One or two days of bike touring recommended by Lisa Watts
New Castle, DE
Enjoy a small taste of the best that the East Coast Greenway offers: Touring a bustling city and historic small town, traveling on protected greenways with stretches along riverfronts.
Start: Downtown historic New Castle, Delaware. This colonial community on the Delaware River is an undiscovered Williamsburg:, with all of the charming scale, cobblestones and brick homes. Bike eight miles of East Coast Greenway to Wilmington, including the stunning Jack A. Markell Trail, which opened in September 2018.
Visit downtown Wilmington and return to New Castle for a leisurely 16-mile day. Add an afternoon up and back on the Northern Delaware Greenway for a 30-mile round-trip ride. Experienced cyclists can ride on to Philadelphia or take a regional SEPTA train (exit at 30th Street Station) to explore the City of Brotherly Love.
The new Markell Trail is the star here, but you'll find plenty of other highlights to enjoy:
Historic New Castle has a colorful history, as illustrated by the multiple flags flying from the New Castle Court House Museum in the center of town. It was settled first by the Dutch, then Sweden, then Great Britain. In 1682, the King of England granted William Penn all of Pennsylvania and the "lower three counties," which eventually separated and became Delaware, with New Castle as its capital. The city has always been a transportation hub, valued first for its location on the Delaware River, with access to the Atlantic Ocean, then as a terminus for the New Castle-Frenchtown Railroad, which opened in 1831 as one of the first rail lines in the country.
Just before downtown Wilmington, the DuPont Environmental Education Center makes a scenic stop for learning about the birds and other wildlife that make their home in the freshwater tidal marsh adjoining the Christina River.
Be sure to walk or ride out along the New Castle Riverfront Greenway, a little over a mile of paved path with the Delaware on one side and broad green park and trees on the other.
Enjoy the bustle of Wilmington and its downtown Riverwalk, marked by art and shops and eateries. Just north of town, the Northern Delaware Greenway follows the Brandywine River and offers views of dramatic rock faces and waterfalls.
You can't beat the location of this Airbnb rental in the heart of downtown New Castle, in the former David Finney Inn. Owner John Wick, who first moved to New Castle in 1971, likes to tell visitors about the area's rich history and sites of interest.
In Wilmington, treat yourself to fun burgers, healthy greens, and delicious milkshakes at Farmer and the Cow, a few blocks from the riverfront and right on the Greenway route at 413 N. Market Street.
Lisa Watts biked the entire East Coast Greenway in 2018. Relive the journey via her excellent blog.
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