This time of year, it’s natural to feel like life is pulling everyone in different directions: Winter weather makes us crave warm-and-snuggly places, even though we know deep down that we ought to get out, get moving, and try something new.
But there’s really no reason why we can’t have it all in this brand new year: A brisk winter hike on a fine-but-chilly day is the perfect prelude to a leisurely weekend brunch at one of the top restaurants in Greater Wilmington and Brandywine Valley. Happily, there’s a great lineup of nationally recognized state parks within a quick drive from some of the tastiest brunch spreads in Delaware, giving travelers every excuse to mix their feasting with a judicious serving of fitness.
It’s also a perfect chance to raise one more toast to 2024, and to the glorious existence of chilly mimosas, buttery eggs benedict, and memorable meals with the people you love. May you all have the happiest new year!
The Park: Brandywine Creek State Park, Greenville/Centreville
One of the state’s hilliest and most picturesque parks has miles of trails, acres of wooded nature preserves, and an 18-hole disc-golf course, if you are so inclined. Just around the corner at BBC Tavern & Grill, your reward awaits: Try the “Sunday Brunch Special” (bloody mary, burger, fries) for $21, or explore the bountiful “eggs benedict” options: Original (Canadian bacon, hollandaise); Florentine (spinach, hollandaise); or Chesapeake (crab meat, hollandaise). Or, stop at BBC’s sister restaurant next door, Bar Reverie, where you can try The Dutch (toasted bagel with scrapple, fried egg, cooper sharp cheese, apple butter), or the Apple Cider Pancakes with Vermont aged maple syrup, cultured butter, and cinnamon sugar.
The Park: White Clay Creek State Park, Newark
The Restaurant: Iron Hill Brewery (Saturday and Sunday Brunch until 2 p.m.). ironhillbrewery.com/food-menus/newark-de-brunch-menu/
You could easily spend all day at this sprawling park in Delaware’s hilly Piedmont region, but for now just stick to the trails on the park’s periphery, leaving time for a leisurely post-walk feast at one of Delaware’s oldest and most respected brewpubs. Iron Hill’s rejuvenated brunch menu includes such offbeat riffs as Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Sticks, served with raspberry maple syrup and chocolate sauce. Move on to the Breakfast Flatbread Pizza (with a cauliflower crust, scrambled eggs, cheese, spinach and fried onions), washed down with an “Oh, Bloody Hill,” a bloody mary-esque concoction topped with a cheesesteak egg roll, grilled shrimp and a Nashville hot fried chicken slider. Wow.
The Park: Lums Pond State Park, Bear
The Restaurant: Lore Modern Woodfyre, Middletown (Located within the St. Anne's Golf Course) Saturday and Sunday Brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Hikers are treated to some picturesque water views at this perennially popular state park, especially along the 6.4-mile Swamp Forest Trail that weaves through diverse habitats along the pond’s edge. Brunch features bottomless mimosas (yay!), live entertainment, and such treats as Oysters on the Half Shell, and a Caprese Omelet stuffed with tomato, arugula, mozzarella and aged balsamic vinegar. Or, try the “Breakfast Pizza,” made with pork belly, crumbled sausage, baked eggs, and house-made spicy garlic mayo.
The Park: Battery Park, Historic New Castle
This history-filled colonial town has loads of seasonal charm, along with some stellar strolling potential. Wander the old cobblestone streets all the way down to the Delaware River, where you can watch ships slowly pass as you contemplate brunch: At Zollie’s, it will likely include a “Qdeezy Bloody Mary” (made with Tito’s vodka, shrimp and bacon), as well as such New Orleans-inspired treats as Fried Catfish Po’ Boy, a Cajun Seafood Frittata, or even a “Study of Pork Benny,” an eggs benedict-inspired creation featuring smoked pork belly and shaved prosciutto.
The Park: Brandywine Park, Wilmington
This may just be the prettiest park in the city, but it’s probably suited more to a quick stroll than a long hike. Once you have wandered the scenic banks of the Brandywine, head into town for one of the city’s newest brunch spots: Park Cafe’s menu isn’t big, but certainly hits the right spots: There’s a Poached Pear & Goat Cheese Tart with frisée salad, a Smoked Salmon & Avocado Benedict, and veggie options such as the Mushroom & Spinach Skillet with caramelized onions and goat cheese.
The Park: Rockford Park, Wilmington
The 75-foot-high stone tower is the centerpiece of your stroll in this park situated on Wilmington’s highest hill. Check out the huge sundial on the side, then head down the road to Columbus Inn, another historic city attraction that has just re-launched its popular brunch menu. Grab a Breakfast Margarita or a Guava Mimosa, then check out the Columbus Inn’s “signature” french toast, or wander on over to the build-your-own omelet station.
The Park: Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, Wilmington
You’ll find amazing views of nature as you stroll the boardwalks of the Markell Trail as it winds along the river. Next door, the Wilmington Riverfront offers plenty of dining options, but the brunch at Del Pez has been generating buzz, perhaps thanks to its extensive cocktail menu, the “Egg Tacos,” and the tantalizing omelet selection.