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? 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.
Here are 21 experiences you can find in Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley...
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 James Beard nominated chefs have brought their culinary talents to the area, including 2019 “James Beard Best New Restaurant” semi-finalist Bardea Food + Drink. Add in DE.CO, the Wilmington area’s first food hall, and the HOTEL DU PONT’s award winning restaurant, Le Cavalier at the Green Room, honoring the deep equestrian tradition of the Brandywine River Valley … 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.
Relive the Past Decade with the Delaware Art Museum
For more than a century, the Delaware Art Museum has served the Greater Wilmington community … collecting and connecting thousands of objects to the styles and cultures of centuries past. Through the new “Collecting and Connecting: Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020”, visitors are welcome to sample the past ten years’ additions and gain insight into the “how” and “why” the museum collects the pieces they do. As part of this exciting new exhibition, complex stories are told, and questions are answered. This exhibit begins March 13, 2021 and runs through September 12, 2021.
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.
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!
Visit Six Gardens within 12 Miles
Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley is conveniently located within America’s Garden Capital. In this region, you will find over 30 public gardens, arboreta, 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.
Explore Two Greater Wilmington Attractions in One
This year, the Delaware Museum of Natural History is going through some major renovations. So much so, that they will be returning in early 2022 as the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science. Until their doors open again, the museum has partnered with Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library to bring events and programs to its visitors. Read more about this here.
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.
Go with the Flow
Whether you call it a river or a creek, nothing cools down a warm summer day like a trip down the historic Brandywine. Bring your own boat or rent a canoe, kayak or tube and make your way downstream on this natural lazy waterway. Local rental companies can drop you off for six- or 12-mile journeys. The quiet Brandywine River is only about 3 feet deep most of the year, and trips are friendly for both pets and children as young as 5 years old. Along the way you’ll pass covered bridges, historic mills, and parts of the new First State National Historical Park.
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.
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.
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.
Explore a Hidden Gem
Wilmington’s Riverfront is chock full of surprising adventures. One hidden gem is the DuPont Environmental Education Center. These 212 acres of freshwater tidal marsh are home to a wide variety of migrating species including: American Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers and Wood Ducks. But bird watching isn’t the only highlight at this wildlife refuge. DEEC, open to the public year-round, features a Visitor Center with panoramic views of the river and marsh, a 10-acre ornamental garden, and a quarter-mile pond loop. This attraction also serves as a trailhead access point to the 7-mile-long Jack A. Markell, or “JAM,” bike/hike trail from Wilmington to historic New Castle.
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.
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.
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. We highly recommend Cowboy Monkey Rodeo night! Just across the river in the brand new, 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.
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. Given the current situation, tickets will be sold in zones (2-4 people per zone) to keep guests socially distanced and masks must be worn while on board.
Take a Covered Bridge Roadtrip
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.
Blow Off Some Steam
Wilmington & Western Railroad, one of the East Coast’s premier scenic railroads, has taken hundreds of thousands of visitors on train trips that travel over tracks dating back to the 1870’s. Take a ride that explores the beauty of the Red Clay Creek Watershed, or hop aboard one of the many themed rides such as the Princess Express, the Great Train Robbery or the Santa Express. This year, while on board, face coverings must be worn and train windows must remain open for fresh air flow throughout the ride.
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. At last count, there were 15 breweries, distilleries and meaderies in northern Delaware an afternoon spent exploring them can start … anywhere you want. 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.
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.
Have yourself a Presidential Adventure
The newly appointed POTUS just so happens to have called Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley home since the age of 10. #46 has left quite a footprint on the First State. He is well known for his love of comfort food and his love of all things Delaware. Politics aside, it’s pretty cool to catch a glimpse of “Uncle Joe” even if now it is just a brief glimpse of the motorcade. See more with our presidential guide here.