Sunday, June 28, 2009

A trip to Wilmington, Delaware

A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to the Wilmington, Delaware area.

The highlight of our trip, and the place we spend a good part of one day, was the Hagley Museum. This is the site of the gunpowder factory owned by E.I. du Pont. A relative on my husband’s side spent a long career at Dupont, so we felt a bit of a personal connection in learning how this ancestor’s employer built his fortune.

The site, in a forested area located along the rushing Brandywine river, is gorgeous. It’s worth a visit if only to stroll along the beautiful river. But when you see the remnants of this site, you’ll want to learn more.

Luckily, the museum makes that easy. After an indoor exhibit, you are allowed to explore the grounds at your leisure. Through a combination of signs, self-guided maps, and guides who describe various buildings and operations, one comes away with a good sense of the dangerous and dirty life it must have been for the workers 200 years ago.

To see the owner’s house, which was also not free of the dangers of explosion, you take a free bus to the house entrance, where you must join a guided tour.

Plan to spend at least half a day here. There is a restaurant on-site.

Another fun find was the Delaware Art Museum, which is not only free on Sundays (bonus) but had surprisingly light traffic. Don’t come here for lunch, as the options at the on-site cafĂ© are sparse and mostly pre-packaged. But the art collection is nice to see and the outdoor sculpture garden makes for a pleasant stroll.

If you are visiting with children, definitely leave time to enjoy the kid’s room – a beautiful space downstairs designed with the budding young artist in mind. Kids can create murals with shapes on the wall, can read a variety of children’s art related books while they lounge in a comfortable chair, or can explore some of the other fun activities available.

And finally, for a great food find in the area, try the Six Paupers Tavern. This place is packed with locals in the know in the evenings. Everything we tried was amazing, from the seared tuna to the scallops to the burgers.

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