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Gardens with QR Codes

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About a hundred miles from D.C., the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania plays home to Longwood Gardens, probably one of the most spectacular showcases of horticulture that side of the Mason-Dixon.

And they've kinda cornered the market on fountains, too.

Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Penn.) sits on 1,700 acres filled with woodlands, gardens and a wildflower meadow, plus more fountains than any other garden in the U.S.

The Main Conservatory also houses nearly 20 gardens on four acres, and it's all inside, making it a great winter destination when you're craving the sight of actual, living greenery. Visit between Nov. 24 and Jan. 8 to see extravagant lighting displays and Longwood landmarks transformed into a gingerbread wonderland.

And while Longwood obviously can do quaint, the place has also kept up with the times. QR codes (scan codes for smartphones) are displayed throughout the gardens for easy access to info about each plant.

Longwood also prides itself on sustainability -- they recycle, use natural materials and have eco-friendly flooring. Herbs, fruits and veggies grown in their Idea Garden are used in Longwood's 1906 Fine Dining Room. Local farmers also get into the mix, so if you're dining on site, you can expect the freshest food possible.

As for the basics:

Admission is $18 for adults (non-peak) and $8 for kids ages 5-18. Included in ticket prices are concerts, performances and fountain shows. To walk the entire 20-room conservatory at a leisurely pace takes about 60 to 90 minutes; if you're looking to swing by the 20 outdoor gardens, budget another two to three hours.

Timed admission is required for the holiday displays, and it's recommended that you order in advance.

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