Fun Things to do in Wilmington Delaware: 2-3 Day Travel Guide

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things to do in wilmington delaware: 3 day weekend itinerary

First of all, why are you traveling to Wilmington Delaware?

That’s what my Philly friend asked me when I told her my plans to visit.

I mean…how do you respond to that when…you don’t actually have an answer. There was no specific event or festival. I didn’t catch wind of a limited-time pop-up exhibit. I didn’t have a list of unique things to do in Wilmington Delaware. I didn’t have any reason at all to visit Wilmington…except the simple fact that I had never been to the state.

That’s…it.

I honestly didn’t know ANYTHING about Delaware, let alone Wilmington. In fact, when I asked my Philly friends about things to do in Wilmington Delaware, she laughed and said go to Philly. “Or, in a pinch,” she added teasingly, “There’s also Baltimore.”

Very helpful my friend. BUT that wasn’t the experience I wanted. If I wanted to see Delaware, I wanted to BE IN DELAWARE. And if you’re reading this blog post then you’re probably in the same boat as well! Welcome! Let’s get to brainstorming your upcoming trip with a bunch of fun things to do in Wilmington Delaware 🙂

My Trip to Wilmington

So just as a little context: I visited Delaware as part of a two-month sabbatical where I roadtripped around the American South and East Coast. I drove in from D.C., spent a day in Baltimore, then landed in Wilmington. In total, I spent a total of three days in Wilmington, plus a day trip to Philly.

Me, freezing my butt off as I passed through Baltimore

I visited in early April….and it was still really cold (it was even snowing in Baltimore and Philly!). I’m not sure if that’s “normal” April weather for the area, but I would personally recommend visiting in the summer or early-fall. It will make being outside a lot more enjoyable if you hate the cold. Plus, many attractions and events close or end over the colder months.

Since it was a road trip, I had a car and I felt it was very easy to get around town and I never had trouble finding a parking space. I personally think it’s worth it to rent a car if you’re in the area, but if you can’t/don’t want to, then the city isn’t too big and seems reasonable to navigate with rideshares and on the DART buses I saw around town.

Y’all know I’m a loyal Hilton member (not sponsored, I just like their perks!) so I stayed at the DoubleTree downtown. Nothing super fancy, but it was very convenient!

Helpful Tip: If you love visiting museums and estates, pick up the Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport. Between the months of (late) May-October, the passport gives you access to 12 of the area’s top attractions, mostly including gardens, estates, and art museums. You can cover a TON of things to do in Wilmington Delaware with this pass. For a single person it’s $49 usd, for a “family” (2 adults, up to 3 kids) it’s $99 usd.

DISCLAIMER: Yall. I am not a food blogger. Please don’t drag me for my really bad food pics. Don’t blame the restaurants either – it’s all my fault. Just…just read the words and pay attention to the things to do in Wilmington Delaware and…not my photography skills. ALSO, for the city shots, I used stock images and I apologize for them largely having Wilmington NC pictures orz

Day 1:

Okay, let’s get into a quick day-by-day itinerary of some of the fun things to do in Wilmington Delaware. As you probably expected, Wilmington isn’t the most active during the week, so if you can, visit over the weekend (Fri/Sat/Sun) to have the most activity options.

Breakfast

fried chicken sitting on a waffle with powdered sugar

I actually drove in after eating breakfast in Baltimore, but the establishment I ate at, Connie’s Chicken and Waffles, ALSO has a location in Wilmington! So if you arrive early the first day, definitely start off your day with them. As you may expect, Connie’s is known for their buttermilk waffles and fried chicken. You’ll find them located in DECO Food Hall.

If you are vegan, or want a lighter brunch, also located in DECO Food Hall is Green Box Kitchen! They open a little later (11:30am), but they have a great selection of acai and protein bowls. You can also grab one of their smoothies to go if it’s setting up to be a warm day. Honestly, DECO Food Hall is one of the best things to do in Wilmington Delaware all on its own.

Morning Activity

riverwalk in wilmington delaware
This is a stock image of the wrong wilmington lol but you get the gist

If you didn’t already know, Delaware is one of the five US states that do not have sales tax! So if you like shopping, it’s one of the best things to do in Wilmington Delaware. For your standard big name stores, head to Concord Mall or Christiana Mall (better imo), but if you’re more in the market for window browsing or supporting small local boutiques, the best streets to stroll would be Main St (downtown), Kennett Pike, and Rehoboth Ave. I also found a few specific stores below that you might want to pop into. Just remember to check their hours!

