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Dec 2, 2009 05:25 PM

Longwood Gardens Christmas Lights Suggestion

Every year I post this and still folks ask me about visiting Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas Lights. It is truly one of the most spectacular visits on the Eastern Seaboard. But here's a few tips to make it more fun and faster.

Most folks arrive near "dark" see the lights, and then the conservratory, and maybe then the ice skating show followed by dinner. As a result, lines and delays.

Let me offer an alternative:

Come EARLY! Like 2 0r 3 before the crowds. Go to the conservatory and see the inside stuff first. It's prettier then! See the ice skating or......have an early dinner in the cafeteria (They also have sit-down service), The food is really good and they have beer and wine. It will be fresher and easier early, before the masses!

As it gets dark, then after a wonderful meal (The reason this is posted here.....they DO have really good food!), go out and see the lights. You;ll have a much more enjoyable time without the traditionally long waits.

And to one and all............Have a wonderful Holiday!

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  1. Thank you! I remember reading your thread last year and it was spot on. We (my husband, our daughter, my dad, his wife, and their two young boys) were able to really enjoy ourselves. We're definitely going to do it again this year.

    1. Funny, I have lived in the area for a long time an NEVER thought of that! Great suggestion! Also, in addition to the food at Longwood- we tried Longwood Family Restaurant for brunch one day and it was good. Maybe a suggestion for those who want a lot of choice. (I'm not so sure how fresh/ prepared in house everything is because their menu is huge) Service was attentive and friendly and the food was good enough to satisfy.

      7 Replies
      1. re: outofphilly

        On our last trip to Longwood Gardens, we ate lunch first at the Whip Tavern in nearby Coatesville, PA.

        and had a fine meal in a very nice dining atmosphere. Classy and comfortable, but definitely not stuffy or pretentious nor particularly expensive.

        Looking forward to seeing the Longwood Christmas displays in the next several weeks :-


        P.S. --- I always enjoy a bowl of mushroom soup in the Longwood Gardens' cafeteria, particularly when you come inside from out in the cold ! Rest of cafeteria fare there is OK but fairly pedestrian. We've never tried the adjacent sit-down restaurant.

        1. re: outofphilly

          I've been to the Longwood Family Restaurant twice -- once for dinner, once for breakfast. I'd definitely return for breakfast. Dinner, though, was totally nondescript. Boring. Blah. Maybe they're trying to do too much at once with that large menu. I'm always skeptical of menus with photos of the food, anyway.

          IMHO, there are better choices for folks who are visiting Longwood but who choose to have a meal nearby. For example, Floga Bistro in the Genuardi's shopping center, offers really good pizza, sandwiches and nicely prepared Italian entrees.

          1. re: CindyJ

            even better isSovanna Bistro on Route 82......see last years posting for directions

            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

              Oh, I totally agree. I think Sovana Bistro is the best in the area. I was thinking more along the lines of an inexpensive family-style place when I made my recommendation.

            2. re: CindyJ

              And I found out now carries gift certificates at 1/2 price for Floga. We fell in love with Floga when it first opened, they had really fabulous panini. It's recently been hit or miss lately. I like Sovanna for lunch, it's crowded but you cannot beat the value.

              1. re: tetellita

                Actually, until midnight tomorrow, if you buy a certificate on you can get 70% off the cost of the certificate by entering the code PRESENT in the promotional code space at checkout. That means you can get a $25 certificate for only $3 instead of the usual cost of $10. You really can't go too far wrong for $3.

                1. re: tetellita

                  We were at Floga last week, coupon in hand, and I've got to say we were terribly disappointed. Two of us shared the grilled calamari appetizer. There was nothing about it that looked or tasted even remotely grilled. It had some kind of balsamic vinegar dressing that, in my opinion, just didn't go with the calamari. I had a Tuscan chicken entree that was one of the evening's specials. The crabmeat, what little there was of it, tasted fishy. My husband ordered the Pollo Mellanzane which, in addition to the sauted chicken, had a few slices of very soggy eggplant in an overly-lemony sauce. Even the hot rolls were tasteless.

                  I have to say, I wasn't expecting haute cuisine -- but I was expecting a somewhat decent meal. It was disappointing all the way around, and even the fact that I had paid only $3 for a $25 dining certificate did little to enhance the dining experience.

                  If I ever go back, it'll be for pizza and salad -- nothing more.

            3. We went last Friday in the bitter cold, but had a great time! And no crowds! Sadly, the food at the Cafe was mediocre, the first time we have hit that. I had roast beef sandwhich that tasted good, but the bread was stale. The Mushroom soup, though, was divine!

              The one who controls 51% of the vote for "what shall we eat tonight" in this house had pot roast and said the meat was tough.

              It maybe the one drawback of my scheme is at that the time of day, you gotta watch the food....they will do special orders a bit, so that might help withe the freshness.

              And yes... as we were leaving at 5:45, the hordes were descending!