As the largest city in Delaware, Wilmington has no shortage of fascinating neighborhoods for visitors to explore. The city and its surrounding area are full of environments of all kinds, from the bucolic countryside to quiet suburbia to urban quarters.
Wilmington was built at the junction where the Christina River and Brandywine Creek meet, in close proximity to the larger Delaware River. It is nestled into Brandywine Valley, a flourishing landscape filled with countless attractions. This former Lenape land is the county seat of New Castle County, which is known for its colonial history.
Though Wilmington itself only covers 17 square miles, it is surrounded by suburbs and other towns of the Brandywine Valley, many of which are definitely worth a visit. From the historic Quaker Hill district to lively Trolley Square, Wilmington has neighborhoods for everyone to explore.
Continue reading to discover some of Wilmington DE’s most incredible neighborhoods.
This former manufacturing locale is one of the most beautiful areas in greater Wilmington, along both the Brandywine and Christina Rivers. The neighborhoods along the riverfront were the original home for industry, because of the prominence of mills. This area has a high concentration of attractions, making it one of the best destinations for tourists; it also provides gorgeous views of the two rivers.
Some of the most important landmarks in the Riverfront neighborhood include Frawley Stadium, home of minor league baseball team Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Dupont Environmental Education Center, the Riverwalk, a pedestrian path along the water, and Shipyard Shops, a collection of stores and restaurants.
A relatively small neighborhood, Trinity Vicinity still boasts an extensive history that involves the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., buildings in the district were burned and abandoned, but the community and local governments came together to revitalize the area. Covering only nine square blocks, the neighborhood is known for its neighborliness and community feel. The 150-year-old streets of Trinity Vicinity are lined with brick townhouses and carriage homes that give the area a lovely village atmosphere.
Another one of Wilmington’s national historic districts, many are drawn to the neighborhood’s architecture for its uniqueness and the custom adaptations that have been made over the years. It is named after the Trinity Episcopal Church designed by Theophilus P. Chandler, in the Gothic Revival style. The church and its surrounding area are the perfect place for a short jaunt into history, or for a fun evening at a local bar.
Built on the banks of Brandywine River, Midtown Brandywine is one of the city’s best neighborhoods. The area has a vibrant, urban feel, but its proximity to the winding Brandywine River (another name for Brandywine Creek) also gives the neighborhood a natural atmosphere. The district is bounded by North Washington Street, East 11th Street, and South Park Drive; it is home to many bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and parks. It is one of the more walkable neighborhoods on this list, which makes it an even better destination for tourists.
The best restaurants in this area include Mikimotos, a classy sushi restaurant, dorcea, an Italian café, and Fogo de Chāo, a popular Brazilian steakhouse chain. Though Midtown Brandywine was first established in the mid-1800s during the rise of industry along the Brandywine, it has quite a modern feel to it. Its nearby attractions include Brandywine Park (home of Brandywine Zoo) and Hercules Plaza.
This relatively small neighborhood, one of Wilmington’s closest suburbs, is made up of about 260 homes; it is also rapidly expanding. It was largely built in the 1930s, and it features stately colonial-style homes and apartment buildings. The outer ranges of the neighborhood stretch from Lea Boulevard to Market Street. The streets of the neighborhood are notable for being named after famous American and British authors, such as Byron and Hawthorne. Brandywine Hill’s nearby attractions include P.S. Dupont High School, a historic Colonial Revival and Neo-Georgian building, Marcus Hook Range Rear Light, the tallest lighthouse on the American Atlantic coast, and Alapocas Run State Park.
One of Wilmington’s National Historic Districts, Quaker Hill can be found on a hill west of Wilmington’s central business district. It is home to 19th-century and 20th-century residential and commercial buildings in central Wilmington, many of which have been recently renovated. The area boasts Gothic-Revival and Italianate row houses, as well as some former historic mansions. The most prominent feature of the neighborhood is the Quaker Meetinghouse and Cemetery, where significant figures of Delaware history, such as abolitionist Thomas Garrett and Constitution signer John Dickinson, are buried.
First settled in 1738, this area has long been populated by Quakers, including the prominent Shipley family. In the 1800s especially, the Quakers exercised a lot of influence on Wilmington; they helped promote the commercial development of the city. Because of this legacy, Quaker Hill is one of the city’s most fascinatingly historic districts.
Wawaset Park might make you think of the thrilling movie Don’t Worry Darling, which tells the story of a 1950s family living in a seemingly utopian company-run community. However, the real Wilmington neighborhood is nowhere near as scary – the similarities between the movie community and Wawaset Park stop at the fact that they are both planned by companies. The area, now a national historic district, was a park that was bought by the DuPont Company in 1917 to be turned into residences for their employees.
The bucolic community was designed by notable architect Edward L. Palmer Jr., who also designed other planned communities. He designed the neighborhood with the urban park philosophies of Frederick Law Olmstead, who was the landscape architect of Central Park in New York City; Wawaset Park now has a similar natural feel. The buildings in the neighborhood range from Tudor cottages to Georgian mansions. Wawaset Park is definitely worth a visit for those interested in the extensive history of the Du Ponts and the DuPont Company, and for those who simply want to see a 20th century planned community.
One of Wilmington’s quirkiest and most lively neighborhoods, Trolley Square is known for its vibrant nightlife. This quaint region of the city, right next to Brandywine Park, is one of the best areas of the city. It has a densely urban feel and a large selection of restaurants, bars, and cafés. Due to its popularity, it is also one of Wilmington’s most expensive neighborhoods.
Trolley Square’s attractions include the Delaware Art Museum and Delaware Avenue Farmers’ Market. The area is also known for its local live music on weekends, where you’ll commonly run into people bar hopping. Popular restaurants in the neighborhood include El Diablo, a Mexican restaurant, Grotto Pizza, and the fancier Santa Fe Wilmington. Trolley Square is the perfect destination for young couples visiting the city.
Located on the west side of Wilmington, Little Italy is exactly what its name implies. Wilmington was once home to many first-generation Italian immigrants, and it is still home to thousands of Italian-Americans. The community is very close-knit, and they have injected their culture and heritage into every corner of the neighborhood. The area, bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, Clayton Street, and Union Street, is vibrant and bustling. A central part of the neighborhood is the St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, which was built in 1924 and now serves as a school as well as a place of worship.
Obviously, Wilmington’s Little Italy is home to the best Italian restaurants in the city, such as Rocco’s Italian Grill, Pastabilities, and Mrs. Robino’s, Delaware’s oldest Italian restaurant. The neighborhood is also home to the annual week-long Italian Festival, which is a celebration of Italian food, music, and culture. This area of Wilmington is a must-see, especially during the week of the festival.
Also known as Riverside–11th Street Bridge, this district lies in Wilmington’s northeast. It is right next to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, and close to the Brandywine Village historic district. The area has a lot of railway history; it was once a junction of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Contrary to its name, it is not directly on the river – but it’s pretty close by. Riverside is currently being revitalized by the non-profit Purpose Built Communities, whose goal is to support community development. Riverside’s attractions include the Brandywine Urban Farm, a community garden space, and the Kingswood Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Ninth Ward is a quiet mix of urban and suburban. It was created after the Civil War by Samuel H. Baynard – now the namesake for Baynard Boulevard – and it became popular among the newly wealthy of the era. The houses located in this neighborhood are mainly all from the turn of the 20th century, and they show off the architectural styles popular at that time. The Ninth Ward is largely residential, but a walk through its peaceful streets is definitely worth it, for the district’s historical significance.