Indoor Children’s Garden

a small fountain in the middle with building structures and green trees surrounding it
Imaginative, Multi-Sensory, Playful
Best Seasons to Visit
Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn

Lead your kids to discovery at our Indoor Children’s Garden, a lush, whimsical space where they can shake out their sillies in a sensory-friendly atmosphere. Let them get lost in a jungle of draping vines and secret stairways. Watch them splash with our one-of-a-kind fountains featuring spitting fish and drooling dragons. Rest easy and listen for the bell as you take a breather in this welcoming, imaginative realm where everyone finds a reason to grin.

About This Garden

Unplug from the screens and engage your kids in the adventure of experiential learning. Here in this 4,000-square-foot space specially designed for our pint-sized playmates, children can stretch out and explore the elements of nature at their own pace. Rosemary, scented geranium, oregano, and other fragrant herbs line the ramp, piquing their senses as they bounce along to the rhythms of cascading waterfalls and child-sized fountains featuring a menagerie of creatures. A bamboo maze and a dripping cave provide an element of discovery and surprise. Hidden bugs wait to be spotted in the architecture, set to the backdrop of colorful mosaic tiles. Many of our guests have been bringing their children here for years, and adults who came here when they were young still fondly recall how much fun it was to explore this wonderland. After all, what better place to grow up than in a garden?

A Bit of History

From the late 1980s until 2007, our Indoor Children’s Garden has taken different design forms, always with the goal of delighting our younger guests with thoughtful design and captivating visuals. Our teams traveled the country learning about what kids liked, speaking with them directly while they visited children’s museums, gardens, and zoos. In 2007, as a part of our restoration of the East Conservatory, we debuted the new Indoor Children’s Garden, honoring founder Pierre S. du Pont's (1870-1940) dream of welcoming children into a stimulating realm showcasing plants and water features. 

Our Indoor Children’s Garden is rooted in a concept developed in Europe during the mid-1800s. Initially, most children’s gardens were seen as utilitarian spaces for learning and producing food, and by 1905, there were more than 100,000 such gardens in Europe.  During the rise of industrialization in the United States at the turn of the century, public and private gardens were, in a word, blossoming. 

Today, most children’s gardens are seen as places for learning and discovery, teaching youngsters the benefits of nutrition, the natural world, and the importance of biodiversity and preservation. Children are encouraged to engage using all the senses, building an early appreciation for beauty, texture, form, and color. We are happy to provide such a space at Longwood, where the importance of horticulture and beauty can start early in the lives of our youngest guests.