Winter settles into the streets and hills of Delaware like a whisper, its presence softly stirred into the atmosphere. It seems that just as those final vibrant leaves fall across the pavement, the snowflakes follow silently, decorating bare branches with something magically seasonal. No matter what you love about winter, be it the festive flicker of lights or the thrill of a slope covered in freshly fallen snow, you'll find it right here in the First State. Here's a look at Delaware's 13 best winter activities.
If the "activity" part of this piece appeals to you and you're planning an extended stay in the state, you might wish to consider joining the Wilmington Ski Club-the only club in the entire state that's dedicated to winter sports, namely skiing, but they also enjoy skating and hiking. Delaware houses a variety of exclusive clubs that are an excellent choice for spirited socialites. Don't let the winter weather keep you inside staring at four walls when you can enjoy an exhilarating ski session, or hike, or show for that matter, with fellow club members. Meetings occur on Wednesdays and trips take place on a variety of dates throughout the winter season.
The Wilmington & Western Railroad has provided more than 50 years of excellence to transportation enthusiasts in the Delaware region. One of the many highlights of their train is that it's all about the journey rather than the destination. When winter whips into Wilmington, the vintage locomotive pulls into the station adorned in holiday lights. Passengers can opt for a ride with the holly jolly Santa Claus or a solo excursion through the city and surrounding towns where many twinkling lights await. This train departs every hour on the hour from 5 p.m. until after 8 p.m.
Be sure to catch the extended hours and sales of Christiana Mall's winter shopping season, a delight that keeps shoppers returning year after year. Newark's Christiana is revered as the best shopping experience in Delaware, with just under 200 stores, including major designer brands like Armani, Nordstrom, Michael Kors, and Coach. This mall is accessible via several public transit options, and it's large enough to get lost in for the day or weekend if you're an avid bargain hunter. All stores are tax-free for the public, so you're bound to save whether you're shopping for gifts, decor, or basic household items.
The 18th and 19th centuries create a picturesque scene in historic New Castle and the beauty afforded by the historic homes of Odessa is truly enhanced once the winter sky sets in. Feel free to peruse this destination at any given time this winter. Don't miss out on their annual Colonial Christmas, which features carriage rides through the glistening tour. This is an optimal place to find romance or simply rekindle your love of history.
Dig deep into the days and times of the Gothic Revival in an ornamental winter setting, which could rival anything you've ever seen in a snow globe. The Rockwood Museum and Garden features era-oriented candlelight tours of their massive establishment free from Wednesday through Sunday for all of December. Seventy-two acres of snow-covered pathways surround the exterior of this distinctive attraction.
If you're up for an offbeat wintertime activity, this entry is for you. Many people are unaware of the fact that in winter, it's 20 to 30 degrees hotter in a hot air balloon than it is outside. This default temperature makes for a breezy, comfortable ride-think a touch of fall in winter. From 10,000 feet in the air, Delaware is on display in all its winter beauty and if you've never seen a snowdrift or a cluster of frost covered trees from such a position, it truly is a winter activity like no other. Delaware is an excellent location for hot air ballooning. Not only does this state host the jaw-dropping annual hot air balloon festival, but it's also home to several flight companies making hot air aviation a possibility from multiple locations throughout the region.
The Concord Mall's got a best kept secret that only the locals are keen on. It's called Cafe Riviera and it's a tiny slice of Italy in Wilmington, Delaware. This hidden-in-plain-sight eatery serves delectable food daily but come Super Bowl Sunday, they go all out. Their Super Bowl buffet is a piping work of art at an overwhelming affordable price and the interior of the restaurant is much larger than you might expect from a mini mall cafe. The game is displayed on several screens on the first floor as well as the balcony.
Whether you're seeking a holiday spectacle, hard-hitting drama or witty comedy, you'll find your take on the stage at the Candlelight Theater. This discreetly located performance art center has been serving up hot food and sizzling musicals since 1900. Its quaint structure affords an intimate and enjoyable atmosphere that takes the chill of the outside and replaces it with a warm welcome.
After a long day of tax-free shopping, sledding or skiing it's always fun to shake off that winter chill with a hot cup of cocoa and a nice book. Delaware is home to a few of the scattered Barnes and Noble bookstores remaining in the nation and they're conveniently situated within the state's most popular shopping sites. Be sure to take a breather at either the Barnes & Noble next to the Concord Mall or the one that's positioned inside of the Christiana Mall. Both stores feature a colossal selection of literary classics along with coffee, cocoa, concessions and a nice sized lounging area for leafing through the pages.