It’s no secret that most of Delaware’s tourists flock to the beaches. Coastal towns like Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Fenwick Island see millions of visitors each year. According to a report by Southern Delaware Tourism, 2019 brought over 10 million people to Delaware’s coastal towns.
But there’s a new tourism hot spot emerging in Northern Delaware: Wilmington.
For born-and-raised Delawareans, this may come as a shock. The appeal to Wilmington as a tourist attraction might be difficult to see for those who have lived in and around the city from the time they were born. However, as the city’s recent naming as one of the best places to visit by Condé Nast Traveler illustrates, there are characteristics unique to Wilmington that make it increasingly appealing to outside visitors. One of those characteristics is the food.
Wilmington’s Emerging Foodie Community
The restaurant community in Wilmington is widely made up of owner/operators. This means there are more chef-inspired restaurant concepts and unique eateries you won’t find anywhere else. The chefs at the helm of these dining operations view food as an art form, and sharing their passion for cuisine certainly sets them apart from the corporate chains found in every city.
“People tend to find common ground in food, especially now,” remarks Jennifer Hastings Boes, Executive Director at the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Wilmington is a wonderful destination to enjoy this common ground. From longstanding community staples like Harry’s Savoy Grill to newcomers like Bardea Steak, Le Cavalier and The Quoin, there’s no shortage of food to gather around and enjoy an evening out with friends or a relaxing dinner with family. Plus, with grand historic hotels like Hotel du Pont and trendy new boutique stays like The Quoin, convenience is key when it comes to Wilmington tourism.
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Along with Wilmington’s downtown scene filled with grand hotels and trendy restaurants, the Delaware city also offers the perks of a rural getaway. For those living in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore or New York City, Wilmington’s countryside along the Brandywine River (often affectionately referred to as Chateau Country) offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown living. Boes considers this mix of “urban setting and countryside” to be one of the major draws for outside visitors.
Chateau Country Is Calling
The Brandywine Valley just outside of Wilmington’s downtown city limits is home to numerous grand estates. The famous du Pont family estates appeal to both locals and outside visitors. These large estates are symbols of a grand lifestyle and a different—perhaps simpler—time.
The Hagley Museum is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E.I. du Pont in 1802. Hagley is home to restored mills, scenic gardens and the ancestral home of the du Pont family.
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Winterthur is another sprawling du Pont estate where visitors enjoy a magnificent 175-room house that Henry Francis du Pont once called home. Where Hagley is a window into American industrialism, Winterthur tells the story of American decorative arts. In Winterthur’s magnificent gardens and 1,000 acres of protected meadows, it’s hard to believe you’re just a short 10-minute drive from the heart of downtown Wilmington.
For those planning a trip into Wilmington to experience the rural grandeur of Chateau Country, Boes notes a little-known fact: there are three covered bridges within a few minutes of Wilmington. This list includes the Ashland bridge, the oldest standing covered bridge in the state. This fun piece of trivia could make a great addition to the itinerary for lovers of history and the outdoors.
Between the food, the sprawling du Pont estates and rich history, it’s no surprise that Wilmington was named one of the 23 best places to visit in 2023.
To learn more about Wilmington attractions or plan your visit, go to visitwilmingtonde.com.