12 Attractions in Wilmington, Delaware

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware and has a lot to offer visitors. From historic sites and museums to gardens, parks, and family attractions, Wilmington has something for everyone. This article will highlight 12 top attractions that you don’t want to miss when visiting Wilmington.

We’ll start with an overview of some of Wilmington’s most iconic landmarks and historic sites. This includes the majestic Grand Opera House, the Wilmington Train Station which is a sight to behold, and the scenic Brandywine Park.

Next, we’ll cover some of the best museums Wilmington has to offer. Learn about Delaware’s history at the Delaware History Museum or discover hands-on science exhibits at the Hagley Museum. The Delaware Art Museum houses an impressive collection of American art spanning over 100 years.

Finally, we’ll explore family-friendly attractions like the Delaware Children’s Museum and the Wilmington & Western Railroad. At the end of the day, you can relax by the riverfront at the Chase Center on the Riverfront complex.

With rich history, art, science, and family fun, Wilmington offers something to delight travelers of all ages and interests. Keep reading to discover the top 12 attractions you must experience on your trip through Wilmington.

The Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House is Wilmington’s premier performing arts theater. This striking building was constructed in 1871 and the opulent Victorian era interior transports you back in time. Intricate details like gold-infused murals, velvet curtains, and crystal chandeliers create a visually stunning performance hall.

Catch a show to admire the Grand’s standout architecture. They host touring Broadway musicals, comedians, musicians, and local performances. Architecture enthusiasts could devote hours to ogling at the carved columns, sweeping staircases, and ceiling frescoes at The Grand Opera House.

Wilmington Train Station

Wilmington Train Station first opened to the public in 1908. The Beaux-Arts style building features towering stone archways, ornate ironwork, and a majestic clocktower. Well-preserved details like the ceramic tile walls and solid oak benches make visitors feel as though they’ve stepped back in time.

Even if you’re not catching a train, the station lobby is open to the public. Take a look at the fascinating “Distant Memories” mosaic wall depicting images of Wilmington’s past. And don’t miss the towering 95-foot bell tower, it’s the tallest in North America! The otuside courtyard is also a lively spot, with fountains, sculptures, and seasonal exhibits.

Brandywine Park

For over 100 years, Brandywine Park has sprawled along the picturesque Brandywine River. Designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the park encompasses lush gardens, postcard-perfect river views on the 12 acre Josephine Fountain, and an 1880s Roman-style garden.

Take a scenic riverside stroll across the park’s iconic steel and stone footbridge. On warm weekends you’ll find locals picnicking along the river banks. With cherry blossom trees and vibrant floral gardens, Brandywine Park delights visitors year round. Don’t leave Wilmington without a riverside ramble through Olmsted’s charming city escape!

Delaware History Museum

Delaware History Museum explores the First State from its Native American roots to contemporary local life. Get oriented on Delaware’s past by watching the “The First State” film introducing influential events and leaders.

Popular exhibits include the “First Peoples” displaying artifacts from indigenous Lenape and Nanticoke tribes. You’ll also find Delaware’s industrial and maritime history covered, with dioramas of early Dutch water mills and a 1920s oyster dredging boat. Costumes, weapons, documents, and furnishings immerse you into scenes of historic Delawarean life.

Hagley Museum

Science buffs will delight in the Hagley Museum which covers early industrial innovation in the Brandywine River Valley. The 235-acre property was once the gunpowder manufacturing site founded by E.I. du Pont in 1802 .

Visit the restored mills to watch 19th century machines demonstrate this hazardous industry process. See tanks, casks, and powder kegs being made by water-powered machinery.

After, head to the visitor’s center to view exhibits of patent models and early experiments with black powder explosives. Kids can try interactive demos to learn fascinating science facts behind these explosive chemical reactions!

Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum houses a treasured collection of artistic gems. Founded in 1912 to collect and preserve American art, the museum has expanded to represent over 100 years of works. Sculptures, illustrations, graphics, and photographs join oil paintings and watercolors.

Browse through seminal pieces like Edward Hopper’s Summertime and Mary Cassatt’s Breakfast in Bed. The intimate galleries, rotating exhibits, and artwork spanning movements from Pre-Raphaelite to Pop Art guarantee something for every art lover.

