Sneaking off for a little holiday magic while you are visiting family is never a bad thing. Heck, you can even bring them with you. Getting out of the house to explore a new place and take in the Christmas spirit can lift the tension of close quarters, commuting from house to house, and release that sugar high you just got from eating too much chocolate cake.
Last year we were able to squeeze in a trip to the Morris Arboretum with the grandparents, which we happily fit in again this year. But for me, the big excitement of our visit to PA last week was seeing the holiday display at Longwood Gardens, something I hadn’t done since Mike and I were dating many, many moons ago.
I was inspired to head south of Philadelphia to see the conservatory of this famed botanical garden, all dressed up for Christmas after seeing a few images by my friend Mara. She and I were hoping to get together, and we both agreed Longwood Gardens would be a magical place to have our reunion and let Dek run wild.
Visit Longwood Gardens during the day over the holidays. You will get to see more with fewer people, and you can still get a peek of the lights as they come on at 3:30pm.
We couldn’t have picked a more perfect spot. I didn’t have to worry about losing Dek in the crowd; there weren’t any! The famed holiday light display wouldn’t be turned on for hours, we could simply enjoy our visit and focus on the trains and indoor flowers.
The usual outdoor garden trains had been turned into a Christmas railroad. This is where Dek set up camp. Thomas greet us with a “toot” and made it easy to spend a half hour catching up with my friend Mara while Dek sat and inspected the trains with the other children. Ty was just happy to be outside and be held and bounced for a bit.
Trains and an ornament hunt were key to a happy family visit.
Once we marched ourselves inside we made hunting for grapefruit trees and ornaments the obsession that kept us moving through our tour of the conservatory. We avoided the Children’s Garden as the dragon fountain terrified Dek. His little imagination had convinced him it was real.
The best spot we found to occupy all of our Christmas spirits was the trees decorated by school children. Ornaments made of peapods, puzzle piece ribbons, musical sheet links and popsicle stick reindeer were just a few of our favorite discoveries. It not only wowed Dek, but it inspired me to go home and have a little craft time of our own.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a beautiful botanical garden display, but I bet the town you visit has something going on. If not, dust off your singing voice and sing a few carols for the neighbors, decorate a tree outside (yes, even a palm tree) and see where the holiday spirit takes you. No matter how you escape the insanity of the holidays when you visit family you will never regret getting out and exploring together.
Know Before You Go
- Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennet Square, PA
- Christmas display: now through January.
- Hours: 9am to 9pm, Christmas lights go on at 3:30pm. Hours change to 9am to 5pm after January 6th.
- Tickets: $18 adults/ $8 students/ children under 4 are free. Timed Tickets needed for night time and weekend viewing during the holiday season, weekdays are quieter.
- Parking: free!
- Food: pack a snack or grab a bite at the Cafe. For a little more formal dining make a reservation at 1906.
- Dress: Wear layers as you will be going indoors to the greenhouse and conservatory, and outside to see all of the gorgeous lights.
- Strollers? Yes, the pathways and conservatory are very stroller friendly. However, if you are there during peak times at night for the lights you may want to carry babies so you can move more freely.