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Spend your Mother’s Day weekend at one of the great gardens of the world, Longwood Gardens, and at one of the region’s finest horse racing events, The Willowdale Steeplechase, and relish the bucolic countryside of the Brandywine Valley, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Known for its historic battlefields, rolling hills, the home of Andrew Wyeth, the legacy of the du Pont family, and world famous horse country, the Brandywine Valley charms every visitor who encounters its wonders.
For only $220 visitors will experience The Willowdale Steeplechase on Saturday, May 9, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Willowdale features top level horses racing over jumps, elegant tailgating and high fashion, and supports two important local charities.
On Saturday evening, visitors can take in an Illuminated Fountain Performance at Longwood Gardens at 9:15 pm, and then retreat either to the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, another piece of the region’s history, or the Hilton Garden Inn in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, one mile from Longwood Gardens.
On Sunday, May 10 they can celebrate Mother’s Day by strolling through the world-class gardens of Longwood Gardens taking in all the sights and fragrant smells.
Longwood Gardens is located 30 miles southwest of the city of Philadelphia and 12 miles from Wilmington, Delaware and only minutes away from The Willowdale Steeplechase.
Come for the weekend and save! Packages are priced for two adults and can be adjusted accordingly.
Hilton Garden Inn package offers family-friendly accommodations just a 2 minute drive from Longwood Gardens and an 8 minute drive from the Willowdale Steeplechase featuring an indoor pool and kid-friendly buffet.
Hotel Du Pont package offers storied elegance and tradition in one of the most beautiful and iconic hotels in Wilmington, Delaware. Nestled in the celebrated Brandywine Valley, the hotel possesses five-star luxury, refreshed suites and a serene, picturesque setting.
About Willowdale Steeplechase
The Willowdale Steeplechase is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Kennett Square, PA. Our mission is to raise funds for clean water and veterinary excellence.
Through donations to The Stroud Water Research Center and The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center. The Willowdale Steeplechase helps to further the stewardship of our natural resources and educate the next generation of large animal veterinarians.
The Willowdale Steeplechase features a world-class steeplechase course in a community known for its top jockeys, trainers and owners.
The project began in earnest in 1991, when Dixon began construction on the course with the aid of Hugh Morshead, a native Irishman now residing in Canada. Carved out of a former 160 acre dairy farm, the Willowdale site is a natural amphitheater, allowing for 80% to 95% viewing from any location.
It is styled after a combination of European and American race courses. The broad turf course features a spectacular water jump, hedges and post and rail jumps.
The water jump is the only one of its kind in North America. Because it has a 12-foot span with an 18 inch drop in elevation, jockeys have to ride “California Surfing” style — which refers to the method of sitting on the horse, not plowing through the water!
About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber.
Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays and home to the most significant fountain collection in North America, encompassing 1,100 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ, and 4.5-acre conservatory.
Longwood continues the mission set forth by Mr. du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the performing arts. Longwood Gardens is on US Route 1 near Kennett Square, PA.
Plan Your Visit to the Willowdale Steeplechase
- Plan Ahead – There is a course and grounds map and a race day schedule on the Willowdale Steeplechase web site.
- Races run rain or shine – dress accordingly. It’s helpful to bring
layers and a couple of shoe choices or waterproof boots. The event
is outdoors – there is a lot of ground to cover and some walking on
grass so spike heels are not recommended!
- Dress to impress – hats are encouraged and great to keep the sun
out of your eyes. Sun block is a must.
- What will you see? Six exciting horse races over various jumps
(brush, timber and hurdles), a side saddle horse race, pony races,
a young riders’ race and even a Jack Russell Terrier race. NOTE,
this is the only time spectators are allowed on the course, and
must leave immediately following the last Jack Russell Terrier race.
- Activities for children – The Kid’s Alley tent has stick ponies
for children to make and race, as well as fun educational activities
managed by race beneficiaries – all free of charge.
- May I bring my own food or alcohol? Yes! And food and
beverages (including beer & hard cider) are available from vendors
on site. No wine or spirits are available for sale, so bring your own.
- Are pets welcome? Yes, but you must keep them on a leash at all
times and bring water for them.
- Will I need cash? Good to have for food purchases and
Willowdale merchandise purchases. Most vendors will take credit
- Is it permitted to stand along the fence? Yes, as long as you don’t
block the view of the tailgate parking patrons there.
- Am I allowed to visit other parking areas? Yes, you may visit
all of them. This privilege is unique to Willowdale.
- How close can I get to the horses and jockeys? No one
is permitted on the course but be sure to visit the Paddock area
(but stay outside the fence!) to get a close up view of the horses and
jockeys getting ready for the race… and pick your winner. Trophies
are also presented to the jockeys and owners after each race in the
Winners Circle which is in the Paddock area.
- Where are the antique cars? They are located along Route 82
near the Turn section.
Questions Your Kids May Ask:
- Why do they have the races? To raise money for our three beneficiaries: The Stroud Water Research Center, The University of Pennsyvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center and Quest Therapeutic Services.
- What happens if a horse is hurt? The equine veterinarian and
horse ambulance are on the race course to assess for injury.
- How do you get to be a jockey? See race program to learn
- How old are the horses? They are usually around 3-12
years old. See race program (Race Day Program Key) for more
information about horses and jockeys.
- What is a hurdle? An artificial hedge jump made by the NSA
and used nationally.
- What is a timber fence? A jump made out of wooden rails.
- What does “brush” mean? A natural living hedge jump or
boughs cut from a live hedge.
