Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Wilmington, DE

  • Published 2023/04/29

Though the largest city in Delaware, Wilmington has been known for many years under its previous tourism tagline of “Small Wonder.”

As the state’s principal port and commercial center, the city has something for everyone, whether young or old, a local or a tourist.

Most of its attractions are best experienced during the warmer months.

However, many of its tourist attractions are near one another, allowing most visitors to explore everything in a day.

Visit this city in New Castle County and enjoy the best things to do in Wilmington, Delaware.

Cross the Riverwalk

Signage of the Riverwalk

Charlotte Evelyn /

At the heart of Wilmington lies the Riverwalk, a 1.75-mile path along the Christina River’s banks.

Its location makes it one of the most accessible attractions available in Wilmington.

Also, most other tourist attractions in Wilmington are accessible from this path.

The DuPont Environmental Education Center and downtown Wilmington sit on both ends.

View of the waters from Riverwalk

quiggyt4 /

But the Riverwalk isn’t just the yellow brick road leading into Wilmington’s wonders.

Lined with restaurants, statues, and birdhouses, the Riverwalk suffers no shortage of activities.

Even if you’re looking to stroll, the waterfront promenade adds a lot of light and color, allowing most patrons to enjoy an easy, breezy visit.

Nothing says welcome like the Riverwalk!

Grounds of the Riverwalk

EQRoy /

Marvel at the Opulence of the Nemours Mansion and Garden

The grounds of Nemours Mansion and Garden

Esther Westerveld from Haarlemmermeer, Nederland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Near downtown Wilmington is the Nemours Mansion and Garden.

It is one of the sprawling family homes belonging to the wealthy DuPont Family, whose patriarch was industrialist Alfred I. DuPont.

Because of DuPont’s influence, most cultural and historical attractions in Delaware are in their name.

However, the Nemours Mansion and Garden certainly take the cake.

Like a French chateau, the grounds are beautiful inside and out.

Starting with its gardens, walkways lined with magnificent trees and budding flowers lead to more or less a dozen fountains sprinkled throughout the 200-acre estate.

Daytime view of Nemours Mansion and Garden

Esther Westerveld from Haarlemmermeer, Nederland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Locals advise visiting the gardens during the late spring and summer to catch the flowers in full bloom.

The home includes dozens of luxurious rooms filled with ornate art and furnishings encapsulating the taste of the upper class back in the day.

See bird cages, wall carvings, and black and white checked flooring.

Downstairs is a bit of a surprise, as it houses features almost stuck in time, such as indoor bowling alleys, shuffleboard rooms, and an early precursor to the modern sauna!

Take a day to explore the entirety of this opulent estate!

Bring Your Kids to the Delaware Children’s Museum

The Delaware Children’s Museum is a perfect spot to explore for kids and adults.

With several engaging, educational, and entertaining activities, this museum will show you a good time.

Just off the Riverwalk, the museum’s yellow facade is hard to miss, with the interior spanning over 37,000 square feet.

Exhibits vary depending on the subject, from science, biology, history, and art.

Several special exhibits, including the Stratosphere Exhibit, a climbing structure starting from the museum lobby and spanning nearly 30 feet in diameter.

Another exhibit is the Tree Pavillion, which showcases a 250-year-old sycamore tree and a STEM room dedicated to fun activities and experiments.

The Delaware Children’s Museum closes on Mondays and Thursdays, so plan your trip accordingly!

Learn New Things at the DuPont Environmental Education Center

Exterior of the DuPont Environmental Education Center

Kate Scott /

Another attraction built under the influence of the DuPont family is the DuPont Environmental Education Center.

Sitting on 200 acres of undisturbed land on Delmarva Lane in downtown Wilmington, the center is easily accessible to those who wish to visit.

The DuPont Environmental Education Center also offers free admission.

Inside the center are several interactive exhibits for the mental stimulation of the young and the old, with four stories of nature-related shows.

Facade of the DuPont Environmental Education Center

Kate Scott /

Outside the center lies an entirely different story.

It offers the best view of the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge, set explicitly at the intersection of the city, Christina River, and the freshwater tidal marsh.

Those who wish to extend their trip to the center to a hiking or biking escapade can go to a raised boardwalk connecting to the seven-mile Jack A. Markell Trail.

Now more than a decade old, the DEEC keeps expanding its offerings for adventures.

Discover Unique Brews at Stitch House Brewery

Are you looking for a place to unwind with your friends?

Look no further than Stitch House Brewery!

