A Romantic Weekend in Wilmington, DE & Brandywine Valley, PA
For those of you East Coasters looking for an affordable romantic getaway filled with good wine, gourmet food, lush gardens, old-school villas, fireworks, top-notch shopping and so much more, look no further than an escape to Wilmington, Delaware and nearby Brandywine Valley.
A short ride from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. takes you to a relaxed, low-key region full of rolling green hills, delicious culinary options, and old-school elegance of the DuPonts. So set off for the well-located, newly renovated Hilton Wilmington/Christiana as your home base and begin your mini-vacation!
While this itinerary provides our ideas on the best things to do in in the Brandywine Valley/Wilmington area for couples, I also identified the family-friendly attractions with a “*” because there are plenty of options for kids. As a mom, I couldn’t help myself!
Fun Things to do in Wilmington, DE & the Brandywine Valley, PA
Friday: Let’s Unwind
Brandywine Polo Club
Start your de-stressing with a visit to the peaceful 300-acre Brandywine Polo Club,* a relaxing and affordable way to kick-off your weekend. Pack a bottle of wine (or, if you prefer, a six pack of beer), some snacks and a blanket and experience Friday Twilight Polo, a true treat! The season runs from late May to late September and offers other events during the week including Sunday Polo.
The charming and engaging announcer provided colorful play-by-play commentary over the loudspeaker, helping novices like us learn the basics of this equestrian sport of kings! After the match concluded, we exchanged high-fives with the polo players as they rode past on their ponies and, as a reward for their excellent play and good sportsmanship, we offered them our leftover beers. Apparently, this is a long-standing tradition.
Next up…dinner in one of Wilmington’s buzziest neighborhoods and the heart of its nightlfe scene, the recently revitalized Trolley Square in Downtown Wilmington. We settled into a booth at cozy Piccolina Toscana* and dined surrounded by an artfully designed room full of brick, rustic wood and eye catching art.
With live acoustic music drifting into the dining room from the adjacent bar, this restaurant combines romance and a festive atmosphere. Our highlights included the expertly grilled garlic avocado, their famous Figaro pizza with figs, pancetta and gorgonzola, their delicious home-made tortellini with ham and ricotta, and their tremendous Kitchen Salad full of local greens, chicken and lots of tasty ingredients. Piccolina Toscana also offers a Sunday family buffet night.
For a perfect end to the night, I surprised my husband by taking him to a blank door across the street from the restaurant and asking him to ring the bell. Suspiciously, he slowly pressed the buzzer, and then next thing we knew, we were led up a dark flight of steps into a nationally top-rated speakeasy, C.R.’s Hummingbird to Mars. I highly recommend that you cuddle up on a plush sofa and listen to live music in this elegant setting, while sipping on hand-crafted seasonal cocktails.
Saturday: Time to Explore
The perfect start to your day can be a visit to Pennsylvania’s largest and most well-known winery, Chaddsford Winery. Take a complimentary tour of their wine-making facility and barrel-aging cellars. Time your visit to correspond with one of their many events such as mystery nights, adult summer camp, Labor Day Music Fest, and so many more! After enjoying a Reserve Tasting of their small batch wines and artisinal treats, we rested outside in the shade sipping wine while listening to a rockin’ local duo, Hake and Jarema, and enjoying our lunch of Hood’s BBQ food truck fare!
Neumours Mansion and Gardens
There is an abundance of historic mansions in the area, and we decided to visit the picturesque Neumours Mansion and Gardens.* This Alfred I. duPont villa includes 77 elegant rooms, the vastest formal French gardens in all of North America, a garage featuring vintage automobiles, and almost 200 acres of lush greenery. The expert docents provide background as you take a self-guided tour and experience a glimpse of the rich and famous of the early 20th century. Don’t miss the ultimate old-school “man cave” including bowling alleys and a billiards room in the basement.
