10 Totally* Free Things To Do

You'll be amazed at everything Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley have to offer, and even more amazed at how little some of it costs. Here are 10 amazingly fun places to visit that won't cost anything to get in the door.

* Mostly totally. Some modest parking fees may apply.

 

Year Round Options:

DuPont Enviromental Education CenterDUPONT ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

A wildlife escape on the edge of the city, the DuPont Environmental Education Center features a 10-acre park with flower garden path, a quarter-mile pond loop through a freshwater marsh and a four-story education center with panoramic views. Free tip: Staff-led binocular walks and animal encounters occur daily (except Mondays).


Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts - Dupont GalleryTHE DELAWARE CONTEMPORARY

With an annual schedule of more than 30 new exhibitions, The Delaware Contemporary keeps things fresh and timely every time you visit. Free tip: Twenty-six artists rent studio space inside The Delaware Contemporary. Don't miss the Elizabeth Denison Hatch Gallery, which showcases their work.


ASHLAND NATURE CENTER

The Delaware Nature Society has its HQ at Ashland, right off the RED CLAY VALLEY SCENIC BYWAY. There are 130 acres of woods, meadows and marsh to explore, plus picnic grounds and the Butterfly House. Free tip: Naturalists lead free programs - including birding walks and hawk watches - at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day in the warmer months.


New  Castle Court HouseFIRST STATE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

The newest park in the National Park Service includes historical sites that date back to the birth of the country (and before), including the NEW CASTLE COURT HOUSE MUSEUM, where Delaware became the first state to separate from Great Britain (and Pennsylvania) in June 1776. Free tip: Separation Day, celebrated annually on the second Saturday in June, is a great day to visit.


Summer Options:


BELLEVUE STATE PARK CONCERT SERIES

This Delaware state park offers a deeply diverse concert series over the summer months, offering bluegrass and blues, big band and the Beatles (and that's just at the start of the alphabet). Free tip: Bring a picnic. (Note: The shows are free, but there are still park entrance fees in effect.)


DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz FestivalCLIFFORD BROWN JAZZ FESTIVAL

The largest free jazz festival on the east coast runs for five nights in June in Rodney Square, in the heart of Wilmington's downtown district. Free tip: Lots of local joints keep the music going after the official program is over. Ask around or follow the crowd.

Ladybug Music Festival

The success of the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival (shown directly above), has inspired a host of other music-centric festivals in Wilmington, including the free Ladybug Music Festival. Now in its sixth year, the Ladybug Music Festival draws over 10,000-people to Market Street to see musicians from up and down the eastern seaboard pay tribute to women in the music industry during this 2-day festival.


Winter Options:

Holiday Home Tours

Christmas in Old New CastleThe historic towns of Odessa and New Castle open their doors during the holidays to reveal lavishly decorated historic houses, during HOLIDAYS IN ODESSA and THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMASFree tip: Watch for the weekend in December when New Castle gets a little Victorian for A Dickens Christmas.


ART LOOP WILMINGTON

On the first Friday of each month, museums, studios and art galleries throughout Wilmington and the surrounding area stay open late for a night of opening receptions and art exhibitions. Free tip: Check out the MONTHLY CALENDAR for a guide to live entertainment and other special events.


Bombay HookBOMBAY HOOK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Sitting in the middle to of the Atlantic Flyway, recognized by American Bird Conservancy as an Important BIRDING Area, there's no more majestic place to begin your morning - and they open a half hour before sunrise to let you do just that. Free tip:There's an entrance fee of $4 per car, and less if you arrive by bike or on foot.