If you are looking for a change of scenery or just need a break from the same daily routine, Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley is your destination to get away from it all. We're close to home, yet worlds away; affordable but packed with options for everyone in your group.
Great food? Of course. Beautiful scenery? A given. Maybe an outdoor happy hour or two? Sold. Located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region, ours is an area that celebrates its rich history, is brimming with culture and is home to several of the most magnificent gardens on the East Coast. The city's first-class dining and craft brewery scene is ever evolving, there's always something surprising at the region's performing arts venues, and Delaware continues to expand trails for walkers, hikers and bicyclists alike.
It's everything you need to plan the perfect getaway. Hide out for the weekend here and rediscover the beauty of Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley.
Check out these 22 experiences you can only find in Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley...
1. Taste Wilmington’s Ever-Growing Food Scene
There’s no denying it – Greater Wilmington’s restaurant scene is getting hotter by the minute. A slew of new restaurants have popped up in the area, including the HOTEL DU PONT’s award winning restaurant, Le Cavalier at the Green Room, honoring the deep equestrian tradition of the Brandywine River Valley. Add in Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery and Wine Bar, a micro farm to table eatery with a creative cocktail menu, Wilma’s New Orlean’s cuisine with some duckpin bowling on the side and four new restaurants in the historic neighborhood of New Castle, Delaware… we’d say the flame just got a little hotter.
Many have even adapted and created cozy outdoor dining experiences for visitors to enjoy throughout any season of the year.
2. Learn from the Past and Take on the Future of the Delaware Natural History Museum
Over the past year and a half, Wilmington’s Delaware Museum of Natural History has taken on a huge metamorphosis. So much so they got a new name... Delaware Museum of Nature and Science. This new configuration of the well-known and treasured museum will bring new significance to the wonders of science in the natural world. With a new café, Paleozone, Evolution Trail and more, the Nature and Science Museum will spark creativity and curiosity for the littlest adventurers. Learn more about the evolution here.
3. See a Water and Fire Extravaganza
“Move over, Bellagio!” That’s what The Washington Post said about the Main Fountain Garden at Kennett Square’s Longwood Gardens. You have to see these fountains perform from the Conservatory to fully appreciate the dance of music, water and the occasional fire fountain, but it’s a must to go back for a second show and watch from the fountain terrace to feel the rush as 1,719 jets beneath the ground rocket streams of water 175 feet into the sky. To make your visit truly spectacular, catch one of the many special “Fireworks and Fountains” shows offered throughout the spring and summer months.
4. Explore the Delaware Outdoor Trail
The Delaware Outdoor Trail is an easy-to-follow passport style system leading visitors through outdoor activities in four categories: walking/hiking, wildlife viewing, biking and water activities. Find more than 60 different activities in over 40 different locations statewide. Be sure to check off a number of activities on the list with visits to Greater Wilmington locations such as Ashland Nature Center, Brandywine Creek State Park and Bellevue State Park!
5. Visit Six Gardens within 12 Miles
Yes, you read that correctly! Six gorgeous garden attractions within just a few miles of one another, all with ties to the du Pont family. Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley is conveniently located within America’s Garden Capital. In this region, you will find over 30 public gardens and historic landscapes within 30 miles – including six gardens that are within 12 miles of each other. See what’s in bloom and make plans to visit Brandywine River Museum of Art, Hagley Museum, Longwood Gardens, Mt. Cuba Center, Nemours Estate, and Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library.
6. From Winterthur to the White House
This spring brings an exhibition decorated with Presidential pride to Winterthur Museum. (Not in regard to the current Delaware Native in the White House) In 1961 an unusual partnership formed between First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Henry Francis du Pont. This duo took on the project of restoring the White House interiors from a public residence to a museum. For the first time, their story will be told. Through artifacts and archives the exhibition, beginning May 7, comes to life in the halls of Winterthur sharing with visitors the behind-the-scenes collaboration between the two during this captivating period in American history. Learn more about this exhibition here.
7. Watch for Birds
When the American Birding Association relocated their national headquarters to Delaware City, Delaware in 2014, they made it clear they were moving to be within one of American’s richest birding areas. Every year, thousands of rare songbirds, shorebirds and raptors migrate along the eastern seashore of Delaware, stopping at one of the state’s many natural habitats and wildlife areas to refuel for the journey. From the DuPont Environmental Education Center’s city refuge to Ashland Nature Center’s suburban hideaway to the coastal waterways and shores of Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Greater Wilmington offers a birding friendly environment that welcomes all to come watch.
