Channel your inner leaf-peeper as you travel the rolling hills, gorgeous parks and historic sites of Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.
The Greater Wilmington, Delaware area is known for its temperate, beautiful fall weather, so autumn offers prime opportunities for exploration. Why not start with some of the seven sites of the First State National Historical Park?
Start with a morning hike through the Brandywine Valley portion of the national park, which sits right next to Brandywine Creek State Park, north of downtown Wilmington along the Delaware-Pennsylvania line. Here, you’ll find 1,300 acres of rolling fields, pastures, forested hills, and streams just waiting to be explored.
For lunch, head south to Historic New Castle, whose colonial cobblestone streets provide a beautiful complement to fall foliage. Visit the Court House Museum, built in 1732, which is also part of the First State National Historical Park. Learn the town’s history and plot your visit at the visitor center inside The Arsenal. Save time to stroll Battery Park, which overlooks the Delaware River and is the ideal spot for Instagram-worthy photo ops.
For a lunch befitting your colonial surroundings, head to Jessop’s Tavern and Colonial Restaurant. This cozy 1724 pub in the heart of the historic district serves up American and English fare, as well as Swedish dishes inspired by some of Delaware’s earliest European settlers. Don’t forget to order a drink with your meal — Jessop’s carries more than 200 Belgian beers.
Another terrific option for your afternoon is Hagley Museum and Library, situated alongside the Brandywine River and populated by mature trees with branches that spread out over the water. The kaleidoscope of burnt orange, green, red, and gold makes it a preferred setting for photographers. Hagley is also home to the original headquarters of the DuPont Company. Enjoy living history programs and tours, which detail what life was like at a gunpowder-manufacturing site in the 19th century. Take time to see the family’s ancestral home, which was built in 1802.
If you still have time, or if you’re traveling with kids, why not do your leaf-peeping from aboard a train? The Wilmington & Western Railroad was chartered in 1867 to move goods between the mills along Red Clay Creek and the Port of Wilmington. Today, 10.2 miles of the old line are used for year-long themed excursions, including the Autumn Leaf Special. The trip takes passengers through brilliantly colored woods that flank the creek.
For an autumn-style country dinner, try The House of William and Merry, an award-winning restaurant located inside an old farmhouse.