Conveniently located on North Market Street, Stitch House Brewery is a microbrewery newly introduced to downtown Wilmington.

Unlike other microbreweries, they offer an artisanal beer selection in the styles of Maizan, smoked beers, and English bitters, alongside more common IPAs and pale ales.

Their flavors are unique, with coconut and aromatic wood smoke lingering on their menu.

At the same time, diners and drinkers enjoy a front-row seat in watching the brewing process through a glass partition.

The staff also offers samplers with flavor profiles for their more laid-back patrons.

This joint offers a great menu of hearty American comfort food and a superb selection of drinks!

Take a Break at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

A boardwalk at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Charlotte Evelyn /

Visit the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge near downtown Wilmington, just by the Riverwalk.

The Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge is a refuge from city life, making you feel farther from the city than you are.

Packed with interactive exhibits, the refuge boasts 212 acres with over 400 species of flora and fauna.

Marsh at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Charlotte Evelyn /

The refuge comprises an urban freshwater tidal marsh and a quarter-mile boardwalk loop around the pond, with various animals habituating in the marshy areas.

There’s no better place for a nature lover in Wilmington than the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge!

A sculpture at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Charlotte Evelyn /

Soak up the Sun at Alapocas Run State Park

Fall scene at Alapocas Run State Park

Bo Shen /

Set right in the heart of Wilmington is the Alapocas Run State Park.

Spread across more than 400 acres of land, this lush park is open year-round for outdoorsy tourists and regulars, making it one of the most popular sites in the city.

Not only does it offer beautiful and relaxing views of nature, but it also harbors several recreational offerings.

One can quickly start his tour of the spot by exploring the Alapocas Woods, which houses Delaware’s native pawpaw trees and provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Trails through the forest will eventually lead to the Blue Granite Cliffs, made of blue rock gneiss, offering a serene spot to take a breather from your hike.

You will likely come across another of the DuPont family’s contributions to the city.

The Blue Ball Barn is a dairy barn renovated to house the Delaware Folk Art collection and narrations of the park’s history.

Though there’s so much more than the park offers, one of the local favorites is the Rock Wall, Delaware’s only natural rock climbing wall.

Its helpful staff provides safety tips and equipment along the way.

The Alapocas Run State Park is one of the best spots for tourists looking to spend a day or two in the sun!

Catch a Ball Game at Chase Fieldhouse

The Chase Fieldhouse is adjacent to the Wilmington Riverfront, a multi-purpose arena and sports complex just off Route 13.

Home to the Delaware Blue Coats — the G League affiliate of the NBA Philadephia 76ers — the Chase Fieldhouse not only showcases the Blue Coats at their best.

With 2,500 seats, most patrons gush about the views.

With great sight lines and great lighting, there’s no bad seat in the house!

Visiting on the off-season is no wasted trip, as there are also outdoor fields where you can play volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, and baseball.

If you’re not a big sports fan, the Chase Fieldhouse holds several concerts and community events.

Take a Stroll at Brandywine Park

Aerial view of Brandywine Park

Khairil Azhar Junos /

Affectionately dubbed as Wilmington’s own Central Park, Brandywine Park is the largest urban park in the state.

The park was established due to the “Natural Landscape Movement” in the late 19th century, led by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead.

The 178-acre park is peppered with lush gardens and structural ornaments such as fountains and statues, perfect for patrons looking for a picturesque place to sit back and relax.

Winding just by Brandywine River at the city’s heart, Brandywine Park offers a flurry of activities to everyone, young or old.

The grounds of Brandywine Park

Khairil Azhar Junos /

Fitness junkies should drop by the Fitness Circuit loop, an outdoor gym showcasing fitness stations nearly a mile from the park.

The Abessinio Stadium and Rodney Street Tennis Courts frequently house high school and community sports events, with the latter allowing visitors to try their hand at tennis.

The Jasper Rose Garden and the Josephine Fountain offer more romantic scenes.

In spring, the flowers around the garden are in full bloom, while the fountain is lined with cherry blossom trees.

Enter the Artistic Labyrinth of the Copeland Sculpture Garden

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood is the Delaware Art Museum and the Copeland Sculpture Garden is right outside.

The museum is best known for its collection of British Pre-Raphaelite art.

However, the outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden is easily one of the best things on the site.

Giant sculptures are sporadically placed in the lot just behind the museum, featuring an interactive outdoor labyrinth perfect for your little ones.