After you’re all shopped out, or at least need to give your feet a rest, go for a coffee break at Milk & Honey. I loved their chai latte, and they have some great art work on the walls as well. While I wasn’t there Saturday afternoon, they do host a “small business Saturday” every Saturday from 9am-1pm.

Lunch

Since I knew nothing about Wilmington beforehand, I had no idea there was a (relatively) large Caribbean population, specifically Jamaican. In fact, Caribbean folks make up about 33% of Wilmington’s immigrant population, and people from Jamaica make up 20% ALONE!

So, in my humble opinion, one of the best things to do in Wilmington Delaware is to eat some Jamaican food! You have two options – as long as it isn’t Sunday because they are both closed on Sunday.

Jamaican oxtails  and rice

The first is Mayne Dish, which is Jamaican thru and thru. I got the oxtails (classic) and as expected they were bomb. Christa-Bells Carribbean Cuisine, which is Jamaican with a touch of Guyanese flare. The star here is their salmon, it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared. Just get the salmon. TRUST ME. Both restaurants are absolutely delicious, so it’s honestly whatever you’re feeling or whichever is closest to you.

Afternoon Activity

If it’s your first day in Wilmington, now is probably the time you’ll be allowed to check into your hotel room or whatever. Take a second to freshen up and whatnot, and then do a quick search for a local event. It’s one of my favorite ways to experience a new city, and since there isn’t too many BIG NAME attractions here, local events are also one of the great things to do in Wilmington Delaware.

Visit Wilmington has a bulletin board of local events, such as annual festivals, yoga in the park, and Farmers Markets. And, while I didn’t get to visit when I was in town, I’d also recommend keeping your eye on ArtzScape, a theater and performance venue. They regularly host intimate theater and music performances, comedy nights, artist workshops, and even acting camps!

Dinner

strip steak and thin fries with a dollop of ketchup

Dinner, the best meal of the day. Corner Bistro may not look like much, but its flavor speaks for itself. Their soups are absolutely divine. For an entrée, both the salmon and steak and frites (fries) were great, so you’ll probably have a good experience no matter what you order. The atmosphere is nice, but pretty relaxed, and also has a nice happy hour menu Monday – Friday 3-7pm.

They’re also open for weekend brunch; I didn’t make it back for a morning meal, but if it’s anything like their dinner menu, I’m sure it’s a knock-out.

Late Night Activity

Especially if you make it into Wilmington on a Friday or Saturday, I highly recommend staying out a little later to hit up Constitution Yards, a seasonal beer garden. They have tons of craft beers, ciders, canned cocktails, wine, and seltzers. Basically, it’s one of the best things to do in Wilmington Delaware if you’re looking to relax in the warm summer nights and chat with friends (or make new ones!)

converted shipping containers into restaurants and bars at the constitution yards

They have a big screen that plays the hottest sports games, as well as live music on Friday and Saturdays. There’s even axe throwing (just make sure you’re wearing closed-toe shoes). A lot of folks just go to hang out and people watch just because it really is one of the chillest things to do in Wilmington Delaware. It is also pet-friendly, so if you happen to be traveling with pets, they are more than welcome to join you!

Day 2:

Alright, it’s day two and your first day waking up IN Wilmington. Today’s itinerary will be more focused on the cultural and history side of things to do in Wilmington Delaware, just a heads up. If you’re not really into that, feel free to go back to a few activities from day one, get a jump start on day three, or have a nice relaxing day in enjoying a movie. It’s up to you!

Breakfast

egg and bacon croissant sandwich

One of my favorite breakfast spots in Wilmington – Java Bean Cafe. I actually went here twice on my trip, once while I explored the town, and another as an early pit stop before my day trip to Philly. They have the absolute BEST breakfast sandwiches. I swear, it’s something magical in that aioli. Plus, the owners are extremely sweet and gave me a few suggestions that made it on this itinerary! So you can thank them for that as well haha. They have great coffees and drinks as well.

