I must confess I am not much of a beach goer. Sitting on a beach all afternoon is not my thing. I love going for a walk on the beach, swimming in the waves or enjoying a beach bonfire, but you won’t find me sitting there all day. So I am often on the lookout for beach day alternatives. Today I found my new go to spot: LongHouse Reserve. I was shocked to learn that this rarefied location has been on offer for a quarter century and I only just heard of it last year! I had this place on my “Grab a Group and GO There” list all summer, but only got around to it today. Today’s group will be the first of many to go with me to this experiential slice of perfection.
What is it? LongHouse Reserve is a 16 acre amalgamation of gardens and art. It is also Jack Larsen’s private home and it is beyond generous of him to share his home with the public. Every aspect of these grounds were meticulously master minded to induce an immediate inner calm – even in the children. One tours the gardens in a circle of sorts. With each and every turn there is a new and pleasing visual delight.
I don’t know about your hydrangeas, but mine are starting to look a little tired. Not Mr. Larsen’s! His are bursting with life and vibrant with color, as is the festival of green plantings that are so pervasive on his property.
Art installations are found throughout the 16 acres. Blue glass blown by Chuhilly stands proudly next to Peter’s pond. A giant chess set by Yoko Ono (don’t touch it – even though you want to). A giant spire of fabric called Axis for Peace by Mary Yagi. And you know how museums can be a little stingy with their sitting areas? Mr. Larsen’s garden is not. He offers a variety of inviting, whimsical, and eclectic rest areas. He wants you to sit, to ponder, and absorb. So we did… for two hours.
The kids were never once bored. In fact they stayed quite busy checking off all of the items on the scavenger hunt pamphlet that was handed to them upon arrival.
Towards the end of our visit we gathered on the grassy knoll that surrounds the Axis for Peace. The children rolled down the hill with their gangly, growing bodies. They raced around the circumference of the knoll. They sat and they stared off into the distance. Afterwards we were supposed to reconvene at another location for dinner. Instead we went home wanting to keep that inner calm for just a bit longer. Thank you LongHouse, my group will be back.
If you decide to go check the calendar to make sure it is open. In August the reserve is open from 2pm to 5pm on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is $10 for adults and free for kids 12 and under. Though today they said FREE for students so all the kids got in at no charge. Plan to spend at least 90 minutes probably more.