15 Best Things to Do in Newark, DE

Newark, DE
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A city with tranquil open spaces, a lively Main Street, iconic structures, and a colorful past, Newark, Delaware, is a perfect spot for a short vacation.

Newark is located in New Castle County, Delaware, 12 miles west southwest from Wilmington, the most populous city in the state.

Scots-Irish and Welsh settlers founded Newark in 1694; they officially established the city when King George II of Great Britain gave it a charter in 1758.

Newark carries all the energy of a college town, being home to the University of Delaware, the state’s largest university.

Schools played a large role in Newark’s history: the Newark Academy, a grammar school, had three signers of the Declaration of Independence as its graduates.

Newark Academy would soon join forces with another chartered school, Newark College, eventually becoming the University of Delaware in 1921.

During the American Revolutionary War, British and American forces fought outside Newark in the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge.

People say this marks the first time the Stars and Stripes flew in battle.

Today, it is easy to get lost in the attractions of Newark with its eventful museums, lush state parks, relaxing venues, athletic opportunities, popular restaurants, and bustling shopping centers.

If you plan to entertain yourself in Newark, here is a list of the best things to do here.

Stop by the University of Delaware Campus

Fountain and exterior of a building in University of Delaware
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Newark is home to the University of Delaware or UD, a campus with sprawling spaces and many enriching events.

These include events such as art and culture programs, live music performances, theatrical spectacles, collegiate athletics, and guest speakers.

It is proud of its alumni, including a signer of the constitution and 3 Declaration of Independence signers.

Other alumni are a Tony-winning choreographer, a Nobel Prize award-winning scientist, and a President of the United States.

Snow covered lamp post in University of Delaware Campus
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Its mission is to develop knowledge, cultivate learning, and encourage the free exchange of ideas, and it has a long scholarship tradition.

This manifests in its teaching tradition, creative and research activities, and service that commits to disseminating artistic, humanistic, scientific, and social knowledge.

The faculty commits itself to the ethical, intellectual, and cultural development of students as scholars, citizens, and professionals.

The university encourages a learning environment of intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and respect for a diverse population.

Exterior of the mall in University of Delaware
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Bring a Team to Axxiom Escape Rooms

Axxiom Escape Rooms is the first and largest escape room experience in the state, featuring clue searching, puzzle-solving, and teamwork galore!

They feature very challenging yet fun and rewarding escape rooms, each packed with treasure and mystery.

In the Heist, pull off the heist of the century with speed, precision, and a golden vault.

In Wanted! Dead or Alive, bring outlaws to justice and finish their reign of terror in a lawless town.

In The Fate of the North Pole, the North Pole’s fate depends on your help as you search for Santa.

In Pirate’s Cove, navigate the high seas and search for hidden treasure as you come across a secret cabin.

And in Sorcerer’s Quest: The Dragon’s Lair, a dark lord has risen, and only secrets in the headmaster’s chamber can vanquish him.

Wake Up and Sip the Coffee at Brew HaHa!

Brew HaHa!’s original mission was to create a comfortable hub in downtown Delaware that carried the otherworldly atmosphere of faraway Italy.

Many years later, there are Brew HaHa! branches everywhere in Delaware, each with its unique look and atmosphere.

The Brew HaHa! branch in Newark is located just off Main Street, opening at the break of day for early birds eager to get their caffeine buzz.

The owners throw themselves into the everyday ritual of preparing, sourcing, and roasting high-quality coffee for neighborhood denizens.

For years, they have mastered grinding, brewing, and serving a great cup of coffee.

They know how to bring out its wonderful flavors and forge a connection with their customers and the community.

They have quite a diverse menu, and its variety may dizzy customers: they have espresso, cappuccino, cold brew, sweet frappuccinos, fruits, juice, baked goods, and much more.

Visit the Past at Hale-Byrnes House

Hale-Byrnes House is a historical icon on the National Register of Historic Places, a two-story, five-bay brick dwelling built in 1750.

Samuel Hale built the house and sold it to Daniel Byrnes in 1754.

On September 3, 1777, the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge took place: the only land battle of the American Revolution fought in Delaware.

And on September 6, 1777, George Washington and the Continental Army high command, including Marquis de Lafayette, held a council of war at the Hale-Byrnes House to prepare for the British advance.

The house also served as the residence of prominent personas who played roles during the Revolutionary war and the United States’ founding.

Today, one can admire the house’s stunning structure, charm and architecture, housewares, beautiful period furniture, and interior décor.

The house is open seasonally or for private special events, so check their schedule before booking a visit.

Go Shopping at Christiana Mall

Food court entrance of Christiana Mall
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Did you know that the shopping malls in Delaware are popular because they don’t charge sales tax?

Christiana Mall in Newark is the largest shopping mall in the state and also the largest mall in nearby states that excludes sales tax.

