You are currently viewing Longwood Gardens: A local treasure
Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens: A local treasure

Several years ago, we were traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit family. On our way down, we needed an activity to fill an afternoon in Richmond, Virginia. The first time Shawn and I were in Richmond, on our way to the beaches of North Carolina, I was pregnant. It was hot. We were staying in the part of town that clears out at night, and I can’t say that I was  overly impressed. It could have been the pregnant and hot thing that ruined it, of course. That is why I gave the area a second chance.  This time, we were with our two young kids, and I found the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Shawn was less than thrilled. The kids were young enough that they didn’t know to complain.

Welp, much to Shawn’s surprise, it was one of our best family days to date. We had such a wonderful time there, and we still talk about how unexpected the experience had been. Of course, I have fond memories of visiting this type of place with my parents, but it was hard to explain to Shawn. Sometimes if an experience is outside of your wheelhouse, you just have to go with it and see what happens. It won’t always be a success, of course, but this was. If you are ever in the Richmond area, you should absolutely plan to spend a few hours checking out the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. It is especially great for children, though you should keep in mind that there is a children’s area with sand and water features, so you’ll want a change of clothes. But definitely go. Here are some pictures from our trip. 

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Here in the Philadelphia area, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by all kinds of cultural, environmental, and plain fun spaces and experiences. Not the least of which is Longwood Gardens, a well known botanical garden in the Brandywine Valley. Although I had been to Longwood several times as a child, I didn’t really appreciate it until after our trip to the garden in Richmond. I sort of had a light bulb moment that we had something just as amazing in our own backyard.

Longwood Flowers
Inside the Conservatory at Longwood Gardens

Lots of people have preconceived notions about Longwood Gardens, or botanical gardens in general (ahem, Shawn): It’s for old people. It’s for people who are into flowers. It’s only for Christmas (Longwood’s Christmas display is quite extensive and probably its biggest crowd drawing event), it’s only for the warm weather, it’s only for adults. The list goes on, and it’s all incorrect.


The meticulously manicured gardens themselves are enough to entice many visitors. But over the years more and more features have been added to appeal to the masses, all while maintaining the beauty of the property.

Have children? Great! There is both an indoor and outdoor children’s area, three tree house structures, a wide open lawn to run around on, a bell tower to climb, waterfalls to see, trails to explore, etc. In the warmer months, the fountains get turned way up, and children can run through the spray and get quite wet. Bring a change of clothes, and you can sit back while they entertain themselves getting soaked.There are even special kid focused events. 

Kids drawing
Kids getting inspired by the beautiful scenery

Engineering enthusiast? How about those fountains and the behind the scenes exhibit highlighting how it all works. Interested in photography? No shortage of images to snap – flowers, trees, fountains, interesting structures and displays.

Do you love food? Guess what, the Longwood dining options are superb. Even the counter service food is quite delicious. They also have a sit down restaurant for special occasions.

How about ice cream and beer? Do you enjoy those? Stop by one of the carts that are stationed around to enjoy some refreshments while you take in the scenery.

Christmas time boasts an elaborate light display, as well as an outdoor train garden.

All of this before you even consider the conservatory. On a recent trip, we asked how many employees it took to maintain all of the displays throughout the gardens, inside and out. 1200. 1200 people working together to create something visually stunning around every turn.

Flower arrangement
Desert Botanicals
Desert Botanicals

Last Black Friday we grabbed a deal on a membership, and I am so glad that we did. Though our children fuss every time before we go, they always enjoy themselves. I sort of think fussing is just a thing that kids have to do when an adult suggests an activity … right? Even Shawn seems to want to hold onto his preconceived notions, but he also always enjoys himself when we go.

There are lots of special events and performances. And recently they have created a beer garden atmosphere for the weekends, complete with outdoor food and drink stands, and musicians.

The only drawback I can see is that people are catching on that it is cool to go to the garden, and when people catch on, crowds grow. Regardless, it is worth it! And in general, the garden pathways and outdoor spaces never seem to be overrun with people. There are timed tickets, but members can usually go in without a reservation. However, I feel like that may change as more and more people continue to come to experience this treasure in our backyard.

Have you visited Longwood Gardens? Do you have a favorite botanical garden or arboretum that we should check out? We’d love to hear your thoughts!



Just Get in the Car

Kristin and Shawn live in Delaware County, PA. They love to travel and go on new adventures with their three kids, follow along!

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Michele

    Very cool! We were passing through Richmond in fall of 2017, but did not have time to stop for anything! We may need to check this out!

  2. Trisha

    WOW! This place is absolutely beautiful! We have an upcoming trip planned to NC and we might have to add this to out list of stops. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sarah

    Thanks for sharing, I had’t hear of this & it’s just a few hours from me – will definitely be checking this out with the family (much to my husband’s initial dismay I’m sure 😉 )!

  4. Shirley

    Beautiful! The African Violets are stunning and I love the pic of your little girl in front of the fountain. So cute!

  5. Susan

    This all looks so beautiful and inviting! The flowers, the colors! How lovely!

  6. Tammie

    You are so lucky to have such a beautiful spot to visit so close to home!

  7. Briana

    Looks beautiful!! What a great day trip!

  8. Hera

    I cannot believe how much Richmond, VA has grown from when I lived there 2 decades ago. Visited several months ago and the traffic blew my mind. I enjoyed the LG Botanical Gardens, very nice during the Fall.

  9. Lisa

    I love the flowers! Not just for old people!

  10. Jen

    SO pretty with all the flowers!!

  11. Aisazia

    Ohh that place looks beautiful! Definitely inspiring! I’d want to sketch there too!

  12. Missy

    We have not been there yet. I love gardens. I am looking forward to visiting. I also like ice cream. 🙂

  13. Pam

    Isn’t it fun to find something that feels “vacationy” in your own backyard? We have a few conservatories nearby and when the winter cold is getting to me, they are the perfect place to spend an hour or two.

Leave a Reply