Begin your adventure in Wilmington, Delaware, part of the Brandywine Valley! Located in the rolling hills and valleys of northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. Home to the du Pont family, world-class museums and gardens, award winning wineries, brewpubs and restaurants and so much more! Enjoy breathtaking scenery, and imagine these beautiful mansions during the Guilded Age at Christmas time!
Offered in December 2023
3 Days / 2 Nights
DAY 1 -
All visits to the Brandywine Valley, should include a visit to the Hagley Museum and Library, the original home of the du Pont family in America. Located along the picturesque banks of the Brandywine River, Hagley is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. You will visit the restored mills for a demonstration of how gun powder is made, a demonstration of the river water used to power the mill, see the Worker’s Community and tour the ancestral home of the du Pont family decorated for Christmas and the gardens of the du Pont family. A special presentation by Lucas Clawson, Hagley Historian, will be added for your group! Visit the Gingerbread Houses and vote on your favorites and don’t forget to visit the newest exhibit, NATION OF INVENTORS, with over 120 patent models from Hagley’s collection.
Lunch at one of the popular restaurants in the Brandywine Valley.
The Nemours Estate, listed as #3 out of 10 of the Best Gilded Age Mansions in the U.S. by House Beautiful in 2022. Alfred I. du Pont built this home for his second wife Alicia in 1907. The Visitor Center has a timeline of the du Pont family along with what was happening in the U.S. and the world, as well as a wonderful film on the life of Alfred I. du Pont. A shuttle driver narrates while transporting you from the Visitor Center through the grounds to the mansion. The home was built on
3,000 acres in the French neoclassical-style that Alicia adored. The are 105 rooms divided between four floors. Be sure to visit each floor! There are guides through out to answer all your questions and offer information about the du Pont family that once lived there. The lower level has a bowling alley, movie theater, and billiard room! The main floor is breathtaking, it is easy to imagine what it was like to live at Nemours! While visiting the bedrooms be sure to look out each of the
windows to see fabulous views of the gardens! The Christmas decorations add to the beauty of this must-see mansion. Don’t forget the chauffer’s garage and if there is time, walk through some of the garden!
Dinner at a local restaurant before your ride on the Wilmington and Western Railroad Holiday Lights Express. Delaware’s only historic rail line that still exists today as a rolling museum. The train departs from the historic Greenbank Station, where there is a gift shop and snack bar. As the decorated train rides through the Red Clay Valley, it takes you past beautifully decorated trackside homes. This train ride will bring out the holiday spirit in everyone! Return to the hotel for some rest!
DAY 2 -
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. The former home of Henry Francis du Pont will be decorated for Yuletide at Winterthur. You will arrive at the Visitor Center, where the first gift shop is located the other is located near the museum. The group will board a garden tram with the tram driver as your guide through the naturalistic gardens. You will learn about the farming, the library, the reflection pond, Winterthur Post Office and a Winterthur train station that once had daily stops, all on the property. You will see views of the 175-room mansion from every side. Once you arrive at the museum, you will have timed tickets for your guided tour. There are over 90,000 objects, dating from 1640 to 1860, containing American furniture, art, hand painted wall paper, doors, windows, fireplaces and more! It is truly amazing to see how these items have been used through out the mansion. Everyone loves to see the
beautiful staircase and you can just imagine the daughters of Henry Francis du Pont walking down those stairs on their wedding day! The Yuletide decorations make this lovely mansion so warm and inviting! Just imagine the parties they must have had there! The are other galleries to see too. Don’t miss the 18-room dollhouse and the Campbell Soup Tureens! Also, the second gift shop is located just across from the shuttle drop off/pick up. Lunch could be on your own at Winterthur’s Café.
Depart for the Brandywine River Museum of Art. In 1971 the Brandywine Conservancy opened the museum in the renovated Hoffman’s Mill, a former gristmill built in 1864 along the Brandywine River. The museum is known internationally for the collection of American art with primary emphasis on the art of the Brandywine region, American illustration, still life and landscape painting and the work of the Wyeth family. The art of N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth as well as other family members. At Christmas, the museum has a doll collection and train collection, along with the Christmas decorations that decorate the beautiful gristmill. The gift shop sells wonderful books and handmade critters that volunteers make using natural materials. The woods, fields, and roadsides near the Museum are the volunteer’s main resource for the Critter’s. Pine cones, acorns, milkweed cases, egg shells, dried corn cobs, dried yarrow, statis and other dried flowers. Each Critter is unique!
Late in the afternoon you will visit A Longwood Christmas, voted 2022 Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights by USA Today for the fifth year in a row! Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s premier horticultural display gardens. At Christmas time the gardens turn into a Christmas wonderland! Longwood has over 1,077 acres. Pierre du Pont opened the gardens to the public in 1921. Over the years the gardens have grown and continue to evolve with new additions! For A Longwood Christmas the decorating begins in August to place over 500,000 lights in 150 trees! It takes the team 3,000 hours to decorate the trees. If you stretch out the lights it would be 50 miles of lights! The Conservatory has 20 gardens that will have decorated trees, poinsettia plants, fountains and more! The outdoor
fountains will have colored lights on them as the water dances before your eyes! Don’t forget to walk to the Chimes Tower to see the miniature train exhibit. The tree houses will be decorated along the paths too! There is so much to see and of course there are places to have beverages, something to eat and a gift shop!
*This could be a night for dinner at Brandywine Prime after Longwood Gardens or dinner on their own within Longwood Gardens.
Back to the hotel to rest for another day in the Brandywine Valley!
DAY 3 -
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Today you will enjoy a guided history tour of the HOTEL DUPONT, a charter member of the Historic Hotels of America since 1989! See the exquisite interior craftsmanship rendered by French and Italian artisans, hear the stories of hotel, maybe even some famous guests and see the fabulous Christmas decorations! The glorious French Neoclassic Gold Ballroom, with its gilded rosettes, glittering chandeliers and hand carved and gilded bas-reliefs of famous women including Helen of Troy and Cleopatra, is amazing! Later cookie decorating with the Pastry Chef and Afternoon High Tea!
Time to depart for home!