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Fun Things to do with Kids at Longwood Gardens
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.
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
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
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
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
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.