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What Else Can I Do When My Horse Races at Delaware Park? / Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Delaware Paddock

By: Dawn Lenert

So you might have heard Delaware Park boasts one of the prettiest paddocks in America. It’s true! Huge, stately oak trees grow in and around the ample-sized paddock. Lush green grass carpets the interiors of the main and mini walking rings. If you’ve never been, it’s definitely worth the trip up or down I95 to see your horse race, and you can make a day, night, or weekend of it.

The 411 on Delaware Park West Point Racing
If you want dining reservations on big stakes days, ask us to make a reservation for you in the third-floor Terrace Dining Room, with its track view, air conditioning, and sensible ala carte menu options. Terrace Dining is not open on regular race days in 2023 due to construction.

If you like to cool off with lighter-tasting beers, grab a seat at the bar of the 1937 Brewing Company and ask for a “Legal Lite Lager.” Their dining area offers a menu with similar options to those offered at the Terrace, but none of the views. When we win, toast at the Del Cap first-floor dining area.

Even better, BYOL (Bring your own lunch), and when you arrive, grab a picnic table shaded by Oak trees near the clubhouse turn. It’s a great grove to shield you from the sometimes brutal July sun and humidity. Unlike Saratoga, there is no infamous “running of the bulls” spectacle to secure a picnic table in the morning. There are plenty to go around, and they are free.

Delaware has free admission and plenty of outdoor seating. There is a good vibe and family-friendly atmosphere here on any race day, and the races are well attended even during weekdays. The first tier of the second-floor outdoor clubhouse has club chairs, is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and is where most of the horsemen view their races if they prefer an elevated position. Other horsemen prefer viewing from the track apron behind the winner’s circle, and that’s where you’ll typically find West Point Partners cheering. If you like casinos, Delaware’s is spacious, brighter, and has more of an airy feel than other racetrack emporiums. Just note in 2023, there are ongoing casino renovations.

Consider arriving in Delaware in the morning, and making a day out of it if you have a later post time. There are plenty of places to explore, attractions to see, or just enjoy lunch outside of the track. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

Off Prem Lunch Spots to Hit Prior to Post Time:

At The Rail Grille at White Clay Creek Country Club – it’s the golf course of the track’s resort property and open to the public. On nice days, sit outside on the patio, sip a sangria, and handicap the day’s card while your lunch is prepared.

Home Grown Cafe on Main Street of the University of Delaware. Try the “lunch box” dine in specials or a healthy salad. Food is fresh and the iced tea is tasty and cold.

Banks Seaford Kitchen on the Christina River in Wilmington offers riverside patio dining which is relaxing if it’s not too hot. The fish and chips lunch is deliciously tender and perfectly fried – the best fish of any fish and chips I’ve ever had, (but I’ve never been to the UK.) Ample indoor seating with AC is available.

Iron Hill Brewery on the river in Wilmington, close to the Westin Hotel. It was the perfect spot to satisfy 18 hungry soccer players and even more importantly, their thirsty dads plus one mom.

Things to do near Delaware Park:

Longwood Gardens
You could spend an entire day here touring the du Pont family’s amazing gardens, conservatories, and homes. Thursdays-Saturdays feature an illuminated fountain performance during the summer. This is a primo attraction!

Nemours Estate
You’ll feel like part of the du Pont family after touring Alfred’s American Versailles and its 77 rooms. It’s easy to tackle first thing in the morning before the mid afternoon races. You’ll also learn about his lasting legacy to children’s health.

Historic Newcastle, DE
Arrive in the morning and take a step back in time and walk the streets of Newcastle, DE, just 25 minutes from the track. It’s a quaint historic area on the Delaware River. If you like touring historical houses, the Read House and Gardens is the perfect way to spend and hour or two Thursdays through Sundays. Their docents are wonderful. Grab lunch at Jessop’s Tavern and dine on colonial fare in a circa-1624 dwelling. You can enjoy one or more of over 200 Belgian beers, and even buy some to take home.

Delaware Art Museum
Another attraction that’s easily toured in the morning before the races, the museum is known for an extensive collection of works by American illustrators, including Wilmington native Howard Pyle.

The Brandywine Passport
If you plan to visit Delaware multiple times during the season, this is absolutely your ticket to morning fun before afternoon races. $49 grants you admission to 12 attractions, many of them mentioned above. The passport more than pays for itself with visits to only a fraction of the attractions offered.

Chadds Ford, PA
If you plan to make a night of it and prefer to leave the hustle and bustle of urban or suburban life, then consider an escape to Chadds Ford, PA. It’s 30 minutes from the track. The Brandywine River Hotel can serve as your basecamp. It’s a quaint, colonial style hotel with the basics covered for a comfortable night’s sleep and a good breakfast to start your day. It’s nothing luxurious or even fancy, but it’s perfect for exploring the surrounding area. It’s my go to spot for meeting up with my best friend from New Jersey as well as housing my sons during soccer tournaments. Two fine dining options, Antica and Brandywine Prime Seafood and Chops are just steps away from the hotel. Longwood Gardens is a six minute drive from the hotel.

Hike and recreate at Ridley Creek State Park. Enjoy the fruits of the vines from several PA wineries. My friend and I liked Penns Woods and enjoyed a long chat with proprietor & winemaker Gino Razzi the afternoon we visited.

Browse the Chadds Ford Barn Shops next to the hotel for thirty minutes to see local art, health, and wellness items.

All of the restaurant and attractions listed here have been visited by me. I hope these give you helpful ideas to extend your fun around seeing your horse compete in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Conservatory Longwood Gardens

Nemours Estate gardens

Nemours Estate bowling alley

Read House and Gardens in New Castle

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