From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
With the largest downtown area in the state of Delaware and a uniquely urban-yet-small-town feel, Wilmington is an incredible location to call home — for a lifetime or even just a short while. Here are our favorite things to see, do, and explore in Wilmington!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Although the town itself is full of fun urban adventures to take on, one of the best parts of Wilmington is its proximity to a diversity of preserved outdoor spaces. Here are some of the best state and national parks in and around the Wilmington, DE area.
Covering just over 400 acres of Delaware countryside, the land that is now known as Alapocas Run State Park was originally donated to the city of Wilmington in the early 1900s by a local industrialist named William Bancroft. Open year round as a day use facility, this park offers sporting areas, approachable children’s playgrounds, hiking and biking trails and even rock-climbing opportunities.
Located in the neighboring community of Yorklyn, Auburn Valley State Park preserves what was once the home and estate of the Marshall family along with additional state-owned lands. Portions of former Marshall-owned mills along the Red Clay Creek are on display, and hiking and paved biking trails criss-cross the area. Fishing is permitted in the creek and the Marshall Family Bridge is a popular spot to take in a sunset.
Another local park built around a historic estate, the property that is now known as Bellevue State Park was once the homestead of the DuPont family. The historic home is available for scheduled tours, and visitors can also traipse around the surrounding arboretum; the on-site pond is the perfect place to drop in a line or simply enjoy a picnic. Walking trails and a running track are also available for those hoping to get in some activity.
Located just three miles north of Wilmington, Brandywine Creek State Park is a beloved local destination for outdoorsy pursuits. Stretching to almost 1,000 acres of scenic Delaware countryside, this park includes views of and access to its namesake creek, but like Bellevue State Park, also preserves lands that were historically owned by the DuPont family, including what was once a dairy farm.
Imagine enjoying an idyllic picnic by the waterside while the kids play and explore the colorful playground and sandbox areas. Fox Point State Park may not be the largest public green space in the city — it covers only 100 or so acres — but this small day use facility offers plenty of great opportunities for family fun in the shining Delaware sun. Plus, it’s all just minutes from downtown Wilmington.
Among other claims to fame and attention, White Clay Creek State Park contains part of the boundary globally known as the Mason-Dixon line — and is easily the largest park on our list at more than 3,600 acres. Offering nearly 40 miles of trail to explore, a nature center tucked into a stunning historic house, fishing opportunities, a disc golf course, and more, this park is a great spot to enjoy an outdoor-adventure-packed getaway.
You don’t have to get very far from Wilmington at all to find some incredible hiking trails to meander. Here are some of the best places to get your boots dirty in and around town.
A beautiful and simple hike offering, as its name suggests, views of horses contentedly grazing, Carousel Park Trail runs a total of two and a half miles in a loop, seeing a little less than 300 feet of elevation gain along the way. That puts this trail into the easy-to-moderate category, and makes it a great opportunity for those hiking with dogs or children. This trail is also beloved as a snowshoeing destination in the winter.
A great way to get outside without getting very far from Wilmington at all, Alapocas Woods Trail is located in Alapocas Woods Park, and travels less than two miles altogether. With some mild-to-moderate ups and downs, this trail offers a great opportunity for exercise and is also frequented by mountain bikers and rock climbers. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with views of a stunning waterfall, amongst other attractions!
Another great opportunity for those who want to go chasing waterfalls, Rocky Run Loop is located inside Brandywine Creek State Park and runs about three miles in length and 270 feet in elevation change. Along with the waterfall, views on this moderately-challenging adventure include rushing riversides, lush Delaware greenery, and rugged, rocky terrain.
A scenic option nestled into Alapocas Run State Park, Blue Ball Barn to Brandywine Creek via Delaware Greenway Trail is certainly a mouthful of a hike… but the views you’ll get along the way are simply delightful. Running just shy of four miles and seeing about 300 feet in elevation change along the way, this trail is considered moderately challenging — a good way for beginners to stretch their skills and more advanced hikers to enjoy something rather leisurely. Just keep in mind that on this trail, you go down before you go back up again, so be sure you save some gas for the return trip!