8. The Delaware Art Museum Presents... Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection Exhibition
The Delaware Art Museum known for its Pre-Raphaelite collection and illustrations by Wilmington native Howard Pyle, is taking on a new exhibition this year featuring the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The exhibition showcased Tiffany’s innovative work in leaded and blown glass including examples of famous windows he designed. This collection will be on display in the museum March 12-June 5. To learn more visit delart.org/tiffany.
9. Get a National Park Stamp
Park enthusiast and Junior Rangers can check another state off their lists with a visit to the First State National Historical Park in Delaware, part of the National Park Service. The park encompasses historical sites like the New Castle Court House Museum where the Delaware Assembly first voted for independence), Old Swedes Church (built by Swedish and Finish settlers in 1699, and the oldest church in America still used for worship), and the grounds along Beaver Valley Road (1,100 acres of rolling hills and wooded areas located along the Brandywine River). Three NPS stamps can be collected in all – First State Cancellation Stamp, National Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom Stamp, and First State NHP Centennial Cancellation Stamp
10. Take a Historical Hike
Delaware is the only state that lies east of the Mason-Dixon Line. Discover the exact place where that historical line begins on the Tri-State Marker Trail. Take this 3.5-mile loop from the White Clay Creek State Park Nature Center to the Tri-State Marker – the point where Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland connect. About half of the trail is in Delaware. Continue another quarter mile, and you’ll find the Arc Corner Monument marking the place where the Arc of Delaware meets the Mason-Dixon Line – Delaware is the only state to have an arced or curved border.
11. Explore Greater Wilmington by Bike
Did you know Delaware is ranked the 6th most bicycle friendly state in the Nation, and 2nd on the East Coast? In the Greater Wilmington area alone, you’ll find over 120 miles of paved walking and biking trails – including three major interconnected trails that are part of the East Coast Greenway connecting 15 states, and 450 cities and towns for 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. For cyclist looking for a serious challenge, register for the annual Delaware Gran Fondo, a scenic multilevel ride that takes riders through the amazing Brandywine Valley countryside with special rider access to the grounds and private roads of 13 world-class cultural attractions.
12. Explore a Hidden Gem
Wilmington is chock full of surprising adventures. One hidden gem is the Brandywine Zoo, located just outside of downtown Wilmington by Brandywine Park. This zoo, small in nature but big in spirit, has been a staple in the area for more than 100 years. Open year-round, visitors and residents can explore and enjoy the animals in unique ways. From “Brew at the Zoo” on summer evenings to “Noon Year’s Eve” celebrations and visits from Santa the zoo is always keeping visitors on their toes. And, with the recent addition of the Madagascar exhibits the zoo has completed Phase Two of their reimagination. In 2022 they hope to continue working on Phase Three.
13. Drive Four Scenic Byways
Drive along the coast. Drive through the hills. Drive through history. On the scenic byways of Delaware and the Brandywine Valley, a drive can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as a lazy Sunday afternoon. Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway runs along Route 52 and Route 100 from the urban streets of downtown Wilmington to Delaware’s pastoral northern border. Red Clay Scenic Byway is made up of 28 secondary roads within the Red Clay watershed. Delaware’s Bayshore National Scenic Byway is two-lane Route 9 that winds its way through the largest coastal preserved marshland in the United States. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway traverses the State of Delaware and six landmarks that demonstrate the path Harriet and fellow escaping slaves took on their way to freedom in the north.
14. Press Your Luck at Slots, Table Games and Thoroughbred Racing
In season, the thoroughbreds race at Delaware Park four days a week. Afleet Alex and Kentucky Derby Winner Barbaro both won their debut races at this storied park. Before every race, you can visit the tree-lined horse paddock and watch from just a few feet away as jockeys mount potential Triple Crown contenders on their way to the track. Inside, the excitement heats up with over 2,300 slot machines, popular table games, year-round simulcast wagering, a 25-table Poker room, and Keno. Plus, Casino at Delaware Park offers full sports betting on all professional and college sports as well as an 18-hole championship public golf course.
