don't worry too much about the weather. we happened to arrive on a december day which was unseasonably warm (almost 60F!) and were thus able to do a bit of strolling through the grounds; but even when it's bitter cold or rainy, the two main conservatories are "the big show" christmas-wise, and can easily fill several happy hours; more if you are even a little bit into photography. (had i been in possession of the car keys, we might, even now, STILL be taking pictures in the orchid room ... three days after our arrival, lol!) (which is why i am never allowed to drive on these occasions!)
speaking of photography, yet another thing to ♥LOVE♥ about i-phone is the fact that my husband, who has never had any particular interest in wielding our "real" digital camera, suddenly enjoys taking pictures! this is quite a recent development, and i am really excited about it. as i edited the shots from this trip, i actually had the luxury of TWO totally different viewpoints! it amuses me that probably close to half the shots we took "overlap" (each of us having shot similar subjects) but the other half are completely different, and it's so interesting to see which things we each choose to record. for example, while i was taking this picture of the cactus room with a cool "xmas tree" built out of potted succulents...
...jeff was taking THIS photo of me taking that photo! :)
even if one is only planning to visit the conservatories, there is quite a bit of ground to cover at longwood. my mother-in-law is no longer able to do a great deal of walking, and we've had mixed results as to accessibility when visiting other public sites; but the longwood folks are BRILLIANTLY well-prepared to assist anyone who needs help!
there are enclosed golf-cart-style "shuttles" from the visitor center to the conservatories, in case of bad weather, or even for those who would just like to save the half-mile, gently-uphill walk. for those with their own wheelchairs, scooters, or strollers, the christmas displays are almost 100% accessible, and easy to navigate.
there are also wheelchairs and scooters available on-site for an inexpensive fee ($4 and $15, respectively, for the day) and that's what we chose. the motorized scooter we rented for mom was easy to operate, and she was able to manoeuvre it nearly everywhere that we were able to walk, with the exception of the dupont house, and inside the building which holds the restaurants; luckily there was "scooter parking" right outside, and neither required much of a walk!
speaking of restaurants, there are three on-site: the cafeteria, an informal cafe, and a fancier proper restaurant; they are all located in a building called "the terrace". i believe the two latter venues offer beer and wine as part of their menu; but we almost always choose the cafeteria, since it offers plenty of tasty selections and gets one in and out the most quickly. there are hot and cold sandwiches, entrees that vary each day, and some great choices for vegetarians; as well as many beverages, sweets, and side dishes.
no matter where you dine at longwood, you will be able to order some of their superb mushroom soup, and if you even vaguely care for such things i highly recommend it! it's quite rich, but if you pair it with one of the excellent fresh salads, your meal will not be too ruinous, plus, you're doing all that walking, so you can afford to splurge! :) but seriously, if you like mushrooms, you have to at least try it! (ultimate proof of its surpassing awesomeness: in a choice between it and dessert, i always choose the soup!!! this is not something a rabid sweet-tooth type like myself does every day!)
finally, save a little time at the end of your visit for the wonderful gift shop! it's not cheap, but the quality and selection of items is impressive, and (also true of the restaurants) the proceeds help support this wonderful non-profit organization. if you happen to like gardening, or christmas decorations, (or both!) you will definitely not be disappointed!
i hope you've enjoyed this little tour, especially since i think you may well be destined to get one EVERY year at christmas now, lol! again, i highly recommend the gardens at any time of year as being a fun day out, and if you're going to be in the area any time soon, be sure to check it out! ♥