Winterthur Museum and Gardens

All this week I am posting ideas for things to do over the long holiday weekend.  Winterthur is a great day out as it gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs and get some fresh air after a day around the Thanksgiving table!

We have been taking the kids to Winterthur for years.  Located in Wilmington, Delaware (about an hour's drive from downtown Philadelphia), it was the country  home of Henry Francis du Pont and is now a public museum and garden.  The museum houses one of the largest collections of American decorative arts but unfortunately I haven't seen much of it.  When we go, it is all about the gardens, specifically the Enchanted Woods.  This place is like a magical fairy land sprung to life.  

There is the bridge with the troll hiding underneath:

A bird's nest complete with eggs:

Harvey, an enchanted frog sitting on a rock by a watering hole:

A tree house made out of a tulip-poplar:

And everyone's favorite, the Forbidden Fairy Ring:

This list isn't exhaustive and there is lots more here to discover.  It appeals to boys and girls, although Ava seemed to be a little more into the fairy lore than Jack was.  If you have a fairy lover in the family, be sure to print out the letter from the Enchanted Wood faeries and the Tale of the Enchanted Woods on the Winterthur website.  

After you have thoroughly explored the Woods, there is still plenty of things to see in the gardens.  The reflecting pool always has a frog or two:

Inside the museum there are many kid-friendly options including a touch-it room, a preschool pack to use as you visit the galleries, and guided tours (there is a seasonal Yuletide tour for the holidays).

Also on special exhibit through January 4th are some of the costumes of Downton Abbey.  We toured this during our last visit and everyone (kids and adults) enjoyed it.  The costumes (including Edith's wedding dress and the dress Mary was wearing when Matthew proposed) are so beautiful and if you are a fan of the show this is a definite must see.  

If you are looking for a bite to eat, there are two nice options.  The Cottage Cafe is more casual and offers salads, soups, and sandwiches as well as lighter snacks, smoothies and coffee.  The museum shop is nicely stocked and we always spend a little time browsing before we head home.  Last time I picked up some local honey from the estate's beehives!