That said, they ARE a little on the outskirts of Wilmington (technicallyyy in Claymont, but the towns are so small it’s not too bad). Just a heads up.

Morning Activity

If you like museums and whatnot, now is the time where that Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport comes in handy. It includes admission to 12 spots, and honestly you could spend the whole day (or weekend!) exploring their gallery halls and parks. However, if you want to keep it to a sole morning of museum times, then narrowing it down to one or two museums would probably be the best option for your time.

In that case, I would recommend the following two spots depending on what your interests are.

The first would be the Delaware Contemporary Museum, or the Delaware Contemporary for short. As its name suggests, it is a contemporary art museum, which is my personal preference when it comes to art. Admission is a “suggested donation” of $12 Adults, which isn’t too bad at all! Where I live, the art museum is a mandatory $20 haha.

The second spot I recommend is the Nemours Estate, and is also one of the most “known” things to do in Wilmington Delaware. The estate was built by this rich dude, Alfred duPoint. You might hear his name around town as his gunpowder company drove Delaware’s economic development. I usually don’t opt to visit the houses of old rich dudes from the 1800s because…they were usually bad (*cough* why I avoided Monticello). BUT, the duPonts were against slavery and while they weren’t outright abolitionists, they did quietly help anti-slavery advocates in Delaware.

Anyways, he basically built it as a beautiful gift to his second wife, and…it’s pretty darn beautiful. It’s largely a self-guided tour through the estate, but the real stand out are the gardens outside. So…all you Instagrammers out there, NOW IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE. Adult tickets are $20 and last entry is at 4pm.

Lunch

Once you’ve gotten your fill of art, now its time to fill your stomach with lunch. You HAVE to hit up Drop Squad Kitchen. They are a vegan restaurant, but I promise you, even if you’re not vegan, you will be singing their praises just like I am. Everything is extremely fresh, and even more importantly – delicious.

vegan BLT and cup of tomato soup

They are closed Sundays though, so if your second day is a Sunday…I’m sorry because MOST places in Wilmington are closed Sundays. If you have time for a day trip, Sunday would be the day to do it haha. But if you want to stay in town, Del Pez Mexican Gastropub is a solid second choice!

Afternoon Activity

Now, to round out the day’s activities, you should definitely make it a priority to learn about Delaware’s role in the Underground Railroad. You see, Delware was a slave state, but it’s VERY CLOSE neighbor, Pennsylvania, was free. That made Wilmington the LAST STOP on the Underground Railroad for people searching freedom on the East Coast.

Tubman-Garrett Park situated along Wilmington’s Riverfront commemorates Harriet Tubman and Delaware Underground Railroad stationmaster, Thomas Garrett, whose home once stood nearby at 227 Shipley Street. You can do a self-guided walking tour by following the sites along the path. I’d also highly recommend pairing the walking tour with a visit to the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, a museum dedicated to the history, culture, and livelihoods of Delaware’s African American communities. Admission is $8 for adults.

Dinner

You’re in for a treat for dinner, especially if it’s not Sunday so you are able to eat at Bardea! It’s a James Beard semifinalist AND FOR GOOD REASON. Wow, I cannot even begin to explain how delicious everything on the menu was…and I didn’t even get everything I wanted because they sold out of a few items! So, insiders tip, don’t go an hour before closing if you love ordering multiple things.

dessert at bardea

Embarrassing personal story: the bottles their water comes in are REALLY nice, and even though they CHARGE you for them, you are not allowed to take them home. They will (nicely) stop you at the door. Don’t ask me how I know that hahah ):

But again, if your second day is Sunday, then head to Mikimoto’s for dinner instead. I grabbed lunch there another day, but they’re open until about 9pm I believe so they’d make a good dinner spot too. They’re primarily Japanese cuisine with an emphasis on sushi, but they do offer a few other Asian dishes as well.

Day 3 (optional)

hedge garden in wilmington de

This is a weekend guide, so if you’re visiting on a normal weekend, you’ll probably be leaving on your third day. However, if you’re visiting for a long weekend, there are still plenty of things to do in Wilmington Delaware to justify staying another day! Since you’ve got the fundamentals of Wilmington down, you can either use this last day as a day trip to Philadelphia, a day trip to Baltimore, or indulge in a more low-key day in town.

