In last week’s MONTCO Escape post we went through the must-have experiences to enjoy when you visit Longwood Gardens. And the week before that we laid out everything you need to know in advance to prepare for your visit.
But since your visit to Longwood Gardens will probably take three to four hours, especially if you stay for the Festival of Fountains which starts right at dusk each evening. You may as well make your ride to the area into a day trip and check out some of the other sights nearby after you finish at the garden.
In fact, you have so many scenic, historical, and just plain interesting destinations to explore and experience, you could even make your Longwood Garden visit into an overnight stay.
Historic Kennett Square
Since you are already going to be in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania to see Longwood Gardens you may as well check out the historic section of Kennett Square nearby.
Here you will find local shopping, dining, and overnight accommodations to enjoy. It’s a nice place to visit if you want to get a feel for the area, especially if you are big on supporting small businesses. In fact, in 2019, Philadelphia Magazine named it the Best Suburban Shopping Destination.
And depending on the day of the week and time of year you stop by, you could also experience the farmers market, parades, and even a haunted history tour.
You can reach Kennett Square from Longwood Garden in about 5 minutes going southwest on Route 1. From 9 to 5 weekdays, street parking adheres to meters but is free outside of those times.
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Another interesting destination 10-minutes from Longwood Gardens keeps with the garden theme, but also boasts a museum and library for you to examine as well.
The Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is quite the collection, featuring close to 100,000 pieces of art to marvel at. And the library not only features a plethora of rare writings but is totally free and open to the public.
However, if you are worried the garden might not live up to Longwood, be reassured that it not only is around 1,000 acres in size but was also created by Henry Francis du Pont.
And seeing how well his relative Peirce du Pont did in establishing Longwood Gardens, it seems safe to say the family knows something about art.
Winterthur, located 10 minutes south of Longwood Gardens, is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round. The hours fluctuate depending on the day of the week. Check Winterthur’s Admission Packages page for more information.
Nemours Estate & Gardens
Do you want to turn your visit to Longwood Gardens into a tour of impressive gardens nearby? If so, you have some good options, including the 300-acre estate that is Nemours Estate and Gardens.
Here you will find even more of what you enjoyed at Longwoods, including incredible fountains, plants, and carefully crafted architecture inspired by other countries,
However, what makes the Nemours Estate a bit more unique is that you will also be able to tour the mansion itself, a home built by Alfred du Pont—yes, as in a relation to the genius behind Longwood Gardens, Peirce du Pont.
Nemours Estate and Gardens is closed Mondays but open 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Sunday. The Mansion, Chauffeur’s Garage, and 200 acres of gardens and grounds are open to visitors. Day, Garden and Estate passes are available for families, adults, seniors, and children.
Reservations are not required and there is no timed entry.
Brandywine Battlefield Park
Seeing as you will be in Pennsylvania, you of course know the area saw a good amount of activity during the Revolution and Civil Wars. If the American Revolution intrigues you, you will want to make time to visit Brandywine Battlefield Park, just 10 minutes east of Longwood Gardens.
The Battle of Brandywine is significant for seeing combat between 30,000 soldiers in one day, making it the largest battle over one day to have taken place during the Revolutionary War.
Here you can learn a great deal about the conversations, strategies, and conflicts that played out over that day, ultimately leading to George Washington’s army being forced to retreat to Valley Forge.
However, even in defeat, this battle sufficiently demonstrated American tenacity to the point that it convinced more leaders to commit themselves to the cause.
The Brandywine Battlefield Park is open for passive grounds visitation Monday-Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. Public parking is adjacent to the picnic areas just past the visitor center. Walking access to the site is welcome.
The visitor center is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10-4 offering exhibits, a museum store, and an orientation film.
Hours are subject to change. Visitors should call the park at (610)459-3342 to confirm the hours.
Brandywine River Art Museum
If you are looking for a fun time nearby, you can’t beat the Brandywine River Art Museum just a ten-minute drive from Longwood Gardens.
This museum showcases the work of an American realist painter by the name of Andrew Wyeth, as well as the art of his family.
You can even enjoy a guided tour of the studios that Wyeth worked in, as well as the part of the building his family called home.
As the name suggests, the museum itself overlooks the tranquil Brandywine River, which you will be able to marvel at from the site’s overlooks. And when you have had your fill of art, satisfy your hunger too at the café on site.
The museum currently operates every day except Tuesdays, with admittance allowed from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Delaware Art Museum
You saw the outdoor beauty of nature, so maybe now you want to balance it out with the artistic beauty made by human hands. If so, the Delaware Art Museum is only about another thirty minutes from Longwood Gardens.
