New Yorkers often drive through Delaware en route to other East Coast cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But besides tax-free shopping and the best rest stop along I-95 South, what else does this small state have to offer?
Well, one highlight of Delaware's spring social calendar is the 2014 MidAtlantic Food and Wine Festival (May 14-18). During the five-day fest, held in and around Brandywine Valley, 50 events celebrate excellence in food, wine and spirits and showcase 90 top chefs and 20 vintners from the local region and beyond. Many events even take place at some of the best venues and posh private homes in and around central and coastal Delaware, in Wilmington, New Castle and Rehoboth Beach.
"Marrying culinary and wine events with interesting venues creates a great opportunity to drive tourism to Delaware," said George Fiorile, chairman of the Delaware Tourism Advisory Board.
If the food and wine festival drives you to the state, day-to-day highlights from among the dozens of events scheduled include:
An interactive sushi and sake lunch on May 15: Learn how to roll your own sushi with the help of master sushi chefs, moderated by a sake expert.
Pop-up food truck night market on May 16: Food trucks and craft beer take over downtown Wilmington's central hub.
Winemakers lunch in Rehoboth on May 17: Enjoy a three-course lunch, paired with wine, at the acclaimed Eden Restaurant.
Sunday gospel brunch on May 18: Sample from 80 wines, spirits and beers while the Combined Choir of the Calvary Baptist Church performs.
Beyond ticketed food and wine events, festival-goers can also choose from nearly two dozen informative and provocative educational courses, held at the DoubleTree Downtown Wilmington on May 17.
With events from morning to night, the MidAtlantic Food and Wine Festival is sure to keep you busy. But why not take this opportunity to explore more of what Delaware has to offer? Here are some must-sees and dos:
WHAT TO DO
Shop tax free: Shop til you drop (tax free!) at the specialty boutiques along Route 52, including Houppette (3842 Kennett Pike in Wilmington, 302-421-9036, houpette.com), a European-inspired cosmetic and accessory boutique, and Peter Kate (3830 Kennett Pike in Greenville, 302-656-7463, peterkate.com), a trendy womens apparel boutique.
Take in a show: Catch a production at the Delaware Theatre Company, which will be running the musical Burt and Me, featuring songs by Burt Bacharach, during the festival. 200 Water St. in Wilmington, 302-594-1100, delawaretheatre.org
You can also check out headlining music performances at The Grand Opera House. Upcoming acts include Bruce Bruce on May 18. 818 N. Water St. in Wilmington, 302-652-5577, the grandwilmington.org
Or, hit the happy hour and listen to live music at downtown Wilmingtons World Cafe Live at The Queen. 500 N. Market St., 302-994-1400, queen.worldcafelive.com
Get a museum fix: Downton Abbey fans will surely fawn over the 40 elaborate, historically-inspired designs on display from the award-winning series at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Librarys original exhibition, Costumes of Downton Abbey. After the exhibit, tour the museums lush, 60-acre gardens. 5105 Kennett Pike in Winterthur, 800-448-3883, winterthur.org
Soak up the sun: Hit the sand and surf at Rehoboth Beach, a family-friendly vacation spot about an hour and forty minutes from Wilmington. Beyond the beach, kids can enjoy miniature golf, rides and arcade games at the old-school Funland amusement park. 6 Delaware Ave., 302-227-1921, fundlandrehoboth.com
WHERE TO STAY
The historic Hotel DuPont (11th and Market Street, hoteldupont.com) in the heart of Wilmingtons financial district is ideal for the luxury traveler, while the DoubleTree Downtown Wilmington (700 N. King St., doublethree3.hilton.com) is another convenient choice with contemporary guest rooms.
From New York City, it only takes two hours by car, Amtrak or bus to downtown Wilmington.
If you go: Festival tickets vary widely, from $10 for seminars to $500 for a black-tie wine tasting event. For more info, visit mawff.org.