Are you planning a visit to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania? This guide to the Pennsylvania botanical gardens has everything you need to know, from when is the best time to visit and what to bring with you.

I grew up near Longwood Gardens and have always thought it was one of the best things you can do in southeast Pennsylvania. When my boys were old enough to start going, it became a whole new experience. Over the years, I’ve learned and compiled plenty of info about Longwood Gardens, including accessibility.

One of the best times to visit Longwood Gardens is for the fountain shows.
Fountains in Longwood Gardens at night.

Below you’ll find general info for your trip to Longwood Gardens and important accessibility information.

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So, here you go; I’ve assembled as much information as possible to help everyone have a nice time.

What Is Longwood Gardens? (And Where Is It?)

Longwood Gardens is one of Pennsylvania’s most spectacular botanical gardens. The gardens span over 1,000 acres and are located in Kennett Square, a suburb of Philadelphia in Chester County, PA.

The location is ideal as you can visit the gardens without going into downtown Philadelphia, but they’re also an easy day trip from Philadelphia and New York City.

Longwood Gardens Hours & Admission Prices

Longwood Gardens is open year-round, with different seasonal displays and special events throughout the year. Their hours also fluctuate with the seasons, so always double-check on their website.

Admission price is also partially dependent on the season. From November to January 8th, admission is a bit higher for their A Longwood Christmas special (more on that below!). Current prices are $25 for adults and $13 for youth during most of the year and $30 for adults, and $16 for youth during the holiday special. Kids 4 and under are free.

They also have various discounts for senior citizens, military, and PA Access members. If you’re local, you can also buy an annual membership.

Booking your tickets in advance is highly recommended, as the gardens sell out during the holiday season and other special events.

What To Bring

Since most of your visit to Longwood Gardens will be outside and you will be walking through a thriving ecosystem, it’s important to come prepared.

Be sure to bring the following:

  • Water
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Coat, Hat, Gloves for Winter Walking

It’s important to note that besides water, food and drink are not permitted in the gardens except for in the outside picnic area.

A Longwood Christmas

Longwood Gardens transforms into a Christmas wonderland from November through the first week of January, with thousands of lights strung throughout the property. The plants and flowers are turned into festive decorations.

Longwood Gardens Christmas is one of the most popular Christmas attractions in Pennsylvania, and tens of thousands of people visit the gardens each year. It’s truly spectacular and different every year!

This is one time when you absolutely must plan your visit in advance, as tickets will sell out.

Other Seasonal Events

As the blooms change seasonally, so do the events at Longwood Gardens. In addition to their regular “seasons”, you can find special events, classes, and more throughout the year. It’s always a good idea to peek at the calendar before your visit.

Best Time to Visit Longwood Gardens

Of course, the best time to visit Longwood Gardens is to see the display or exhibit you wish to see. The Christmas lights and displays are spectacular, but so are the mums and the bulbs.

Besides A Longwood Christmas, here are the major seasonal exhibits you can find:

  • Winter Wonderland (Jan 21-March 26, 2023)
  • Spring Blooms (April 1 – May 7. 2023)
  • Festival Fountains (May 11 – Sept 24, 2023)
  • Chrysanthemum Festival (Sept 30 – Nov 12, 2023)

How Crowded does Longwood Gardens Get?

What is the best time to visit Longwood Gardens? Well, that depends on personal preference and what you are coming to see.

  • For the Christmas event, if you can, go either on Tue/Wed/Thurs and try to arrive around 2 or 2:30. Plan to leave at dusk. Because we have shorter days this time of year, the lights start to come on around 3.
  • Early afternoon is also very quiet as most of the morning groups have left, and the evening rush hasn’t started. If you don’t care to see the lights, mid-day is great.
  • Weekends are the most crowded, and it costs more per person.
  • You may consider purchasing a Longwood Gardens Membership because Mondays are “Members Only Mondays.” However, in recent years, Member Mondays during Christmas have been very crowded because their memberships are very cost-effective.
  • The week between Christmas and New Year’s is also very crowded. For PA Access members, this is a PA Access activity. That means your disabled child + 3 guests can get in for $2 each.
  • If it doesn’t matter to you–the Christmas display stays up for two weeks after Christmas, and it’s not crowded.
  • For other times of the year, it just varies. The Fireworks and Fountains shows (summer) always sell out. The Pumpkin Patch and Mums Festival is beautiful and gets crowded as well. So does the bulb event.
  • I would aim for an off-travel time, which is almost always Tues/Wed and not weekends.
  • I once heard that Mothers’ Day is the busiest day of the year. Not sure if that statistic is still true.

I’m a fan of taking my kid out of school for legitimate family and educational opportunities, and for me, this qualifies as one. There is a timed entrance, so make sure you buy a ticket online beforehand.

How Crowded is Longwood Gardens?

The “when to go” section lists much of this. Just know that while not impossible, if you go on a weekend during the holidays, it will be very crowded with much waiting in line. Longwood Gardens gets very crowded at peak times during peak seasons.

What does that mean? Well, they have a defined route to visit the Conservatory. There is one way in and one way out. Families must follow a defined path. Yes, if you’ve had enough, you can exit. But there is no going back or swimming upstream. Expect to be in tight quarters, shoulder to shoulder, for much of the time.

If you require a wheelchair or walker, expect that you will have to spend your visit monitoring how close you are to the person in front of you so as not to run them over or hit their ankles.

Restaurants Near Longwood Gardens

I have lived in this area for almost 25 years and have watched the local landscape change many times over.

