Touring the Byway
27 Miles | 3 Days / 2 Nights | Gateway City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
We recommend starting your journey in Philadelphia, before traveling to Wilmington, the largest city in Delaware and the economic hub of the Red Clay region. Tour Nemours, a splendid country estate with the largest formal French gardens in the country, discover over 12,000 works of art and the 9-acre sculpture garden at the Delaware Art Museum, and visit the DuPont Environmental Education Center located in the Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge. At night, step back in time in a room at the historic and elegant Hotel DuPont.
On Day Two, head north on DE-52, one of the winding roads linked to the Red Clay Creek and its watershed, to visit Winterthur Museums and Gardens, before turning northwest to the start of the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway. Visit Auburn State Park, before walking the nature trails and Important Bird Area of Ashland Nature Center, and a stop at Ashland Covered Bridge, which has been protecting the creek below since 1860. Afterwards, relax in a luxurious room at the Inn at Montchanin Village and Spa.
Continue meandering along the Byway route on Day Three, before exploring the gardens at Mt. Cuba Center, home to some of the most spectacular wildflower displays in the region, and a pause at the 1850 Wooddale Covered Bridge. Cap off your trip with a ride on the Wilmington & Western Railroad, an antique steam locomotive that travels throughout the Red Clay Valley.
From there, we wish you a safe passage if you’re continuing on another Delaware Scenic Byway, or a safe and pleasant journey home.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
Alfred I. du Pont loved showering his new wife with gifts, including building her a 47,000 square foot French neoclassical home, complete with “jardin à la française” formal gardens, with 105 rooms spread out over five floors, surrounded by 3,000 acres. Even though the home is classic architecture, it was equipped with the latest technology available in 1907. Nearly 160 jets at the center of a one-acre pool in the spectacular garden, shoot water 12 feet into the air. When they are off, the entire “Long Walk” extending from the mansion to the reflecting pool is reflected in the water.
The DuPont Environmental Education Center on the Christina River is located on the edge of the 212-acre freshwater tidal Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to bald eagles, wood ducks, beavers, dragonflies, river otters, and painted turtles. The Visitor Center features panoramic river and marsh views, a 10-acre ornamental garden, a quarter-mile handicap-accessible pond loop extending into the marsh, and trailhead access to the 5.5-mile Jack A Markell Trail. Pond loop audio tour also available.
This incredible estate is more than a historic home. The former residence of Henry Francis du Pont, renowned antiques collector and horticulturist, holds one of the most important collections of Americana in the United States, displayed in 175 period rooms, filled with 90,000 objects. The collection, spanning 1640 to 1860, contains some of the most important pieces of American furniture and fine art in the world. The Winterthur Library includes more than 87,000 volumes, mostly related to American history, decorative arts, and architecture. The mansion is surrounded by gardens that reflect the artistic vision of DuPont, spread over nearly 1,000 acres of forests, meadows, farmland and waterways, a masterpiece of color and design with a year round succession of blooms. Enjoy the gardens on foot or on a narrated tram ride.
One of the more unique State Parks in the country, nestled on Red Clay Creek, holds the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley Steamer cars, along with the historic Marshall Brothers Paper Mill, left completely undisturbed, and the Queen Anne mansion owned by the brothers. Outside the former National Vulcanized Fiber site, the estate is surrounded with forest and wetlands, plus 19th century bridges that were brought to the property to help tell the story of industrialization in the area. On selected days you can ride a vintage steam car, stroll along Red Clay Creek, hike the Oversee Farm Trail, tour the paper mill, as well as the mansion and museum.
Take a leisurely 1 ½ hour trip through the Red Clay Valley from Wilmington to the Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove, where, at that point, you have two options: enjoy a half hour layover at Mt. Cuba to have a picnic or just enjoy nature, or continue further up the line through Ashland and Yorklyn, before returning to the station. Selected trips are powered by diesel locomotives or antique steam trains.