People travel from all over the country to see the holiday extravaganza at Longwood Gardens, in the Brandywine Valley just north of Wilmington, Delaware. One of America’s best-known show gardens, Longwood is a knock-out for families in any season, from its April extravaganza of tulips to its chrysanthemum show in October.
But even better than these, each year, from late November through early January, A Longwood Christmas transforms the 1,077-acre gardens into a magical fairyland of lights, music, dancing fountains and brilliant floral displays. Melding horticulture, nature and the arts with inspired use of lighting, Longwood Gardens becomes pure magic, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
There is plenty to entertain children. The Topiary Garden catches their attention with dozens of yew trees trained and pruned into cones, pyramids, spheres and layered disks. At the Garden Railway, model trains coast through a miniature landscape alive with twinkling lights. The three fire pits, good places to warm up all day, are especially welcome when the December chill sets in after sunset.
Longwood Gardens are not all about outdoor horticulture and show gardens. The four-acre Conservatory was built by the original DuPont owners to grow tropical fruits year-round. Today, the soaring glass structure is a showcase of floral art and exotic plants, with displays that change with the seasons. It is particularly splendid at Christmas, filled with masses of red and white poinsettias, set against a backdrop of lush tropical foliage. Each year the displays are different in the main Conservatory and Exhibition Hall, but it may include a large pool filled with a brilliant mosaic of floating fruits or flowers.
In the East Conservatory, decorated Christmas trees stand at either end of a long pool, surrounded by tropical shrubs, trees and flowers. Paths lead through this tropical setting and lead to smaller garden rooms. One is the charming Indoor Children’s Garden, a magical place of leafy secret rooms, miniature grottos, animal and bird fountains and surprising discoveries.
On the opposite side of the Conservatory are smaller (by comparison to the soaring showcase halls) greenhouses each with its own theme — the Rose House, Fern Passage, Cascade Garden, Palm House, Tropical Terrace, Mediterranean Garden, Silver Garden and houses dedicated to orchids, bananas and tropical fruits. After the overwhelming impression of the larger halls, these “little” garden greenhouses allow kids to get close to plants, feel their textures and smell the roses.
Visit by day to stroll through the outdoor gardens and spend time in the Conservatory. Be sure to get your “return” stamp when you leave, and bring the kids back at night to step into a whole new world. The trees and arbors are swathed in colored lights and more lights play on the fountains as they dance in time to music. After 3:30 p.m. the fountain shows are almost continuous, with water spouts rising and falling in time to the music, and changing colors in a perfectly choreographed performance. Children are not the only spectators that stand wide-eyed. The spectacle is enchanting for any age.
Longwood Gardens is in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, about 12 miles from Wilmington, Delaware, and 30 from Philadelphia. Before you leave, take time to do a little Christmas shopping in the Garden Shop, where you’ll find holiday decorations, gardening books and unique presents for all ages.
However you view Niagara Falls, it’s an unforgettable sight. That being said, on the Canadian side, you’ll get a panoramic view of both the American Falls and the magnificent Horseshoe Falls, as well as more chances to get up close and experience the falls. Families traveling to Niagara Falls find more activities to engage children on the Canadian side.
United Airlines officially became the only major U.S. airline to own a flight training school with the opening of United Aviate Academy on Jan. 27. The moment was made even more historic with its inaugural class, which is 80 percent women and people of color.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next family trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Minneapolis, Minnesota, with us.
It’s not too early to plan holiday family travel, and those bound for the Grand Canyon region might want to consider booking tickets now for Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel’s popular Polar Express. Tickets are going fast!
Embark on a family journey through The Last Frontier with Celebrity Cruises® and experience an unforgettable luxury vacation in the untouched natural beauty of Alaska. The breathtaking landscape of this pristine wilderness sets the stage for every memorable moment from up-close, awe-inspiring views of glaciers to observing native wildlife, including whales, bears, bald eagles, and moose. This corner of the world offers not only spectacular scenery, but also opportunities to learn about the history and culture of Alaska — from the native people who’ve lived here for centuries to the adventurers seeking their fortunes during the gold rush. No matter which sailing you choose, you’ll journey through the ever-popular Inside Passage — one of the most popular experiences on any Alaska vacation — and visit Hubbard Glacier or Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier.
Family travelers spending time in Riviera Maya, Mexico, cannot miss Xel-Há, a park offering an extensive list of activities, all surrounded by the pure natural beauty of the region. The beginning of fall marks the perfect time to visit the park, with more than 20 unique experiences.