What to See and Do in New Castle, Delaware

It's amazing what you can find in your own backyard. Take charming New Castle, Delaware, for instance.

My husband and I live across the Delaware River from this former state capital, settled by Dutch immigrants in 1651. Its beautifully restored homes built in the 1600, 1700 and 1800s, cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks and central green are ideal for strolling.

The museum in the Old New Castle Court House, built in 1732 and a meeting place for the Colonial government, provides a good overview of city history. And in nearby Immanuel Episcopal Church's small cemetery, we found graves of Revolutionary War soldiers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence--plus an epitaph written by Benjamin Franklin!

A knowledgeable guide at the historic Dutch House told us about another local legacy of the famous patriot and inventor--his "busybody". We noticed many homes outfitted with this three-mirror contraption, which allows those inside to see who's approaching.

Don't miss elegant Amstel House, where George Washington attended a wedding, and be sure to save time to explore the unique shops. When hunger strikes, I recommend the excellent food and great atmosphere of the Arsenal at Old New Castle (30 Market St.; 1-302-328-1290: closed Mondays).

We like to finish a day here on the 1-1/2-mile path that winds along the waterfront in Battery Park. It's a nice place to reflect on how New Castle so vividly brings to life old Colonial history.

Before You Go… New Castle is on State Highway 9, just south of Wilmington. For information, call City Hall at 1-302/322-9801.

The Old New Castle Court House (211 Delaware St.) is open 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, except on holidays. For details, call 1-302-323-4453.

Dutch House (32 E. Third St.) and Amstel House (2 E. Fourth St.) tours are available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, from March through December. Admission to one house is $4 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 2-12; for both, it's $6 and $2.50, respectively. For details, call the New Castle Historical Society at 1-302-322-2794.

More to See

Fort Delaware State Park is accessible by ferry from Delaware City, about 14 miles south of New Castle on Highway 9. To learn more, call the park at 1-302-834-7941.

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