Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Wilmington, DE

  • Published 2023/02/10

Recognized as the urban center of Delaware, Wilmington has the largest downtown area in the state.

With attractions that range from historical to cultural, this city is a big hit among those who prefer to go on road trips.

The city’s top-notch scenery and narrowing nature trails offer a laid-back hideout you want to stay in forever.

Likewise, the carefully curated buildings of its downtown area boast of changing architectural style over the decades, and the place is a star.

Wilmington had a solid industrial base post-World War II before becoming a brilliant city regarding fine dining and history in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Established in 1832, this city in New Castle County underwent various changes over the years, only attracting more travelers with each passing season.

For those looking for a budget-friendly vacation that’s luxurious in its own right, Wilmington offers the best of both worlds.

Here are some free things to do in Wilmington, Delaware:

See the Birdhouses at Riverfront Wilmington

Benches along Riverfront Wilmington

Paul Brady Photography /

The best view of Wilmington is at Riverfront Wilmington.

This beachside promenade, established in 1996, spans 1.3 miles along the Christina River.

Its avenue contains vibrant shops, restaurants, theaters, and even baseball fields.

The city’s notable attractions in this neighborhood include Delaware Children’s Museum and the Frawley Stadium.

Skyline and river views from Riverfront Wilmington

Kate Scott /

There’s much to explore and see as you walk down the meandering Riverwalk with the sea to one side and the urban excellence of Wilmington to the other.

This area is also home to many birdhouses, so be on the lookout for them.

You might catch a free event hosted in this quaint and scenic neighborhood if you’re lucky.

To get to the Riverfront Wilmington, drive along Justison Street.

Trail of Riverfront Wilmington

EQRoy /

Jam to Live Music at the Wilmington State Parks Summer Concert Series

If you’re a lover of music and nature, then you might like Wilmington State Parks Summer Concert Series.

This ultimate summer celebration happens every Monday and Wednesday evening from June to August.

Local and national bands and artists come together to grace the park with quality music.

So, bring your loved ones and friends—including your pets!—and enjoy a night of serenades and jazz blues.

Thanks to comfortable picnic chairs and blankets, it’s a memorable experience for you and everyone with you.

Rockford Park and Brandywine Park host the Wilmington State Parks Summer Concert Series.

Admire the Art at the Mezzanine Gallery

Are you craving inspiration in Wilmington?

You can never go wrong with a visit to the Mezzanine Gallery.

This gallery is part of the Delaware Division of the Arts and has served the community by shining a light on Delaware artists through solo exhibitions.

It also features a variety of mediums and art disciplines, including sculptures, paintings, photography, and more.

The Mezzanine Gallery is open for everyone to explore and admire.

Free exhibit openings usually happen every first Friday of the month.

You can find this one-of-a-kind gallery on North French Street, on the second floor of the Carvel State Office Building.

Explore the Nature Exhibits at DuPont Environmental Education Center

Front view of DuPont Environmental Education Center

Kate Scott /

Enjoy a unique nature adventure at DuPont Environmental Education Center.

Sitting within a 212-acre refuge, this site features splendid views of the Christina River and its magnificent tides.

This facility, which opened in 2009, spans 13,500 square feet and is home to nature-focused exhibits and collections.

Far view of DuPont Environmental Education Center

Kate Scott /

Its displays present the native and common animals and plant species.

Join a guided tour or a free program at the center with your little ones, and you’ll get more from your nature expedition than you’ve bargained for.

DuPont Environmental Education Center is on Delmarva Lane, should you care for a visit.

Watch Greek Performances at Wilmington Greek Festival

Every June, Wilmington celebrates with the whole community and shares the heritage and culture of the Greeks.

The Wilmington Greek Festival, led by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, happens along the alleys and centers of North Broom Street.

Watch as the boulevard transforms into an authentic Greek village filled with food stalls and displays.

While you flit from stall to stall, listen to ethnic Greek music from a renowned orchestra.

The Greek Terpsichorean Youth Folk dance group will also be in attendance, showcasing never-before-seen performances.

The best part is you can come by on the second or third day of the Wilmington Greek Festival because it is a five-day event!

Go Sightseeing at Rockford Park

Exterior of Rockford Park

Lisa Rapko /

Located on Tower Drive, Rockford Park is a Wilmington staple for residents and tourists alike.

This 68-acre park features an open grassy area and a 100-year-old tower, its centerpiece.

Founded in 1899, this park was funded by the donations of William Poole Bancroft and the du Pont family.

There’s an off-leash dog site for maximum enjoyment for your furry companions.

Close view of Rockford Park

JoPod, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What makes this park a charming destination is its rolling hills and open vistas of Wilmington.

Feel refreshed and energized when you come by the wooded running and hiking paths.

Rockford Park has a family-friendly surprise up its sleeve for your arrival.

See the Sculptures at Marian Coffin Gardens

Marian Coffin Gardens might be for you if you prefer a more secluded getaway that allows you to be with nature.

This site is one of the hidden treasures of Wilmington.

Find yourself transported into an otherworldly paradise with its soul-cleansing flowers and plants and the atmosphere of old mansions and overgrown gardens.

Set within the lavish grounds of the abandoned Gibraltar estate, this site spans 80 acres and offers a glimpse into 19th-century residential living.

Besides, this attraction has an exciting origin story.

Marian Coffin Gardens began when a woman dreamed of becoming a landscape architect.

Entering this man-dominated field was not easy for Marian Coffin, but she pushed through and created the Italianate Beaux Arts-style garden you can now see today.

