Meeting groups seeking a convenient Eastern location and affordability often end their quest in the Greater Wilmington and Brandywine Valley region of Delaware and Pennsylvania.
America’s beginnings are imbedded here, along with stunning mansions and gardens, small-town charm and a vibrant business culture in proximity to Philadelphia. But that’s not all.
Situated halfway between New York City and Washington, D.C., along the Interstate 95 corridor, the Greater Wilmington/Brandywine Valley region is a convenient drive destination to a third of the U.S. population. Via train or car, it is less than two hours from New York or D.C., and only a half-hour from Philadelphia.
The valley’s bucolic natural beauty just outside Wilmington attracted a couple of America’s foremost families—the du Ponts and the Wyeths—to the area, and their legacies remain the valley’s main attractions.
The du Pont family arrived in America in 1800 and launched an industrial empire on the banks of the Brandywine River. They began by manufacturing gun powder in 1802. The early days of the family and corporate history in America are chronicled at the 230-acre Hagley Museum and Library.
Individual members of the family later created stunning mansions and gardens, including Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Longwood Gardens and Nemours. Original art and furnishings abound in these estates, which are available for tours and private events.
Wilmington’s revitalizing riverfront and its business-friendly array of facilities and amenities round out the region’s meetings appeal.
Philadelphia’s high society Main Line region of affluent towns that was established outside the city in the 19th century is located in Delaware County. Although Chanticleer is the only surviving estate from the era that remains open to the public, there are many other visitor attractions, including upscale dining stops, shops and cultural magnets like the Wayne Arts Center and the Anthony Wayne Theatre, built in 1928.
According to Tore Fiore, executive director of Delaware County’s Brandywine CVB, business groups and individual business travelers compose about 45 percent of the area’s annual visitor count.
“Smaller meetings of up to about 1,000 people are always our marketing and service focus,” Fiore says. “We are much less taxing and more relaxing than the big city nearby—and we offer free parking—something that adds to our good neighbor stance with Philadelphia.”
The business-friendly culture that characterizes Delaware County features group facilities such as the Waynewood Hotel, a charming property that was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Wayne Hotel, offering a European ambience. The Brandywine River Hotel has meeting space for up to 50 people, and the 171-room Radnor Hotel provides groups with 10 meeting rooms and formal gardens.
Larger sites include Renaissance Philadelphia Airport Hotel, with 328 guest rooms and suites and 12,000 square feet of meeting space, and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack, a gaming and horse racing complex with 11,000 square feet of event space. The Drexelbrook Corporate Event Center in Drexel Hills has 25,000 square feet of meeting space with both indoor and outdoor venues.
The Delaware County Institute of Science has been situated in the county seat, Media, since 1833, and the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is also located there.
Nearby is the celebrated art of three Wyeth Family generations—N.C., Andrew, Jamie, Betsy, Caroline and husband Peter Hurd—in the Brandywine River Museum. N.C. Wyeth’s House and Studio and the Kuerner Farm, which achieved fame through nearly 1,000 of Andrew’s compositions, are also among the museum’s features.