It has been around since 1978 and constantly renovates its premises to keep things fresh and engaging.

It has the anchor stores of Macy’s, Nordstrom, JC Penney’s, and Target, with almost 200 shops overall.

Shops inside Christiana Mall
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Here, shop ‘til you drop for laid-back, sophisticated clothing, pretty apparel, hip merchandise, casual outfits, chic fashion trends, luxurious fabrications, iconic aesthetics, and more.

Hunt down stylish footwear, exquisite accessory designs, all-natural cosmetics, indulgent products,  lavish crafts, and assorted designs

And explore your dining options: there is fast food, pizza, salad, Chinese food, Italian fare, baked goods, chicken, steaks, seafood, gourmet burgers, and plenty of others up for grabs.

Interior of Christiana Mall
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Watch the Resident Ensemble Players Perform

The Resident Ensemble Players is a group of professional theater performers at the Roselle Center for the Arts at the University of Delaware.

Throughout the year, they put on several amazing productions, ranging from contemporary plays to the classics, musicals, children’s presentations, and comedies.

Some of their past performances include Waiting for Godot, Twelfth Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, Angels in America, and Our Town.

Their mission is to engage audiences all over the region with their outstanding professional productions performed in a wide range of styles.

They put an emphasis on plays with high-quality scripts, wide opportunities for virtuosity in performance, and immense power as theatrical experiences.

It is also their mission to make these plays available at very low prices so that anyone can afford them.

They focus on contributing to the university’s undergraduate curriculum and creating future theater-goers.

And finally, they aim to celebrate the possibility and power of actors who work together for a common goal.

Get Educated at the Newark History Museum

The Newark Historical Society manages the Newark History Museum, where one can get up to date on all aspects of local history.

The founding of Newark Historical Society was in 1981 after a little group of educators, residents, business people, professionals, and students got together.

They formed an organization to preserve and celebrate the past of their city.

At the museum, see exhibits, photo archives, and artifacts on Newark’s schools, industry, social and military history, public works, and other topics.

The displays give an insider look at events and people that made Newark what it is today.

They go all the way back to the Revolutionary War and the United States’ founding.

Some exhibits of note are the Roaring 20s display, the exhibit on Newark’s educational institutions, and the displays on Main Street restaurants from the early to the mid-20th century.

See Living Things Bloom at the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens

A lush region reminiscent of an arboretum, the Botanic Gardens are a wonderful part of the University of Delaware.

The Gardens are a laboratory and open-air classroom that provide an understanding of the developing relationship between humans and plants.

Here, the public admires a thriving and dynamic collection: more than 3000 species of perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Students conduct studies in this living classroom covering plant biology, landscape design, plant pathology, ornamental horticulture, and entomology via experiential learning.

One can observe birds, butterflies, and moths in the Native Garden, see rarely spotted Delaware plants in the Townsend Hall garden, or find sweeping flower beds at the Fischer Greenhouse Garden.

Other themed areas are the Herbaceous Garden, the Native Garden, the Wetlands, the Ecology Woods, and more.

The Botanic Gardens are also ideal for birders, with observed species such as the great blue heron, the glossy ibis, the red-tailed hawk, and others.

Connect with the Outdoors at White Clay Creek State Park

River flowing at White Clay Creek State Park
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White Clay Creek spreads out over 3300 acres in New Castle County, and many outdoor enthusiasts converge on its grounds.

From its establishment in 1968, the park has been a popular spot to enjoy outside recreations, gaze at the lovely views, and connect with nature.

It links to the White Clay Creek Preserve of Pennsylvania; together, both states oversee the federally protected White Clay Creek, which runs for 18.5 miles.

Maple tree leaf at White Clay Creek State Park
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Enjoy paved trails and historical monuments, cast your fishing line at the creek’s edge, play at the meandering disc golf course, or walk along the designated Wild and Scenic River.

Go hiking and biking on 37 miles of scenic vistas and historical sites that overlook thriving valleys and imposing rock outcrops.

Discover rich history in the ruins and buildings like the 1790 Judge Morris Estate and the 200-year-old Chamber’s House Nature Center.

Exterior of Chamber’s House Nature Center
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Have a Tee Time at Deerfield Golf Club

If you are a golf enthusiast, then you’re always eager to play on a pristine and well-maintained course.

Luckily, Deerfield Golf Club is a Newark gem and one of the most lovely and agreeable courses in Delaware.

It covers a picturesque 145 acres and offers its guests an exceptional 18-hole course with concise greens, sprawling fairways, and beautiful sweeping environments.

It is a championship course that still provides an enjoyable session for golfers of every ability – besides the men’s course, there are tee boxes available for women, children, and seniors.

Other club attractions are a platform tennis court and standout public dining that draws in the Sunday brunch crowd.

If you want to prepare a golf outing for your associates, Deerfield is ready to give you an extraordinary day.