Find this preserved and beautiful garden on Greenhill Avenue.

Browse Exceptional Art at the Delaware Contemporary

Exterior of The Delaware Contemporary

Newtonburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Delaware Contemporary brings the artistic community of Wilmington together in a fused exhibition space.

Started in 1979, this art gallery focuses on contemporary pieces of emerging and renowned artists from vast areas of the globe.

The artwork in this gallery covers contemporary issues and modern themes.

What started as a metal-fabricating factory soon became a multi-functional building with about seven galleries, a museum shop, and an auditorium.

Though it’s a non-collecting gallery, its annual 24 exhibits offer both a fresh and innovative take on its concurring theme.

Admission to the gallery is free, but donations are highly appreciated.

Make a visit to the Delaware Contemporary on South Madison Street.

Listen to Local and International Artists at the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival

Whether you love jazz or not, you’ll find yourself loving the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival.

This annual event presents the best hits and songs by and inspired by the legend Clifford Brown.

He was a notable jazz trumpeter who focused on lyricism and hard-bop idioms.

In honor of the jazz legacy he brought to his hometown, Wilmington started the first jazz festival in 1989.

Jam to live music with other audience members while admiring the gardens and landscapes of Wilmington.

Drive by Rodney Square to join the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival!

Spot Various Wildlife at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Sculpture at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Charlotte Evelyn /

A nature adventure that combines marshes and rivers within an urban setting is waiting for you within Delmarva Lane.

Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge is only one among few urban refuges within America.

The refuge spans almost 260 acres right along the banks of the Christina River.

It got its name from a former state governor, who also had the nickname “Rebel with a Conscience.”

Boardwalk trail at Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Charlotte Evelyn /

His environmental leadership continues today with the open-to-the-public nature refuge.

Within the site, you can observe several wildlife species, from air and waterfowl to mammals like muskrats and beavers.

Don’t forget to add Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge to your Wilmington itinerary.

The waters of Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge

Charlotte Evelyn /

Smell the Flowers at Goodstay Gardens

Nestled behind the Osher Center for Lifelong Learning, Goodstay Gardens is a well-kept treasure of Wilmington that only a few know of.

This site, also called Green Hill back in the day, has been around since the 17th century.

Likewise, its beauty has never faded.

Its most famous amenities include a circle pool, a woodland garden, and a tulip and daffodil sanctuary.

Perhaps its most-visited facility is the Magnolia Walk, which offers visitors incredible views of pink blossom trees lined along a paved walkway.

The Weeping Cherry, an early bloomer, is one of the more notable plant species in the garden.

Spend springtime smelling and admiring the flowers and trees at Goodstay Gardens on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Go on an Art Journey at Art Loop Wilmington

One of Wilmington’s distinguished arts events is Art Loop Wilmington.

Since 1988, this monthly event has occurred every first Friday around the downtown areas of greater Wilmington.

Art galleries and museums open their doors to guests during this special celebration.

Most of the time, there will be live entertainment and free featured artist talks and discussions.

Learn more about an artist’s creative space and inspiration by joining a talk and looking through curated collections.

Explore the sidewalks of North French Street from one art space to another.

It’s a night you won’t ever forget!

Other Things to Do Nearby

If you’ve already gone through each activity and attraction above, you can still do more!

Here are other free things to do near Wilmington.

Join a Walking Tour of the New Castle Courthouse Museum

Exterior of the New Castle Courthouse Museum

Ataraxy22, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The New Castle Court House Museum promises a historical undertaking unlike any other.

Built in 1732, this historic site was the first state capitol of Delaware and one of the oldest surviving courthouse buildings.

This site is also where the first State Assembly meeting occurred.

Facade of the New Castle Courthouse Museum

Pknelson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

New Castle Court House Museum is open to preserving artifacts and documents from that era, and everyone is welcome to explore its halls.

Best of all, the museum offers free tours for everyone who wants to learn more about the story of Delaware’s independence from Great Britain and Pennsylvania.

This museum is in New Castle, 14 minutes from Wilmington.

Interior of the New Castle Courthouse Museum

Ethelred unraed, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Study the Diverse Habitats at Ashland Nature Center

Bring your outdoor gear because you will spend the day exploring the Ashland Nature Center.

This site is the headquarters of the Delaware Nature Society.

Spanning over 242 acres, this natural attraction is an ideal spot for those looking to start or continue their nature study and research.

The center offers various land and sea habitats, including marshes, meadows, and scenic woodlands.

Ashland Nature Center has four-mile trails for audio-visual learners to better look at nature’s best creations.

Other amenities of this nature include picnic areas and a butterfly house that’s open seasonally.

You can reach this nature haven by heading to Hockessin, Delaware, about 20 minutes from Wilmington.

Take a Historical Excursion at New Castle Visitor Center at The Arsenal

One of New Castle’s most well-rounded attractions is the New Castle Visitor Center at The Arsenal, 15 minutes from Wilmington.

This go-to information site is set within a colonial-style building.

Before becoming a historic site, the building was once a town armory, which is why it’s called the Arsenal.

If you want to learn more about the old New Castle, this center is the place to go.

New Castle Visitor Center at The Arsenal is on Market Street

Final Thoughts

Scenic byways, nature centers, and arts and history museums make Wilmington a remarkable city with remarkable attractions.

What are you waiting for?

Check out the free things to do in Wilmington, Delaware!

© All rights reserved.