Wilmington, Delaware, is the largest city in this tiny state. Built on the site of Fort Christina, the first Swedish settlement in the United States, this city is full of surprises — and plenty to do for everyone. Museums, gardens, markets and walks along the river are just the start. Here are our top 10 things to do in Wilmington.
Tour the Nemours Mansion and Gardens
There is something distinctly magical about stepping into the largest French gardens in the U.S., in view of a magnificent 88-room mansion once owned by Alfred I. duPont. Stroll the 200 acres of scenic woodlands and lawns, snap a photo by the fountain, and tour the Chauffer’s Garage with its collection of vintage vehicles used on and around the Estate. A little trip back in time is sure to have something to pique everyone’s interest.
Take a Wander Down the Wilmington Riverwalk
What better way to meet the character and history of Wilmington than to stroll the waterfront of the Christina River? This 1.3-mile path stretches from Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park to the Shipyard Shops. Open spaces for resting dot the path as well, offering ample opportunity to stop for a picnic. If you’re looking for shade, visit the Hare Pavilion at the foot of Old West St. This large pavilion and surrounding area is used to host both public and private events, and is a beautiful spot to take in the view.
Visit the Delaware Art Museum
Wilmington’s own Howard Pyle has an extensive exhibition here amidst works from British Pre-Raphaelite artists, John Sloan and his fellow landscape artists, and other American illustrators. There are always rotating exhibits to keep things fresh, and the museum offers a variety of activities to appeal to the whole family: summer happy hour from 5-7pm on the terrace, pop-up artist talks, and concerts on the lawn. Kid’s programs are also in abundance, with hands-on art projects as well as story time, holiday festivals, and art camps during those vacation times if you’re sticking around for a while.
Swoon for the Candlelight Theater
In an effort to support and celebrate local acting talent, the Candlelight Theater hosts productions of everything from Divas to Fiddler on the Roof with many other high-quality mainstage productions gracing the stage throughout the year. Most productions are weekend-only shows at this red barn venue, so you’ll need to schedule your visit accordingly.
Hit the Altitude Trampoline Park
Really, who doesn’t love bouncing around in a room full of trampolines? Altitude Wilmington makes trampoline time accessible to everyone, with a “kid zone”, main courts, a rock climbing wall situated over a large foam pit, and even mini-ninja courses for those who want to challenge themselves. Come for open jump, visit a Teen Night, join a Dodgeball game, or even take one of the fitness classes offered for adults. Just check the schedule, and bounce to your heart’s content.
The Brandywine Zoo
It may not be the biggest zoo you’ve ever seen, but it’s an opportunity for an up-close look some amazing animals on this 12-acre property. The zoo hosts animals from tropical and temperate climates, meaning some of them are off exhibit during more severe weather — but you can always check out the indoor options, which often include educational programming talks with zoo staff. Check the calendar if you’d like to arrange your visit around one of these “Keeper Talks”!
Bellefonte Brewing Company
When you’re ready to kick back after a day on the Riverwalk or bouncing on the trampolines, head to Bellefonte to sample some local brews at the tasting room. The taps rotate regularly, meaning there’s a beer for every taste preference — and with a relaxed atmosphere, the tasting room might become your favorite place to relax and meet some friendly faces from the community in Wilmington.
Down to the Grand Opera House
So The Grand is actually three venues — Copeland Hall, which primarily hosts top-notch concerts from touring artists; The Baby Grand, which hosts smaller acts and comedians; and The Playhouse, which as the name suggests, hosts theater events. Check out the schedule, and you may just be pleasantly surprised at who chooses to stop through this big city in a small state.
Brandywine Creek State Park
Take a deep breath in the forested glades of a 933-acre park right within Wilmington city limits. Once a dairy farm owned by the duPont family, the land was transferred to the state in 1965 carrying with it the state’s first two nature preserves: Tulip Tree Woods and Freshwater Marsh. Majestic 190-year-old tulip poplar trees and the wildlife-rich marsh offer a relaxing environment to explore on foot, while the nature center and educational programs offer a more interactive experience for curious minds. Either way, you’re sure to be inspired by this slice of nature in Wilmington, DE.
Riverfront Market has it all
A European-style market with cafes, local farm goods, and an open warehouse, exposed brick aesthetic, this market is both beautiful and bountiful. If you’re planning to cook, you’ll find fresh local meats and seafood, seasonal vegetables and fruits, and baked goods to round out the meal. You can also choose from prepared items like sushi, Thai food, or just an old-fashioned cup of coffee with a friend. The second story seating area is the perfect place to people watch if you haven’t already had your fill on the Riverwalk.
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