As winter’s grip loosens, it’s time to stow away the parkas and snow shovels and outside for some spring and summer fun! Whether you’re planning a spring couples escape, a summer getaway with old friends or a relaxing escape without kids, Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley will rejuvenate you. Renowned for its cultural attractions, glorious gardens, elegant mansions, and superb museums, the greater Wilmington area offers a trove delights. Best of all, the 12 must-visit destinations discussed below can all be visited at discounted prices when you purchase a Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport.
Located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens easily belongs in the pantheon of America’s greatest gardens. It features breathtaking horticulture displays, majestic fountains, and stellar performances. The 2020 event season promises to be something special, marked by four outstanding season displays, including everyone's favorite A Longwood Christmas, but the real showstopper splashes all summer long - Longwood's Festival of Fountains. This magnificent display rivals any on Earth with its beauty and ingenious application of leading-edge technologies and design. Fountain shows run daily starting May 7, 2020 with illuminated, themed evening shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the summer season’s extended hours.
Modeled after Versailles, the regal Nemours Mansion is the former home of Alfred I. du Pont and his second wife, Alicia. The gardens draw from the stunning work of French sculptors Prosper Lecourtier and Henri Crenier, and experts consider Nemours to be the finest French-style gardens in America. Visitors can enjoy the 300-acre property, including gardens, mansion, fountains, artwork, gilded sculpture and chauffeur's garage, with collection of vintage automobiles, on a self-guided tour with interpreters stationed at key locations.
Mt. Cuba Center
Featuring tranquil ponds, a scenic meadow, and historic formal gardens, Mt. Cuba Center has been a home for conservation and preservation since the 1930s. Sit back and admire trees along the Dogwood Path, and discover the inspiring beauty of native plants at this botanical garden. Or head to the South Garden to lose yourself in a marvelously engineered display that pays homage to the rich color palette of all four seasons.
Located on 235 acres along the banks of the Brandywine River, Hagley Museum and Library is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E.I. du Pont in 1802. This shining example of early American industry features indoor and outdoor exhibitions, including restored mills, a workers community, and the ancestral home and garden of the du Pont family. Which is more of a draw: the fascinating historical treasures or the restorative vistas of the River? You tell us!
Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library
Founded by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur’s premier collection of American decorative arts reflects both early America and the du Pont family’s life at this exquisite estate. Enjoy tours of the house, an incredible 60-acre naturalistic garden, special exhibitions, shopping, dining, and a transporting experience that will refresh body and soul. Beginning February 29, 2020 guest to the museum can explore the new exhibition, Re-Vision 20/20: Through a Woman's Lens; a celebration of the 100th anniversary you of the 19th amendment this exhibition looks at objects in the Winterthur galleries through the lens of women’s stories, recognizing the everyday women who forged a better path for themselves. And beginning April 14, 2020 explore Winterthur's Lady of the House, - an exhibition dedicated to the vivacious social figure, talented musician, and hostess of four houses, Ruth Wales du Pont.
Delaware Museum of Natural History
The Brandywine Valley offers more than just pastoral gems. Why not also immerse yourself in the wonders of the natural world at The Delaware Museum of Natural History? Experience an African watering hole, view a giant squid, and encounter a jaguar face-to-face. Gallery highlights also include the only permanent dinosaur collection in Delaware, a simulated coral reef, a Science in Action paleontology lab, and touring national exhibitions. The kids, if you thought to bring them on your getaway—no obligation, of course!—will love it.
Brandywine River Museum of Art
Just a few miles outside of Wilmington, through the rolling hills, Brandywine River Museum of Art is home to an outstanding collection of American art. The former 19th-century mill now includes a modern steel and glass addition overlooking the banks of the Brandywine River. Renowned for its holdings of the Wyeth family of artists, the museum features galleries dedicated to the work of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. Through June 7, 2020 experience Votes for Women: A Visual History, an once-in-a-lifetime exhibition that examines the visual culture of the suffrage movement, revealing how the "look" of women's rights developed and important visual strategies that propelled the campaign.
Delaware Art Museum
Founded in 1912 in memory of artist Howard Pyle, the Delaware Art Museum is best known for its large collection of British Pre-Raphaelite art, illustrations by Howard Pyle, and urban landscapes by John Sloan. Don’t miss the outdoor sculpture gardens for some attention-grabbing three-dimensional pieces! And, running March 21 through September 6, 2020 enjoy Layered Abstraction: Margo Allman & Helen Mason and exhibition celebrating two women who have dedicated their artistic careers to exploring the infinite possibilities of abstraction.
Read House & Gardens
Located in Historic New Castle, Delaware second only to Williamsburg, VA in the number of authentic Colonial-style buildings, this twenty-two room Federal mansion is surrounded by one-and-a-half acres of formal gardens. Seasonal adornments make the house an enchanting place to visit year-round. Check out the museum gift shop, which specializes in Delaware gifts, souvenirs, and nostalgic toys. And before you rush off, consider spending the whole day immersing yourself in the town—a National Historic Landmark district with ties to William Penn himself. Tour the cobblestone streets, the town green, Jessop's Tavern, a local Tippling House or two, the Court House Museum and the historic, 1707 New Castle Presbyterian Church.
Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley
The Delaware Contemporary
The Delaware Contemporary is a dynamic gathering place for the exploration of new ideas at the intersection of art, design, and technology. Located on the Wilmington Riverfront, each year, the museum presents 30 exhibitions of regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized artists.
Rockwood Museum and Park
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Rural Gothic mansion transports you to an earlier era through the Bringhurst family’s 20th century furnishings and photographs. Not to be missed, the Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s performance is held each summer in Rockwood Park. Audience members sit on blankets or lawn chairs and eat a picnic meal before the performance, and then watch as the actors bring the Bard to life.
Delaware History Museum and New Center for African American Heritage
The Delaware History Museum, which was once a Woolworth’s Department Store in downtown Wilmington, has evolved into one of the most fascinating educational attractions in all of Delaware; newly renovated, it houses the newly completed Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. The Mitchell Center for African American Heritage aims to collect, preserve, research, and present the history and heritage of Delaware’s African American community.
About Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley
Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley is in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region and less than a two-hour drive from both New York City and Washington. Steeped in American history and the legacy of the famed du Pont family, Greater Wilmington is a destination marked by sharp contrasts – town and garden, past and present, historic and hip. From renowned gardens, world-class museums, colonial towns, outdoor adventure, festivals and an ever-growing craft beer and restaurant scene, each experience is more vibrant, more unique and more authentic than the last.