How to Spend the Best Long Weekend in Wilmington, Delaware
Joe Biden racked up 2 million Amtrak miles traversing the route between his hometown and our nation's capital. Now it's your turn.
By the time President Joe Biden moved into the White House this January, he had racked up more than two million Amtrak miles while taking over 8,200 round-trips of 259 miles each between his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington, DC. Those years of commuting earned him the nickname of “Amtrak Joe” — and the titular honor of the Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Railroad Station in Wilmington.
Even now, Biden has gone home on more weekends than any of his predecessors at this point in their terms. “The president lives in Wilmington — it’s his home,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a recent briefing. “That’s where he’s lived for many, many years.”
Biden and his wife, Jill, also own property on the Delaware shores of Rehoboth Beach, overlooking Cape Henlopen State Park. Biden said that they had long dreamed of owning a place on the shore, calling Delaware “the place that matters most to us in the world.”
So, what’s all the fuss about? You can see for yourself by hopping on a 90-minute Amtrak train from Union Station, Biden-style, or by loading up the car for the two-hour drive. Here, a weekend itinerary fit for the leader of the free world.
There’s no better place to rest up in Wilmington than at the historic Hotel du Pont. Built back in 1913, the opulent, 12-story property was inspired by the grand hotels of Europe. Since then, it’s played host to a number of legends, from Amelia Earhart and Katherine Hepburn to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Today, it remains a local hub in the middle of the city, thanks to the newly restored Le Cavalier restaurant and a modern food hall, akin to a tiny version of DC’s Union Market, both now located on the ground floor of the hotel.
For American history buffs, Wilmington presents itself as a neverending treasure trove, from the Kalmar Nyckel ship that brought Swedish settlers to the Delaware Valley in 1638 to the Hagley Museum & Library, the site of the original gunpowder mills founded by E. I. du Pont (yes, like the hotel) back in 1802. Also courtesy of the du Pont family is Nemours Mansion and Garden, a massive 300-acre estate that includes a 77-room mansion as well as the largest formal French gardens in North America.
While you’re there: We implore you to make the under-30 minute drive into Pennsylvania to Longwood Gardens, a spectacular botanical garden with acres of indoor conservatory that thrives year-round. The indoor conservatory there is seriously something else—full of blooming orchids and lilies, decades-old bonsai trees and flowing fountains. Did we mention Longwood is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont? That family is seriously everywhere in Wilmington.
If you happen to be in town on a weekday, make sure to stop into DE.CO food hall. A launch pad for ambitious local chefs, it’s a great place to grab anything from sushi or banh mi sandwiches to coffee and acai bowls. For a more proper brunch, try one of Biden’s favorites—the classically American Buckley’s Tavern. Most of the dishes on their extensive menu are effective hangover busters, from cheesy shrimp and grits to a super creamy chicken pot pie.
For dinner and drinks, arguably the best (and hottest) spot in town is the stylish Bardea. While their menu centers around modern interpretations of Italian cuisine, a focus on local ingredients and explorative approach to flavors — like their grown-up take on a traditional Good Humor ice cream bar — makes for a unique culinary experience.
Date night done right is easy in Wilmington, since all you really have to do is bring your partner down to the lobby and sidle up to the long marble bar of Le Cavalier. For a more casual brew, stop by Stitch House Brewery for a pint of their refreshing grapefruit pale ale or a coconut porter. There, an outdoor seating area leads into a stripped-down, rustic interior with a very friendly, local vibe. Stop by after dinner and there might be a band playing.
Next, try Wilmington’s favorite speakeasy, Torbert Street Social. Hidden behind a row of restaurants in the city’s Financial District, the brick-walled cocktail bar opened in 2019 in the building that once housed the state’s historic horse stables.
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