Ease into your weekend and check into the cozy Brandywine River Hotel. Grab dinner at any of the nearby restaurants: Brandywine Prime, Antica Italian Restaurant & BYOB, or the Chadds Ford Tavern. There’s also a Whole Foods Market with a buffet/salad bar and indoor seating that’s open till 10 p.m. There’s a Wegman’s with ready to go meals, and it’s open 24/7.
Get ready to have an exciting day of sightseeing. Fuel yourself for this special day with the hotel breakfast (included in your stay). Have a cup of coffee or tea and choose from yogurt, cereal, bagels, pastries, or waffles.
Leave Chadds Ford and head to Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a paradise within Wilmington. Alfred I. du Pont built this gorgeous estate for his wife.
Take a shuttle bus from the Visitor Center to Nemours Mansion. It’s a 77 room mansion, and you can explore the mansion at your own rate or sign up for a tour.
No visit is complete without taking in the French gardens. After exploring the mansion, check out the Long Walk and maze garden.
Tip: You can easily spend a day here. Visitors can feel overwhelmed by the grandeur of this stunning site. Pace yourself! Allow around four hours to see the mansion and garden.
Practical Information: Open May-December, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Day pass tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors/active military/students, $8 for children 5-16, and free for children age 4 and under. The address is 850 Alapocas Road, Wilmington, DE 19803.
You’ll work up an appetite walking on estate grounds, so have lunch in Wilmington. (There’s an IHOP!)
Cross back over to the Pennsylvania state border and check out the Brandywine River Museum of Art. It’s an adorable museum right along the river, and you’ll get your art fix. You’ll see the works of N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth, Peter Hurd, and Carolyn Wyeth. Pick up a cute art souvenir from the shop or eat at the picturesque Millstone Café that overlooks the river. Upon exiting the museum, head left to enjoy a peaceful walk along the Brandywine River.
Bonus: This museum also offers two unforgettable experiences: the Andrew Wyeth and N.C. Wyeth Studio Tour. Located close to the museums, the artist studios are inspiring places that are worth checking out!
Andrew Wyeth’s studio is a National Historic Landmark and you’ll learn interesting facts about him. He used watercolors and egg tempera- a mix of egg yolk. He would buy the eggs from a nearby Wawa! You’ll also see the unbelievable JFK portraits that Jamie Wyeth did. Seriously, the JFK portraits don’t look like artworks, they look like photos of Kennedy.
And just wait till you see N.C. Wyeth’s studio. It’s humongous and has so many supplies. These one hour tours costs $8 and run from April 1- November 24. Shuttle buses will take you from the museum to the studios.
Practical Information: The museum is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Rates are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $6 for students with ID/children ages 6-18. The address is 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, PA 19317.
From here, it’s simply a one minute drive back to your hotel.
Have breakfast at the hotel and then head on over to Delaware’s Wilmington to visit Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. If you thought Nemours was gorgeous, wait till you see Winterthur. You simply can’t say which one is more gorgeous. The sprawling grounds give Winterthur its own separate address within the city of Wilmington.
First-timers should take the Introductory Tour, and it’s best to reserve these tickets in advance before visiting the grounds. A shuttle bus will take you to the house for the tour. You’ll see the du Pont bedrooms, Chinese Parlor, and Conservatory.
Your admission includes the Introductory Tour, along with access to the garden, the Galleries, and special exhibitions. Take advantage of this! The Galleries span two floors and include ceramics and paintings. The special exhibits also never fail to impress. For 2019, check out Costuming The Crown, an exhibit featuring all the dresses worn by the actors in this Netflix series on Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
Don’t miss the chance to explore the gardens. The absolutely adorable children’s garden has the Enchanted Woods, bridges, a Tulip Tree House, a Faerie Cottage, and a place to put on butterfly wings. Let your imagination soar here.
Tip: Just like with Nemours, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how extensive this area is. You could easily spend a day here. Allow 3-4 hours. Your tickets are actually valid for 2 days, so you can always come back!
Practical Information: Winterthur opens for the season on March 1 and their spring/summer/fall hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. They are also open on Mondays from November 23 to January 5. Introductory Tour rates are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $6 for children 2-11. The address is 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE 19735.
Have lunch and head back to your hotel to unwind from your morning adventure.
Once you’ve recharged, get ready to be blown away again and hit Longwood Gardens in neighboring Kennett Square. This place is a botanical heaven. Here are some of the particular sights that are crowd favorites.
- The 1921 Conservatory: Tour the Orangery (there’s citrus fruit trees, a Mediterranean Garden, the East Conservatory, the Exhibition Hall, and the Orchid House-There’s at least 200 orchids here).
- The Chimes Tower and Waterfall: You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped foot into a storybook village and that you’re living a fairytale. There are chimes inside the tower!
- Main Fountain Garden: This is a Longwood Gardens icon. The fountains soar to music on select times during the day.
- Italian Water Garden: Multiple fountains are arranged in a pretty way and delight visitors.
Bonus: Don’t miss the Fireworks & Fountains Show on select summer weekend nights. You’ll get a seat in front of the Main Fountain Garden, and fountains illuminated in many colors will soar over eight feet. The whole spectacle is set to music, and there are fireworks throughout. Tickets go on sale in May. Be warned- tickets sell fast on the day these sales are open to the public.
Practical Information: Allow 3-4 hours here. The hours depend on the month, so check their site for more information. During the summer months, the gardens are generally open from 9 am to 6 pm. Buy your admission tickets online before arrival: It’s 23 for adults, $20 for seniors 62+, $20 for college students, $12 for youth ages 5-18, and free for children 4 and under. The address is 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
Have breakfast at the hotel and enjoy one more attraction before heading home. Head to the Delaware Art Museum to see the most extensive Pre-Raphaelite collection outside the United Kingdom. You’ll see works by Dante and Christina Rossetti.
You’ll also see works by Frederic Church, Edward Hopper, and Dale Chihuly. Don’t forget to check out the Copeland Sculpture Garden. The museum also offers special exhibition tours and art classes, including plein-air workshops. The size of this museum means you can squeeze in this attraction before heading home.
Practical Information: Hours vary, so check the site for more info. It’s generally open from 10 am to 4 pm, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission fees include $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60+, $6 for students, and $6 for youth 7-18. The address is 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware 19806.
- The Brandywine River Hotel- The location of this charming, colonial style hotel couldn’t be more perfect. It’s less than a one minute drive from the Brandywine River Museum of Art, and less than a 15 minute drive from Longwood Gardens and Winterthur. You’ll get a European Plus Breakfast, and there’s also afternoon tea with cookies from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Rooms have a starting price of approximately $150 a night.
- If you’re coming from the New York metro area, take New Jersey Turnpike South and then take DE-141 N. It’s around a two hour drive.
- If you’re coming from Philadelphia Airport, take I-95 South and the US-322 ramp. Head onto the US-1/Baltimore Pike. It’s around a 35 minute drive.
- Amtrak: Wilmington and Philadelphia are both stops on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line.