What to Do in Historic New Castle: A Day Trip Guide to the Delaware Town

From its underrated dining scene to colonial history and riverfront views, Delaware's Historic New Castle has plenty to offer.

Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff or just love a hidden gem, spending a day in Historic New Castle is a must! With its charming cobblestone roads, colonial buildings and museums, incredible restaurants and riverside park, Historic New Castle is an underrated Delaware destination.

One day isn’t enough to pack in all the incredible experiences in this little piece of Delaware history, but here’s an itinerary to help you get the most out of your Historic New Castle day trip experience.

10:30 a.m. – Take a guided tour of the historic Amstel House

The Amstel House has seen many owners, residents and visitors throughout the years. As New Castle’s earliest remaining Georgian residence, it’s a great place to start your day in Historic New Castle.  Delaware’s seventh governor, Nicholas Van Dyke, lived in the house during the 18th century. The abode was central to Delaware’s revolutionary efforts and welcomed prominent guests, including George Washington. Learn more about the house’s history with a guided tour.

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30 Market St, New Castle

11:30 a.m. – Go to the New Castle Court House Museum

The New Castle Court House, built in 1732, served as Delaware’s first courthouse and state capitol. In the Court House tour, you’ll learn about Delaware’s formation, including the vote to declare independence from both Pennsylvania and Great Britain.

211 Delaware St, New Castle

12:30 p.m. – Head to Nora Lee’s for a New Orleans-inspired lunch

This New Orleans-inspired bar and eatery specializes in Cajun and Creole classics. Enjoy a variety of flavors from the lunch menu. Along with a variety of po’boys and other sandwiches, dig into appetizer options like crawfish nachos, sauteed pierogies and onions, blackened scallops, voodoo crawfish tails, blackened alligator sausage and much more.

124 Delaware St, New Castle

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2 p.m. – Visit the stunning Read House & Gardens

After having your fill of Cajun cuisine, head over to the Read House & Gardens for another historic tour with plenty of photo ops. Interior tours of the George Read II House begin on the hour. If you show up a bit before 2 p.m., feel free to stroll through the gardens in a self-guided tour, available to the public from dawn to dusk. The interior tour is $10, while the garden is free to access.

42 The Strand, New Castle

3 p.m. – Have tea at The Mercury Cafe & Teahouse

After a morning and afternoon of historic tours, unwind with a cup of tea at The Mercury Cafe & Teahouse. The tea menu includes plenty of specialty blends. Plus, enjoy cocktails, coffee and light bites.

206 Delaware St, New Castle

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The Mercury Cafe & Teahouse is a great spot to rest during a day of exploring Historic New Castle.

4 p.m. – Check out the local shops and galleries

There are plenty of cute shops to check out in Historic New Castle. The Mo’Zart Gallery is a boutique gallery filled with art inspired by Historic New Castle. Opera House Arts & Antiques is a great spot to stop and explore antique treasures. All Good Things carries a curated collection of home furnishings, housewares and decor. Cabernet Candles is Delaware’s first candle and craft cafe. Book an experience in advance and make your own candle to commemorate your day in Historic New Castle.

6 p.m. – Catch a jazz act at Zollie’s Jazz Cucina

Whether you choose to indulge in a couple of pre-dinner cocktails or stay for a full meal, a stop at Zollie’s during jazz night is essential! For a fine dining experience with West African and Caribbean inspirations, reserve a table for dinner. Or, grab a seat at the bar and have a cocktail or two while taking in the sounds of live jazz music. Music starts at 6 p.m. on jazz nights, so it’s perfect for a dining experience or a fun cocktail hour.

414 Delaware St, New Castle

Jessop’s Tavern specializes in colonial-inspired fare, an impressive beer list and old-fashioned ice cream.

7:30 p.m. – Head to Jessop’s Tavern for colonial fare and an enormous beer selection

Jessop’s Tavern is a quintessential Historic New Castle experience. Whether you take advantage of the full menu of colonial-inspired dishes or just want a nightcap after a jazzy dinner at Zollie’s, you can’t skip the stop at Jessop’s. If you’re there for dinner, enjoy incredible pot pies, roasted duck, pot roast, sandwiches and more. Or, indulge in a night cap from the extensive beer list offering everything from fruited sours to malty German brews.

114 Delaware St, New Castle

9 p.m.: Take an ice cream to-go and stroll around town

After dinner (or drinks) at Jessop’s, finish the evening with a taste of ice cream made the old-fashioned way. The tavern sources its ice cream from the local Woodside Farm Creamery, known for meticulously crafting the sweet treat from start to finish right on the farm’s property. There’s something magical about an evening stroll through Historic New Castle’s cobblestone streets. Whether you meander through the historic Immanuel Episcopal Church Cemetery or take a walk down to the pier, a moonlit look at this historic Delaware town is a great way to end the day.

The historic Immanuel Episcopal Church & Cemetery is a popular place for an evening stroll in Historic New Castle.

Want to experience more New Castle history? Try following the New Castle Historical Society’s online Audiowalk Tour.

Related: 10 Great Beer Gardens and Outdoor Lounges in Delaware

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