Brookside is a town of about 16,000 residents that’s located in northwest Delaware’s New Castle County.
Lying just off Interstate 95, it’s a convenient stop for those traveling between Philadelphia and Baltimore. It draws tons of regional shoppers, who come to take advantage of the state’s no sales tax policy on everything from clothes and electronics to cars and food.
The area features a variety of state parks and nature preserves, and there are plenty of urban attractions too, including collegiate sporting events, a casino, and lots of historical attractions.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Brookside, Delaware.
1. Rittenhouse Park
Brookside’s Rittenhouse Park is comprised of nearly 50 acres located on West Chestnut Hill Road, just off Route 896.
Despite its proximity to the downtown area, it’s surprisingly natural and undeveloped and is particularly popular for its hiking trail, which is nearly two miles long.
During the summer, the park hosts several summer camps and annual events. Its amenities include a playground, picnic tables, and easy access to Christiana Creek, which is a great place for kids to splash and explore on hot days.
The park is free to visit, has plenty of parking, and is close to other area attractions.
2. Tony’s Bistro
Though many of Brookside’s main attractions are technically in Newark, quite a few of them are just a block or two from downtown.
Tony’s Bistro is located in Chestnut Hill Plaza and specializes in both pizza and other traditional Italian favorites, like pasta, chicken parmesan, and Caesar salads.
Their pizzas come in a variety of sizes, with crusts ranging from thin and crispy to thick and doughy. Many of them feature non-traditional toppings like Buffalo chicken, ranch dressing, and bacon.
Previous guests have described Tony’s as homey and comfortable, and their prices won’t break the bank for those traveling on budgets.
3. Vince’s Sports Center
According to sports and activity-minded visitors, Vince’s Sports Center is in a class all by itself when it comes to having an abundance of activity options all under one roof.
Vince’s is a family-owned and run business that’s been serving the community for nearly four decades.
It features multiple mini-golf courses, an executive style 9-hole course, batting cages, playgrounds, and a video arcade that’s among the largest in the area.
Vince’s has lots of tasty food options too, including pizza, burgers, hot-dogs, and funnel cakes.
Most guests end up staying longer than they’d planned, so consider blocking out more than an hour.
4. Middle Run Valley Natural Area
Geographically speaking, Delaware is one of the smallest states in the country, but it boasts a surprising number of state parks; some of the most popular are just a short drive from Brookside.
Middle Run Valley Natural Area is located in New Castle County just east of Newark, making it a convenient attraction for those with limited time looking to experience the great outdoors.
Middle Run is comprised of nearly 900 acres that have been set aside for preservation and includes a diverse array of natural habitats that are home to lots of animals commonly seen from its trails.
5. People’s Plaza
People’s Plaza has been around for more than four decades. Since it was founded, it’s grown significantly and has become one of the area’s most unique attractions.
The plaza now boasts an impressive array of businesses, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues like movie theaters. It’s all located on Wrangle Hill Road in nearby Bear.
People’s Plaza tends to draw the biggest crowds in the afternoons on the weekends, both during periods of inclement weather and when the summer sun is downright hot and oppressive.
Consider a morning visit if you’d prefer to have the place to yourself for an hour or two.
6. Cooch’s Bridge
Delaware may have more significant historic attractions per capita than any state in the union, and Cooch’s Bridge is one that often gets overlooked.
The original bridge was destroyed during a Revolutionary War battle in 1777. Since then, it’s been rebuilt and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The site includes monuments to the fallen soldiers and informative plaques that describe the lead-up to the battle, and how it all played out.
Cooch’s Bridge is free to visit, and most visitors spend no more than half an hour before heading off to other attractions.
7. Newark Reservoir
Newark Reservoir is the largest freshwater source for the state’s northern cities and towns. At maximum capacity, it can hold hundreds of millions of gallons. Its primary source is White Clay Creek.
It’s adjacent to other local parks that are popular with urban outdoor enthusiasts.
The area around the reservoir offers impressive views and abundant wildlife, and there are a number of trails that follow the reservoir’s shore and wind through the surrounding forests as well.
