Momma Wanderlust - Curating Cultural Travels for Families

Things to do in Wilmington Delaware

by Tykesha77

If you’re looking for a great family-friendly destination, you’ll find lots of things to do in Wilmington, Delaware. This city located just south of Philadelphia is filled with excellent museums and top-notch gardens. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a must-stop destination for your next family road trip, you will find so many fun things to do in Wilmington, Delaware!

But first, getting there

Wilmington is just a short drive from several popular destinations. By car, it takes about 45 minutes from Philadelphia and Baltimore and two and a half hours from Washington, DC, and New York City.

Things to do in Wilmington, Delaware on your trip!

Experience the Extravagance of the DuPont Family Dynasty

The DuPont family is a prominent family that has been one of the richest families in the United States for more than 200 years. DuPont’s American legacy is rooted in the industries they started in Wilmington.  The dynastic family settled in Wilmington and left their mark on the state and the rest of the country. A number of DuPont estates are located in Wilmington and are open as museums where visitors can learn about the family and working conditions in early America.  

Hagley Museum and Library

Boy looks out at pulleys over water

The Hagley Museum is where the DuPont Family Dynasty’s American roots started.  It’s the DuPont family’s first home in America. Set on 235 acres, the estate was also the site of the family’s 19th-century gunpowder mill along the banks of the Brandywine River.  The museum includes powder yards, a machine shop, a workers’ community, and the DuPont family mansion. The museum focuses on the Industrial Revolution in Delaware and DuPonts’ role in helping to shape the state’s economy.  Visitors can tour the mansion’s interior and see housewares and furniture that were au courant at the time.   

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

man and two children have a tea party in the enchanted woods in winterthur gardens

The palatial estate and home of Henry Francis DuPont, a collector of antiques, is now the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.  Guests start at the visitor’s center and catch a tram that takes them up through the gardens to the 175-room mansion. The rooms are decorated with the finest wares and filled with more than 90,000 artifacts, some dating as far back as the 1640s.

With 60 acres of gardens to explore, the highlight of the estate for my family was the Enchanted Woods.  Has 1

Pro-Tip: There are strollers in the visitor’s center that guests can borrow for free.

 

Nemours Mansion and Garden

Built by Alfred DuPont for his second wife, Nemours is a 77-room mansion constructed to resemble a French château. It’s located on a 200-acre estate that includes Versailles-inspired gardens. These gardens are the largest formal French gardens in North America. This mansion is named after the town in France where the DuPont family is originally from.  

Delaware Children’s Museum

children playing in water at museum

The Delaware Children’s Museum was all the rage for my children.  This 37,000-square-foot learning museum is located along the Riverwalk and is the perfect attraction for a rainy day. The museum’s mission is to inspire exploration and discovery through fun interactive exhibits. 

Child drawing at hands-on museum station

The activities cover science, technology, engineering, and math.  My kids fell in love with this vertical structure located at the very front of the museum. Children can meander upward into this beehive-like maze.  There were several other interactive activities 

The museum often hosts traveling exhibits and has seasonal activities.

 

Child playing with styrofoam blocks

Delaware History Museum & the Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage

Boy standing in front of life-size photo of a historic one-room school house for Black children

Mitchell Center for African American Heritage

Located along Market Street in Downtown Wilmington, this dual museum is packed with Delaware history.  We learned all about the first settlement and the industries that fueled the state’s economy years later.  On the other side of the museum is the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, which chronicles the contributions of Black Delawareans.  We really enjoyed the photos. 

Museum docent explaining history to man at museum

Delaware History Museum

Wilmington and Western Railroad

two children sitting across from each other on the train

Wilmington and Western Railroad

Enjoy a scenic ride through some of Wilmington’s rural areas aboard the Wilmington and Western Railroad. Taking a ride aboard this classic steam and the diesel-engine train was quite the treat.  It was an active train service in the late 1800s but was converted into a tourist attraction in the 1960s.

two children standing next to a classic train in wilmington

Nearly every weekend, the trains take passengers on a slow trip on the heritage track through the scenic Red Clay Creek Valley while a volunteer explains the railroad’s history and its role in bolstering the city’s economy.

Kalmar Nyckel, Tall Ship of Delaware

image of historic ship

Kalmar Nyckel, Tall Ship of Delaware

Climb aboard the 1638 replica of the ship that brought Swedish settlers to Delaware. Unfortunately, a coastal storm rolled through during our visit, and our cruise was canceled. We’re planning to enjoy this wonderful attraction during our next visit.

Delaware Children’s Theatre

This community-based theatre has several shows and productions throughout the year. Local children and adults share in most of the performances. The performances take place in the history New Century Club building, which was built in 1893.

DuPont Environmental Education Center

wooden structure in a nature preserve

DuPont Environmental Education Center

This education center is located on 10-acres of urban green space that’s open year-round. The park is free and includes a quarter of a mile walking loop that goes through a flower garden, freshwater marsh, and an education center.  The Nature Center is a wildlife refuge on the Christina River, not far from the Wilmington Riverfront.

Little pretending to be a princess in the midst of large trees in park

Stroll Along the Wilmington Riverfront

young boy looking at Tubman/Garrett Sculpture outdoors

The Wilmington Riverfront is a mile-long walkway that snakes along the Christiana River. It’s lined with restaurants and shops and is a great place for an after-dinner stroll or to sit and enjoy the scenery.  The Tubman Garrett Riverfront Park is located across the street from the main walkway. The park honors Harriet Tubman and Underground Railroad stationmaster Thomas Garrett.

Things to do in Wilmington, Delaware

Where to Stay in Wilmington, Delaware

We enjoyed our stay at the Homewood Suites Downtown Wilmington which is conveniently located right on the Riverfront. The room was spacious and clean, and the service was great.

Here’s a walkthrough of our room at Homewood Suites Downtown Wilmington.

https://vimeo.com/717594631

Where to Eat in Wilmington, Delaware

While in Wilmington we ate at Taco Grande (along the Riverfront), Chelsea Tavern (downtown Wilmington), and Pizza by Elizabeth (in Greenville near the Brandywine Valley).

[Thank you to the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau for hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own.]

Additional Things to do in Wilmington, Delaware

  • Drive the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway
  • Brandywine Zoo
  • Mt. Cuba Center
  • Drive along the Brandywine Scenic Byway
  • Delaware Museum of Natural History
  • Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge
  • Alapocas Run State Park
  • Delaware Art Museum
  • Read House and Gardens

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