The night before I had stayed pretty close to the Pennsylvania/Delaware border, so when I got up on Sunday I made the rest of the drive to Wilmington, Delaware. It was only about an hour from where I was, so it gave me the chance to wake up and look slightly less like a zombie before visiting the Delaware Art Museum. Admission is free on Sundays, so I was definitely all over that. Their exhibits ranged from Victorian era portrait work to late 20th century abstracts and everything in between. With two floors of galleries, it was definitely worth the visit.
Afterwards I was going to visit the nearby Brandywine Zoo, but quite frankly, I wasn’t feeling the zoo that day. Since I had no one else to please or ask, I just decided to move on to the Delaware Contemporary. More art, of course. The Delaware Contemporary is a small non-profit art museum that displays contemporary abstract work. Admission is always free, and it’s right by the popular river walk, so it was a great stop. When I arrived there was a new installation in progress and a vintage photoshoot going on, so it’s a very lively and active place. They even have pieces and goods that are made locally for sell in their gift shop. It’s definitely somewhere I would want to visit again in the future to see what new changes they make.
Once I had had my fill of art for the day, I made my way down to the ever popular river walk. The weather was beautiful, and there were tons of people out for bike rides and jogs. The whole walk is one mile one way, so I made the full walk down and back which came out to about two miles. There were tons of little docks and benches to sit and enjoy the river scenery, and many delicious looking restaurants if you get hungry during your trek. It wasn’t overly exciting since it was a Sunday, but it still made for a really pleasant walk.
I enjoyed Wilmington, but I didn’t really want to spend a ton of time there, so I moved on to the nearby town of New Castle which was Delaware’s first state capitol. Oh my gosh, I really don’t know what all to say about New Castle except that it was amazing. It feels like you’re immediately stepping back in time when you arrive in the historic district of the city. You’re immediately met with rows of colonial buildings that were built in the early-mid 1700s and streets lined with lanterns.
It’s right on the Delaware River, so there’s a stunning park and pier located just on the outskirts of the downtown area where you’re bound to catch a spectacular sunset. Right in the middle of town is the Immanuel Episcopal Church that was built in 1703 with a walled in cemetery surrounding the church. It really feels like you could turn around at any moment and see a horse and buggy rolling down one of the cobble stone streets. It was such a quiet place that really draws you in. There were antique shops, book stores, and my favorite: Jessop’s Tavern.
The building that Jessop’s Tavern is located in was built in the late 1700s, and the restaurant itself has been open since the 1940s. They stuck very well to the colonial theme with all of their employees wearing period attire and serving high quality renditions of popular colonial dishes. When I arrived they were jam packed, and I could either wait 45 minutes for a table or seat myself at the bar. I chose the bar, and boy I’m glad I did. Not only did I have an amazing hot toddy with cinnamon whipped cream and an absolute unit of Sheppard’s pie, but I met some of the nicest people. When I first sat down there was a lovely older local couple there, and quickly we began talking about life, travel, and New Castle. By the end of our conversation we were Facebook friends, and I had been formally invited to stay with them anytime I was in the area as well as bring my boyfriend. Midway through we were joined by another local woman that none of us knew, but that didn’t stop her from becoming a temporary acquaintance.
Honestly, I’ve never sat at a bar by myself before, but in this particular place, I was glad I did. It’s really amazing how quickly strangers can become friends when in those scenarios. I would have never met those kind people if not for that. Nor would I have met the second couple that came along. They also lived pretty close, and they were all very surprised that I wasn’t a local. Apparently it isn’t one of those places that falls on most people’s radar when it comes to travel. All in all, I ended up staying there for about three hours eating, swapping stories, sampling beers, and eating ice cream that I probably didn’t need, but it was so worth it. I think that my night in New Castle has been one of my favorites so far.