This charming town in New Castle County lures visitors with its rich history, striking outdoor trails and unique restaurant scene.
By Lindsey Weber and Sydney Kerelo
Just seven miles south of Wilmington, Historic New Castle is a not-so-hidden gem of Delaware’s attractions. Settled by the Dutch in the 1650s, the town is brimming with fascinating history. The cobblestone roads, quaint shops and restaurants and historic museums make this Delaware destination more than worth a day trip. Read on for an itinerary for your future visit to Old New Castle.
For prospective day-trippers to Old New Castle, there’s plenty to do right in town or a short drive away. Take a look at our guide, then plan your own ideal trip to New Castle. P.S. Don’t forget to tag us @DelawareTodayMagazine on Instagram if you visit any of these spots!
9 a.m. — Start the day on the right path with breakfast at Wheelys Farmstand Café
Located at Historic Penn Farms, Wheelys Farmstand Café is the spot to go for organic coffee, to-go meals and local produce. Try the award-winning Belgian waffle, the Rise n’ Shiner dish or the Biddy in a Basket made with crispy chicken fritters over a Wheelys waffle.
791 Frenchtown Rd., New Castle • 547-9438
10:30 a.m. — Stroll along New Castle’s riverfront Battery Park to see its picturesque views
Once you’ve sufficiently stuffed yourself with a delicious breakfast, New Castle’s beautiful Battery Park is just a short stroll away. Walk or bike off some of those calories along the park’s riverside walking trails. If kids are in tow, the playground area is sure to keep them occupied while you take in the beautiful river views.
12:00 p.m. — Visit the Kalmar Nyckel ship docked on the riverfront
Sail the Tall Ship of Delaware (Kalmar Nyckel) or visit the Copeland Maritime Center to learn more about life at sea in the First State. The Kalmar Nyckel sails from April to October, and guests can haul sails, set sails and even enjoy special events or festivals. The Maritime Center offers visitors a year-round learning experience and history of the Delaware Valley as well.
1124 E 7th St., Wilmington • 429-7447
12:30 p.m. — Grab a few friends for lunch at Jessop’s Tavern
Jessop’s Tavern in the heart of Old New Castle is a true blast from the past. Nested in a 1724 colonial-era building, this New Castle institution features servers in period costumes and a tasty pub fare menu. Patrons keep coming back for the shepherd’s pie, meatloaf and fish and chips.
114 Delaware St., New Castle • 322-6111
2:00 p.m. — Enjoy Delaware’s rich history at New Castle’s vast museums
Spend the rest of your afternoon exploring the “old” in Old New Castle. The small town is brimming with incredible history; it was settled by the Dutch in the 1650s, and its historic district became a national landmark in 1967. The New Castle Court House Museum is part of the First State National Historical Park, and visitors can receive a free informative tour of the museum. The 1732 courthouse is where Delaware declared its independence from Pennsylvania and where trials of abolitionists Thomas Garrett and Jon Hunn took place, as well as other nationally important events. Make sure to stop by the Dutch House Museum, Amstel House and George Read II House as well for fascinating history and stunning 17th and 18th century architecture. Many of these museums offer free admission—why not check out as many as you can?
6:30 p.m. — Sit down at Nora Lee’s French Quarter Bistro for a delicious dinner in New Castle
Nora Lee’s French Quarter Bistro boasts some of the finest Cajun cuisine in the state of Delaware, with a Bourbon Street vibe that feels authentic and inviting. The cocktail selection, jambalaya and crawfish tails are not to be missed.
124 Delaware St., New Castle • 322-7675
8:00 p.m. — End this day trip with a scoop of ice cream at Dairy Palace
Dairy Palace is one of those places that takes you right back to your childhood; the spot has hardly changed in its 50 years since opening. Located a short drive from downtown Historic New Castle, the shop’s extensive flavor selections and options like soft-serve, milkshakes, sundaes and slushies ensure that there is something for every sweet-toothed customer.
2 Jay Drive, New Castle • 328-9740