Mt. Cuba Center
Mt. Cuba Center
4.5
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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About
Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden that inspires an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and a commitment to protect the habitats that sustain them. We have over 50 acres of display gardens and over 1000 acres of natural land.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
86 reviews
Excellent
61
Very good
18
Average
4
Poor
0
Terrible
3

AV9920
20 contributions
Sep 2021
Had I just explored the grounds of Mt. Cuba Center on my own, I would have been dissatisfied. I agree with others the $15 admission is pricey (especially when compared to other gardens in the DE/PA area where there are more plants/variety on display) even though the drive is lovely and the natural surroundings “transport” you away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Where Mt. Cuba excels, however, is in its education. I took the Garden Enthusiast tour. The docent herself was incredibly knowledgeable and was able to handle almost all questions from the seasoned gardeners in the groups. For only $4 more, the tour gave me a much greater appreciation not only for the grounds, but insight into Mt. Cuba’s mission of native plants and conservation efforts. (Where else do visiting scientists count how many pollinators frequent a particular flower in the heat of summer to determine if the plant should be added to the gardens collection or not?)

If you do visit, I highly recommend you either go at a time when other events are occurring to get a better bang for your buck (check out their calendar of events), or take one of the many classes they offer in the main house – e.g. gardening classes, certificate courses, art classes, etc,
Written September 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi there! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us! We are so happy to hear you enjoyed your Garden Enthusiast Tour and hopefully got a chance to learn about native plants, our research, and more through our knowledgeable docents. I will be sure to pass along your kind words to our docents! We hope you come back to visit us again soon and agree that coming for a class or event is a great opportunity to learn something new, but also get a chance to explore the gardens as well!
Written September 28, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Hollis P
Westampton, NJ314 contributions
Aug 2020 • Couples
The gardens at Mount Cuba Center are gorgeous. The staff has adopted best practices for keeping visitors safe, as we learn to live with the coronavirus. Tickets are purchased on line, there is a one-way path to view the various sections of the property, masks are required and of course everyone remains six feet apart. The restrooms are immaculate and can be used without touching any surfaces. Hand sanitizer and wipes are available. The picnic area was closed on the day we visited. We just ate in the car. Anyone needing to get out for a bit will find a visit to Mount Cuba Center will brighten your mood and restore your soul.
Written August 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Marsha12
Philadelphia, PA28 contributions
Oct 2020
The gardens are incredible, despite the fact that we saw them in the Fall, when gardens are not often at their most exciting. What made the visit especially interesting was a walk with Docent Alan. His knowledge of native plants and history of the area was fascinating. Who knew there were so many varieties of native plants with fascinating life stories!

We can't wait to be back in the spring to see yet another season. We hope that we will be lucky enough to see Alan again.

The staff were very accommodating and thoughtful. They made sure that our visit was exactly as we had hoped.
Written November 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

649001
Springfield232 contributions
Jul 2021
It is just a park. I would not even say there is a "formal garden". The only thing worth to see is the gate which is a piece of art. Other than that there is nothing much to see. There should not be an entrance fee ($15). If you happen to be nearby,and would like to have walk, you can do it. But Mt. Cuba Center does not worth a trip to it.
Written July 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi there– We appreciate your feedback from your visit to our gardens. We are sorry to hear we didn’t meet your expectations in our formal garden but are happy to hear you enjoyed seeing our iconic gate on your drive onto our property. We pride ourselves on our naturalistic gardens and woodland paths, which highlight plants native to our region. Our mission is to inspire and empower people to become conservators of our natural habitats. We put a great emphasis on our conservation efforts through land preservation, research, and education. We hope you’ll visit us again in the future for one of our public events, education classes, or guided tours. If you’d like to share more about your experience, please email us at info@mtcubacenter.org -The Mt. Cuba Center Team
Written July 9, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Samba
Sanibel Island, FL339 contributions
Aug 2022 • Couples
We realized that we go very near the Mt. Cuba Center when we travel between Cape May, NJ and Lititz, PA. So we decided to stop and take a look.

What a delight for the eyes.

And the nose.

And the ears.

This beautiful land is a sensual delight.

It is perfect in every way and that is no accident. The attention to detail is remarkable on such a large property and goes well beyond the plantings and landscaping.

Staff at the center are welcoming and helpful. They have anticipated every possibility for a visit. The day we did a very long walk in very intense heat; we were given a phone number to call if we ran into any problems. They keep a car and driver in the ready should you need assistance. Remarkable!

But we were fine and rather than heat stroke we were awe-struck by the appealing gardens, gorgeous topography and dancing Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail Butterflies.

Amazing 2+ hour visit.
Written August 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Samba, Thank you so much for your glowing review! We are happy to hear you enjoyed your first (hopefully not last) visit to Mt. Cuba Center. We are so happy you beat the heat and enjoyed walking through our gardens and experiencing all that it offers. Hope you will visit us again soon during one of our upcoming fall events like a hayride, Nature Play Day, or Tree Festival!
Written August 9, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Boombafam
Philadelphia, PA71 contributions
Jun 2015 • Couples
I was hoping for a 5-star experience. Unfortunately, I didn't get it.

