Wilmington is the largest city in the tiny US state of Delaware. The vibrant city, which is located in the northern portion of Delaware near the state border with Pennsylvania, is renowned for being home to a few gorgeous family estates. These belonged to the du Pont family. The du Pont family was a prominent Wilmington family responsible for starting up the chemical company, DuPont, in the early 19th century.
With the establishment and growth of DuPont, the wealthy du Pont family played a major role in shaping the growth of Wilmington. The family once lived in a few estates that aren’t just gorgeous, but are also now open to the public to enjoy. So, for things to do in Wilmington, Delaware, you will want to make sure to pay a visit to the family’s former estates.
Hagley Museum and Library
The Hagley Museum and Library is located on Hagley Creek Road in the northwestern corner of Wilmington. It is in a scenic forested hill area fronting the Brandywine River. This is where the original du Pont family home is located. The first known du Pont family member to arrive was Eleuthere Irenee du Pont who immigrated to the US from France in 1800 with his family.
Around two years later, Eleuthere founded DuPont in 1802 by setting up mills on the estate property for producing gunpowder. Not only that, but he also built a village on property in order to house his employees so that they can work in the gunpowder mills. Today, you can tour the ivy-covered Georgian-style du Pont home and explore the history of the du Pont family.
You can also check out the beautiful Renaissance-era garden with terraces and statuary. You can then head to the gunpowder mills to get a better feel for how gunpowder was produced. There is also the employee village where you can learn about how the employees lived and worked.
The admission prices to visit the Hagley Museum and Library are $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $6 for children aged 6 to 14. Military members and those aged under 6 will get free admission. Should you get hungry, you have the option to dine at the onsite restaurant, the Belin House Organic Cafe. You can buy souvenirs at the Hagley Museum Store, also located onsite.
Nemours Mansion and Gardens
The Nemours Mansion and Gardens is located on Alapocas Drive in northwestern Wilmington. The mansion was owned by Alfred Irenee du Pont who was the great-grandson of Eleuthere, the founder of DuPont. The mansion is designed to look like a French chateau. The mansion has approximately 77 rooms. The estate grounds contain neatly designed French formal gardens for you to check out.
The French formal gardens found at this estate are the largest of its kind in North America. There is a reflecting pool with a breathtaking fountain that reaches 12 feet in the air. The reflecting pool is connected to the mansion via a nicely landscaped area known as the Long Walk. It is lined on both sides by Japanese cryptomeria, pink flowering horse chestnuts, and pin oaks.
Whenever the fountain is turned off, the entire section of the Long Walk is reflected in the pool. You will also want to make sure to check out the chauffeur’s garage as it houses a nice collection of vintage cars that were once owned by Alfred and his family. Inside the mansion, you can find a collection of fine period antiques, rare oriental rugs, tapestries, and paintings from as far back as the 15th century.
One of the rooms you can check out is the Reception Hall. This is where the du Pont family used to gather to celebrate Christmas every year. It is one of the largest spaces inside the mansion. Another room at the mansion is the Drawing Room. On special occasions, the ladies of the du Pont family would gather in this room after dinner.
While in this room, the ladies gossiped, played cards and/or worked on their needlepoint while the men talked politics and finances over cigars in the dining rooms. These are just a few of the rooms you can tour inside the mansion. The estate was Alfred’s gift to his second wife, Alicia, who had a love for French chateaus.
The admission prices for this estate are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, active military members, and students, and $10 for children aged 6 to 16. Those who are aged under 6 will get free admission.
Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library
The Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is located on Kenneth Pike in Winterthur, just northwest of Wilmington. It was built in the early 20th century by Henry Algernon du Pont and his son Henry Francis. They were the grandson and great-grandson of DuPont founder, Eleuthere, respectively. This du Pont family home was designed to resemble 18th and 19th century European country houses.
The mansion is also accompanied by a gorgeous 60-acre naturalistic garden which is among the best in the United States. The estate is surrounded by a preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands, making for a scenic setting. The mansion has an eye-popping 175 rooms. It houses a large collections of objects of American decorative arts – nearly 90,000 to be exact.
All of these objects were either made or used in the US between 1640 and 1860. They are all displayed in much the same way as they were when the du Pont family lived there. The admission prices for this estate are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $6 for children aged from 2 to 11. Free admission is given to those aged under 2. You can go here to buy your tickets for this estate.
With the establishment and growth of DuPont in Wilmington came the growing wealth and prominence of the du Pont family. At least one legacy of the family is that their estates are open for you to explore. So, one of the best things to do in Wilmington, Delaware is to visit these gorgeous du Pont estates.
Also, are you into colonial history and theme parks? Around four hours south of Wilmington is a city in the southeastern portion of the US state of Virginia that also starts with the letter “W”. It is called Williamsburg and it is renowned for its rich colonial history along with being home to one of only two Busch Gardens theme parks in the United States. You can head here to learn more about Williamsburg.
If you are looking for a hotel to stay at in Wilmington, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest for you.
Courtyard by Marriott Wilmington Brandywine
This hotel is located on Rocky Run Parkway in northwestern Wilmington which should put you in close proximity to all of the estates. There is an onsite restaurant at the hotel called The Bistro. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available at the hotel for you to use.
All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi and coffee makers while the suites will also have kitchenettes in them. The average rate for a standard room range from $118 to $254. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
Holiday Inn Express Wilmington North – Brandywine
This hotel is also located on Rocky Run Parkway in northwestern Wilmington. So, this is another hotel option for being close to the estates. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few nearby options include Bonefish Grill, Corner Bistro, and Grub Burger Bar. The hotel houses a fitness center for your workout needs.
All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $110 to $211. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Are you looking to visit these beautiful du Pont estates in Wilmington? Feel free to leave a comment here.