- How fast do the horses run? About 30 miles per hour, slower
than flat race horses. Think of jump racing more like a long
distance race vs flat racing which is run over a shorter distance at
Plan Your Visit to Longwood Gardens
- Do children need timed tickets? Children ages 4 and under are admitted free and do not require a ticket. Children ages 5 and older do require a timed ticket.
- Can I bring my own food and drink into the Gardens? Picnicking or bringing in any outside food or beverages (except water) is not permitted. However, there is a Picnic Area (open seasonally), outside the main grounds, for the convenience of guests.
- Can I bring a stroller? Yes. Electric scooters, wheelchairs, and children’s strollers are available for rent in the Visitor Center, on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Where is the restaurant? How far is it from the Visitor Center? The Terrace is a leisurely 10 minute walk from the Visitor Center. A self-service cafe and full-service dining room are both available at The Terrace. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor Beer Garden at The Terrace, available seasonally and during select special events.
- Is the Garden hands-on for kids? While most of the Garden is for looking and appreciating there are some great kid-friendly areas including: the Children’s Corner featuring a Flower Fountain (open mid-April through mid-October) for kids to splash in and plenty of seating for the adults; the Indoor Children’s Garden featuring imaginative and child-sized space is filled with hands-on water features, handcrafted sculptures, secret stairways, and engaging plant displays; the Birdhouse which is their tallest treehouse offers a squirrel’s-eye view of the surrounding natural landscape; and the Canopy Cathedral ornate two-story house with a balcony which offers sweeping views of the Large Lake. There is no Climbing trees; picking plants and flowers; getting in the fountains, lakes, or creeks.
- Where can I breastfeed? You are welcome to breastfeed in any of the spaces that are open to the public in our Gardens. If you are searching for a quiet location, the Green Wall area in the Conservatory offers a special pod designated as a Nursing Mother’s Room for the comfort and privacy of you and your baby.
- Is there a family restroom/changing room? Restrooms are equipped with pull-down changing tables and are large enough to afford guests the privacy they need. Visit the Green Wall in the Conservatory for facilities that are specifically designated as family restrooms.
- Are there lockers? There are no lockers available for guests.
- Is there air conditioning? The Visitor Center, The Terrace, and the Webb Farmhouse & Galleries are air conditioned.
- Can I bring my pet? Pets are not permitted in the Gardens, nor are there provisions to temporarily house them during a visit. Please do not leave pets in your car in the parking lot during warm weather since shade is minimal. Properly identified service animals that provide assistance for guests with disabilities are permitted everywhere at Longwood.
- Can I bring toys? Items that are disruptive to the guest experience or could pose a safety concern are not allowed, including, but not limited to: drones, remote airplanes, balls, frisbees, or other sports equipment, bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards, scooters, hoverboards and other recreational devices, musical instruments and radios with speakers. Toys that cause damage to the plant collection and wildlife like balloons and bubbles are not allowed.
- Can I leave and return? Yes. Please stamp your hand at our kiosk in the Visitor Center prior to your departure. You must present your stamped hand to re-enter the Gardens.
- Does Longwood have parking facilities? Is it free? Parking at Longwood is free. There may be a substantial walk from your car to the Visitor Center, although it is possible to drop passengers off at the Visitor Center then park the car. Guests with a valid disability parking permit will find handicapped parking available near the Visitor Center entrance. During peak visitation times, remote parking may be in effect. Please follow signage and Longwood personnel directing parking. Complimentary transportation to the Gardens is provided.
- Do you have charging stations for electric cars? Two charging stations for plug-in electric/hybrid cars are available in the Visitor Center Parking Lot. The charging stations have the industry standard “J1772” plug and operate with a 240-volt, 30-amp AC circuit. The stations are available to guests free of charge.
- Is it outdoors? Visiting the Gardens is a largely outdoor experience. Indoor experiences include our 4-acre Conservatory, the historic Peirce-du Pont House, the Webb Farmhouse & Galleries, The Terrace, and the Visitor Center.
- How do I get around the Gardens? There are nearly 400 acres that are open to the public. Walking is the primary way to enjoy the Gardens. Accessible paths are available for guests using a wheelchair or electric scooter. Shuttle service is not provided inside the Gardens except for our Meadow Garden Shuttle that runs between the Peirce-du Pont House and Webb Farmhouse.
- Does Longwood have a tram or bus? No. But they do offer individual scooter, wheelchair, and stroller rentals while supplies are available.
- How far is it from the Visitor Center to the Conservatory? It is a leisurely 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center to the Conservatory or to The Terrace, located near the Conservatory.
- How long does it take to see the Gardens? Visit lengths vary, but they recommend planning on at least three to four hours to see the majority of the Gardens (including the Conservatory).
- Where can I find a map of the Gardens? Maps of the Gardens are available in the Visitor Center. Be sure to pick one up as you begin your visit. You can also explore our interactive map at lwg.gdn/map before you arrive, or pull it up on your smartphone during your visit.
- Does Longwood Gardens offer tours? Yes, they offer a variety of tours for guests’ enjoyment—some are included in Gardens admission and others are available at a small fee. Find out about the tours being offered on the day of your visit or inquire in the Visitor Center on the day of your visit.
- Does Longwood have wireless internet access? Yes. Guests can connect to “FreeGardenWifi” free of charge during their visit. Please note that some areas of the Gardens do not have wifi coverage.
- Is there an ATM? There is no ATM on site. However, they do accept debit cards as a form of payment.
- Is there a place to recharge my phone? For your convenience, a complimentary cell phone charging station can be found inside the Orientation Theater in the Visitor Center. You are able to lock your device and leave it charging while you continue to enjoy your visit.
101 E Street Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348
1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348