The Biggs Museum of American Art showcases late founder Sewell C. Biggs's impressive collection that focuses on the evolution of American and especially Mid-Atlantic art from the 18th century up to the present. Steal some time inside the museum's 18 intimate galleries and peruse the permanent collection’s early American furniture, regional silver, and sculptures needled by the famously opposable-thumbed Hiram Powers. Although admission is free, the Biggs Museum fills a bustling calendar with programs such as art classes and kids’ activities that members can enjoy at a discount, along with events such as the annual member appreciation breakfast. With a rotating cast of exhibitions, current offerings include the Award Winners XI exhibition running through October 23, 2011, which displays works by the Individual Artist fellows of the Delaware Division of the Arts. The upcoming Delaware By Hand: Masters Competition exhibition, on display from November 4, 2011 to February 19, 2012, features contemporary work chosen by a panel of judges and presented in tandem with an array of public programs, art sales, and grassroots movements to line public spaces with paint-spewing fire hydrants.
Gales of laughter compete with crashing ocean waves at Steel Pier's scenic location on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Traditional attractions such as a ferris wheel take parkgoers on a spin, while elsewhere, guests get behind the driver's wheel of bumper cars. To get their hearts racing, the most daring visitors climb aboard The Sling Shot, which sends them racing at 100 miles per hour and up to 5Gs, or The Mix, which places guest on spinning arms that reach speeds over 60 miles per hour . Guests can also go on a helicopter ride for a bird's-eye view of the shore and other birds.
While a modern amusement park today, Steel Pier has a historic past. Originally opened in 1898, the Pier hosted top entertainers such as Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, and Frank Sinatra, and famed acts such as The Human Cannonball and the Miss American Pageant. But after years of neglect and a devastating fire, Steel Pier was in need of a makeover. So in 1993, the Catanoso brothers renovated the landmark spot to offer it's nostalgic charm and thrills to families for years to come.
At Renault Winery Resort & Golf, a glimpse into history begins at a wine barrel. Fashioned from the top of an old oak cask, a gold-lettered sign marks the entrance to the state-registered historic site, where staff cultivates and harvests 12 local and international grape varietals across more than 31 acres of vineyards. This flourishing estate owes its existence to one man, whose journey began nearly 150 years ago.
In the mid-1800s, vintner Louis Nicholas Renault plied his trade in Rheims, France. When a parasitic aphid nearly crippled France’s winemaking industry, Renault fled to California, where the insect struck again. He followed rumors of an aphid-resistant American grape varietal to the fields of New Jersey where he found a climate similar to that of his native France—and his winemaking flourished.
Not even Prohibition could halt his operation, which continued under a special permit. After his death in 1948, the winery continued to expand for the next five decades, adding a chateau, 50-room inn, and restaurant by 2001. Since then, Renault Winery has offered lodging and entertainment in addition to the fruits of its vines.
Visitors to the Tuscany House won’t remember crossing the Atlantic Ocean, which is perfectly normal. The House’s decadent lobby, an inner courtyard with a garden, mimics the villas of Italy: its marble columns and curving staircase lead up to a mezzanine constantly patrolled by at least one member of the Swiss Guard. Off the lobby, hallways lead to private rooms and suites filled with king-size beds and heavy wood furnishings.
Joseph's Restaurant melds the estate’s Mediterranean charm with New Jersey influence. Executive Chef Joseph DeGennaro—whom food critic Bob Bickell described as “outstanding” in his Restaurant Report—fills plates with Tuscan burgers and pastas tossed with grilled chicken and lobster.
Arbor-covered corridors and rambling lawns dappled with statuettes lead to the winery. On tours, guides lead visitors past the mixing and fermentation tanks while revealing the steps of the winemaking process. After the tour, groups select samples from more than 32 varieties of wine. The on-site wineglass museum lets groups dive further into the world of wine, displaying glassware dating back to the 13th century.
Visitors don’t have to join in the harvest to experience the grounds firsthand. Vineyard Golf, an 18-hole championship-level course, winds through the rolling vineyards. Players drive down open fairways, avoid five water hazards, and putt onto greens nestled against the rows of plantings.
Though Bellview Winery was only established in 2000, its history is almost a century long. After immigrating from Italy, Angelo Quarella purchased the original 20-acre plot in 1914. Angelo named the farm Bellview, and worked its soil over the decades, all the while maintaining his own cellar of homemade wines. Jim Quarella, Angelo's great-grandson, would see the family farm expand to more than 150 acres, 40 of which are populated by swelling grapevines. The winery building still contains Angelo's original cellar.
Even after 100 years, the land is still good to the Quarellas. Its fruits go into each of the winery's 30 varietals, encompassing dry, semisweet, and fruit concoctions. Fistfuls of freshly plucked dandelions go into a family-recipe dandelion wine, the flower's wish-granting ability distilled down into a potent vintage. Bellview Winery offers something for everyone in a friendly and accessible environment. At the pastoral tasting room, visitors lounge under the shade in picnic seating, sipping at filled glasses and endlessly chomping the ends off cigars from the humidor before stopping at the gift shop.
The experienced pilots and capable ground crew at Horizon Helicopter welcome flight seekers to their state-approved helicopter training facility. The school's top pilots offer an introductory flight lesson that guides hoverbird mimickers through all the checks and balances of airborne operation. The FLYIT Professional Helicopter Simulator keeps flyers grounded as they learn piloting techniques, including instrument operation and positional awareness; all hard-mounted switches and controls replicate those in the real aircraft, including operational gumball machines and Wright Brother bobble heads. The combined effect of wide views and the simulator’s accurate imitation of translational lift and torque transports pilot apprentices into the wild blue yonder without fear of cabin-pressure ear pops. Following this 30-minute simulation, pilot pros will set sail above the clouds with rookies in tow for 30 more minutes, allowing novice fingers a chance to twirl the dials and steer the helicopter's course through the sky.