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Historical Museums, Gardens, and Estates To Explore Near Wilmington, DE in the Delaware River Valley

Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley are full of historical museums, beautiful gardens, and magnificent mansions that could make for an exciting, arts and history filled weekend getaway itinerary the next time you find yourself in Delaware. A part of America’s Garden Capital, the area is home to over 6 grand gardens that encompass over 3,000 acres. The historical mansions and museums are also a sight to see, giving visitors a glimpse into the significant history of the area and the imaginations of generations of artists who were inspired by the Brandywine Valley. From the art fanatic to the history buff to the nature aficionado, there is something to discover in Wilmington.

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Museums, Gardens, & Estates: Delaware Art Museum

Best For Family Friendly Arts Events
With a strong commitment to fostering an inclusive, accessible, and welcoming arts community, the Delaware Art Museum is a great place to visit on your next trip to Wilmington. Here you can connect to art through the museum’s many collections, exhibitions, and programs, no matter your age or previous experiences with the arts. Visitors can enjoy the various rotating exhibits that highlight a diverse range of artists and mediums, and participate in fun events, programs, and performances.

Delaware Art Museum Trip Tips
Must see attraction: American Art, 1757–1960, Popular tour or event: Sculpture Garden Happy Hours, Nearby things to do: Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront, Brandywine Zoo

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Museums, Gardens, & Estates: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Best For Historical Education
Located just outside of downtown Wilmington, the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is an inspiring historical site focused on the preservation and interpretation of American material culture, art, design, and history. Winterthur houses the premier museum of American decorative arts with a collection of nearly 90,000 objects dating back from the 1640s to the present day displayed in the ancestral 175-room home of Henry Francis du Pont. There are also 1,000 acres of protected meadows, woodlands, ponds, and waterways on the property, including the 60 acre garden that can be explored by visitors. A trip to Winterthur means immersing yourself in the past while exploring a popular historical site, making it a great trip for history buffs.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library Trip Tips
Must see attraction: The Garden, Popular tour or event: A Closer Look Tour, Nearby things to do: Nemours Estate, Buckley’s Tavern

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Museums, Gardens, & Estates: Longwood Gardens

Best For Extravagant Floral Displays
Longwood Gardens is one of Wilmington and the world’s great gardens with a mission to educate, inspire, and enlighten all who take the time to visit. The garden offers a combination of garden design, horticulture, and the arts to bring together a truly unique experience featuring intricate fountain systems, beautiful architecture, and extravagant gardens. The Festival of Fountains is one popular summer and fall event that visitors might not want to miss. A mix of glowing light installations by Bruce Munro and Longwood Gardens’ Illuminated Fountain Performances, plus live music in the Beer Garden create the perfect garden experience for all ages. Of course, Longwood’s gardens, which stretch for over 400 acres of lush, formal gardens, open meadows, and paths to breathtaking vistas of the Brandywine Valley, are the tried and true draw of this amazing Wilmington attraction.

Longwood Gardens Trip Tips
Must see attraction: House & Theater District, Popular tour or event: Festival of Fountains, Nearby things to do: Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery, The Creamery of Kennett Square

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Museums, Gardens, & Estates: Hagley Museum and Library

Best For Community Events
Originally the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont, the Hagley Museum and Library is now a working museum highlighting an early American industry. Hagley allows visitors to explore and discover the restored mills, a workers’ community, and the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family during their visit. The library showcases the study of business and technology in America with records ranging from eighteenth-century merchants to modern telecommunications. Visitors to the library will also find the world’s largest private collection of patent models, including the large Rothschild Patent Model Collection. If you are really interested in learning all about the Hagley Museum and Library, there are a variety of exclusive experiences that can make your visit extra special.

Hagley Museum and Library Trip Tips
Must see attraction: Gunpowder Mills, Popular tour or event: V.I.P Tour, Nearby things to do: Alapocas Run State Park, Santa Fe Mexican Grill

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer, River Travel Magazine