Spread over northern Delaware and part of Pennsylvania, this scenic and historic valley is a must-see for any visitor to Wilmington.
The top draw is Winterthur, the former estate of Henry Francis du Pont. The mansion contains one of the top collections of American antiques and decorative arts in the U.S., and the 60-acre/24-hectare garden showcases plants from around the world. Take one of the many tours to learn more about Winterthur's history.
Near Winterthur is the Delaware Museum of Natural History, with its fascinating exhibits of prehistoric animals and marine life, as well as collections of birds and shells from exotic locales throughout the world.
The Hagley Museum, which includes the original 19th-century mills, estate and gardens of the du Pont family, sits on 230 acres/95 hectares of land along the Brandywine River. The museum presents a fascinating look at the evolution of U.S. industry. The nearby Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a 102-room Louis XVI-style chateau with landscaped gardens, is closed for renovations until spring 2008.
If you follow the valley north into Pennsylvania, there's more to see. Longwood Gardens, the rural estate of Pierre S. du Pont in Kennett Square, has a beautiful expanse of indoor and outdoor gardens, lakes and marvelous fountains. The seasonal displays at Longwood are spectacular, from the holiday lighting to the fountain shows that run mid-April through mid-October.
The Brandywine River Museum, in Chadds Ford, houses paintings by American artists. Paintings by three generations of the Wyeth family are on display, including those of N.C. Wyeth, who lived in Chadds Ford from1911 until his death in 1945. His house and studio on the grounds are open to visitors.
Annual events in the area include the Point-to-Point Races at Winterthur—horse races in a historic setting held annually on the first full-weekend Sunday of May—and Yuletide at Winterthur, a holiday celebration in the Early American tradition. Monthly ghost tours (weekly in October) are conducted at Rockwood Museum, a 19th-century estate north of Wilmington. 7 mi/10 km north of Wilmington.
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