The Spirit of Christmas
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The Spirit of Christmas

This one-day itinerary celebrates the holiday spirit in Greater Wilmington and the scenic Brandywine Valley and features visits to three decorated estates, dinner in a country inn and, of course, a little time for shopping -all within 10 miles. These activities are available from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.

hagley christmasThe day begins at Hagley Museum and Library, where the du Pont story began in 1802. Elegant decorations in the family's original home and elsewhere on the picturesque 235-acre riverside property will inspire you. From the explosive demonstrations of DuPont gunpowder to the fascinating stories of how the du Ponts made their fortunes, Hagley guides weavetales of holiday times in the Brandywine Valley.

Forty boutiques arejust a mile from Hagley. Standouts for a light lunch in Greenville Center, Greenville Crossing and Powder Mill Square include the very elegant Pizza by Elizabeths,coffee and more at Brew Ha Ha! and grill fare at the Brandywine Brewing Company and Cromwell's. The local carriage trade for decades has relied upon the Enchanted Owl for fine gifts, Janssen's Market for gourmet foods and the Wilmington Country Store for sophisticated style. Also in these plazas:Apropros for stationery, Houpette for cosmetics, Something's Unique for furnishings and Chico's, Ellie, Francesca's Collection, Lolita, Oranges & Lemons, Peter Kate for fashion, Cosi, Jos. A Bank, Talbots, Ten Thousand Villages,and White House / Black Market.  And remember, Delaware has no sales tax.

Winterthur, founded by Henry Francis du Pont, is the premier museum of American decorative arts,reflecting both early America and the du Pont family's life here. In the special Yuletide tour, visitors experience traditions of the past and dazzling holiday entertaining displays.

Longwood ChristmasThen it's time for an earlydinner at Buckley's Tavern, where Rolls Royces rub wings with pick-uptrucks in the parking lot. The Buckleys started running the tavern in 1951, and today's menu features updated versions of classic dishes. A fireplace and wood paneling reflects the charm of the building, which dates to 1817.

Longwood Gardens, the former estate of Pierre S. du Pont, counts 11,000 types of plants on 1,077 acres of formal gardens, idea gardens, meadows and woodlands. The four-acre Conservatory shelters 20 indoor gardens, including the Orchid Display, Indoor Children's Garden, Cascade Garden and Mediterranean Garden. The Christmas spectacular includes 500,000 lights, dancing fountains that reach to the sky,the richest floral display imaginable and special performances throughout theholidays.

This itinerary is available from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.

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