Dining at Hilton Wilmington/Christiana
After a long day of sightseeing, we happily “dined-in” at our hotel’s new gastropub, the Market Kitchen & Bar.* We toasted to our romantic getaway with cocktails made with fresh herbs grown in the hotel’s courtyard garden.
With a focus on farm-to-table dishes, their vendors are all within 100 miles of the hotel, including well-known local providers such as LeBus rolls, Reid Angus Farm’s beef, Firefly Farms cheeses, and Dogfish Head fondue. Our highlights included the shareable Antipasto Slate, their overloaded sandwiches, and the best end to an extra sweet night, their expertly prepared beignets served with salted caramel ice cream….manifique! Midweek, the patio of the restaurant offers acoustic musicians in an outdoor setting.
Sunday: Treat for the Senses
After having breakfast at the hotel’s buffet and indulging in their made-to-order fluffy omelettes, we hopped over to a literal shopper’s paradise, Delaware’s largest shopping destination, the Christiana Mall.* This mall has it all, with four anchor stores, more than 130 shops and a movie theater. Hit your favorite shopping spots and revel in the fact that it’s tax-free!
Up next: visit the mushroom capital of the U.S., Kennett Square.* We joined a group of fellow foodies for a culinary adventure led by the charming and entertaining Ann Vaughn, owner of the Taste Kennett Food Tour.*
With a focus on history and learning about the unique local purveyors, our stroll through this quaint neighborhood delivered big time! Highlights included corn ice cream, super-fresh sushi, delicate crepes, some of the best fish tacos, calamari fra diavlo, gourmet chocolates, Ethiopian coffee, local wines, and so much more! This three-hour tour packed a culinary punch!
A real treat on the tour was our visit to the Kennett Brewing Company to sample a juicy hamburger slider and one of their in-house brewed beers while listening to a fabulous blues jam session. After this literal walking feast, all you will need later is a light dinner, and plans to exercise the next day!
For a spectacular ending to a weekend of romance, check out the world-famous horticultural destination, Longwood Gardens.* All year-round Longwood Gardens has featured events with a special December holiday celebration including thousands of sparkling holiday lights, carolers and plenty of holiday spirit. We were lucky enough to be there for the Summer Spectacular on a night with the awe inspiring Fireworks and Fountains Show which was simply fabulous!
You’ll be transported to European grandeur as you delight in strolling among 11,000 different types of plants, the Italian Water Garden, the Flower Garden Walk, Pierce’s Woods, and a true highlight, the tremendous Conservatory bursting with all types of plants and flowers. Be sure to find the Lily Pad exhibit behind the Conservatory; it was our favorite!
With many dining options from casual to high-end, rest your feet and enjoy the view at Longwood Gardens. Be sure to book in advance for their special well-attended events. Holding hands while enjoying the night sky lit up with fireworks, illuminated fountains highlighted with flames of fire, and dramatic music was the magical end to our romantic getaway!
Favorite Wilmington Hotel
We enjoyed our two-night stay at the well-located Hilton Wilmington/Christiana. The hotel’s $8 million renovation includes updated guest rooms, a welcoming modern lobby and a delicious new gastropub. The high-tech rooms enable guests to access their personal Netflix accounts while traveling (a huge plus for kids too), and a super cool high-tech feature enables you to unlock your guestroom door with your digital key on your phone.
The hotel also features Club 4, a newly revealed lounge which often features cooking demonstrations and mixology instruction among tasty snacks and drinks offerings. The Hilton is just minutes from the world-class mall, and less than half an hour from all sights mentioned in this article!
While this article features our romantic weekend, the Wilmington/Brandywine Valley region offers many family-friendly activities such as minor league baseball, natural history museums, hiking trails, mini-golf, and much more.
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- 4 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Philadelphia
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Lisa was provided with discounted and/or complimentary admission to some of the attractions and restaurants so that she could try them and review them for your information. Lisa chose the above attractions based on their reviews and recommendations from friends.
Lead photo provided by Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau