Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley in northern Delaware offers groups diverse and robust itinerary options. The du Pont estates, gardens galore, American history sites, a vibrant riverfront and many other offerings are available for visitors.
The region’s central Mid-Atlantic location, just off the I-95 corridor, makes it easily accessed from major cities including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
“It is also easy to combine a visit to our destination with a visit to any of these other cities,” said Jen Boes, director of marketing and media relations for Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Another plus is that our hotels and many of our attractions are more affordable than those of our larger neighbors. And, there are so many group-friendly activities just a short distance from one another, so you are not spending all day on the bus traveling from point to point.”
The du Pont estates are the top stops for group tours. These five estates, now museums and gardens, give the region its nickname, Chateau Country. Many groups choose to start their Brandywine Valley experience at Hagley Museum and Library because it’s where the du Pont story begins. Other du Pont sites include Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Nemours Estate, Mt. Cuba Center and Longwood Gardens.
In addition to the du Pont estates, the Wilmington Riverfront is another favorite experience. There’s the Constitution Yards beer garden (where group members can try ax throwing) and a variety of attractions and activities.
Frawley Stadium is home to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Carolina League Class A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The stadium is located within walking distance of the Riverfront and its hotels. The Blue Rocks are slated to resume playing ball in the 2021 season.
The 1.75-mile-long Wilmington Riverwalk, which runs parallel to the Christina River, gives access to more than 12 restaurants, many of which offer outdoor dining. Groups also can take a two-hour cruise on the iconic restored Paddlewheeler Skipper Liner, The Riverboat Queen, when it resumes operation in 2021.
The Riverwalk connects to the Jack A. Markell Environmental Trail at the DuPont Environmental Education Center. Rent bikes at the education center and take the 7.9-mile trail into historic New Castle, another popular destination for groups.
Additional group tour attractions are Wilmington & Western Railroad, Fort Delaware and Historic Houses of Odessa.
On the horizon in Wilmington is a cluster of new group-friendly hotels on the Riverfront. The hotels are the Westin Wilmington, Homewood Suites by Hilton Wilmington Downtown, and Hyatt Place Wilmington.
Jessica Bittman of the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau assists tour operators with itinerary planning and helps connect them with attractions, restaurants and hotels.
Boes noted the tourism landscape changes nearly daily because of COVID-19. In late July, the attractions (unless otherwise noted) were open to visitors with social distancing guidelines being strictly enforced. Group visitation was restricted or limited to very small groups.
Boes encouraged operators interested in bringing a group tour to the Wilmington area to contact the bureau to receive the latest information.
To contact the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau call 302-295-2213 or go to visitwilmingtonde.com.