One of the most popular options inside the state park of the same name, Brandywine Creek River Loop offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the creek itself while also exploring the dry, green parts of the park. Although no specific part of the trail is particularly difficult, this is a long and meandering adventure, running just short of 12 miles and seeing more than 1,200 feet of combined elevation gain along the way, so if you’re going to take on the full loop, be prepared — or turn back whenever you’re ready.
If you’re going to keep up with all the adventure there is to experience in Wilmington, you’re going to need a hot meal (or several) on your belly. Here are some of the best spots in town to eat, no matter what you’re craving.
Noteworthy as a James Beard semifinalist, Bardea Food and Drink is one of the best local Italian restaurants in Wilmington, as well as a great all-around restaurant, period. Start with the house bread board including cultured butter and extra virgin olive oil before moving on to black garlic tortellini or a bone-in ribeye. Be sure to save room for dessert: cheesecake, gelato, and even artisanal cheese plates are on the menu.
Think eating a plant-based diet has to be boring? Think again. Green Box Kitchen offers an array of freshly-pressed juices, handcrafted smoothies, refreshing salads, colorful acai bowls, and other vegetarian and vegan eats that will leave even carnivores feeling satisfied — and even have them coming back for more. Furthermore, it’s all presented in a dining-room-cum-gallery, offering patrons the opportunity to gaze at local art as they munch.
Seafood is more than just a “maybe” option while you’re in New England: it’s a tradition, a must-do experience and a way to participate in the authentic local vibe. Trolley Square Oyster House is one of the very best spots in Wilmington to enjoy fresh-from-the-ocean oysters, along with a range of other seafood delights (and some landlubbers’ options for those who aren’t so sure about eating what comes from the salt water. Their loss!).
Although beloved for its sushi and Japanese eats, Mikimotos serves many other types of cuisine — making it easily one of the best pan-Asian restaurant experiences available in Wilmington. Specialties like dim sum and Mongolian barbecue lamb chops are noteworthy, as is the attention to detail put into even the most mundane ingredients. (For example, the noodles are hand-crafted and prepared in-house each day.) Come see why this place was voted Best of Delaware in 2020!
From tandoori chicken to saag paneer, if you’re craving Indian food, there’s simply no substitute. India Palace is the Wilmington go-do for satisfying and freshly-crafted Indian delights from across the country of India, and it’s all served up in an approachable, casual dining atmosphere with a smile and a sense of pride.
Once you’ve enjoyed the great outdoors and eaten some great food, it’s time to get down to the real business of getting familiar with Wilmington. Here are some of our top picks for things to do in town, for couples, families, singletons looking for something to do on the weekend, and more!
Wilmington has plenty of family-friendly activities to choose from! Here are just a few.
Tucked into the local park of the same name, Brandywine Zoo is a small but powerful way to get familiar with some furred and feathered new friends. Covering about 12 acres of space and showcasing a wide variety of both common and endangered animals, this zoo was originally opened all the way back in 1905, making visiting it a historical venture, too!
Want to offer your kids a chance at hands-on, interactive learning that just can’t be replicated in a classroom, no matter how well intentioned their teachers might be? The Delaware Children’s Museum offers a fully immersive experience in a state-of-the-art facility allowing children of all ages the opportunity to learn with their own two eyes and, yes, hands. At DCM, playing is a part of learning — and the whole family can get in on the fun!
While it’s hard to get bored in Wilmington while the sun is shining, what is there to do after hours? Take heart, adventurers! Here are some of our top post-sunset tips for getting out after dark.
