Wilmington, Delaware

Photo: Friends of Riverfront Wilmington
Photo: Friends of Riverfront Wilmington
Like millions of Americans, you regularly travel along the busy I-95 Corridor. You fly between Boston and Philadelphia. You ride Amtrak to get from New York to Washington, D.C. And you drive everywhere in between. But, like almost everyone else, you rarely stop in between the East Coast’s largest cities, save for the occasional bathroom break, of course.

Wilmington is definitely worth a detour. Delaware’s largest city sits where the Brandywine Creek meets the Christina River, right before it flows into the busy Delaware River. Fort Christina was founded in 1638 as Sweden’s first settlement in North America. The British, specifically the Quakers, arrived in the late-17th century and renamed the city. The industrial city then rapidly expanded during the two world wars.

But, like so many other once-prosperous cities in the U.S., Wilmington declined as people and businesses moved to the suburbs. No one wanted to visit the city filled with Art Deco, Federal, and even Greek Revival architecture. Until recently, that is. Over the last two decades, downtown buildings have been revitalized, a 1.3-mile trail was built along the waterfront, and the art scene exploded.

Walk down Market Street, the center of the city, to see the Grand Opera House, the World Cafe music hall, the historic Hotel du Pont, and Rodney Square. Visit the Old Swedes Church. The stone-and-brick church, built in 1699, overlooks the Christina River. See innovative exhibits, including Whisper by David Slovic, at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Walk along Riverfront Wilmington, stopping for crabs, coffee, or ice cream along the way. Sample the Crusher, Millennium Falcon, and Witberry beers at the Iron Hill Brewery. Cruise the water on a river taxi. Then watch one of the live concerts at the outdoor Shipyard Summer Concert Series before you head out-of-town. This may be your first stop in Wilmington, but it certainly won’t be your last.

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