Do you tend to be the kind of traveler that plans everything or do you leave room to improvise? If you happen to be in the northeastern region of the United States, say around Wilmington, DE, you just may want to divert your plans for at least 48-hours, even if you are a stickler for a set schedule. Unbeknownst to myself and family, there are surprisingly a lot of American history, family-friendly activities, and our favorite, tax-free shopping to do in this little town. It certainly has popped up on our radar as one of the places to visit this holiday season: Wilmington, DE.
Welcome to Wilmington, DE, home to tax-free shopping, the Longwood Gardens, Riverfront dining, and the infamous du Pont enterprise presented by the Hagley Museum. The du Pont family preserved their land and operations stemming back to the early 19th century via the Hagley Museum. You may have heard about, or at least recognize, the du Pont brand name. They are known for many inventions like Teflon, space suit materials, and luxury cars. The du Pont originates with the 1802 company that manufactured “black powder”. We had the honor to see it first hand!
Our adventures began in Wilmington at the Hagley Museum, right here in the midst of the du Pont legacy in America. Our family fun-venture allowed us to cover 235 acres along the banks of the Brandywine River.
Take your family through the eyes of immigrant E. I. du Pont, a Frenchman, who migrated to America and began the foundation of the innovations we have still to this day. We saw and experienced the hands-on operations in the powder yard, workers’ mill, and the historic 1802 du Pont family home. The kids got to experience the use of simple machines that made the operation possible without our modern technologies that we can’t seem to operate without!
The tours and learning experiences of this great family not only provide the original 200-plus-year-old ruins and furnishings, but also STEM hands-on engagement activities with the children – perfect for our homeschooled kids!
It is definitely a sweet spot for history enthusiasts who appreciate original artifacts while entertaining the kiddos who just may not quite get it yet.
If the outdoors tickles your traveling fancy, you’ll want to consider walking the Riverfront Wilmington. There’s more to see and do than ever. For the second year running, the Horizon Riverfront Rink is one of the highlights of Wilmington. The young and old, or the novice and experienced, all come together to enjoy one thing: the rink. The rink comes complete with a warming tent that offers skate rentals, ice skating lessons, and special rates for private parties.
If your family is like us, you want a great experience interacting with each other and then getting some down time- let’s be real here, it wouldn’t be a horrible experience if the kids were too wiped by the end of the night! Thank you, Horizon Riverfront Rink!
Onto our next adventure, we also enjoyed a breath of fresh air in Wilmington’s Longwood Gardens; A Longwood Christmas to be exact. Known as one of the great gardens of the world, it’s definitely a must-see for the whole family.
This 4-acre conservatory is linked back to the du Pont family by the name of Pierre S. du Pont, who founded this majestic splendor of 20 outdoor gardens, artful displays of horticulture, and performances that inspire all. During the holidays, the conservatory puts on a Longwood Christmas with over 500,000 lights twinkling in their branches and limbs. It’s a festive holiday scene to amaze even the “bored” kids.
Surround yourself and your family with the living things that make you feel more alive and connected to the earth around you as you take a moment from your busy life to relax and reconnect with the uniqueness of nature.
Be sure to experience the Longwood seasons coming in 2018.
While exploring downtown Wilmington and the Riverfront walk, we took in the pleasures of The Westin Wilmington. In the heart of the Brandywine Valley, they provide all of the amenities we prefer: a pool for the kids, dine-in options (with organic and gluten-free choices), and a quaint sitting area to just be together.
Parents, when you want to have a “moment” area away from the kids, you’ve got it. After all, they aren’t the only ones who may need to wind down.
We loved the central location of the Westin Wilmington. It was convenient to walk to dine, ice skate, stroll, pose for pictures, or just enjoy the architecture surrounding the city while deciding where to go next.
The attractions and activities aren’t the only occupants here. No, it’s also home to the small business owners as they celebrate their own Small Business Saturday specials. We met Dimitrius Bullock of Motion Illustrationz, specializing in hand-drawn art.
Throughout the city, you’ll also find plaques depicting the stories of history past – a history lesson, anyone, while you walk? It’s a just a passing moment to stop and reflect. It’s a bit sobering to share with the children how history has brought us to where we are today.
Then of course, as children do…let them loose to run and play!
Complete your visit after walking, talking, and eating to do some shopping! Delaware, as a state, is 100% sales tax-free!
If there’s no other reason to take a few hours in this quaint little city, the shopping and gifts you can find at the local malls, tax-free mind you, would be completely worth it. Be sure to check out Christiana Mall in Newark, Concord Mall in Wilmington, Dover Mall in Dover, and many others. Do your holiday (or much needed retail therapy) shopping strolling through the sprawling malls all the way to the peaceful art galleries. You’ll find your high-end department stores, small business shops, and boutiques on Main Street. See a complete list of Delaware shopping venues at VisitDelaware.com.
Places To Explore In Wilmington
EXPLORE AND CONNECT