Wilmington, Delaware and its adjacent Brandywine Valley are true gems of a destination just waiting to be discovered by travelers who are seeking a rewarding alternative to yet another visit to one of the northeast’s giant metropolises. Wilmington proper is a medium-sized urban area with major financial centers, a surprisingly vibrant night life, attractive and historic urban architecture, cultural riches, an emerging restaurant scene and ongoing riverfront gentrification that begs to be enjoyed.
If that isn’t enough to interest you, the nearby Brandwine Valley complements Wilmington’s attractions with a cornucopia of beautiful scenery, picturesque towns, impressive museums and the riches of several DuPont Family mansions turned into impressive museums and gardens that fairly beckon visitors to explore the lush grounds and absorb history inside the mansions.
Before You Go
Wilmington is very accessible by air, rail and road.
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is 21 miles away.
- Amtrak has a beautifully refurbished and busy station in downtown Wilmington, with several fast trains an hour leaving to Washington, D.C. and Boston and many intermediate points. SEPTA commuter trains serve Philadelphia from the station as well.
- I-95 goes through Wilmington.
When You Are There
- Explore Wilmington’s riverfront and downtown. Dinner at Harry’s Seafood Grill offers good food and a view.
- Rent a car to enjoy the beautifully-restored DuPont homesteads surrounding Wilmington.
- Explore the scenic and historic Brandywine Valley including towns like Chadds Ford, PA.
If You Only Have Two or Three Days:
Must-sees for a short stay are:
- The Longwood Gardens in nearby Kennett Square, PA., with its 1,050 acres of gardens and conservatories and beautiful fountains.
- The Hagley Museum and Library, 240 acre site of the original DuPont powder works and estate, including a working powder mill on the Brandywine River and gardens.
- The Winterthur and Nemours Mansion Museums and their remarkable estate grounds.
- The Delaware Art Museum with an amazing pre-Raphaelite collection.
If You Have Several Days, enjoy in addition:
- Historic New Castle’s Reed House and the adjacent Delaware riverfront. Explore the architecture and have dinner at historic Jessop’s Tavern.
- The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pa., a Wyeth mecca.
- The Va La Vineyards tasting room in Avondale. Surprisingly good wine!
- The Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington.
- A train ride on the Wilmington and Western Railroad.
- A commuter train day trip to Philadelphia to explore some of the icons of American colonial history.
Ginny O’s Tips For Dressing The Simply Smart Travel Way For The Destination
Since Wilmington is a city and financial center, people tend to dress just a little more proper than what goes at casual resorts, although ties and cocktail dresses are not needed by visitors. Dressy casual works well. Comfortable shoes are a must since exploring the DuPont museums requires a lot of walking. Weather is changeable in this part of the country so be prepared for both warm and cold snaps in whatever season you visit except for high summer. Even in summer air conditioned museums and restaurants can be cold.
This Destination At A Glance
Mobility Level: Moderate. Walking and climbing some steps are necessary to fully appreciate the DuPont attractions, gardens and museums in the region.
When To Go: May is a perfect time to take in the dogwood and other spring blooming plants. September has fewer crowds and the weather is still nice. October brings fall color and December is cold but holiday décor abounds.
Where To Stay: The beautiful new Westin Wilmington is a great choice. It is centrally located on the riverfront and connected to the Chase Convention Center and has free parking. Other national chains and bed and breakfast properties are plentiful.
Special Travel Interests: American history, the DuPont Family, Wyeth paintings.
Editor’s Notes: Orenstein is a syndicated travel writer who lives on Florida’s West Coast. He and his wife Virginia enjoy simply smart travel and writing about it. They can be reached at jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com. Check out their travel ideas, articles and blog at www.SimplySmartTravel.com and Facebook.com/SimplySmartTravel.