I do NOT recommend a tour, unless you are an industry professional. I do NOT recommend bringing kids. The tour absolutely will bore kids to death (as well as most adults), & it is doubtful that the people who manage this place would tolerate the temperament/behavior of children.

Before I go on, let me explain that my grandfather created & maintained a 400-tree holly orchard for over 50 years. I grew up on the orchard when my parents bought it, & helped my grandfather with the trees all the time. He developed hybrids, etc. Horticulture was not his career, nor his life, but he was an active member of the Holly Society, the PA Horticultural Society, & taught horticulture courses at a nearby trade school. He also showed at the Flower Show in Philly (in the 80's, before it became a commercial mess). I have been to Holly Society meetings with him; helped him give tours of our orchard for Scott Arboretum (who took his cuttings for the arboretum), etc. I know local horticultural people, & I have my own interest & knowledge in it. That said, I felt this tour was extremely tedious + arcane, & should have been advertised as a horticultural lecture for degree holders, rather than a walk-n-talk around the property.

Some examples:

I do not need to know all the steps of the long & laborious 7-year propagation process for Trillium.

I do not need to know the pruning method used on the hedges.

I do not need to know the construction details of the mulch path (a substrate layer of gravel, french drains, landscaping fabric). Knowing how to construct a garden path, I would assume that was the case whether she told me or not, but really, who cares?

I do not need to know what moss is weeded with tweezers. (Ridiculously high-maintenance for a "Natural" garden & NOT worth it.)

None of this was Q&A.

I was hoping just to enjoy walking on the path, be told some basic history about the Copeland family, have a few noteworthy species pointed out, have the docent answer questions, & that's it. Instead, it was layer upon layer of tedious info, shuffling along, two steps at a time, & then standing for a 10-minute lecture, repeat x12. NOT my idea of fun.

If you have any physical issues, you will suffer. I have back & foot issues; I can jog or walk for miles with no issue, but the stop-&-stand is miserable for me. While there were numerous seating areas, we were never invited to sit (I sat anyway). Even in very comfortable clothes, orthotics, + sneakers, I was in total pain by the end.

Everyone else in our tour group was a good 30+ years older than us, & my husband & I were pretty put off by how everyone else seemed to want to compete/impress each other over their grasp of native species, in a competitive and judgmental way. It was not friendly how these people acted, and it was very unsettling to us, especially for a guide and patrons who supposedly enjoy gardens so much, and especially as we walked through one.

It was just NOT for us.

As stated, we opted to visit on a tour day. What they did NOT explain on the website, & what they really ought to explain, since it is pretty unusual, is that if you go on a tour day, you are NOT permitted to walk freely about the gardens on your own. REPEAT, if you go on a tour day, you are NOT permitted to walk freely about the gardens on your own. This means that if you planned your day to spend a few hours there, it's too bad for you, b/c after the 2-hour tour, they will kick you out.

Why? Because they have to weed with tweezers?

If you go on a non-tour day, you are permitted to walk freely, & that is the only option. But for some reason, if you pay for a tour, you are then told to leave. This makes no sense & is completely inhospitable. It is also exasperating, especially when you find it out after you planned your whole trip for a longer visit (+ called + emailed ahead, & no one said a word about these odd limitations).

So as my husband & I went to part company with our tour today, in order to explore on our own, our guide, Nancy, rudely demanded,"Where are you going?" as if we were kindergartners.

Wondering what her problem was, I patiently explained we were headed outside to look around some more. Oh no, Nancy made sure to bluntly tell us that is absolutely NOT permitted, & all visitors need to fill out a survey, & then leave.

Mandatory surveys? Who does that? Ew. We should have declined, but when you're in the quiet hallway with 6 others obediently completing their cards, the middle school pressure is on. Needless to say, our reviews, while kinder than they should have been, were not favorable.

Really? My husband & I take a day off, we suffer through a 2hr tour of digression in 90-degree heat, half in the sun, unable to move b/c we're having to listen to the details of how the mulch path was laid, & then you tell us we can't go walk around at our leisure?

Maybe next visit (without a tour) will be better?
Written June 15, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
We are sorry that you did not enjoy your recent visit. We encourage you to return to Mt. Cuba Center on a general admission day, especially during one of our Second Saturday events, to enjoy the gardens with your family. We would like to offer you complimentary general admission tickets and hope that you return again in the future. Thank you for your feedback.
Written June 17, 2015
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

AlpinerHut
Chantilly, VA1,226 contributions
Oct 2020
Best botanical gardens in the U.S., according to a 2020 poll? I don't think Mt. Cuba Center is even the best botanical gardens in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Don't get me wrong: the gardens around the former home of Lammot du Pont Copeland (great-great grandson of DuPont company founder E. I. du Pont) are beautiful; they just don't compare to the beauty of nearby Winterthur and Longwood Gardens. And I'm allowing for the fact that I saw all of these gardens in late October, when none are likely at their peak.