15. See the Minor Side of Major League Sports
Taking the family to a major league sporting event can require a bank loan. So, why not catch some minor league action that’s packed with family fun and won’t hurt your plans for retirement? Greater Wilmington is home to two such teams… located on the Wilmington Riverfront are the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a perennial contender for the best Single-A baseball “good time” and the newly affiliated farm team of the Washington Nationals. Just across the river in the, 2,500 square foot Chase Fieldhouse, you’ll find the Delaware Blue Coats, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers G-League affiliate. Both venues will get you up close and personal with the action as well as the players. Ticket policies and procedures for upcoming seasons will be updated as time goes on.
16. Sail the Kalmar Nyckel
The original Kalmar Nyckel carried Peter Minuit and 24 other settlers to found the colony of New Sweden (now Wilmington) in 1638. Today, adventurers can still sail the Christina River as those original settlers once did on this faithful re-creation of the original ship when she’s in her home port of Wilmington. Take the kids for a pirate sail or bring a bottle of wine for a peaceful afternoon on the water. Check their sailing schedule for openings here. The season begins this spring.
17. Take a Covered Bridge Road Trip
If a trip off the beaten path sounds up your alley, then there’s nothing like a leisurely drive through the backroads of the Brandywine Valley. The scenery is gorgeous year-round, and the region is home to three covered bridges, each with their own unique history. This short route connects all three with stops along the way at hidden treasures perfect for the adventurous wanderer.
18. Blow Off Some Steam
The Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights is less than five minutes from the center of Hockessin and is the perfect attraction to visit for the antique car lover in your life. The museum itself features the world’s largest collection of operating Stanley steam cars, a 1916 electric car and two 1930s Packards. In addition, the Auburn Valley Railroad, with its 1/8th-size coal-fired steam train, circles the property giving passengers rides! The museum opens mid-March through December by appointment and for events such as Steamin’ Days where visitors can hop in historic automobiles and ride around the property. The museum even offers Model T driving lessons. One of the few in the country!
19. Quench Your Thirst for Craft
Delaware has long been known as a hotbed for craft beer innovation thanks to Dogfish Head Brewing, but the local beer scene goes far beyond that. With somewhere around 15 breweries, distilleries and meaderies located in northern Delaware, an afternoon spent exploring them can start … anywhere you want. Visiting the Brandywine Zoo? Stop in to Wilmington Brew Works! Checking out Wilmington’s Riverfront? Pop in to Liquid Alchemy Beverages. Exploring through Newark? Check out Autumn Arch Beer Project. And, if you’re making your way through the steam powered locomotives of the Marshall Steam Museum at Auburn Heights don’t forget to stop in to Dew Point Brewing Company!
Several are within just a few miles of each other. So, wherever you are in your travels, you’re near the start of an afternoon tasting tour of Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.
20. Learn About the Inventions We Use Everyday
Hagley Museum and Library is known for being the start of the du Pont family story here in Delaware. But, did you know the museum is also known for housing the world’s second-largest collection of Patent Models? Patent models are representations of inventions that were part of the patent submission process for nearly 100 years. This spring is your chance to see them up close and personal in Hagley’s Visitor Center. Pieces from the collection will be displayed on two floors, one of which features an area specifically for Women Inventors! From washing machines to duck blinds the technology of our everyday appliances formed from a model. Learn more about this new exhibition here.
21. Travel with Your Furry Family Members
With the urge to travel coming back with a vengeance, it’s only fair that your furry family members get a chance to #VisitWilm too. From dog-friendly restaurants like Grain Craft Bar & Kitchen and hotels like The Westin Wilmington, to Spas and Services at Riverfront Pets and catching the Blue Rocks play at Frawley Stadium, your pups are going to continue to bark for joy whenever you mention a weekend getaway to Greater Wilmington!
22. Shop till You Drop… Tax-Free
Only five states in the country have no sales tax, and only one of those is in the Mid-Atlantic region. No sales tax means just that – no tax on clothes, no tax on computers and no tax on the dinner and drinks at the end of a long day of shopping. But no tax is just the first reason to spend some time shopping in Delaware. From recently renovated shopping centers to never-renovated antique shops, from mega malls to Main Street boutiques to museum shops, you’ll find just what you’re looking for … and things you never knew you needed.