Each year around this time, Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley undergo a festive transformation: Along the country roads that wind through rolling hills, stately mansions are draped with lights and decked for Christmases past. Aboard the vintage steam train that chugs through picturesque valleys, Santa delivers his jolly spirit to crowds of beaming children.
But the biggest holiday buzz in Delaware is even easier to find: Just head for the region’s top retail districts, where travelers from across the Mid-Atlantic are happily celebrating Delaware’s tax-free shopping spirit. From Christiana Mall’s brand-name boutiques to the artsy galleries of Centreville, it’s the right time of year to find some of the 2023’s best bargains, but you’re also going to need to keep yourself refueled and refreshed. Next time you’re out deal-hunting, keep these delicious favorites in mind.
Christiana Mall/Christiana Fashion Center (Christiana):
Delaware’s biggest retail mega-plex has all you need for the holidays, along with some delicious food options for hungry shoppers. A massive food court is just inside the mall, and several fun, full-service restaurants are positioned near its entrances, including The Cheesecake Factory, Tio Taco + Tequila, and Tommy’s Tavern + Tap. At the adjoining Fashion Center near the mall, stand-alone standouts include Shake Shack and Ted’s Montana Grill. Just minutes from the mall, KPOT offers a fun-for-all, cook-your-own Asian experience, and local fans rave about the Tex-Mex at Border Cafe and the comfort food at Colbie’s Southern Kissed Chicken.
Concord Pike/Concord Mall (North Wilmington):
Shoppers can find plenty of deals all along Concord Pike (U.S. 202), north and south of Concord Mall in North Wilmington. Eateries also seem to be everywhere, but locals tend to lean toward a few favorites: For a quick and affordable meal, try a burger and a shake at Charcoal Pit, some ribs at Mission BBQ, or tuck in to some well-crafted diner food at Metro Diner or Lucky’s Coffee Shop. Quieter moments and more refined meals can be found at such sit-down favorites as Sullivan’s Steakhouse, Taverna Rustic Italian, and the Malaysian-inspired Rasa Sayang.
Kennett Pike/Del. 52 (Greenville/Centreville):
Shoppers adore the higher-end boutiques offering everything from art to wine in this well-heeled enclave north of Wilmington. When it’s time for a pit stop, many head for the stylish Pizza By Elizabeths, the dependable BBC Tavern & Grill, or Cromwell’s American Tavern & Taqueria. Consider checking out the handsome new Bar Reverie next to BBC Tavern, try an outstanding hot pastrami sandwich at The Copper Dram, or head a little north to Centreville to dine in the cozy and historic Buckley’s Tavern.
Main Street, Newark:
It’s so fun browsing the offbeat boutiques that line Main Street in this leafy college town, where you’ll also find so many reasons to stop for a bite to eat. Friendly vibes are part of the charm at such sit-down favorites as Taverna, Caffé Gelato and Hamilton’s on Main. The laid-back charm continues at more casual spots, including Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Snap Custom Pizza (build your own!), and Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen.
Historic New Castle:
This charming riverside village is known more for museums than shopping, but the boutiques you’ll find are fabulous, and a cozy colonial holiday spirit seems to shimmer everywhere. Stop in for a bite at Jessop’s Tavern, try some New Orleans sass at Nora Lees French Quarter Bistro, or explore Caribbean and Southern cuisine at Zollie’s Jazz Cucina. Porto-Fino Pizza is a perennial favorite for fast-casual, and The Mercury Café and Teahouse has the vegans and vegetarians covered.