24 Things to Do in Wilmington, Delaware: Attractions, Shopping & Food

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Planning a trip to the country’s first state? 

Known for many years under its previous tourism tagline of “Small Wonder,” the name says it all; this tiny state has a lot going for it. 

Many people think the best reason to come to DE is for the beach events, but there are things to do in Wilmington for art and history lovers, kids and family groups, foodies, and more.

One the greatest things about this state is that it’s so small that you can easily get to all of the other amazing things to do near Wilmington, DE in less than a 30 minute drive.

The best time to visit Wilmington, DE is in the warmer months, many of the attractions close temporarily in the winter so to get the most out of your trip you should come between April and October, but there isn’t ever a bad time to visit. 

If you want to take a trip with your significant other, check out this guide for the most romantic things to do through the whole state.

Things to do in Wilmington, DE

Family Friendly Things to Do in Wilmington, Delaware

There are a lot of kid-friendly attractions in Wilmington, Delaware that the whole family can enjoy.

The interactive museums and centers offer a fun look into the history, nature, and history of the area where kids can touch, play, explore and have a blast while the adults can learn and get their hands dirty too if they want.

For a one-of-a-kind experience, you can tour and event set sail on a replica of the 17th century Dutch ship that brought early Swedish settlers to America.

Delaware Children’s Museum

Kids will have a blast at the interactive Delaware Children’s Museum where they can build, climb, create and more.

The DuPont Environmental Education Center

The DuPont Environmental Education Center is located on a 212 acres of wildlife refuge and offers hands-on nature education programs for all ages.

Delaware Museum of Nature & Science

Visitors can explore the brand new nature exhibits at the recently rebranded Delaware Museum of Nature & Science.

Hagley Museum and Library

See early American life at the Hagley Museum and Library, including the gunpowder yard, Workers’ Hill Community, DuPont Home & Gardens, and more.

Kalmar Nyckel

The Kalmar Nyckel is the re-creation of the “Tall Ship of Delaware,” built by the Dutch in 1625, that brought the first permanent European settlers to the Delaware Valley in 1638 where visitors can now explore and set sail.

Artistic and Cultural Things to Do in Wilmington, Delaware

A trip to an art museum is one of the best romantic things to do in Wilmington, Delaware for a couple looking for a weekend away.

With collections ranging from Pre-Raphaelite to classic American, to societal inspired contemporary, you’ll have a completely different experience at place.

And for those looking for less of a visual and more of a theatrical experience, the professional theatre performances will have you laughing, crying, and dancing in your seat.

Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum is best known for its large collection of British Pre-Raphaelite art, and works by American illustrators.

Brandywine River Museum of Art

Renown for its Wyeth family and American art collections, the Brandywine River Museum of Art also offers tours of the Wyeth studios.

The Delaware Contemporary

Showcasing exhibitions of regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized artists, The Delaware Contemporary brings art and creativity into the local community.

Delaware Theatre Company

Delaware Theatre Company provides the state with the highest professional quality theatre for a night of comedy, laughter, or a full fledged.

Historic Things to Do in Wilmington, Delaware

You can’t visit about Delaware, specifically the northern part, without seeing at least some of the gorgeous estates.

You can tour their gardens, libraries, mansions, and museums and imagine yourself in a life of grandeur in days gone by.

These beautiful buildings reflect much of Delaware’s early history and influences specifically with the DuPont family. 

Plus, if you’re on a budget, many of the parks and gardens are excellent free things to do in Wilmington, Delaware.

Wilmington is also one of the places to visit if you’re looking for festive things to do in Delaware during winter.

Nemours Estate

The Nemours Estate is a French inspired 200-acre estate with a mansion filled with rare 18th-century French furniture, art, artifacts, and the country’s most developed and largest French garden. 

Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library

Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library is a gorgeous mansion estate and museum with one of the largest collections of Americana in the country, a gigantic library, and a 1,000-acre garden.

Read House and Gardens

A National Historic Landmark, the Read House and Gardens is a 14,000 sq ft mansion and offers tours of the museum with the gardens open for roaming.

Goodstay Gardens

Just next to the Goodstay Center Mansion are the free-to-visit Tudor-style six-acre Goodstay Gardens that are one of Wilmington’s best kept secrets.

Marian Coffin Garden

On the now empty Gibraltar estate, the Marian Coffin Garden is a sprawling garden that is open year round to the public.

Rockford Park and Museum

Easily recognisable by its 19th century Gothic Revival architecture, Rockford Park and Museum offers guided tours of both the museum and gardens. 

Unique Shopping Spots in Wilmington, Delaware

While the nearby Christiana Mall is a top shopping destination for many top brands, there are actually lots of small and independent spots to get some unique finds to being home to remember your trip.

Vintage and antique lovers will find tons of amazing one-of-a-kind items; like clothing, furniture, glassware, decor, toys, and more.

Plus, you can get some of Delaware’s best hidden eats at the farmer’s market too.

The Zeppelin and the Unicorn

Infamous for its eclectic collection, The Zeppelin and the Unicorn has everything from vintage clothes, toys, memorabilia and more.

Oddporium

Part gallery, part shop and fully odd, the Oddporium is full of peculiar and bizarre things like skulls, tarot, and even glow in the dark clothing.

Bellefonte Vintage

Bellefonte Vintage has antique and vintage furniture, decor, collectibles and art – they also offer upcycling workshops too.

The Willow Tree Antiques

The Willow Tree Antiques has a rotating inventory of vintage and antique items like glassware, furniture, jewelry, collectibles and more.

New Castle Farmer’s Market

The New Castle Farmer’s Market is a smorgasbord of things to see, eat, buy, and experience; and even has a flea market. 

Wilmington also has heaps of options for Hallowe’en, check out guide to Delaware in Fall to read about them.

Best Places to Eat in Wilmington, Delaware

One of the most special things about dining in Delaware is that so many of the spots are in reclaimed historical buildings and have been around for centuries. 

You can sip a cocktail in a hotel that’s over 100 years old, eat as the early settlers would have in a centuries old tavern, and even grab a burger and milkshake at President Biden’s favorite joint.

Don’t forget to take home some of the best chocolate you’ll ever find; this family run business has been a top spot for locals and visitors for over 125 years.

Deco Wilmington

Deco Wilmington is in the iconic, early 19th century art deco DuPont Building and has 8 unique restaurant stalls, an atrium bar and private event space.

Jessop’s Tavern

Housed in a 300 year old building, Jessop’s Tavern strives to keep the menu authentic to their history with colonial fare served by staff in traditional outfits.

Charcoal Pit

Well known for being President Biden’s favorite spot, the Charcoal Pit has been a Delaware staple for nearly 70 years for their burgers and milkshakes.

Govatos Chocolates

Making chocolates since 1894, Govatos Chocolates has a classic and seasonal selection and is always a great souvenir to take home.

Krazy Kat’s

In a renovated blacksmith’s shop, Krazy Kat’s has whimsical and creative feline decor and fresh, seasonal American dishes.

Where to Stay in Wilmington, DE

Wilmington Hotels

  • Sheraton Suites for huge rooms, luxury amenities and parking at Downtown
  • Hyatt for comfortable rooms and views over the river

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve visited Wilmington, you’ll realise that it’s a “Small Wonder” that you’ve never been before.

It’s small enough to see a whole lot on a spontaneous weekend away, but with the depth of interesting things to do, you’ll want to stay longer — or come back again and again.

On your next trip to Delaware, head south and check out the beaches for some fun in the sun.

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