to run free.

Hands-On Play at The Children's Gardens

A fountain in the indoor children's garden at Longwood Gardens.
A fountain in the indoor children's garden at Longwood Gardens. | Source
A playful fountain creature at the indoor children's garden at Longwood Gardens.
A playful fountain creature at the indoor children's garden at Longwood Gardens. | Source
A little girl brushes a dragon's teeth at the indoor children's garden at Longwood Gardens.
A little girl brushes a dragon's teeth at the indoor children's garden at Longwood Gardens. | Source

The Indoor Children's Garden

The indoor Children’s Garden is located in the Conservatory and is an ideal place to visit in the winter or on a rainy day. The garden is designed for hands-on play and allows children to wander into and out of secret rooms, ramble up and down ramps and splash in the fountains. There is a scavenger hunt that kids can participate in. They can even brush a dragon’s teeth! The garden is handicap accessible and adult-friendly too.

The Outdoor Children's Garden

The outdoor garden is located near the conservatory and is also full of hands-on fun. The garden is designed around a bee theme that allows kids to learn more about the relationship between bees and flowers and the ways in which humans benefit from it. As you might expect, there are more fountains to splash in. There is also a fanciful throne that every little queen (or king) bee will beg to sit on.

Kid-friendly Special Events

The holiday fountain show at Longwood Gardens.
The holiday fountain show at Longwood Gardens. | Source
A special light display held at Longwood Gardens in the summer of 2012.
A special light display held at Longwood Gardens in the summer of 2012. | Source

Longwood Garden hosts a wide variety of family-friendly events through-out the year. In the spring and summer there are spectacular fountain shows in which the fountains “dress-up” in colored lights and dance to beautiful classical music. The fountain shows are sometimes coupled with fireworks displays. There are also a variety of plays, concerts and special exhibits designed just for young audiences. In addition, Longwood hosts summer camps and even holds story time every Monday and Tuesday.

During the holidays the entire garden turns magical with over 500,000 lights plus amazing and beautiful poinsettia displays and decorated trees. There is a holiday-themed fountain show as well as special concerts and events.

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    • profile image

      mours sshields 

      4 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Beautiful vacation idea!

      Marcia Ours

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thank you so much Easy Exercise - I agree!

    • Easy Exercise profile image

      Kelly A Burnett 

      4 years ago from United States


      Beautiful! And very well done - how did you manage all of this? My favorite - all the serenity of the garden - for it is in the garden that we are closest to God's heart.

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thanks Prasetio! I hope you get to visit sometime!

    • prasetio30 profile image


      4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow...I don't have much words to say, except....beautiful. I love the review and the pictures as well. Thanks for sharing with us. Good job and Voted up!


    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thanks so much Patsybell! One of the great things about Longwood is that kids can learn so much and not even realize it because everything seems so whimsical, fascinating and fun! Thanks again for reading!

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 

      4 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      I love this idea. You could never run out of things to see at Longwood Gardens. This reminds me of moms quote, " I brought you in this world, the least I can do is let you show it to me."

      Voted UP, UABI, tweet, Pin

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thanks so much Peggy! I hope you get to go sometimes - Longwood is a lovely and amazing place!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I love visiting beautiful gardens and have heard of Longwood Gardens but have never visited there. Thank you so much for writing about it and showing us your wonderful photos. Those tree houses look amazing and it is nice that kids of all ages can have fun there. Up votes, G+, Pinning to my gardens board and sharing on HP.

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks so much innerspin! Longwood Gardens is truly lovely. I'm hoping to visit next weekend. If you ever get a chance to go I highly recommend it!

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 

      5 years ago from uk

      Wow, the gardens have all the things I love - tree houses, water features, light displays and the beauty of nature. Terrific. I imagine a picnic there would be bliss. Really enjoyed reading your hub, thanks.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Jenn-anne, I love natural beauty and Longwood Gardens has it in great measure with attractive sights. The tree house looks fabulous and inviting. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful place.

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks billybuc! It is an amazing place - I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a beautiful place! Thanks for the tour; you did a great job and the pics were awesome.

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan! Sounds like you had fun!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      We love Longwood gardens! It's magnificent. We have video of our 2 year old pulling up marigolds and us planting them back in. Good memories. Thanks.

    • Jenn-Anne profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks so much Happyboomernurse! Longwood Gardens is a fabulous place. I grew up very nearby and I still love going there. It has been fun to watch my kids fall in love with it too.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Welcome to Hub Pages Jenn-Anne,

      I have visited Longwood Gardens several times and even as an adult, it is a magical place.

      You've done a fabulous job of highlighting the many features that kids will love and your photos are great.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.


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