You’ve probably heard Wilmington mentioned a lot in the national news of late. That’s because we are the hometown of a certain presidential candidate. Over the past several months, our little city played host to much of the Democratic National Convention and has served as home base for much of Joe Biden’s campaign.
So, what’s all the buzz about? Politics aside, we are a small city with a big heart located in Delaware, the second smallest state in the U.S. If you have never visited us … we bet you have driven through. Both Interstate 95 and Interstate 495 cut right through the heart of Greater Wilmington.
Now that the presidential race has brought the spotlight to Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, we wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about us.
We’ve got a lovely riverfront area just bursting with energy and excitement. If you have been here before but it has been a while, you will be amazed at the transformation that has taken place. We’ve also become quite the foodie destination … from old school eats like tomato pie (the Italian kind) and the special crab sauce you can’t really find anywhere outside of Wilmington to culinary trend setters like Bardea Food & Drink and Le Cavalier at the Green Room to our growing number of microbreweries and wineries.
There’s also our rich history. Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. constitution (that’s where our moniker “The First State” comes from), and historic New Castle was where William Penn first set foot on the New World. When people visit New Castle for the first time, they are often surprised that our state has architecture that dates back as far as it does. Its oldest structure, the Dutch House, was built between 1664 and 1682.
Then there is the legacy of the du Pont family. You cannot come to Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley without experiencing it. Titans of industry, the du Pont family arrived here from France in the early 1800s and made its mark in gunpowder manufacturing on the shores of the Brandywine Creek. The business eventually expanded into many different industries including auto manufacturing, synthetic polymers and biotechnology to name a few. In Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, the du Ponts are as well known for their philanthropy and preservation efforts as they are for their corporate prowess. Many of their grand mansions have been transformed into award-winning botanic gardens and estate museums.
America’s first family of art, the Wyeths, also left its mark on the Brandywine Valley. Three generations of Wyeths drew inspiration from the stunning scenery of our region and captured it in their art. You can see many of their most noted works at the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
Located between New York and Baltimore/Washington, we’re easy to reach from just about anywhere by car. You can also reach us by Amtrak. You may have heard of Wilmington’s Amtrak station in the news recently, too. It has been made famous by Joe Biden, who rode from this station to Washington and back for 36 years. It’s how he earned the nickname “Amtrak” Joe. In 2011, the station was renamed after the then- Vice President Biden.
Ready to pay us a visit? To get you started on your getaway planning, we’ve jotted down a few insider tips on what to see and experience in our hometown. For more insider information, visit our blog.
Places to Explore
At Hagley Museum & Library, the original du Pont estate and gunpowder mills, roam on its 235-acres along the Brandywine. The tree-covered paths, mostly flat, make getting 10,000 steps a breeze.
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is on par with some of the most famous estates in the country, such as Biltmore Estate, The Breakers and Monticello. Escape in 1,000 acres of rolling hills, streams, meadows and forests. Don’t miss the reflecting pool (formerly the du Pont family swimming pool) and the playful koi swimming in the nearby pond.
Mt. Cuba Center - Did you know America's best botanical garden is right here in Greater Wilmington? In July 2020, Mt. Cuba earned this honor in USA Today's 10 Best Readers' Choice Awards.
Nemours Estate, inspired by Versailles, is home to the largest formal French garden in North America.
The Delaware Art Museum was founded to preserve the works of famed Wilmington-based illustrator Howard Pyle. It is also home to the largest collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings outside of the U.K. On the grounds of the museum, you’ll enjoy the Copeland Sculpture Garden.
Wilmington & Western Railroad offers steam-diesel-powered train tours through the scenic Red Clay Valley. It was originally chartered in 1867 to move goods from the mills along the Red Clay Creek to the Port of Wilmington. The railroad has since created a name for itself with its many seasonal events.
Where to Explore
The rolling hills, forests and sparkling streams of Brandywine Creek State Park are a great place to explore and enjoy some easy hiking. Much of the park was part of a du Pont family estate and dairy farm.
White Clay Creek State Park has 37+ miles of trails to explore. Wooden and steel truss bridges throughout the park provide beautiful views of the creek below. Historic ruins and forges can be found throughout the park.
At Alapocas Run State Park, visitors can learn to rock climb on Delaware’s only natural climbing wall and see one of the state’s few waterfalls.
Where to Eat
Wilmington’s Riverfront is home to more than a dozen restaurants. Banks Seafood Kitchen and Raw Bar, the last restaurant on Wilmington’s Riverwalk toward the train station, has excellent seafood. We recommend the crab cakes and the seafood nachos. Del Pez Mexican Gastropub is a fun place to grab a casual lunch or dinner, especially if you can get a spot outside. Iron Hill Brewery has great microbrews. At the Riverfront Bakery. We highly recommend the black and tan iced coffee and chocolate croissant. Also don’t miss the strip of casual restaurants just past the Hyatt. If you are vegetarian, Drop Squad Kitchen is the place to go. Every dish represents a multicultural influence or story.
Market Street, Wilmington’s restaurant row, has some excellent dining options. One of the top picks here is Bardea Food & Drink, a 2019 James Beard semifinalist. You can’t miss with Nonna’s meatballs, paccheri and the strawberry cheesecake (not your average cheesecake, for sure). Other Market Street faves include the Farmer & the Cow, Chelsea Tavern and La Fia.
Trolley Square is another Wilmington drinking and eating mecca. There are many good restaurants and pubs along this stretch of Delaware Avenue. Gianni’s Pizza was one of Biden’s first stops in Delaware after he announced his bid for President. Trolley Square Oyster House has … well … great oysters and a cool rooftop deck. BarRoja is our go-to for tacos and tequila. If you are looking for a good old-fashioned Irish pub with a Wilmington attitude, go to Catherine Rooney’s. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg …
Greenville is a stone’s throw from the Delaware residence of Joe Biden. Here you’ll find even more food and drink options. There’s BBC Tavern & Grill (definitely try the seared scallops appetizer), Pizza by Elizabeths (all pizzas are named after famous Elizabeths), and Janssen’s Fine Foods (a long-time go-to spot for the Bidens).
And did we mention shopping? Shopping in Delaware is tax free! At 1,267,241 square feet, Christiana Mall is the largest shopping mall in the state of Delaware and the largest in the five states without sales tax outside of Oregon. There’s also excellent boutique and antique shopping in Greenville, Centerville, Trolley Square, and more.
So what are you waiting for? Come pay us a visit. We can’t wait to welcome you! For more trip ideas and a list of places to stay, go to www.visitwilmingtonde.com. We’ve also got a live chat feature where you can get customized trip planning assistance.