I kept a promise to myself that I would travel at least once a month by doing a solo road trip to Delaware last weekend. I honestly had this trip planned for weeks, but because of the constant bad weather (and bomb cyclones) that have consistently hit the East Coast I had to keep postponing my trip. Originally I even wanted to stay overnight in Wilmington so I could maximize my time there and see more things, but it just wasn't meant to be. I definitely plan to return one day (in the summer) to explore the state's gorgeous beaches and the Nemours Mansion (which was closed when I went).
Ironically, the day I was (finally) able to hit the road turned out to be a clear sunny day, albeit cold, but still a rare "good weather" Saturday. I guess my weeks of waiting through snowstorm after snowstorm finally paid off and I was rewarded with amazing roadtripping weather. Delaware was a lot more beautiful than I expected. Actually, I didn't even know what to expect because its not a state that many people talk about or visit so I wasn't sure what was out there. So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how plentiful Delaware is not only in beauty, but also in activities. It turns out Delaware is a mix of natural beauty and old American glamour. The French American du Pont family dominated Delaware for over a century and a lot of their homes and factories are still standing today. I constantly braved the cold wind and had my windows rolled down during the drive just so I could snap pictures of the passing scenery because everything I saw was amazing. Wilmington, Delaware is only a 2 hour drive from New York so it was perfect for my first solo road trip and it became the perfect day trip as well since it wasn't hard for me to get back in time for a late Manhattan dinner.
Breakfast @ Scrumptious
I started my day out with brunch at Scrumptious, located in downtown Delaware. The food was simple American brunch fare- scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, and eggs benedict. But the cafe also has a huge section for frozen yogurt! It was too early in the day for dessert for me (yes even I have limits), so I'll have to put this on my next time list. The only thing I wish I had known before was to take a table near the front window of the cafe so I could glance out into the streets, but I instead chose a table towards the inside of the cafe where my only view was the frozen yogurt topping selection.
Winterthur Mansion and Garden
Winterthur was breathtaking. That's basically the best word I could come up with to describe everything that I saw there. The estate of Henry Francis du Pont is located about 15 minutes from downtown Delaware and lies on around 1000 acres of open land and pure beauty. I still can't believe that one family (with only 2 children!) lived on such a large area of land and in a mansion with 175 rooms. Taking the mansion tour was one of the highlights of my day trip- I was able to see how the family lived during their time. The Winterthur house tour changes every few months to include a different set of rooms so visitors get to see a new side of the mansion every time they visit. Included in your house tour ticket, is a garden tram tour that takes you around the grounds and provides even more information into the du Pont family and their life at Winterthur. My tram guide (who was dressed like a leprechaun in honor of St. Patrick's Day) was so delightful and knowledgable about every tree and building on the grounds. He also drove extremely slowly so I could capture all the scenery!
The Hagley Museum was kind of hard for me to find (thank goodness for Google Maps) because its literally located at the end of a small nondescript road with only a sign to distinguish it. But behind this sign was another 235 acres of gorgeous du Pont land. Hagley was the gunpowder manufacturing site and mills of E.I du Pont around the early 1800s. The tour guide informed us that although it was considered dangerous to build a house so close to an area where explosives were being created, E.I insisted on doing so to show his employees that he was as invested in the work as they were. This devotion made E.I du Pont one of the most successful businessmen of his time and his home one of the most historical in Wilmington. Their is a shuttle bus that takes you to all the sites in Hagley, such as the schoolhouse, the steam engine room, the mills, and finally the bright yellow mansion. The house tour takes you on the first and second floors of the house and also to the massive barn where the actual conestoga wagon used to transport gunpowder in the 1800s is stored. I loved soaking in the 1800 lifestyle and imagining the grounds filled with people running a gunpowder facility.
Coffee @ Brew HaHa
To prep myself for the drive back home (I was pretty tired after all the sightseeing), I stopped by Brew HaHa, a local Delaware coffee shop, for a delicious Snickers iced latte and a peanut butter brownie. All their lattes sounded delicious (german chocolate, creme brulee, brownie mud) so I can't wait to come back!
Have any of you guys been to Delaware? What are some places you've been so I can add them to my list?