Best Things To Do In Wilmington, Delaware Right Now

Delaware, our tax-free neighbor to the south, the first state to ratify the Constitution and the home of our current president, is an often overlooked travel destination. No shade, but with tons of great places to explore to the west and north (see: Lancaster, the Poconos, the Jersey Shore and New York), Philadelphians sometimes overlook the small state bordering Pennsylvania.

But Wilmington, the state’s largest city, is a rapidly growing hotbed for food, entertainment, and year-round outdoor fun. And even better, it’s less than an hour from Philadelphia by car (and even closer to 30 minutes if you’re avoiding traffic). So if you can’t wait to get out of town, take this super easy trip and try the Joe Biden-endorsed restaurants, hotels, theaters and other places in Wilmington, Delaware.

Bardea food and drink
Bardea food and drink

Eat your way through town

With a restaurant scene that rivals ours, Wilmington has no shortage of killer restaurants and bars from star chefs. Bryan Sikora is perhaps the city’s most acclaimed chef and restaurateur, so his restaurants are all worth a visit. Discover the mainstay of Market Street, The FIAfor bistros or craft cocktail bars crow bar and Merchant bass for on-site drinks, charcuterie boards and elevated bar dishes.

Longtime Philadelphia restaurateur Scott Stein and chef Antimo DiMeo are behind Bardea food and drink, an upscale restaurant serving inventive Italian cuisine. For an elegant environment and modern French cuisine, head to the Hotel Du Pont The Cavalier, led by fellow Philadelphia transplant, Tyler Akin, of Stock and Res Ipsa fame. Plus, a new addition to the city’s restaurant scene, Butcher of the snuff millis a lovely place to sample meat, cheese and other ingredients all sourced locally.

If you’re looking for a more casual place to have lunch, Wilmington is also here for you. To give DE.COa food hall with eight stalls offering pizza, sushi, chicken and waffles, etc., and Riverside marketwith Thai options, sushi and tacos, to try.

When it’s time for a drink, Torbert Street SocietyThe space in an 1887 stable is a historic place to relax with cocktails or a drink from the many whiskey, beer and wine lists.

Domain of Nemours
Domain of Nemours

Get your museum fix

Wilmington and the surrounding area are home to a multitude of museums. There is the Delaware Museum of Art, which has a permanent collection including American art from the pre-Revolution to the 1960s, British Pre-Raphaelites, contemporary art, sculpture, and more. For more modern works, see Contemporary Delaware, where local artists are often exhibited. the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science (formerly known as the Delaware Museum of Natural History) reopens in May, and the space’s collections focus largely on birds and molluscs.

If you wanted to see how the other half of the 19th and 20th centuries lived, check out a trio of estates once occupied by members of the wealthy du Pont family. Visit the Domain of Nemours, a grand mansion and formal gardens, when it reopens on April 1; the Hagley Museum and Library, the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family and the powder magazines; and Winterthur Museum, Garden and Librarythe 175 room owned by Henry Francis du Pont which houses nearly 90,000 artifacts dating as far back as 1640.

Beer
Stitch House Brewery

Bring your own beer game

What would a visit outside the city be without taking the brewery tour? Sample beers with fun names like Drunkel Dunkel, Seek & Destroy and Children of the Grave at Stitch House Brewery. The first craft brewery in a Delaware casino, 1937 Brewing owes its name to the year the state racetrack opened, and its unpretentious food and drink menu will make you feel right at home. With two locations in Wilmington, Bellefonte Brewery offers orange cream beer, Kolsch, and IPAs on tap year-round. The only production brewery in the city, Wilmington Brewery, is housed in a century-old factory. In their bar you can order IPAs, oatmeal Irish stouts, dunkels, etc.

If anyone in your crew likes to get away from beer, Liquid Alchemy Drinks has an extensive selection of mead and cider. Their award-winning meads are aged in bourbon, brandy and gin barrels and their award-winning ciders are made with local apples.

The Queen
The Queen

See a show

From theaters to concert halls, Wilmington’s performing arts spaces offer audiences an alternative to Philly’s offerings. AT Wilmington Theater Company, you can see professional theater along the river with plays like “Brighton Beach Memoirs” on deck for months to come. Under The Association of the Great Arts, professional Broadway shows, ballets, comedians and bands perform at Copeland Hall, The Baby Grand and The Playhouse. Enjoy dinner and a show at The candlelight theater, where all tickets include a sit-down meal. Touring bands, dance parties and drag brunches fill the show schedule at The Queenan old hotel transformed into a cinema.

Brandywine Creek State Park
Brandywine Creek State Park

Go outdoors

With nearly a dozen parks and recreation areas, Wilmington’s green spaces are perfect for throwing a Frisbee or having a picnic. Go rock climbing and abseiling at Alapocas Run State Parkstroll along the Brandywine River at Brandywine Parkwalk through the marshes of the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, or marvel at the prancing horses on the prairie at Carousel park and equestrian center. the Edge of the Christiana river is easily accessible on foot thanks to the 1.3 mile river walk, taking visitors on foot from the Tubman-Garrett waterfront park to the shipyard workshops, and extends to the Pont Environmental Education Center and the Markell Trail. During the warmer months, get very intimate with the river a public cruise.

University of Delaware
University of Delaware

Live the Joe Biden experience

Although he was born in Pennsylvania, Delaware is where Biden made his career, graduating from the University of Delaware, representing the state in the Senate and still owning property there today. Take a DIY Biden tour, stopping at University of Delaware; the Delaware Technical and Community College, where Jill Biden was a professor; the The Amtrak station is named after him; and some of restaurants he frequents: Bardea food and drink, Verdi Coffee, Crispy chicken Walt’s Express flavorand more.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad

Learn a thing or two about Delaware history

Aside from being the “first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution,” Delaware has a rich and varied history, with many sites in Wilmington. One of the most popular activities is taking a ride on the Wilmington and Western Railroadfirst chartered in 1867, for a 10-mile voyage through the Delaware countryside.

You can trace Harriet Tubman’s journey north to freedom through Delaware on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. The 125-mile driving tour begins in Maryland, where she was born, but includes the New Palace of Justice Museum and the Tubman-Garrett Waterfront Parkin honor of Tubman and fellow Underground Railroad agent Thomas Garrett.

Or board the Kalmar Nyckel, a replica of the colonial ship that brought the European settlers who founded New Sweden in the 1600s. One of the first tasks of these settlers was to build a church, fort, etc. The church and its cemetery still exist today and are open to visits. A few centuries later, Fort Delaware was built as a Civil War prison in 1859. Visit the fort when it reopens in the spring to learn about life on base during the Civil War and for tours of the barracks, officers’ quarters, and more.

HOTEL DU PONT
HOTEL DU PONT

Stay in style

Make a weekend of your trip to Wilmington and book chic accommodations. Hotel du Pont (there are still those du Ponts) was once the headquarters of the du Pont company when it opened in 1913. Today, the glamor of the golden age persists with European chandeliers, hand-carved wood and terrazzo floors. With a view of the river and a free shuttle, the Westin-Wilmington is an excellent bet for solid hospitality. A stone’s throw away is the Hyatt Place Wilmington Riverfront also offers easy access to riverside attractions and sleek, minimalist accommodations.

Want more Thrillist? follow us on instagram, Twitter, pinterest, Youtube, ICT Tacand Snapchat.

Allie Volpe is a Philadelphia-based writer. She hasn’t slept for days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.

Comments are closed.