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.
Grandmaster Dennis Tosten founded the first Amerikick in 1967 and has since taught several champion fighters, police officers, and everyday students karate and self-defense. Today, the lauded chain teaches fitness classes inspired by martial arts, including cardio kickboxing in six states. Each location upholds a curriculum that blends Chinese and Japanese martial-arts styles—including kenpo and tae kwon do—with modern self-defense strategies, further updating traditional practices by eschewing uniforms and belts for casual workout gear. Having attained certification in teaching kickboxing from the National Association of Professional Martial Artists, Amerikick's seasoned instructors also each possess black belts in karate, a rank as difficult to attain as the snake charmer's belt of live cobras.
For nearly 40 years, First State Lanes has kept pastimers and ardent tenpin enthusiasts furnished with waxed lanes, snack-bar provender, and accouterments from a fully stocked pro shop. Amateurs hurl spheroids at lanes alongside semi-pros doing battle in colorful league uniforms or impressive gladiator outfits. During rounds, the full-service snack bar slings pizzas, plates of signature chicken tenders, and a selection of beers. During the evenings, bouts of cosmic red-pin bowling cast pins in crimson and black-light glow, and any bowler who throws a strike that houses le pin rouge wins a dollar. For less alley-based diversions, guests can saunter over to the game room to play pool and arcade games.
Ornate railings flank the steps to one of BlueBallRoom Dance Studio?s two spacious dance floors, whose hardwood-maple surfaces mask springy, joint-cushioning subfloors. The studio's team of talented teachers leads classes in a monthly rotation of social dances ranging from Argentine tango and various ballroom styles to intermediate touchdown dancing. Private-lesson subscribers, meanwhile, get closer attention and a chance to hone their footwork at regularly held free dance parties.
Within each noncompetitive Curves facility, female fitness seekers are invited to move through a 30-minute circuit of hydraulic-resistance machines that are designed to promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Shunning cumbersome weight stacks, the hydraulic gadgets adapt to each exerciser's body weight and fitness level to complement her individual abilities, subsequently decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. And because traditional lift-and-lower motions tend to create bulky muscles, the machines promote push-and-pull movements to sculpt toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing unsuspecting grapefruit. Experienced trainers are always nearby to help clients manage their machine maneuvering, and a soundtrack of fun, upbeat music includes cues to let women know when it's time to move on to the next station or break for an air viola solo.
Interspersed with rolling hills, meandering woods, and rippling water obstacles, each of these featured courses provides a challenging round for golfers of any skill level. Rock Manor's winding 6,405-yard layout of subtle fairways and pristine greens—designed by renowned course architect Lester George—was named Best Public Course in Delaware by Delaware Today. Putting-placement wizard Edmund B. Ault designed a previous winner of the same award, Delcastle Golf Course, in 1971. The course welcomes players to three separate tee boxes, from which clubbers can drive balls toward rolling hills, wide fairways, and caddies performing cartwheels. Then park your course-tour caravan at the Ed Oliver Golf Club, which rests on the original site of the Wilmington Country Club. Golfers digging their spikes into the manicured 18th hole will notch views of a 100-year-old chimney, which puffs out a smoky likeness of Jack Nicklaus eating a hero sandwich during each birdie.