Wilmington, Delaware, is gearing up to host President Biden’s campaign headquarters beginning in January, and the small city is also his hometown. Although it’s the second smallest state in the country after Rhode Island, Revolutionary War buffs know that Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and over the years, Delaware has become known as a corporate and credit card capital thanks to its advantageous (read: low) tax rates for banks and Chancery Court. Condé Nast Traveler even named Wilmington one of the best places to travel in 2023.
How to Get to Wilmington
Wilmington is located 100 miles south of New York City with easy accessibility via Interstate 95, and Amtrak has multiple departures to Wilmington daily from the new Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station. You can also fly into Philadelphia, the airport being just 20 minutes from downtown Wilmington. This is the closest airport to Wilmington with hundreds of daily flights from all major domestic carriers. Once in town, you’ll want to rent a car or get around by Uber or Lyft, both of which are readily available.
Where to Stay in Wilmington
The Quoin Hotel is the most sophisticated new place to stay, with just 24 rooms and suites in a Victorian brownstone that was previously a bank. Guest rooms are large enough to do cartwheels in (read: surprisingly spacious if you’re used to New York hotel rooms), blending modern and historical design elements with Shaker-influenced furniture, floral patterned wallpaper and herringbone parquet wooden floors. Aesop bath amenities and complimentary fresh fruit and morning pastries in the lobby are luxe touches. The Quoin (pronounced “coin”) is the first hotel in the city with a rooftop bar, and basement lounge Simmer Down serves classic cocktails in an exposed brick vault where gold bars, furs and coins were once stored.
The boutique hotel’s location on Market Street is also within walking distance to some of the best food and drink in the city — but more on that later — and shops like new indie bookstore Huxley & Hiro.
The 20 Most Beautiful Airbnbs on the Delaware BeachesWhether you need a mansion that sleeps 14 or a tiny house for two, we’ve got a rental for you
What to Do in Wilmington
Until recently, the Bidens were not the most famous family in Wilmington. Wilmington’s Du Pont family has been one of the wealthiest in the United States since the mid-19th century with a fortune built on gunpowder, automobiles and chemical manufacturing. The Du Ponts have several estates around town that are now museums open to the public, including the 1,000-acre Winterthur Museum & Gardens, the childhood home of collector and horticulturist Henry Francis Du Pont. The nine-story family home is the premier museum of American decorative arts, filled top to bottom with eccentricities and antique furniture and décor. The gardens are most impressive during spring and summer, but snowdrops bloom as early as February.
Nemours Estate is another opulent display of Du Pont wealth, the largest French formal garden in North America, originally built by industrialist and financier Alfred I. Dupont. The 77-room mansion includes a basement bowling alley and a clock meant for Marie Antoinette that she never received because she was beheaded. Longwood Gardens is another Du Pont legacy, founded by Pierre Du Pont in 1906 to share his passion for botany, design and art. The grandeur at all of these Du Pont estates are reminiscent of European royal grounds.
If you’re looking for something more active to work up your appetite, the riverfront Jack Markell Trail or rowing on the river are popular during warmer months. For a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home, the made to measure suits by Wright and Simon will have you standing up straighter and feeling positively presidential. Personalize the fabric, buttons, lining and finishing details while imagining inauguration day.
After a long day of exploring, Currie Day Spa in the DuPont Building downtown is the place to unwind. There are several massages to choose from, along with manicures and facials designed specifically for men so you can always be camera-ready.
Where to Eat and Drink in Wilmington
Begin the day with pastries and coffee at Bar Reverie, a bustling cafe and wine bar near Biden’s home. They make all of their own syrups for specialty lattes and and the viennoiserie — like almond croissants with crispy edges and ultra flaky danishes filled with sweet cream and fresh figs — are top notch. Come back in the evening for French bistro fare and themed events like monthly movie night.
Brew HaHa! is another local favorite coffee shop with several locations around town. Biden was spotted at the Greenville cafe with his grandsons in October 2021, and First Lady Jill Biden has been here as well. Buckley’s Tavern in Centerville is another Biden family favorite, where you’ll find politicians and CEOs mingling over simple pub fare.
Beer lovers need to check out Dew Point Brewing Co, a microbrewery located in an old snuff mill. There’s often live music outdoors in the summer, and the trails next door at Auburn Valley State Park are beautiful places to hike or jog before a few pints.
Bardea is the most nationally recognized restaurant in Wilmington and one of just a few of the city’s restaurants to garner a James Beard nomination for its ambitious modern Italian cuisine. Think snacks like burrata pop tarts and Maryland crab rolls, Neapolitan pizza, housemade fresh pasta and tender crispy octopus with harissa zabaglione. Co-owners Scott Stein and executive chef Antimo DiMeo have built an empire in downtown Wilmington with five different restaurant concepts, including Bardea Steak and Pizzeria Bardea with more to come soon. Bardea was a favorite hangout for national and international journalists covering Biden’s 2020 campaign, so you can expectthey’ll be back this time around too.
Le Cavalier is another excellent choice for dinner, and the most romantic dining room in Wilmington with imposing high ceilings, dark wood, Victorian-era chandeliers and Italian marble mosaic floors. Pretend you’re a Du Pont when ordering bottles of Burgundy and Champagne to pair with steak frites and cheesy French onion soup.
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