Wilmington, Del., and its adjacent Brandywine Valley are true gems of a destination just waiting to be discovered by travelers who are seeking a rewarding alternative to yet another visit to one of the Northeast’s giant metropolises.

Wilmington is a medium-sized urban area with major financial centers, a surprisingly vibrant nightlife, attractive and historic urban architecture, cultural riches, an emerging restaurant scene and ongoing riverfront gentrification that begs to be enjoyed.

If that isn’t enough, nearby Brandywine Valley complements Wilmington’s attractions with a cornucopia of beautiful scenery, picturesque towns, impressive museums and the riches of several DuPont Family mansions turned into impressive museums and gardens that fairly beckon visitors to explore the lush grounds and absorb history inside the mansions.

Before you go

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Getting there

Wilmington is very accessible by air, rail and road.

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is 21 miles away.

Amtrak has a beautifully refurbished and busy station in downtown Wilmington, with several fast trains an hour leaving to Washington, D.C., Boston and many intermediate points. SEPTA commuter trains serve Philadelphia from the station as well.

Interstate 95 goes through Wilmington.

When you are there

Explore Wilmington’s riverfront and downtown. Dinner at Harry’s Seafood Grill offers good food and a view.

Rent a car to enjoy the beautifully restored DuPont homesteads surrounding Wilmington.

Explore the scenic and historic Brandywine Valley, including towns like Chadds Ford, Pa.

If you only have 2-3 days

The Longwood Gardens in nearby Kennett Square, Pa., with its 1,050 acres of gardens and conservatories and beautiful fountains.

The Hagley Museum and Library, 240-acre site of the original DuPont powder works and estate, including a working powder mill on the Brandywine River and gardens.

The Winterthur and Nemours Mansion Museums and their remarkable estate grounds.

The Delaware Art Museum with an amazing pre-Raphaelite collection.

If you have several days

Historic New Castle’s Reed House and adjacent Delaware riverfront. Explore the architecture and have dinner at historic Jessop’s Tavern.

The Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pa., a Wyeth mecca.

The Va La Vineyards tasting room in Avondale has surprisingly good wine.

The Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington.

A train ride on the Wilmington and Western Railroad.

A commuter train day trip to Philadelphia to explore some of the icons of American Colonial history.

At a glance

Mobility level: Moderate. Walking and climbing some steps are necessary to fully appreciate the DuPont attractions, gardens and museums in the region.

When to go: May is a perfect time to take in the dogwood and other spring blooming plants. September has fewer crowds and the weather is still nice. October brings fall color and December is cold but holiday decor abounds.

Where to stay: The beautiful new Westin Wilmington is a great choice. It is centrally located on the riverfront and connected to the Chase Convention Center and has free parking. Other national chains and bed and breakfast properties are plentiful.

Special travel interests: American history, the DuPont Family and Wyeth paintings.

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