10,000 STEP TOUR: New Castle, Delaware

New Castle, Delaware, is a friendly town with a colonial heart.

New Castle, Delaware, is a friendly town with a colonial heart.

I started off with lunch so I'd be ready for 10,000 steps through colonial New Castle.

I started off with lunch so I’d be ready for 10,000 steps through colonial New Castle.

When you go to New Castle, Delaware, on a Tuesday, you never know what’s going to be open. But even if the historic houses are closed, I know I’ll find an open shop and a great spot for lunch, and the restored Courthouse is open every day with guides ready to show you around.

On a cloudy early fall Tuesday, I strapped on my Fitbit for 10,000 steps along the cobblestoned streets, on riverside walkways and through gardens filled with the last blooms of the summer.

New Castle is an old, historic town set on the Delaware River. It served as the First State’s first capital. Just southeast of the City of Wilmington, the little colonial town is quiet but always charming — great for a stroll and a cinch for a 10,000 step goal.

Inside this quaint colonial structure is a restaurant with a Cajun heart, Nora Lee's.

Inside this quaint colonial structure is a restaurant with a Cajun heart, Nora Lee’s.

My tour had no set pattern. I parked near Jessop’s Tavern, a restaurant set in a building that opened back in 1674. The little town has a couple of nice restaurants but this one has been my favorite for a long time — not quite 300 years, of course.

Old fashioned buckets hang above the bar at Jessop's Tavern.

Old fashioned buckets hang above the bar at Jessop’s Tavern.

I fell in love with sweet potato fries here but mostly I love the darkened room, big wooden bar and antique atmosphere that makes you check for pirates among the other diners.

Fueled for my journey, I ambled down this street and down that, making sure to walk in the park alongside the Delaware River. I headed down side streets that would allow me to peek in the well-tended gardens of the residents lucky enough to live in such a lovely spot.

Even if the Read House was closed on the Tuesday I stopped by, its lovely gardens were open.

Even if the Read House was closed on the Tuesday I stopped by, its lovely gardens were open.

Now that's good news.

Now that’s good news.

I prefer to stop in New Castle to see the historic houses, including the stately George Read House, that overlooks the river. This time around, my visit to Delaware started out as a business trip and since I had to pass New Castle I arranged my schedule to spend a few hours here before my meeting. It was Tuesday and I knew most of the town would be closed.

But even quiet, New Castle always charms me. I love the rows of old brick houses, the tiny shop windows filled with interesting merchandise, the welcoming restaurants. On this particular Tuesday I was delighted to find all the gardens behind the historic houses open to those wandering by. A stroll through these neat flowering yards helped me reach my 10,000 step goal.

For a preview of your 10,000 step tour of New Castle, take a look at this virtual tour. 

Historic New Castle has its own Halloween celebrations. Click if you dare.

ⓒ Text and photos by Mary K. Tilghman

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