ESCAPE KEYS: Longwood Gardens

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

GETTING THERE: Longwood Gardens is in Kennett Square, Pa., 12 miles northwest of Wilmington, Del., and about 30 miles southwest of Philadelphia. The gardens are 110 miles northeast of Washington, and the trip is mostly up Interstate 95.

HOURS AND TICKETS: The Indoor Children's Garden, as well as the rest of Longwood, is open from 9 to 5 daily through March, after which the hours will expand. Admission: $16 adults; $6 for students ages 5 to 22; free for those younger than 5.

STAYING THERE: There is a plethora of inns and B&Bs throughout the Brandywine Valley; contact the Brandywine Conference and Visitors Bureau (800-343-3983, http://www.brandywinecvb.org) for information. For bargains on hotels, consider staying in Wilmington, which has lots of mid-priced options. I bid on Priceline and paid about $73, including taxes and fees, for a night at the Doubletree Hotel Wilmington (4727 Concord Pike, 302-478-6000, http://www.doubletree.com), an unexceptional place but a good value.

EATING THERE: Longwood's Terrace Restaurant has a dining room and cafe, although only the cafe is open through March 15. The menu includes the mushroom soup ($4 a cup, $5 a bowl), as well as reasonably priced entrees, sandwiches and children's meals.

UPCOMING EVENTS: "Winter Escape" is the name for a series of special events taking place at the gardens through March. An exhibit featuring thousands of orchids has just gone on display, part of an "Orchid Extravaganza," while the Jazz Club at Longwood will showcase several performers in evening concerts. For information on these and other events, visit http://www.longwoodgardens.org or call 800-737-5500.

INFORMATION: For other lodging and activity options in the Brandywine Valley, contact the Chester County Visitors Center, 800-228-9933, http://www.brandywinevalley.com. -- S.V.


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