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3 Ways to Experience Longwood Gardens During the Fall

Photo credit: Longwood Gardens

Photo credit: Longwood Gardens

Whether you have the whole day, a few hours or just a free lunch break, we’ve got you covered. Here are three perfect plans to help you navigate the best of the Gardens this fall!

If you have one hour…

Running on a tight schedule? No worries. See the best of the Meadow Garden on your own time at your own quick pace.

12:00 pm: The Meadow Garden is the perfect escape from the daily monotony with an expansive 86 acres of ecological garden design. Behold the autumnal beauty of the changing leaves and venture through three miles of walking and hiking trails among scenic wildflowers. Explore the fields of Goldenrod, cross over the Hourglass Lake Bridge or stop by Webb Farmhouse – just grab a map and choose your own adventure! Access to the Meadow Garden is included in regular Gardens admission. (Take note of the available bird hikes to squeeze in on your next visit!)

On your way out, be sure to catch a quick fountain show at the Open Air Theatre. Set to music with 750 changing water jets, these five-minute shows run every hour on the hour!

If you have three hours…

Spend some time with a few classic floral fixtures in the four-acre Conservatory.

12:00 pm: Bright bursts of red, yellow and orange aren’t just for the fall leaves outside. Indulge in the South American-style beauty of the Cascade Garden, an indoor garden filled with serene pools, vibrant plants and – you guessed it – cascading water features. Travel down the curved path and learn more about bromeliads and philodendrons.

Head next door to the beautiful Rose House, a must-see for flower fanatics and a Longwood staple for more than 80 years. Filled with rows upon rows of colorful blooms, the greenhouse also features Chinese hibiscus plants and flowering tropical vines.

1:30 pm: Travel through the East Conservatory to see a range of exotic plants like you’ve never seen. From the pastel pink Cane-like Begonias to the bright orange of Trumpet-bush, every flower deserves a double take. The Oval Basin in the center of the garden is a tranquil spot to unwind and take a break in your busy day before heading to your next stop.

2:30 pm: Another noteworthy highlight, the Waterlily Display is a gorgeous outdoor garden, boasting aquatic plants from all over the world. More than 100 types of tropical day-blooming and night-blooming water lilies peek out from five large pools. Stop by this spectacular display before the end of October.

If you have all day…

If you’re not a regular Longwood Gardens member, purchase your tickets in advance for the Nightscape extravaganza to grant yourself all-day access!

11:00 pm: Step back in time with a visit to the Exhibition Hall. With its sunken marble floor and dreamy bougainvillea-spun pillars, the hall still rings with 1920s glamour and grandeur. Typically flooded with a few inches of water to reflect the floral displays, the floor is drained before performances. (Check their schedule to catch a show!)

12:00 pm: Just steps away, don’t miss the legendary Chrysanthemum Festival throughout the Exhibition Hall, East Conservatory and l’Orangery. With more than 16,000 chrysanthemums on display, the Longwood experts have the flowers crafted into crazy and complicated shapes you’ll have to see to believe. The highlight? The Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum with more than 1,500 arranged flowers on one plant – the largest of its kind outside of Asia.

1:30 pm: Grab a bite to eat in the 1906 Fine Dining Room. With colorful menu items that rival the beauty of the outside flora, this sophisticated dining experience will have you asking for seconds. And you MUST try the mushroom soup, made with locally delicious Kennett Square mushrooms. It’s just a rite of passage.

3:00 pm: No squirrels allowed! Feel like a kid again in the Birdhouse Treehouse. The tallest treehouse in the Gardens, you’ll get an unmatched view of the landscape from atop. See and hear the wildlife like never before, until you reach…

3:30 pm: Lookout Loft – this rustic treehouse on Forest Walk has fun, handcrafted copper “sound horns” that allow you to listen to the drifting sounds of nearby Meadow Garden and the surrounding forest.

4:00 pm: The gorgeously historic Peirce-du Pont House was originally built in 1730. Home to the Longwood Heritage Exhibit with a collection of photos, artifacts and movies, this is the perfect place to brush up on the history of the Gardens. The house (naturally) features an indoor garden filled with Franklinia and glory-of-the-snow.

6:00 pm: Take a load off in the new Beer Garden featuring Victory Brewing Company. Enjoy signature Longwood Gardens brews or any of the beers on tap alongside tasty pub treats like warm pretzels and bacon sour cream dip, pulled pork sandwiches or BBQ pork nachos. As an added bonus, you can relax with live music played every Thursday night!

8:30 pm: The peak of your all-day Gardens’ visit should be the ever-popular Nightscape. Once the sun sets, the light and sound experience transforms the Gardens into ethereal projections set to classical music by local performers. Give yourself at least two hours to explore the after-dark, upside-down dream world of Nightscape. Wednesday through Saturday evenings, now through the end of October, indoor, outdoor, rain or shine, the show goes on.

Click here to purchase tickets for Nightscape.