Delaware Children’s Museum

The Delaware Children’s Museum keeps kids entertained for hours with hands-on educational exhibits. Budding builders can stack blocks in larger-than-life Imagination Playground. Little lab coats experiment with interactive science stations, designing circuits or admiring their reflections in a kaleidoscope.

In the Global Village, kids role-play what life is like for children worldwide. They might try carrying water buckets like a child in Uganda or deliver pretend food supplies to malnourished areas. It’s an impactful look at childhood beyond US borders. Parents appreciate the lessons on geography, sustainability, and cultural awareness.

Wilmington & Western Railroad

All aboard! The Wilmington & Western Railroad offers nostalgic train rides between Wilmington and Hockessin. Kids go wide-eyed when a vintage steam locomotive chugs up to the century-old depot. The rail line dates back to 1872 as a freight carrier for regional mills.

Climb into restored passenger cars to enjoy a scenic journey through the Red Clay Valley. Along the way, kids might spy horses grazing or wave to kayakers in the creek. Themed events like Princess Tea Trains or Days with Thomas bring extra excitement aboard. Between rides you can explore the yard to see special cars like an 1800s wooden caboose.

Chase Center on the Riverfront

As an entertainment complex along Christina River, Chase Center on the Riverfront invites visitors and locals alike to shop, dine, and relax by the city’s waterfront. The restaurants feature al fresco dining with beautiful views of the river. Stop into the IN Wilmington visitors center housed in a vintage railroad car onsite.

Kids love the Wilmington Whale Watch Sculptures dotting the walkway – it’s fun trying to spot each species. Free concerts and movie screenings at the outdoor Riverside Amphitheater draw crowds when the weather warms up. The complex is also home to concert halls and the Czech film festival each April.

Market Street

Historic Market Street puts Wilmington’s historic architecture on full display. Running for over a mile through downtown, the brick-paved corridor bustles with shops, restaurants, businesses, and cultural sites. It’s lined with historic 19th century buildings and makes a nice pedestrian stroll.

Standout selfie spots include the Daniel Herrmann Courthouse statue and the Old Town Hall’s 185-foot bell tower. Pop into boutiques at the Ships Tavern Courtyard hidden down a cobblestone alleyway. Grab an al fresco bite or people-watch from a patio cafe in Rodney Square. Don’t forget to gaze up – often the most intricate architectural details are embellishing rooflines and facades on business fronts.

Delaware Center for Horticulture

Nature lovers find zen among verdant gardens, mature trees, and peaceful water features at the Delaware Center for Horticulture. The urban green space features 18 themed garden displays like vibrant dahlia beds in the Silver Garden and carnivorous plants in the Savage Garden.

Kids dig into the Children’s Discovery Garden, a creative space for young gardeners to play in vegetable patches, precedent-setting green technology, and hidden fairy habitats. Intricate stonework, arching trellises, and babbling fountains throughout make for postcard-perfect garden photography. Don’t forget to visit the tranquil pond decked with lilypads.

Rockford Park

First envisioned in the 1850s, Rockford Park remains a beloved community space for Wilmington residents. Flowering trees and sculpted bushes surround photogenic stone footbridges over the park’s stream. Follow winding paths under the lush tree canopy to discover statues, commemorative plaques, and classic bandstands.

Kids expend energy at the playground and families picnic on the sprawling lawns midway through their stroll. The land was donated by William Poole Bancroft who wanted to provide public park space for Wilmington city residents to enjoy – a vision that still rings true today among parkgoers.

Conclusion


From awe-inspiring architecture along Market Street to kid-friendly museums and railroad rides, Wilmington delights visitors with this lineup of top-rated attractions. Art aficionados admire premier collections, history buffs dig into Delaware’s roots, and families enjoy interactive learning experiences. Nature lovers find beauty along riverside trails and in meticulously tended gardens all over the city.

When it comes to charm, variety, and things to do, Wilmington delivers. Use this guide to hit up the best attractions and diversions curated for first-timers and return visitors too. Beyond the top sights, stunning architecture, rivertown culture, and an eclectic arts scene await exploration in Wilmington, Delaware.

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