Delaware is the first state in the United States, and if that alone isn’t reason enough to visit – keep reading! I grew up in New Jersey and often drove right past this state, never stopping to explore. This was my first time to Delaware and I gotta tell you… it is amazing and I have been missing out! Wilmington, DE is an easy day trip from much of the major cities such as Philadelphia and DC, but I would highly recommend staying for at least two days.
Wilmington stole our hearts, starting with the fresh seafood to the history and beautiful gardens. Oh and did I mention the Riverwalk? Stroll along the beautiful Christina River, which feeds into the Delaware River, and enjoy the green space, breweries, and delicious restaurants.
Is shopping your thing? Guess what… there is NO SALES TAX! You heard me, Delaware has no sales tax in their entire state, making it a great place to get your local shopping on. We truly enjoyed this family friendly city so much, that I have every intention of going back very soon – maybe to one off their gorgeous beaches next time!
I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite! Tip: A lot of attractions are closed on Mondays in Wilmington, so plan to visit around that. If you have any questions about Wilmington or our trip please shoot me an email!
We stayed at the lovely Homewood Suites by Hilton Wilmington Downtown. This beautiful hotel is on the Riverwalk, giving you a central location and within walking distance of breweries, children’s museum, restaurants, and much more. I loved this hotel because of their spacious rooms, kind staff, and location.
Each room has its own kitchen with full size refrigerator and cooktop (huge bonus when traveling with kids). They also have free buffet breakfast which had many options. We had a view of the river from our room, and they offer pet friendly rooms. It is only 20 minutes from the Philadelphia airport as well.
Nemours Estate – Put this at the top of your list when visiting Wilmington! The home of Alfred I. duPont, consists of a gorgeous 77-room Mansion and the largest formal French gardens in North America on over 200 acres. The gardens truly make you feel as if you are in another country, from the gorgeous flowers and landscaping to the statues and water fountains, you will feel transported.
The house is not only beautiful, but the people that lived there are fascinating. Be sure to ask the staff for some stories you may have never heard – they have some great ones! If I had a book (and no kids), I would have stayed all afternoon under a tree near the fountains.
Brandywine Zoo – This small but mighty zoo is a great place to spend an hour with kids. Located along the Brandywine River in Brandywine Park, this 4.7 acre zoo is proof that good things come in small packages. Visit with lemurs, a bobcat, goats, a red panda, and much more.
Hagley Museum & Library – Get the backstory of the duPont family and how black powder was produced at the property. You can easily spend half a day here, something which we did not realize! Hagley is a 235-acre estate with many outdoor exhibits and areas to explore, this is a great spot for homeschooling families. The demonstrations are very informative and they do a great job explaining how everything works.
On our visit the duPont home was closed to inside visitors, but I believe it is currently back open. We could peak through the windows and from what we saw – it is beautiful!
Longwood Gardens – Located in Pennsylvania, only 20 minutes from Wilmington, experience the beauty of the astonishing Longwood Gardens. We visited after speaking with a local at lunch about what to do in the area, and I am glad we did! The land on which Longwood Gardens stands was home to the native Lenni Lenape tribe and Quaker farmers, it has been transformed to a living display of art. There are monochromatic gardens, fountains, flower trails, greenhouses that will make you gasp, and over 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows.
We visited during the Festival of Fountains, and it was unlike anything I have ever seen. Be sure to see the main show at the greenhouse where the entire garden fountains dance with music, it is incredible!
Big Fish Grill Riverfront – Promise me you will eat here, okay?! I had the most fresh and delicious seafood pasta that I have ever had! Get the Big Seafood of the Day pasta, you will not regret it. Everything we ordered tasted great, and it is a very family friendly restaurant. They do not take reservations, so we had an hour wait (walked over to Iron Hill Brewery and had a beer). While waiting at their raw bar a kind employee talked to my kids about the lobsters which was really sweet, although my kids now claim they will not eat a lobster (ha-ha).
Iron Hill Brewery – Right next door to Big Fish Grill Riverfront you can find Iron Hill Brewery, which has great happy hour specials! We sat outside and enjoyed a flight of beers, try the Philly Phavorite!
Scalessa’s – This old school Italian kitchen makes a mean meatball and also has the famed Philly cheesesteak! It is very small, but they had a lot of local customers (that’s how you know it’s great!). We loved the food, I am still craving it!
DiMeo’s Pizza – I couldn’t come up North and not have pizza made the way I know and love! DiMeo’s pizza was near the hotel and they make traditional NY style pizza (my favorite). It was delicious, my only regret was not eating more!
Until next time…