The 2018 Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Downtown Wilmington
Entertainment options abound for locals and visitors. Here’s your itinerary.
Curving around the Christina River, the Wilmington Riverfront has become as much of an entertainment destination for locals as it is for out-of-towners. But the fun does not stop here. Market Street links the downtown district—the city’s cultural hub—with all the dining and recreational activities on the riverfront. Between these two areas, you can find a variety of things to do and see, whether you’re on a romantic couples’ getaway or a family day trip. Here is a sample itinerary that demonstrates the wealth of options. Mix and match to suit your interests and the length of your visit.
The Constitution Yards beer garden is another family-centric spot on the Riverfront.
Head to Constitution Yards, an open-air beer garden. (In winter, an ice skating rink occupies this space.) Children are welcome, and there are games to keep them occupied while adults share a craft lager.
Those traveling with children should also consider a Wilmington Blue Rocks game over the weekend. The minor league baseball team, which plays at Frawley Stadium on the riverfront, is a fun time for the entire family. The team often holds special events and promotions, such as fireworks, in conjunction with the games. (888-2583)
After dinner, couples can take in a show at the Delaware Theatre Company or City Theater Company. Both are on the riverfront.
Since 1979, the DTC has produced 191 main stage productions seen by more than 1 million patrons. Past shows have included “Diner,” “The War of the Roses” and “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life.” (594-1100)
City Theater Company has steadily gained applause for high-quality plays and musicals, which are performed in a black-box theater in OperaDelaware’s space. There’s no assigned seating, and it’s not unusual for the players to bring the audience into the act. (220-8285)
You can also snag tickets to a performance at The Playhouse on Rodney Square, which opened in 1913 in the Hotel du Pont. The historic venue, which presents six shows a season, traditionally offers Broadway’s best. Since The Grand Opera House management took the helm, many shows are fresh from New York. The lineup also includes comedians and musical performers. (888-0200)
(Note: Many theaters have partnerships with local restaurants and hotels. Ask about discounts and packages.)
The Grand Opera House offers a diverse array of entertainment for the entire family.
If you’re staying overnight, take your pick of hotels. The Westin Wilmington, situated on the riverfront, is ideal for those attending events at the Chase Center, a conference and event facility. (654-2900)
Prefer downtown lodgings? There are several choices, including the legendary Hotel du Pont, nestled in the heart of the downtown district. (594-3100)
Other options include the DoubleTree by Hilton and the Sheraton Suites Wilmington. For a full list, visit the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau, visitwilmingtonde.com.
The Delaware Children’s Museum on the Riverfront is a popular destination.
Take a morning stroll or jog on the Riverfront Walk, then grab a hot or iced coffee at Starbucks, which has locations on the riverfront and Market Street.
For local flavor, pop into LOMA Coffee, a gathering place for residents and students at the Delaware College of Art & Design on Market Street. (384-8494)
After fueling up on caffeine, take the kids to the Delaware Children’s Museum on the riverfront, which features activities that introduce young minds to science, math, engineering and technology. (654-2340)
When the kids are finished climbing through a hollowed-out tree and boarding the train, take them behind the museum to the riverwalk, where a mini-golf course is open in summer. (The activity is equally appealing to adults.) You can buy a soft-serve ice cream cone, milkshake or soda at the stand just outside the golf course gate. (425-4890)
Adults and kids can step back in time at the Delaware History Museum, located on the fifth block of Market Street. Once a Woolworth’s Department Store, this building also houses the Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African-American Heritage. (656-0637)
Back on the riverfront, families can bounce, jump and twist at Altitude Trampoline Park. (Free Wi-Fi is a perk for parents.) (397-8142)
To work up an appetite, stroll the 1.3-mile Wilmington Riverwalk, which extends from Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park to the Shipyard Shops. On your walk, you’ll pass more than 5,000 trees and shrubs, 36,000 grasses, perennials and annuals, and 27,600 wetland plants. For lunch, choose from one of the many restaurants that offer alfresco dining and a view of the Christina River.
The riverwalk connects to the pedestrian bridge that leads to the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. The four-story, 13,500-square-foot facility is owned by the Riverfront Development Corporation and managed by the Delaware Nature Center. Learn about the creatures that inhabit the 212-acre Peterson Refuge. Then head outside to the boardwalk and see how many you can spot. (425-3929)
If you’re in the mood for popcorn and a movie, the Penn Cinema IMAX on the riverfront can satisfy your craving. The theater has nearly 3,000 seats in 14 auditoriums and the state’s only IMAX. Here you’ll find family-friendly flicks as well as the independent releases that will spark conversation on date night. (656-4314)
Couples in the mood for music have plenty of options. Musical performances often headline The Grand Opera House, which in the past has hosted Bonnie Raitt and Willie Nelson. The Victorian-era venue, which the Grand Lodge of the Masons opened in 1871, has more than 75 shows a year. OperaDelaware, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and the First State Ballet regularly perform here. (652-5577)
The Queen Theater, also on Market Street, is another longtime landmark that now serves as the stage for nationally known performers. Built in the 1800s, the theater was vacant from 1959 until 2011, when it was resurrected as an event and performing arts venue.
The nearby Merchant Bar might be slim but it gets lively when DJs spin the tunes on weekends. Take a break from dancing to nosh on small plates and sip artisan cocktails. (543-5574)
Toward the heart of the business district, jazz-lovers have turned The Nomad Bar into a hidden gem. The intimate venue for jazz and blues does not serve food. Order takeout from an area restaurant. (655-8800)
On the riverfront, Firestone Roasting House features live music with a view of the water Wednesday to Saturday. (658-6626)
Between the riverfront and the Market Street area, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot for brunch. Afterward, pop into the Delaware Contemporary (formerly the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts), a non-collecting museum of contemporary art with seven galleries, 26 artists’ studios and a gift store. (656-6466)
Time your visit so that you can catch a matinee performance by OperaDelaware at The Grand Opera House. The professional opera company also performs on select Saturday evenings during its season. The Sunday Artist Spotlight series, however, is held in the OperaDelaware studio on the riverfront. (442-7807)
Staying for dinner? Consider a sail on the Riverboat Queen, which includes dinner, iced tea and lemonade with the price of the cruise. The boat, which has a slip on the public dock behind Iron Hill Brewery, also operates on Thursdays. (425-4890)
In addition to these regular activities, downtown Wilmington and the Wilmington Riverfront are the settings for festivals and annual events all year long. Visit riverfrontwilm.com or
visitwilmingtonde.com for up-to-date information.