They will provide excellent beverage and foodservice and superb tournament services to welcome your guests.

Take Your Children to Iron Hill Science Center

Science centers are always wonderful for stimulating and widening your children’s imagination.

The Delaware Academy of Science operates the Iron Hill Science Center in Newark, a special place with exhibits that broaden the mind.

It has exhibits presenting the natural sciences of botany, geology, entomology, paleontology, and zoology.

Here, your kids will enjoy displays like their mineral assortment, leaf array, Delaware mammals, fossils, black bears, and regional birds.

Spot foxes, hawks, turkeys, deer, turtles, and bears in their Taxidermy Collection.

Explore different textures on their Please Touch Wall, such as animal footprints and petrified wood.

Discover the past of the Lenape people who lived long ago without today’s modern conveniences.

See a beautiful display of rocks and minerals around the world, and admire their glowing Fluorescent Rock room.

Find Delaware’s ancient sea creatures at their Prehistoric Sea Life display and contrast different shell shapes at their Under the Sea exhibit.

Spend a Fun Day at Glasgow Regional Park

Water fountain at Glasgow Regional Park
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Another of New Castle County’s prime open-air spaces is Glasgow Regional Park.

It is an admirable park with teeming greenery, winding trails, and an almost 3-mile walking path.

It also has a disability-accessible playground, a dog park for small and large breeds, basketball and tennis courts, and picnic pavilions for large groups.

Another feature is its top-tier Skate Park, with its steps, half-pipes, and rails serving as a challenge to skaters.

It holds events like the Awaken Your Senses Scavenger Hunt, designed to make people experience nature with their senses, and Trail Tales, storytelling sessions held out on the trail.

They also hold the Summer Sports Camp featuring many popular sports and the Delaware Small Chamber Fun Fest, including cook-offs, obstacle courses, and face painting.

And they have the Glasgow Farmer’s Market, which provides fresh produce and food for the entire family.

Glasgow Park is an impressive outdoor haven for every visitor.

Take Your Family Outside at Iron Hill Park

Iron Hill is the highest hill in Delaware, named for its iron deposits mined over 200 years and part of the New Castle County park, Iron Hill Park.

Iron Hill Park comprises more than 300 acres of a beautiful, naturally wooded area.

The Friends of Iron Hill Park managed this area and have toiled to create one of the finest outdoor recreation spots in all of Delaware.

You can cook up food on the grills, prepare a picnic lunch at the pavilions, and ride bikes on the trails after.

You can also challenge your friends to a disc golf game on their course or explore the surrounding wooded areas for some alone time.

Bring your kids to enjoy the swings, slides, and climbing apparatus in the playground area.

Take your dogs for a romp at the dog park, where they have separate enclosed areas for both larger and smaller breeds.

Down a Drink at Midnight Oil Brewing Company

Midnight Oil Brewing Company had humble beginnings when owner Mike Dunlap started making his own home-brewed beer to save money.

It soon grew into a hobby, a way to occupy and impress guests, and then eventually, a business.

The company dedicates itself to hard work to give others the most refreshing, worthy, and pleasurable beers that they can brew.

Guided brewery tours are available for those who want to see how they concoct ordinary ingredients into extraordinary brews.

Some of their special beers are the Witching Hour Märzen with its malty sweet finish, the traditional English style Doc Brown, and the chocolate and toffee flavored Midnight Porter.

Others are the raspberry Danish-influenced Your Mom, the citrusy Impulse India Pale Ale, and the floral and piney Momentum.

Midnight Oil Brewery is also a big supporter of charities and groups such as Extra Life, a gaming community that raises funds for children’s hospitals.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Savor a Meal at Pachamama Rotisserie Chicken

This cozy restaurant has gained a devoted following since it opened.

Its head chef and general manager, Juliana Jimenez, composed a menu incorporating her mother’s authentic Peruvian recipes.

She combines this with her own experiences managing a Latin restaurant and working for Delaware eateries.

They source most of their traditional ingredients from Peru, and their menu includes items to fit variations in taste buds.

Pachamama redefines the rotisserie chicken experience using Peruvian chili peppers, which are not spicy but give taste, flair, color and accompanying dishes with rice, ribs, ceviches, and guacamole.

Try their favorites, such as slow-cooked baby back ribs, certified Angus beef, ‘lomo saltado’ steak and onions, and seasoned arroz con pollo.

They roast their rotisserie chicken in the Peruvian style, beautifully marinated and seasoned for 24 hours, and served with Peruvian stir-fry rice.

Final Thoughts

Prepare this list for perusal if you ever find yourself in this part of the state.

Encounter significant historical venues, outdoor green spaces, campus hotspots, cool hangouts, buzzing entertainment hubs, and intimate neighborhoods in Newark.  

Newark is a vibrant, interesting, and enjoyable place for your next Delaware destination, so get yourself ready for a great time.