Philadelphia's appeal doesn't end at historic landmarks and fantastic cuisine. The entire region offers a variety of idyllic and downright gorgeous places. Known as America's Garden Capital, the Greater Philadelphia region is a horticulturist's dream. Whether you're an expert gardener or the furthest thing from a green thumb, these local green spaces are sure to impress.
In the Brandywine Valley, Longwood Gardens showcases the artistic side of gardening. Spanning more than 1,000 acres, the expansive facility houses 40 indoor and outdoor gardens, all meticulously maintained and beautifully imaginative. In addition to its year-round roster of programming, the spectacular open-air theatre fountain shows resume for the season on May 15. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA, 610.388.1000
Fans of classic Americana are drawn to Winterthur (5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE, 800.448.3883) for its eclectic array of everyday objects dating back to 1630, but nature enthusiasts come for the 60-acre garden. The stunning property boasts woodlands, waterways and meadows that bloom with hundreds of species, including six-acres of azaleas. If the kids get antsy, a short trip across the Troll Bridge leads to the Faeirie Cottage in the Enchanted Woods.
During his lifetime, famed philanthropist Dr. Albert C. Barnes amassed one of the world's finest collections of paintings, but his wife, Laura, turned her attention to horticulture. The Barnes Foundation's Arboretum in Merion (300 N. Latch’s Lane, Merion, PA, 215.278.7200) is a world-class attraction due to its fantastic plant collection and exquisite 20th-century landscaping. The grounds include a 12-acre living arboretum that contains more than 3,000 species of woody plants, 40 state champion trees, and countless flowers and ferns.
In Chestnut Hill, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania (100 E. Northwestern Ave., 215.247.5777) spans more than 90 acres, which are filled with all sorts of plant life and towering trees. A formal rose garden, a swan pond, a step fountain, an herb garden and a fernery are just a few of the spectacular sights to see here. Visitors especially love the "Out on a Limb" Tree Adventure exhibit, where they can get a bird's-eye view of the forest from a canopied walkway 50 feet above the ground. Last month, celebrated artist Patrick Dougherty used sticks to build A Waltz in the Woods, an original site-specific sculpture in the venue's Butcher Sculpture Garden.
Just one glimpse of the Virginia bluebells, Cardinal flowers, holly and bayberry bushes that border the Brandywine River Museum of Art (U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, PA, 610.388.2700) makes it easy to understand why the landscape has been the muse for many Brandywine Valley artists. Throughout the year, the wildflower and native plant gardens, which were dedicated by Lady Bird Johnson, are the site of special museum events and plant sales.
Nestled on 1.2 acres in West Fairmount Park, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden (Lansdowne & Horticultural Drives, Philadelphia, PA, 215.878.5097) showcases the best of Japanese architecture and horticulture. The spectacular attraction includes both a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally ranked garden complete with a koi pond and a 75-year-old weeping cherry tree, Surrounded by 17th century-style architecture and contemporary murals, a Urasenke tea master will teach guests about the history and principles behind the ritual of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.