Picked as a top 10 attraction in Wilmington by the editors of 10Best, the Winterthur Museum houses a massive collection of more than 85,000 pieces of American decorative art and furniture from 1640 to 1860, displayed on the magnificent childhood estate of collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont. The lavishly decorated house sits on a 1,000-acre preserve of meadows and woodlands modeled after grand English estates. The mansion contains 175 antique-furnished rooms in which du Pont grandly entertained family, friends, and various aristocratic superheroes. As you take a spin around the first floor, don't miss the Touch-It Room, where visitors toy around with hands-on displays of a parlor, kitchen, and general store.
• "Victorian Lawn Party" on Sunday, July 17, at noon. • "Old Time Autos" on Sunday, August 14, at noon. • "Trains, Trains, Trains!" on Saturday, September 3 or Sunday, September 4, both days at noon. • "Goblins, Ghosts & Ghouls" on Saturday, October 22 or Sunday, October 23, both days at noon.
Howard Pyle's unexpected death in 1912 brought a group of artists, entrepreneurs, and businessmen together to grieve their friend. They couldn't let the artist's passion for teaching and illustration disappear as quickly as he had; so, they decided to form the Wilmington Society of Fine Arts with the sole purpose of preserving his legacy. They gathered funds from locals who felt just as strongly as they did—family members, friends, students, fans—and purchased approximately 100 pieces of his artwork.
Little did they know that, with these 100 pieces, they were starting something greater than a memorial for a good friend. The Wilmington Society of Fine Arts would, over time, add more and more artwork to its collection, growing into an 80,000-square-foot space and out of its original name. The Delaware Art Museum, as its called today, now counts more than 12,000 works of art as part of its collection. Permanent features showcase British pre-Raphaelites, the urban landscapes of John Sloan, modern American art, and, of course, Howard Pyle. The masterpieces don't stop when visitors venture outside—the Copeland Sculpture Garden adorns its lush natural scenery with nine works from the museum's permanent collection, along with a massive outdoor labyrinth.
The area’s only living history museum with a focus on the New Republic Era from 1790 to 1830, Greenbank Mills and Philips Farm pulls the wool away from visitors’ eyes to reveal the development of grain and textile milling in America. Two breeds of sheep, leicester longwools and delane merinos, call Greenbank home, and visitors can follow sheepish locks from shearing through dyeing, as textile transmogrifiers spin them into gossamer strands destined for warm winter shawls and giant webs designed to ensnare skateboarders. Or guests can delve into Greenbank's 300-year history as a working mill by grinding grain by hand into floury heaps of summer snow.
The Simeone Foundation Museum pays tribute to the evolution of the racing car with more than 60 historical autos on display. Theater-like set designs provide colorful backdrops for a procession of stunning vehicular architecture dating to the industry’s earliest days, such as the 1909 American Underslung, known for its endurance over long distances, and a 1921 Duesenberg racecar, a veteran of that year’s Le Mans competition. Gather ideas for your next living-room pinewood derby as you peep at the museum’s collection, which also includes the 1958 Aston Martin DBR1, 1963 Corvette Grand Sport, 1926 Kissel 8-75 Speedster, and more. The museum also features rotating exhibitions.
As America’s first zoo and current home to more than 1,300 creatures, the Philadelphia Zoo hosts a cavalcade of winged avians, furry friends, aquatic characters, and slithering showboats on 42 sprawling acres. Gauge the ferocity of your roar at the Big Cat Falls, or visit the snow-strewn habitats of polar bears, snow leopards, penguins, and the Cheetos-dusted Amur tigers. Exercise your bipedality over to the primate reserve and speak firsthand with the trainers and conservationists working to save and protect endangered primates worldwide from the violence of video games and reckless taxis. The Philadelphia Zoo also features rides and attractions (at additional costs), allowing revelers to twirl about the Amazon rainforest carousel, paddle the swan boats, or take a ride in the iconic Zooballoon, where, from the comfort of the skies, the bearded pig's questionable facial hair is only turning children’s tears into raindrops.