By Hope S. Philbrick
If you’re like me, the mere fact that you’ve never before visited Wilmington, Delaware, is reason enough to book a trip.
While planning a recent trip I discovered it would cost about same to ride Amtrak to D.C., Baltimore, or Wilmington—all viable options to reach my next destination—but I chose Wilmington since I’d never been to Delaware.
Turns out, Wilmington is a great decision! I was impressed the second I stepped off the train and grew more infatuated with the city every hour of my visit. Now that I know, I’ll definitely visit again every chance I get.
But if you need specific enticements, here are five compelling reasons to visit Wilmington, Delaware right now:
“Orchid Extravaganza” is in full bloom now at Longwood Gardens. This spectacular garden in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, founded by Pierre S. du Pont, boasts 20 outdoor gardens and a four-acre Conservatory currently filled with an eye-popping display of orchids. Come see, sniff, and stroll around snapping photos. There are five seasons at Longwood Gardens—the others include Spring Blooms, Festival of Fountains, Autumn’s Colors, and A Longwood Christmas—ensuring there’s a reason to visit any time of year.
@21plusTravel Tip: OK, so technically Longwood Gardens is in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, but it’s such a short drive away you can visit between lunch and dinner at any restaurant of your choice in Wilmington.
“Costuming The Crown” will be on display at Winterthur from March 30, 2019 through January 5, 2020. The exhibition will feature 40 iconic costumes from the Emmy award-winning Netflix series The Crown. The dramatized history of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is the most expensive TV series to date at a cost of over $130 million. Come get a look at the elaborately fancy clothing that kind of money can buy! The exhibition offers a behind-the-scenes peek at how costumes help re-create history. See a coronation robe, wedding dress, tiaras, and more. The Crown is why to visit now, but any time is a great time to visit Winterthur. The 60-acre estate boasts a 175-room historic home (formerly belonging to Henry Francis du Pont and now filled with treasures that make it the premier museum of American decorative arts) plus a 60-acre garden amidst a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands.
Tour three of Delaware’s nine craft breweries with First State Brew Tours. Board a bus and leave the driving to someone else so you can imbibe worry-free. At each stop you’ll get to meet a member of the brewery’s crew for a behind-the-scenes look at how beer is made and follow that up with a tasting flight of fresh, on-tap beers. Three different tour routes are offered, each showcasing a mix of brewery sizes and styles. Taps rotate, so visit now for early spring brews or later for forthcoming seasons.
Dine at Bardea Food & Drink, a contemporary Italian eatery in downtown Wilmington that opened just months ago and has been nominated as one of the nation’s best new restaurants of 2018 by the James Beard Foundation—the food industry equivalent of an Oscar. Visit now to feel the vibrant “wow” that lingers in the air with the newness of the nomination, plus for the chance to brag that you’ve dined at this hot new restaurant before any of your foodie friends back home. Sure, the food and service will likely be just as good if you visit later…but getting a reservation may be more challenging if the restaurant wins its award category.
“American Beauty: Highlights from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest” is on exhibit now through May 27 at The Brandywine River Museum of Art. The exhibit showcases an unusual thing that happened in the world of art. A private collection was left to two museums, The Brandywine River Museum of Art and The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and they agreed to divvy up the collection through a bidding process. Each museum made its wish list, a coin was tossed for first pick, and the framed-canvas equivalent of a chess game began. While each museum walked away happy with the additions to its collection, this exhibit showcases 50 works of art from both museums side-by-side—and it’s super interesting to walk around, read the placard next to each painting to see which museum got what, and then try to figure out why a curator wanted painting X instead of painting Y, A vs. Z, etc. It adds a new level of intrigue to deciphering what makes art “art” in a museum curator’s eyes. Any time of year The Brandywine River Museum of Art has a large collection of American artwork on display, including works by multiple members of the famed Wyeth family.
Where To Stay…
Hotel du Pont
This posh Historic Hotel of America is conveniently located in downtown Wilmington. In addition to luxurious accommodations, the hotel is home to the four-star dining venue The Green Room where you can expect upscale service and artful presentations of deliciousness. Also on site is the luxe Playhouse at Rodney Square where Broadway musicals, stand-up comedy, and concerts are staged.
The Westin Wilmington
This elegantly appointed modern hotel is conveniently located near Riverfront Wilmington, which boasts multiple restaurants, a beer garden, brewery, wine and spirits shop, and more. Though it’s located in the heart of Wilmington and convenient to the Amtrak train station, this hotel offers free parking. FREE parking! At a hotel in a city! That’s another reason to visit Wilmington right now: Better go quick before they realize this is too good a deal and change their minds!
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Thanks to Visit Wilmington & Brandywine Valley for hosting my visit.