One spectacular weekend getaway.
Meet Pam and Will. They’re professionals from NYC, both working long hours in the publishing business. They enjoy music, good food and late mornings.
Meet Jason and Jen, Will’s friends from college who now live in the Virginia suburbs. Jason is a computer tech; Jen a nutritionist. They enjoy an active lifestyle, the great outdoors and craft beer.
They haven’t seen each other in years.
They all need a break from the day-to-day.
Start the clock on 48 hours in Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.
Will and Pam skip out of work just in time to catch the 4 p.m. Amtrak Acela out of Penn Station in New York, and arrive at Wilmington's Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station an hour and a half later. First things first – they’re in charge of renting a car for the weekend. There’s a Zipcar parked right outside the station, but they opt for a great weekend deal from one of the rental agencies inside.
Jason and Jen plan to arrive later, so Will and Pam go on to dinner without them – at Chelsea Tavern, just a few blocks down on Market Street. They split a bottle of Dogfish Head Oak Aged Noble Rot over an order of house-made pretzel crullers and pork belly mac ‘n’ cheese.
Jason and Jen arrive from DC on Amtrak, just in time to meet up with their friends for a classic Kinks show at The Queen Wilmington, the century-old, beautifully restored music hall in downtown Wilmington. The women move up to the front of the stage to dance, while the guys catch up at the bar in the back.
Everyone’s a little hungry for a late snack. Across the street, Merchant Bar is just getting going with DJs spinning tunes and bartenders rocking out drinks, and the kitchen is still open. An order of mussels and frites, crispy lamb meatballs and Merguez sausages and beer fondue, and all is good.
Jason and Jen tap out after a long day and head to the hotel, but Will and Pam have heard about a spot called Nomad, where jazz plays until last call. They do not return to the hotel until well after last call. Thankfully, Uber is there to pick them up.
Your Weekend Guide
Jason and Jen awake with a plan. After a cup of Brandywine Coffee Roasters coffee at the BrewHaHa in Trolley Square, they’re at the door waiting for Trolley Bikes to open. Fully fitted out with two rental bikes for the day, they head north up Pennsylvania Avenue and into Greenville.
Will and Pam are not awake.
Five miles and about a half hour later, Jason and Jen bike past the rolling green hills of the scenic Kennett Pike and arrive at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, where they can lock up their bikes and spend a couple hours walking around the 60 acres of carefully cultivated gardens and wild woodland.
Will and Pam are awake, and they also have a plan. It starts with croissants and crepes at De La Coeur Café et Patisserie, and then on to the day’s main event – a couples pedicure and massage at the Inn at Montchanin Village & Spa, where they lounge around in plush bathrobes just a little longer than they need to.
Jason and Jen are back on the bikes for another two miles up to Centreville, where they stop into Buckley’s Tavern for a late lunch outdoors on the rooftop deck. It’s an easy ride, mostly downhill, from here into Wilmington.
Will and Pam return to the Wilmington Riverfront, taking a walk through the ornamental gardens and around ponds of the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, then down the riverside path toward shops and restaurants – stopping at Riverwalk Mini Golf to play a round. Loser buys ice cream at the end.
Everyone meets up, as planned, at Constitution Yards, the Wilmington Riverfront’s newly opened beer garden. The couples sip craft beers while playing corn hole and deciding on where to go for dinner.
It’s back to Trolley Square, where many restaurants lead to much debate. They settle on Piccolina Toscana, where they order and share a series of small plates – risotto cakes, hearth-baked ricotta, grilled octopus, and a small pizza topped with figs, gorgonzola, pancetta and truffle honey. Jen does not want to share her pizza.
Jen just heard about a place across the street, behind Catherine Rooney’s Irish Pub – a blank door with no sign outside. A ring of the bell, and they’re inside Trolley Square’s speakeasy, Hummingbird to Mars, where the summer cocktail menu has just made its debut. Three Corpse Revivers and one Garden Party Punch ordered, they settle in on a plush sofa to enjoy the music.
It’s brunch time. Everyone jumps into the car to head out to Deerfield, where 111 feet of “brunchy goodness” await them, including rack of lamb, peel-and-eat shrimp, Millionaire’s Bacon and Deerfield’s unmissable bread pudding.
A trip over to Newark gives everyone a chance to walk off brunch and reminisce, as the college crowd just starts to appear on the streets. Shops are open and brunch is still in full swing, with not a bit of outdoor seating available. Jason ducks into The Delaware Growler and comes out with three jugs of locally brewed craft beer to take home.
The ride back to the train station in Wilmington goes right past the Christiana Mall and the Christiana Fashion Center, where everyone wants to stop for some tax-free shopping. Nordstrom. Nordstom Rack. The Apple Store. Cabela’s. REI. They divide to conquer – Jen and Pam on a loop through the mall, Will and Jason in a direction that lets them catch a movie at Cinemark XD.
Car returned. Goodbyes said. Memories made. Everyone’s back on Amtrak, refreshed, restored and in need of a bit of a nap.
Start making your Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley getaway plans with a free Visitor Guide.