There are many restaurants near Longwood Gardens. I will recommend a few dining options because everyone has different preferences. Definitely look online first, as not every place is open for lunch or on Sundays or Mondays. And during busy times, I recommend making a reservation if they take them.

  • The Shops at Longwood: This will likely be the closest. However, all the restaurants in this shopping center get crowded during peak season because of Longwood Gardens. There’s Two Stones Pub, Purebread Deli, Hearth, and a few others, including fast food options.
  • “Downtown Kennett”: If you have the time, make a side trip to downtown Kennett Square. In addition to there being too many restaurants to mention, there are several cute shops.
  • On your way home dining: This option would depend on your route to get home. But all along Route 1, there are many restaurants–more on Route 1 north than Route 1 south. If you must take 41 into Delaware, stop at the Mexican restaurant on the state line, which is one of my favorites. If you take 52 north, there are many to choose from in West Chester, 52 south-Greenville and Centerville.

My point is that Longwood Garden attracts tens of thousands of visitors during the holiday season each day, so you may want to travel a little bit before you eat due to the crowds.

longwood gardens
Aren’t we cute? Taking a break at Longwood.

Longwood Gardens Wheelchair Rentals

There was plenty of handicapped parking very close to the entrance. They also have wheelchairs to use if you need them. During busier times, I would look online to reserve one if you need it. I have seen them run out of them during busy times.

Longwood Gardens-Noise Level

If your child is noise sensitive, my only concern would be crowds and the noise and activity associated with bunches of people around. There are daily concerts during the holidays, but you do not have to view them. If a particular noise or instrument bothers your child, check the holiday concert schedule beforehand to avoid it.

Most children I know with special needs love music, so I would go out of my way to find one that is enjoyable for them. Since Longwood Gardens is so large, there are corners, benches, and places you can walk off to for some quiet time.

longwood gardens christmas
Their Christmas event gets all the fame, but really, any time of year is beautiful.

Bathroom Accessibility at Longwood Gardens

The Conservatory has about four or five family restrooms. They are huge with a changing area. Again, my only concern would be the crowds and waiting in line, so try to go when it’s not crowded.

Longwood Children’s Garden

Some children with special needs want to avoid leaves and plants’ textures. And others may enjoy them a bit too much, if you know what I mean. You can get very close to all the flowers and plants, so your child may require extra supervision.

My little guy loves to brush his hands over flowers, plants, and branches, and I would be mortified if he ruined one of the displays! There is a children’s garden where there are things for them to touch.

longwood gardens childrens area
Brian painting with water in the Children’s Garden.

Be forewarned that the Children’s Gardens has water play areas—lots of them. The first time we visited this section with them was MLK day.

Yes, a cold January day, and Kevin’s clothing was soaking wet.

kevin playing in the childrens garden area
Kevin playing in the Children’s Garden area.

Longwood Gardens has soft lighting in almost every area we go to. A light-sensitive child shouldn’t have any problems unless it is particularly bright outside.

However, if your child needs very bright light to see and navigate well, they may need extra assistance, particularly in their buildings. The walkways and paths are not all necessarily smooth and flat.

Some are concrete or paved and not very colorful. It can be difficult to discern when a walking surface will change. There are plenty of wide ramps and walkways.

Depending on which display you are viewing, many of them have very rich colors, which I know will appeal to my little guy.

They also have an outdoor Pumpkin Patch Play area in the fall.

Longwood Gardens is very family friendly. My disabled child loves visiting.
My boys taking a break at the outdoor Pumpkin Patch area.

Restaurants at Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens have several restaurants, including a cafeteria-style place to eat and a formal sit-down restaurant. When I inquired as to special diets, restrictions, and nutritional information for families living with Diabetes, this is what I was told.

I am copying and pasting what was emailed to me:

  • We have made conscious changes to our menus over the past year—more and more guests have dietary restrictions. These foods are labeled as such.
  • At Longwood Gardens, we always strive to have gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and Lactose intolerant options. If foods have nuts in them, they are labeled. However, we recommend asking because we are not a nut-free facility.
  • Nutritional information is unavailable now, although our company is developing programs and tested menus to work towards this. We are not quite there at the time and are also unsure if we will adapt to this system as it reduces options.
  • The cafĂ© gets thousands of visitors monthly, and we strive for options for all allergies and dietary restrictions. CafĂ© staff is always willing to provide special meals/preparations if desired. A little bit of heads-up is appreciated.
  • The chef breaks down 1906 menus: does it contain flour, animal products, dairy, etc.? Also, how can it be modified to suit the needs of the particular guest? We are happy to accommodate where we can.

So there you go, now you know!

The only question I forgot to ask was about kids who travel with either a nurse or aide and admission for them. So please call before you go and inquire.

The beauty and delight you experienced at Longwood Gardens can be spread by posting about them on social media. From breathtaking plant exhibits to magical vistas, Longwood Gardens presents a captivating tapestry of nature’s treasures.

Additionally, social media sites offer a worldwide stage, allowing you to share your experiences with a wide audience and build a sense of community and connection with other nature lovers from across the world.

Therefore, by telling others about your experiences at Longwood Gardens, you have the potential to pique their interest, inspire them, and have a lasting impression on those who might not otherwise be aware of this wonderful haven of botanical wonders.

You can produce videos and post them as reels, but utilize a video compressor to make them mobile-friendly. You just need to learn how to compress a video which is easy!

This was originally published in 2012 but was updated to edit and fix links.

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