Mt. Cuba Center has a small Formal Garden near the Colonial Revival-style manor house (closed to tours during the covid-19 pandemic), but where it shines is in the natural gardens surrounding it and, beyond those, the more than 500 acres of hills, streams and forests. As a display garden, Longwood Gardens was more spectacular; as a naturalistic garden, Winterthur Garden was more expansive and seemed more diverse. But the most enjoyable walk we had? Right here at Mt. Cuba Center, because of the manageable scale and the pleasantness of hiking the uncrowded Woods Path, the Pond Path, the Meadow and the Dogwood Path. 

TIPS:

* Time your visit for peak bloom periods. Go when the dogwoods are in bloom, when the azaleas are in bloom, etc.

* Check the center's schedule. We showed up on a Tuesday and discovered Mt. Cuba Center is closed on Tuesdays. It's also closed from December through March.

* The paths are well-maintained and easily walked, without difficult climbs or rock-and-root obstacles. 
Written November 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi AlpinerHut – We appreciate your feedback and great tips on when to visit our gardens. Thank you for sharing your review! We are sorry to hear we didn’t meet your expectations for “Best Botanical Garden in North America,” which was awarded to us by USA Today readers. While we may not have as expansive displays as some of our peers in America’s Garden Capital and the Brandywine Valley, we pride ourselves on our naturalistic gardens and woodland paths, which highlight plants native to our region. Our mission is to inspire and empower people to become conservators of our natural habitats. We put a great emphasis on our conservation efforts through land preservation, research, and education. Currently, we are expanding our footprint and working on several enhancements. We hope you’ll visit us again in the future when these enhancements are complete and our Natural Lands are opened for visitation, which will allow guests to explore more of our 1,000+ acres of naturalistic landscapes. If you’d like to share more about your experience, please email us at info@mtcubacenter.org. -The Mt. Cuba Center Team
Written December 2, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Stephanie S
12 contributions
Apr 2014 • Couples
You have no idea how long it is going to take, and you come to the entrance stated on the website, and the person directs you to take two left hand turns. The first one, blocked by a police officer that waves you down the next one. The next one has a sign says wildflower celebration, and then you go down the road, and see a parking lot across stream with no obvious entrance across the stream going left or right of the parking lot. Just some dead end roads, and if you go down another three miles, nothing shows up until you are at a road with no signs. If you want visitors, have maps at the main entrance of how to get to the parking lot. If you want visitors, give the police officer at the first left entrance a map so that he knows where to direct people. If you want visitors, make sure the "wildflower celebration" signs in the area say "Mount Cuba", and that each turn that you need to take has a sign that says straight or turn here a certain direction. We were low on gas, and no one was there to direct us. Place the parking within a mile of Mount Cuba. Or open it for visitors, or put more signs, or make a map. But don't leave people hanging. We ended up going to Longwood. Thank you.
Written April 28, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

windsurfer_2003
Piney Point, MD144 contributions
Sep 2017 • Couples
On first sight, you see a stately mansion with formal landscaping. Then you start to focus in on native plants. The tour guide explains how they have been transitioning to natives over time. He discusses design objectives and why certain non-natives are still in place. You get to see the test garden where Mt Cuba does research into native cultivars. And you get to see woodland and meadow habitats along the trails to one side of the property. A must see for any gardener.
Written November 26, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

teachme2read
Philadelphia, PA75 contributions
Sep 2015 • Couples
We visited Mt. Cuba on a lovely day in early September. Access to the center is well marked, parking is adequate and we were greeted by a docent right there at the lot. She told us of the tours, paths, videos and in general, what to expect as we walked through all of the areas. Use bug spray! Stay on the paths in order to protect all the plants. Take along a camera; there is so much beauty to be seen. We took a one hour tour with a docent, Scott, who was very informative. He was able to tell us about the plants in each of the types of gardens, explain how the garden was envisioned and developed and also told tidbits about how to carry home the inspiration we gathered from theses gardens. Once the tour was over ( the highlights left us wanting more time everywhere!) we had a picnic lunch in a shady glen complete with bench and small table, then started out again to revisit some areas and to look at new ones. The ponds were alive not just with plants, but frogs, a turtle and lots of birdsong. The meadow was covered with rudbeckias and elegant Indian grasses. Everywhere we looked, there was a beautiful plant, a burst of color ( phlox, aster, gentians and more) or a wonderful tree or shrub. We can't wait to go back to see the lilacs in bloom, the early wildflowers . Stop in the main house. The bathrooms are clean, the staff is welcoming and informative and it is air conditioned.. There is a short video that explains how the gardens were developed , the vision of the owners to have native plants, and how the center was opened to the public with a mission to educate and inspire. Inspired you will be!
Written September 5, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Mt. Cuba Center (Hockessin) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Mt. Cuba Center

Mt. Cuba Center is open:
  • Wed - Thu 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Fri - Fri 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Sat - Sun 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM