If you've seen only one du Pont home, you're just getting started. Each reflects the personality of its owners and their lifestyles. For sheer splendor, visit the newly reopened Nemours Mansion. If your tastes are more of a garden variety, Longwood Gardens has the most varied grounds. Even if you skip the house (though it's a nice one), don't miss the conservatories. The charms of world-famous Winterthur are more academic; remember, this is more a museum than a house. The room with the Chinese wallpaper has earned its world-class reputation; this house tells more about the decorative arts than about the personality who gathered them here. (Marylanders should check out the Chestertown room and the Baltimore alcove.) Leave time for the gardens, especially the children's Enchanted Woods (but if you have time for only one garden in the Brandywine Valley, go to Longwood). The Hagley Museum is worth visiting to see how regular Americans lived and worked when the country was new. Its grounds beside the river offer a spectacular display of autumn foliage.
Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley for Kids
Wilmington and its suburbs are home to palatial residences, elegant hotels, and immense gardens, not places you'd think of as kid-friendly. Fortunately, several sites welcome kids.
Brandywine Zoo -- A tiny zoo set in the green Brandywine Park has just 150 animals, but pint-size goats willing to be petted and curious little monkeys make this a child's delight.
Delaware Children's Museum -- The Children's Museum should offer fun ways for kids to look at themselves, their world, and the adult world of banking.
Delaware History Museum -- This museum of First State history, housed in an old Woolworth's store in Wilmington, is bright and colorful, and has fun exhibits. Its hands-on Discovery Room lets kids touch artifacts and hear stories.
Delaware Museum of Natural History -- Children can run wild here (carefully, of course) while looking at dinosaur skeletons, lots of shells, special exhibits, and their own Discovery Room.
Fort Delaware State Park -- Kids will love this Civil War fort on an island in the Delaware Bay. Not only is there a boat ride to the island and a trolley ride to the fort, but reenactors lead guided tours laced with humor and give LOUD artillery demonstrations in summer.
Hagley Museum -- The family-friendly museum, set on the shady banks of the Brandywine River, tells the story of the du Pont family's early gunpowder mill. Kids love the gunpowder testing demonstration.
Longwood Gardens -- This is a sprawling landscape with fountains, animal-shaped hedges, and conservatories. Little ones shouldn't miss the children's indoor garden or the whimsical treehouses.
Winterthur's Enchanted Woods -- These 3 acres will delight the young ones with a labyrinth, fountains, and a kid-size cottage. Pick up the amusing brochure that tells the tale of the Enchanted Woods.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.