Wilmington, Delaware, was founded in the early 1600s, making it one of the country’s oldest continuously inhabited municipalities.
Now, Wilmington is the state’s most populous city, and it’s located in a unique area that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from the neighboring states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Delaware is home to an impressive variety of historical sites, as well as state parks, art, and cultural attractions. Some of the east coast’s most scenic and family-friendly beaches are also just a relatively short drive south from Wilmington.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Wilmington, Delaware.
1. Nemours Mansion and Garden
Many of Delaware’s most visited historical and cultural attractions are related to the wealthy DuPont Family.
The Nemours Mansion and Garden is located near downtown Wilmington and was once one of the family’s many homes; its architecture mimics that of a French chateau.
The impressive home includes dozens of rooms filled with art, furniture, and housewares that were considered the height of luxury by the standards of the day. The sprawling grounds feature beautiful gardens and natural areas connected by paved paths.
Admission is reasonable, and guided tours of the home and grounds are offered regularly as well.
2. DuPont Environmental Education Center
The DuPont Environmental Education Center is a year-round attraction that’s set amid nearly 200 acres of undisturbed land, marshes, and gardens on Delmarva Lane in downtown Wilmington.
Not only is the education center conveniently located, but it’s free to visit, making it an especially popular attraction for those traveling with inquisitive little ones in need of mental stimulation.
Most visitors spend about an hour inside the education center checking out the interactive exhibits before heading outdoors to explore the outdoor portions on foot.
The center’s staff often host special programs like hiking tours and children’s events, so check online to see what’s on their schedule before heading out.
3. Delaware Children’s Museum
The Delaware Children’s Museum is a unique area attraction that offers both children and adults an array of engaging, educational, and entertaining exhibits that touch on science, animals, art, technology, and history, to name just a few.
It’s the perfect attraction for when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor activities, and along with its convenient location and reasonable admission cost, it usually ends up being one of the most memorable stops for many traveling families.
Many guests choose to show themselves around at their own pace, but the museum’s staff offer a number of fun events that are usually big hits.
4. Delaware Museum of Natural History
The Delaware Museum of Natural History is located on Kennett Pike in Wilmington and features an impressive collection of exhibits centered on dinosaurs, geology, plants, animals, and evolution.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum hosts temporary ones periodically as well. Throughout the year, it offers a variety of special events and programs, many of which are geared specifically toward kids.
Previous guests have noted that the cost of admission was reasonable and that the museum far exceeded their expectations.
Take a look at their website to see what’s on their calendar of events before making a special trip.
5. Alapocas Run State Park
Even in small states like Delaware, savvy, outdoor-loving travelers are never far from a state or local park. For those visiting Wilmington, Alapocas Run State Park is one of the most popular.
The park is open year-round and is spread across more than 400 acres of natural environments. It offers visitors a variety of recreation options such as hiking, bird watching, and biking.
The park’s natural rock formations are favorites of climbers and rappellers as well, especially considering Delaware is almost uniformly flat.
For history lovers, there are also several historic sites inside the park that are interesting and educational.
6. Stitch House Brewery
Stitch House Brewery is a big hit with lovers of craft beer, and unlike many of their competitors, Stitch House offers a full menu of hearty fare that’s reasonably priced and goes great with their beers.
Their beer selection runs the gamut from traditional to contemporary and often includes unique flavors not typically found in beer, like coconut and aromatic wood smoke.
They’re located on North Market Street, and diners and drinkers can watch the brewing process through a glass partition.
For those who aren’t sure which beer they’ll prefer, it’s wise to try a sampler that includes many flavor profiles.
7. Delaware Art Museum
The Delaware Art Museum’s collection includes more than 10,000 individual pieces, and most are from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
The museum features art from all over the country done in a variety of mediums, and local and regional folk artists are represented as well.
During the warm summer months, the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden is a big hit with art lovers looking to stretch their legs, and it’s spread over more than ten scenic acres.
Throughout the year, the museum’s staff offer a variety of workshops for budding artists and art enthusiasts, and many of them are appropriate for children.
8. Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge
The Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge is located near downtown Wilmington but has a way of making visitors feel like they’re much farther away from civilization than they really are.
The refuge includes expansive grounds and a visitor’s center that’s worth checking out first. It’s full of interactive exhibits and will give guests an overview of the grounds’ layout and things to see and do while on-site.
Much of the park lies along the city’s riverfront, and it’s common to see a variety of animals along the trails, especially near the marshy areas.
The trails are easy and well-marked, and there are a number of vista areas that offer great views.
9. Hagley Museum and Library
For travelers with limited time who prefer to get the most bang for their hard-earned dollars, the Hagley Museum and Library would be a great place to spend a few hours.
The museum and library are located on a sprawling 200-acre campus that includes historic buildings, beautiful views of Brandywine Creek, and a ton of historic memorabilia that dates back centuries to the time when Delaware became the country’s first state.
The grounds include extensive gardens and multi-tiered terraces that are particularly beautiful during the spring bloom. There are a variety of exhibits pertaining to the DuPont family’s role in the state’s history as well.
10. Read House and Gardens
Located just a few miles south of Wilmington, New Castle is a historic town that offers a variety of attractions, making it a popular day-trip option for those who don’t mind a short drive.
Read House and Gardens is one of the city’s premier historic sites and was built as the home of a prominent Delaware lawyer more than two centuries ago.
The home has been renovated over the years and is now in near-original condition. It’s included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Guided tours are offered from April to December, but not every day, so check their website before heading out.
11. Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library
With more than 170 rooms and sprawling grounds that include acres of forests, cultivated gardens, and a network of walking paths, Winterthur is one of the state’s most popular attractions.
Winterthur was once the palatial home of Henry Francis DuPont but is now open to the public. For those who’d like a behind-the-scenes look at the home and its history, signing up for a guided tour is the best way to get it.
The facility includes a museum and café, as well as several gift shops that sell everything from history books and art to potted plants and cards.
12. Delaware Children’s Theater
Located on Delaware Avenue in Wilmington, the Delaware Children’s Theater is a unique attraction that offers year-round, community-based productions in some fun genres.
The historic building in which the theater is housed dates back to the later years of the 19th century. Though their kid’s productions are the big draws, there are also a number of adult performances too.
Tickets to popular shows tend to sell out quickly, especially during the holiday season, so it’s a good idea to purchase yours online well in advance of your visit, especially if that’s when you plan on seeing a show.
13. Delcastle Golf Course
The Delcastle Golf Course in Wilmington was first opened in 1971. Since then, it’s been consistently ranked as one of the state’s best golf values for experienced players and beginners alike.
The 18-hole, par 72 course is known for its well-manicured fairways and greens, treed areas, and strategically placed sand and water hazards that make it scenic and moderately challenging.
The course’s amenities include a full-service bar and grill, chipping and putting practice areas, and a driving range.
For those in need of professional instruction before hitting the links, the staff offer several lesson packages appropriate for most ages and skill levels.
14. Rehoboth Beach
Though it’s more than an hour south of Wilmington, Rehoboth Beach is one of the state’s most-loved warm-weather attractions.
It’s particularly well-known for its relaxed family-friendly atmosphere, abundant outlet malls, and variety of dining options that range from swanky and pricy to comfortable and affordable.
Rehoboth is also known as a regional art hot spot, and the town hosts a number of annual music, food, and art events that draw visitors from many surrounding states.
The boardwalk is the perfect place for a morning or afternoon stroll. When the sun’s too hot during the middle of the day, many beachgoers escape to the restaurants and bar just a few yards inland.