With a tripartite mission to delight, excite, and ignite the people who are lucky enough to see the productions on its famed stage, Bootless Stageworks is a one-of-a-kind local theater venue that offers up world-class entertainment by committed emerging artists in the Wilmington community. Browse the calendar to see what’s coming up, and grab your tickets early — shows do sell out!
A trip to the movies is classic date night fare — and a great option for those hitting the town with friends, as well. But if you want something a little bit different from what the big box guys can offer, check out Theater N at Nemours. Screening first-run indie and foreign films in a quaint location that’s been restored since its original construction in 1935, this is a movie theater with character — as well as characters, of course!
If you’re trying to save some cash while still enjoying all Wilmington has to offer — you’re in luck! Here are just a few of the fun and affordable options to add to your itinerary.
A historic “high rise,” the DuPont Building’s 13 floors were unprecedented in this town when the building first went up in the early 1900s. Taking up an entire city block, this building today offers a wide array of activities and amenities, from living space to spas, eateries, shopping areas and more. They call it a “City Within Four Walls,” and although you certainly can find ways to spend money inside, you don’t have to to have a good time checking it out!
Originally consecrated on Trinity Sunday all the way back in 1699 by a Swedish congregation, the Old Swedes Church and Historic Site is more than a place of worship, though Episcopalian services are ongoing at Trinity Parish. Educational activities and historical tours open up the story of this unique piece of Wilmington’s legacy, and prices start lower than $10 per person.
Less a cohesive national park like, say, Yellowstone, and more a series of important historical structures, sites, and spots to explore throughout the state of Delaware, First State National Historic Park gives visitors an incredible opportunity to dive into the legacy of this area head-first — and for free! Seven Park locations across the state offer plenty of ways to learn more about the men and women who came before us.
Although there are plenty of public green spaces available in around Wilmington, Rockford Park bears the distinction of offering, among other amenities, an off-leash dog park — so it wins our pick for best spot to head toward on a sunny afternoon with the entire fam, four-legged members included!
Sometimes, there’s nothing for it except a spa day. Fortunately, there are plenty of great day spas and salons to choose from in Wilmington, whether you’re after a whole new ‘do or a therapeutic massage.
With a name that means heaven, you can guarantee you’re going to come out looking and feeling divine! Cielo Salon & Spa offers a full range of services to treat you from head to toe, including haircuts, hair coloring, styling, facials, professional makeup services, waxing and threading, and massage in a wide range of modalities. Consider it your one-stop shop for all things ahhhhhh.
Staying in shape is good for your body, sure… but it’s incredibly good for your mind. Here are the best spots in Wilmington for working it all out.
If you want your fitness experience to be more than a ho-hum run to the gym, check out CoreTen Fitness, a community-oriented fitness facility that includes personal training programs, small group options, fun and motivating exercise classes, and more. Participating in a larger community can help make working out feel like less of a drag — and help you get those results you’re after!
Can’t pick between the ancient eastern practice and a newer, but no less powerful, western one? At Pure Yoga Pilates Studio, you don’t have to — and no matter which class you choose, you’ll find yourself challenged, strengthened, and surrounded by helpful and nurturing professionals ready to guide you through the movements.
While you certainly don’t have to go far from Wilmington to have a good time, the fact remains that there are some incredible places to enjoy in the surrounding communities. Here are our top picks for day trips and weekend getaways from Wilmington.
It’s hard to find a city that packs just as much party into its atmosphere as it does sober and important historical context, but what can we say? Philadelphia has it all — and it’s all less than an hour from Wilmington! Go into town to wave hello to the Liberty Bell and be home in time for dinner… that is, if you don’t grab a cheesesteak while you’re there.
From endless sandy seashores to landside diversions ranging from casinos to boardwalk carnivals and more, the Jersey Shore is the gift that just keeps on giving — and no, you don’t have to look or talk like Snooki to enjoy it. There are miles and miles of towns to consider, but no matter where you go, make sure you bring your sunglasses and an appetite for seafood!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Wilmington that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Wilmington? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.