The Delaware Art Museum holds nearly 12,000 works of art from various places and eras.

Works from John Sloan, Edward Hopper, and David Chihuly fill its gallery spaces.

Not only that, but the museum also harbors accessible historical resources for researchers, including the Helen Farr Sloan Library and Archives.

Beyond that, a Kid’s Corner is dedicated to the little ones’ tiny creations, the Kaffeina at Thronson Cafe.

There is also an on-site museum store for souvenir shopping.

If you’re lucky enough to visit, the Copeland Sculpture Garden hosts live music during its happy hour, so book your trip now!

Visit the Red Pandas at Brandywine Zoo

Kangaroos at Brandywine Zoo

Clip123 /

If you visit Brandywine Park, you may as well drop by Brandywine Zoo!

The small five-acre zoo is a gem, especially for families with young children!

Housing several exotic creatures from tropical and temperate regions worldwide, this small zoo houses some exotic animals, such as black-and-white ruffed lemurs and red pandas.

These events include kid-friendly escapades such as scavenger hunts and exclusively adult Sip and Stroll sessions with happy hour drinks.

Brandywine Zoo also has an inclusionary schedule for sensitive individuals called sensory hour.

Catch a Comedy Show at the Grand Opera House

Exterior of Grand Opera House

McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Right by downtown Wilmington is the Grand Opera House, open since 1871.

As a testament to the history of Wilmington itself, the Grand Opera House has hosted exceptional live performances through the years.

The Grand Opera House stage has indeed seen it all.

From symphony concerts to stand-up comedians, this concert hall offers no shortage of entertainment.

Interior of Grand Opera House

Ser Amantio di Nicolao, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, you needn’t worry about not getting seats, as the hall itself is massive, seating 1,208 audience members nightly!

The Grand Opera House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places 101 years after its establishment.

Watching a show at the Grand Opera House should be on your travel bucket list.

Join the Welcoming Wilmington Scavenger Hunt

Join Welcoming Wilmington, a scavenger hunt specifically curated for visiting tourists!

With nine stops and spanning only 1.63 miles, this is the perfect way to bond with friends and still see the fantastic sites of Wilmington.

You will discover everything in the beautiful city using an app called Let’s Roam.

Not only that, but the scavenger hunt also features several hidden gems, challenges, and puzzles to keep your exploration exciting and competitive!

The Welcoming Wilmington Scavenger Hunt takes just about two hours, allowing each team member to choose an interactive role with challenges curated just for them.

You don’t have to worry about time or punctuality; you can start the scavenger hunt anytime.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible in a day, join the hunt!

Take a Trip to the Past at Fort Christina

A memorial at Fort Christina

Joseph Sohm /

Located along the banks of the Christina River, Fort Christina is the first Swedish and Finnish settlement in Wilmington, once called New Sweden.

At the time, Fort Christina had been built and named in honor of the Swedish Queen.

The settlers also named the nearby river after the queen.

This park is also a part of the First State National Historic Park.

A cabin at Fort Christina

Joseph Sohm /

While you’re there, visiting the Old Swedes Historic Site and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is best.

These places provide an illustrious narrative regarding the founding of the New Sweden colony.

Admission is free to Fort Christina, making it perfect for history buffs who want to make a quick educational stop!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take Your Friends for a Picnic at Mt. Cuba Center

Blooming trees at Mt. Cuba Center

Danita Delimont /

Spend a warm, sunny day at Mt. Cuba Center, a 600-acre nature preserve in Hockessin, Delaware, just 17 minutes from downtown Wilmington.

The center is a great stop, especially for horticulturists, with various flora and fauna at your disposal, set against the cool shade of its mature native trees.

Its sprawling grounds contain several gardens, such as the Trillium, Round, and South Gardens, which wind through paths such as the Dogwood Path and the adorably named Bluey’s Woods.

The center also has the Copeland House on its grounds.

Pamela Copeland, a renowned horticulturist, once lived in the estate.

If you’re planning for an extended visit to Wilmington, sign up for the center’s multiple programs, including art, tai chi, and gardening classes.

Otherwise, you can still take a piece of Mt. Cuba Center home by purchasing a seedling on sale.

The staff will give you the necessary information to ensure your new plant thrives back home!

Final Thoughts

There’s certainly no shortage of fun activities over at Wilmington!

Whether you’re flying solo, with friends, with family, or with kids, there’s always something fun to do that’s just right for you.

Pack your itinerary with the best things to do in Wilmington, Delaware!

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