Here, you can see over 12,000 pieces of art, including their 9-acre sculpture park. Depending on when you go, the museum even has artistic performances you can watch, as well as all sorts of workshops you can attend to develop your art skills!
Check their schedule for classes teaching everything from ordinary painting and drawing classes, to metalsmithing, photography, and writing. Classes are available for both kids as well as adults.
The museum can be reached in less than half an hour driving south from Longwood Gardens. Admission is $14 for adults, and the museum currently closes at 4 in the afternoon at the earliest.
Check their site for the full schedule.
Va La Vineyards
Longwood Gardens has their beer garden, as well as their own selection of wines, but if you really want a taste of something unusual and as fresh as can be, consider visiting one of several nearby vineyards.
Fortunately, Va La Vineyards, one of America’s top vinyards, is only about fifteen minutes away, so you can easily pencil in some time after your garden visit to partake in some of the fresh local offerings.
In terms of taste, the farms of this vineyard produce dry wines of Italian and French varieties for your pleasure. You can even order bottles in advance for pick up if you are short on time.
The Va La Vineyards recommends calling in advance to verify their current schedule, as holidays and poor weather could have an impact.
Herr’s Snack Factory Tour
While the gardens, museums, and vineyards around Longwood Gardens are all great, don’t let the cultured side of the region make you think the locals are too elitist to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like good snacks.
If you love Herr’s potato chips, maybe you have always been curious how they are made. If so, within a 20-minute drive of Longwood Gardens is the Herr’s Snack Factory tour for you to see how real factory workers make each chip.
A tour guide and videos throughout will quickly have you feeling like an expert on the creation of salty snacks. And yes, you will be able to buy the snacks thereafter the tour to sample your favorites with a newfound appreciation!
You can reach the factory in 20-minutes from Longwood Gardens, but you will need to schedule your tour in advance which you can do online. The tour typically lasts for about an hour.
King of Prussia Mall
If you have never been to the King of Prussia Mall, you might wonder why a shopping mall is something worth going out of your way for.
But we’re not just talking about a handful of ordinary clothing stores. At King of Prussia, you have a selection of over 450 stores to browse.
And this is a mall that caters to fashion lovers, so here you will be able to shop from top name brands like Louis Vuitton, and Gucci to really flaunt your style.
But that certainly doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to shop at KOP. You will still be able to enjoy everyday snacks like soft pretzels from Auntie Anne’s or look for bargains at Five Below.
It’s just nice to have the option for higher-end products if you’re in the mood to splurge and treat yourself a little. It never hurts to check out what your options are and see if something special catches your eye.
You can reach the mall in 45-minutes going northeast from Longwood. Most days of the week their standard hours of operation are from 11 in the morning until 8 at night.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
If learning about Pierce du Pont at Longwood Gardens and visiting Brandywine Battlefield wasn’t enough to scratch your history itch, you can continue on to Valley Forge National Historical Park afterward.
Here you can visit the location that George Washington and his army camped at in 1777 into 1778 as they were devising a way to strike against the British who were occupying Philadelphia at the time.
You can not only walk in the footsteps of our first president but also learn about the immense hardship the army faced here.
Over 12,000 people built a huge camp here to stay in for six months as they waited out the cold seasons.
However, the camp suffered from low supplies and spreading disease, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 of the occupants. Valley Forge always has an allure for history buffs in the area, eager to learn more about the moments that established our country’s enduring independence.
None of the facilities at the park come with any charge unless you are interested in a guided tour. It will take you close to an hour to reach Valley Forge heading northeast from Longwood Gardens, but typical hours of operation are from 7 in the morning until dusk.
You can call (610) 783-1000 to inquire about any changes to the park’s schedule during Covid.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
You will certainly find the occasional animal visitor crossing your path during a trip to Longwood Gardens, but it is the plants that remain the primary attraction. So if you are looking to focus more on creatures, it might be worth heading to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.
You can start by getting a guided tour of the area to get an education on what species are local to the region. Then you can take to the water with a kayak or canoe trip down the creek.
If you are looking for a spot to get into some game and wildlife fun, the refuge offers both fishing as well as archery deer hunting. The refuge will even provide you the rods for fishing free of charge.
It’s especially a great spot for kids who are interested in such things, so they can receive professional instruction as they are starting out with using the equipment.
Heading east from Longwood Gardens, it could take a little over an hour to reach the refuge, but the trails are open every day from sunup to sundown.
Contact their main office at 215-365-3118 for more information on any of their activities.
So as you can see, there is a ton to do in the area once you have finished your Longwood Gardens visit.
There is something fun for everyone, and there are absolutely more great spots that we didn’t have the time to mention here.
So use this as your jumping-off point to experience some fantastic destinations, and then see what other interesting finds you uncover as you continue to explore!