Breakfast

Alright, feel free to sleep in a bit, you are on vacation after all. Give your body a chance to rest as well. When you’re ready for the day, head to Faire Cafe for breakfast. It’s definitely on the “cute/aesthetic-y” side of restaurants, but don’t worry, they’ve got the taste to back them up. They’ve got a great coffee bar, and nice light dishes that won’t leave you feeling bogged down for the morning – parfaits, toasts, quiches. You know the vibe.

Morning Activity

Which leads us straight into the morning activity! Now, you can either visit and check off a few more museums in parks, following up on day two. Otherwise, I’d suggest lacing up a good pair of outdoor shoes and hitting the trails. I know, I know, hiking probably isn’t one of the top things to do in Wilmington Delaware that come to mind. But surprisingly, there are some pretty nice trails in the area!

where to hike in wilmington
  • Christina Riverwalk – 1.3 miles: If you want to stick to the city, the Riverwalk is close to downtown and passes by a number of shops and snacks.
  • Weatherhill Path – 2.6 miles: This is a paved trail, but note that the inclines may be a bit steep if you are using a wheelchair or stroller.
  • Bellevue State Park Trails – 4.9 miles: There are a few different trails in the park, but all of them combined are 4.9 miles, so you can choose how long you want to go for.

Lunch

Now that you’ve gotten your steps in for the day, go to Eat Clean for a quick lunch/juice break, depending on how long ago breakfast was. Their acai bowl was amazing, but their vegan avocado smash looked great too. And, of course, plenty of fresh-squeezed juice options. Or, if you want something a little heartier, grab a juice then pop back over to DECO Food Hall where you can have your pick of cuisines!

Afternoon Activity

The afternoon is really up to you. Since the city is and the precipice of the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region, visiting a winery or going on a wine tour is one of the most popular things to do in Wilmington Delaware.
That said, I personally don’t drink wine, BUT a few locals recommended Liquid Alchemy.

If you don’t mind the drive, I heard REALLY good things about 1861 Southern Kitchen Bourbon Bar, down in Middletown, for anyone who is a fan of bourbon and creative drink menus. AND, the food gets rave reviews, so you could stay for dinner. I’m unfortunately not a drinker so I didn’t go, but it sounds like an amazing experience.

Dinner

And for your last night in Wilmington, you can finish off at Eclipse Bistro or Dorcea. Both are delicious and hit the spot, so it’s really whatever you’re in the mood for. The scallops at Eclipse Bistro were fantastic, and I loved my salmon from Dorcea. They’re also both open until 10pm, but Dorcea is closed Mondays, which might be the deciding factor if your day three lands then.

Things to do in Wilmington Delaware: Conclusion

When I visited, I had absolutely no idea there would be ANYTHING worthwhile to share (no shade), but surprisingly there were a lot of great things to do in Wilmington Delaware. I was pleasantly corrected! Plus, wow, there was some really tasty food too! And it’s an easy add-on if you’re doing a New England fall road trip! If you’re traveling solo, check out my blog post for solo traveler tips so you can feel safe AND confident as you enjoy all the fun things to do in Wilmington Delaware.

I hope you enjoyed my lil itinerary of things to do in Wilmington Delaware. I don’t usually make post in an itinerary format, how did you like it? Should I do more itinerary posts?

Did this post get you excited for your upcoming trip? Let me know in the comments below what things to do in Wilmington Delaware you would be most excited to try!

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8 Comments

  1. It is on my bucket list to visit every state in the USA, and I had no idea what to do in Delaware. But Wilmington looks like such a cute spot and I love nature!

    1. It was! Thank you so much for reading!!

  2. I’m such a fan of visiting a place that may not be as “trendy” or whatever, and looks like you had an amazing time! Constitution Yards is totally my type of place, and I’d definitely check out Delaware Contemporary!

    1. Yayy!! Same here! I hope you have a good time when you do visit!!

  3. Sounds like you found a lot to do! I love the idea of visiting smaller cities. You were probably one of the few tourists there!

    1. I in fact WAS the only tourist in a lotta places hahha

  4. I like reading about lesser-explored destinations that I may not have considered, Wilmington looks charming and the Cathedral looks like it belongs in Italy! Thanks for sharing such a detailed guide!

    1. Thank YOU for reading 🙂

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