How to Spend the Best Long Weekend in Wilmington, Delaware -InsideHook
By the time President Joe Biden moved to the White House in January, he had accumulated over two million Amtrak miles while making more than 8,200 round trips of 259 miles each between his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington. , DC. Those years of commuting earned him the nickname “Amtrak Joe” – and the honorary rail station holder Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of Wilmington.
Even now, Biden has been home more weekends than any of his predecessors at this point. “The president lives in Wilmington – this is his home,” press secretary Jen Psaki said at a recent briefing. “This is where he lived for many, many years.”
Biden and his wife, Jill, also own a property on the Delaware shores of Rehoboth Beach, overlooking Cape Henlopen National Park. Biden said they have long dreamed of owning a place on the shore, calling Delaware “the most important place in the world to us.”
So what is it all about? You can see it for yourself by taking a 90-minute Amtrak train from Union Station, Biden-style, or loading the car for the two-hour drive. Here, a weekend itinerary worthy of the leader of the free world.
There is no better place to rest in Wilmington than in the historic Hotel du Pont. Built in 1913, the opulent 12-story property was inspired by the great hotels of Europe. Since then, it has hosted a number of legends, from Amelia Earhart and Katherine Hepburn to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Today, it remains a local hub in the middle of the city, thanks to the The horseman restaurant and modern dining room, similar to a tiny version of DC’s Union Market, both now located on the hotel’s ground floor.
For lovers of American history, Wilmington presents itself as an endless treasure, from the Kalmar Nyckel ship that brought Swedish settlers to the Delaware Valley in 1638 in Hagley Museum and Library, the site of the original powder mills founded by EI du Pont (yes, like the hotel) in 1802. Also courtesy of the du Pont family is Manor and garden of Nemours, a huge 300-acre estate that includes a 77-room mansion as well as the largest formal gardens in North America.
While you’re at it: we implore you to make the less than 30-minute trip to Pennsylvania for Longwood Gardens, a spectacular botanical garden with acres of indoor veranda that thrives year round. The covered veranda there is seriously something else – full of blooming orchids and lilies, decades-old bonsai trees, and flowing fountains. Did we mention that Longwood is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont? This family is seriously all over Wilmington.
If you are in town on a weekday, be sure to stop by DE.CO dining room. A launching pad for ambitious local chefs, this is a great place to grab anything from sushi or banh mi sandwiches to bowls of coffee and acai. For a more appropriate brunch, try one of Biden’s favorites: the American classic. Buckley’s Tavern. Most of the dishes on their full menu are good for hangovers, from cheesy shrimp and oatmeal to a super creamy chicken pie.
For dinner and drinks, arguably the best (and hottest) place in town is Elegant Bardea. While their menu centers on modern interpretations of Italian cuisine, a focus on local ingredients and an exploratory approach to flavors – like their adult take on a traditional Good Humor ice cream bar – makes this a unique dining experience.
A well-made date night is easy in Wilmington, as all you have to do is bring your partner into the lobby and slip into the long marble bar of The horseman. For a more relaxed brew, stop by Stitch House Brewery for a pint of their refreshing grapefruit lager or a coconut carrier. There, an outdoor seating area leads to a stripped-down rustic interior with a very friendly local vibe. Stop by after dinner and there might be a band playing.
Then try Wilmington’s favorite speakeasy, Torbert Street Social. Hidden behind a row of restaurants in the city’s financial district, the brick-walled cocktail bar opened in 2019 in the building that once housed the state’s historic stables.
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