Though the park is particularly popular in the summer, it offers breathtaking scenery in the fall as well, when the leaves are turning their autumn colors.
8. Iron Hill Science Center
For those traveling with little ones with inquisitive minds, there are few better destinations in Delaware than the Iron Hill Science Center on Robert L. Melson Lane in Newark.
The center’s exhibits touch on a variety of interesting topics, including zoology, space, technology, and the natural world.
The museum was definitely designed with young visitors in mind, but parents and older children generally have an entertaining and enlightening time as well.
The staff hosts a variety of regularly scheduled activities that allow participants to get their hands dirty. Though it’s not the area’s least expensive attraction, most consider it to be good value.
9. Resident Ensemble Players
The University of Delaware is a great community resource that’s usually abuzz with sporting events and other fun activities. For those who don’t mind doing a bit of research, it’s possible to find lots of free options.
The Resident Ensemble Players is the university’s theater group. They provide year-round productions for the students, staff, and local residents.
The group produces a variety of plays, ranging from old classics to contemporary favorites – though they’re most well-known for the former.
REP are located in the Roselle Center for the Arts in Newark. Tickets are available for purchase online, so consider buying yours early to avoid a sold-out situation.
10. Fred Rust Ice Arena
Ice skating is a fun and invigorating activity that can safely be enjoyed by those of most ages and levels of physical ability.
The Fred Rust Ice Arena is located on South College Avenue on the campus of The University of Delaware in Newark.
The arena features multiple rinks. Though they’re often reserved for organized hockey leagues and figure skating competitions, they’re also open to the public periodically.
Don’t worry if you’ve left your skates at home; everything you need, including helmets, is available to rent on-site.
Consider checking their schedule before making a special trip.
11. Delaware Art Museum
The Delaware Art Museum is located on Kentmere Parkway in Wilmington and is home to one of the state’s largest collections of contemporary art.
Most of the works on display are from the period between the 19th and 21st centuries and include numerous pieces of traditional American art as well as folk art and historically significant pieces based on the region’s history.
The museum’s outdoor grounds include many sculptures spread across more than ten acres. The staff offer a variety of workshops and special events throughout the year, especially during the summer and holiday seasons.
12. Christiana Mall
Delaware attracts frugal shoppers from all over the mid-Atlantic region because, unlike its neighbors, there’s no retail sales tax.
That translates into big savings, and Christiana Mall in Newark is one of the area’s most popular shopping destinations.
Though it’s not the newest mall in the world, it’s been recently renovated and features hundreds of individual stores anchored by big-name brands like Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, and Nordstrom.
The mall features a multi-screen movie theater and a variety of dining options, ranging from food court burgers and subs to more upscale restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen.
13. Delaware Park
Though it tends to draw crowds that relish the excitement of horse racing and Las Vegas-style games of chance like poker, keno, and slots, Delaware Park features a variety of amenities and activity options for other types of travelers too.
One of the state’s largest live entertainment venues, it’s home to a championship-level 18-hole golf course that’s considered a cut above most of its competitors.
Delaware Park has lodging options at most price points, and some restaurants too. Many guests are surprised to learn that they offer lots of family-friendly activities as well.
If you’d rather avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the week when most poor souls are working.
14. Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge
The Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge is located in a much more urban setting than Delaware’s other state parks, natural areas, and wildlife refuges.
That makes it a convenient attraction for those who’d prefer not to waste hours of their day behind a windshield. Most folks agree that its expansive grounds made them feel like they were much farther away from civilization than they really were.
The refuge includes an indoor visitor center full of interesting and informative exhibits; most visitors start there because it also includes maps and a list of things you’ll likely want to see and do when on-site.
15. Wilmington & Western Railroad
The Wilmington & Western Railroad was established in the years just before the Civil War. For much of its existence, it was one of the primary modes of freight and passenger transportation in the region.
It operated for nearly a hundred years before becoming a tourist attraction. For those interested in getting a unique look at The First State, it’s the perfect way to do just that.
Along the way, guests will learn about the area’s history and economy, and it’s especially popular with kids.
Tickets are reasonable, though the train runs seasonally, so check their schedule before heading out.