The town of New Castle in New Castle County, Delaware, is the perfect base for visitors to the state wishing to stay in a quiet location that is also central to many attractions, services, and major centers. The town is mostly known for its historical significance in the state and the United States as a whole.
This intriguing history can be seen everywhere in New Castle in the form of Colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, and museums dedicated to keeping that history alive. Due to its colorful past and historical significance, New Castle has been designated a National Landmark Historic Area.
The colonial charm of New Castle, combined with its scenic location along the Delaware River, gives the town of just over 5,000 people a quaint, old-world feel that seems a world away from bigger centers such as Wilmington, which is, in fact, only ten kilometers away.
Restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, museums, and larger shopping centers such as Penn Mart Shopping Center and Newport Crossing LLC, are located within the town, and many more attractions are located in nearby Wilmington and surrounding areas.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around New Castle, Delaware.
1. Kick back in the natural surroundings of Battery Park
One of the more popular natural green spaces in New Castle in Battery Park. Visitors can relax in a peaceful environment with beautiful scenery spread across 25 acres along the Delaware River.
There are playgrounds, picnic areas, and basketball courts on-site, and the Battery Trail is a 3.7-mile easy walking and biking trail where you’ll have the opportunity to spot wildlife.
2. Indulge in quality food and drink at Jessop’s Tavern
Jessop’s Tavern in New Castle is more than just a tavern; it’s a historic building dating back to the 1700s. Within its walls, friendly, hard-working staff strive to recreate an authentic Colonial experience. Much of the food served at this casual pub is made from scratch on-site.
On the extensive menu, you can expect to find a variety of Colonial-inspired items, traditional British pub grub, and an assortment of both traditional and modern English, Dutch, Belgian, and Swedish dishes. Dutch Cheese, salads, crab cakes, roast duck, and the Pilgrim’s Feast are just some of the items available.
A wide variety of beers from around the world are served.
3. The Old Dutch House Museum and Gardens
Constructed in the late 1600s, the Old Dutch House is the oldest structure in New Castle and the second oldest in the state of Delaware.
Today, the property, which is now a museum and gardens, receives visitors who wish to experience how middle-class families lived in Colonial times. During a tour of the property, you will see furniture, household items, pewter dinnerware, textiles, and antique carpet from that era.
4. The Delaware Art Museum
At the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, visitors can view Delaware’s most extensive art collection, which features more than 12,000 modern and vintage artworks from around the country. An impressive outdoor sculpture park is also on-site.
5. New Castle Farmer’s Market
If bargain hunting and tasting local flavors are things you like to do when traveling in a new place, the longstanding New Castle Farmer’s Market is where you will find almost anything you can imagine.
Dozens of permanent and temporary vendors are set up at this market. They offer an array of items, including Amish cuisine, Lancaster County meats, fresh produce, authentic Italian pizza, baked goods, and pretzels. An outdoor flea market is on-site as well.
6. Bellanca Airfield Museum
At the old Air Service Hangar in New Castle, visitors can visit the Bellanca Airfield Museum, which commemorates the aviation achievements of Guiseppe M. Bellanca. During your visit, learn about his planes and some of the pilots who flew them.
A media center is on-site; this is where you can do your own research, watch videos, practice on the flight simulator, or browse the many books in the library.
7. Russel W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge
A beautiful nature and wildlife area is located along the Christina River in Wilmington. Nature enthusiasts and visitors looking for a relaxing way to spend a day outdoors appreciate the wide-open spaces and nature-viewing opportunities at the Russel W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge.
This 212-acre refuge is mostly freshwater tidal marsh that is home to many species. Bald eagles, kingfishers, wood ducks, beavers, otters, and turtles are just a sample of the wildlife you may see on your wanderings through the park.
Several hiking trails with scenic viewpoints are on-site, and the DuPont Environmental Education Center features a variety of exhibits and a 10-acre garden.
8. Spend a rainy day at Altitude Trampoline Park
When it comes to entertainment centers, none in the New Castle area are quite like the Altitude Trampoline Park in nearby Wilmington. While the main attractions are the various trampolines, visitors to this indoor activity park can also participate in dodgeball and basketball.
A hurricane simulator, climbing walls, a foam pit, laser maze, and various video games are some of the other cutting edge amenities you’ll find.
9. Hit the greens at Frog Hollow Golf Club and Restaurant
If you love golfing, the best place in the area to tee off is at the Frog Hollow Golf Club. This 18-hole championship course was designated as the best public golf course in Delaware.
With beautiful scenery combined with a variety of features, including bent grass tees, rolling greens, ponds, bunkers, and high grasses, you are sure to be challenged and rewarded with a day well spent. End the day with a delicious meal at the club’s restaurant.
10. Admire Colonial architecture at the Amstel House
New Castle is a very historic town, so you can expect to find a number of historic sites and museums, including the Amstel House. This Georgian Mansion, which was constructed in the 1730s by wealthy landowner Dr, John Finney, was the first mansion built in the state and was an important residence during that period.
Today, the beautiful brick structure is one of the last remaining early Colonial buildings in the town. Guided tours are available, during which you will see original woodwork, an open hearth, and traditional Dutch decor.
11. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Golden Apple Spa
When the excitement of touring around New Castle and surrounding areas gets to be too much, you can take a step back and enjoy a relaxing afternoon getting pampered at the Golden Apple Spa. A variety of body and foot massages are on the menu, including relaxation massages, hot stone massages, and deep-tissue massages.
12. Find the perfect souvenir at 2nd Act Antiques Collectibles and Treasures
A unique mix of old collectibles and modern treasures can be found at the 2nd Act Antiques Collectibles and Treasures, which is located on the first floor of the New Castle Opera House. Browse an extensive inventory of artwork, antiques, and unique treasures. Framing services are available on-site.
13. Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts
A variety of local, national, and international artists are showcased at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, which is the only contemporary art museum in the state. On-site, there are seven galleries, 26 studios, an auditorium, and a museum shop where visitors can purchase copies of some of the art on display.
The center’s primary goal is to encourage the public to explore modern art and its importance in the community. The exhibits frequently change throughout the year to allow new artists a chance to display their work.
In the past, some of the exhibits included Native Range, Amphibian Relationships, and Material World. Guided tours are available.
14. Take in More Local History at the George Read II House and The New Castle Court House
Built in 1804, the George Read House is a 14,000-square-foot dwelling-turned-museum, with 22 rooms of historic items and a garden area. The New Castle Court House, which today is a state landmark and museum, houses a variety of artifacts and news items linked to the state’s position as one of the original 13 states.
15. First State National Historic Park
Visitors to New Castle can learn more about critical Colonial events, including the colonization of early Europeans, religious freedom acts, the Declaration of Independence, conservation, and the Underground Railroad, with a visit to the First State National Historic Park.
A number of significant historic buildings are located on the grounds, including Woodlawn and The Green Dover.