Too often, new homebuyers succumb to the suburban trap which draws them into a secluded neighborhood of endlessly winding clone-homes. At first this seems to fulfill all the desires of domestic life, until you notice something just out of reach. You may not be able to put your finger on it, but eventually you’ll come realize the ache for something so instinctive that it barely has a name. That ache is the call from nature which rejuvenates our bodies and enlivens our souls. Put less poetically, you need a place to keep you sane.
Countless studies have shown that proximity to nature keeps people physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, but residents in these communities northwest of Wilmington need no further proof: they’re living it. Home to an exceptional array of parks and open space preserves, the following neighborhoods have been a hot topic for new homebuyers in recent years, and the trend has seen a new population of happier, healthier people northwest of Wilmington.
Brandywine Park begins within the neighborhood and stretches for miles of scenic paved and wooded trails along Brandywine Creek. Its beautiful waterfront view allows you to admire the creek as it meanders under a footbridge and splashes over moss covered rocks. The greenway runs throughout the park and connects to other paths, making it a great destination for running, biking, or a relaxing stroll under peaceful and secluded canopies.
The park also enshrines several iconic landmarks. If it’s a Wednesday, you can catch a free outdoor concert at the historic Sugar Bowl. Stop to smell the roses at the beautiful Jasper Crane Rose Garden, a staple of the park for over eighty years. And don’t forget to visit the red pandas at the Brandywine Zoo, which supports over one hundred fifty animals from all over the world.
Van Buren St. Bridge spans a mill race in Brandywine Park
Josephin Fountains among spring cherry blossoms
Climbing wall along the park
The Trolley Square Tennis Courts, eight full tennis courts just outside of Brandywine Park, are open year round for the public. The courts are well maintained and hedged in by massive trees. There’s always room for a game, making it a vital resource for an active community of players.
The tennis courts, located behind the Trolley Square shopping center, are open to the public.
Rockford Park boasts accessible open spaces and nature trails surrounding a large venue for gatherings and seasonal events, all within walking distance. It’s home to the annual Flower Market in May and a series of concerts all through the summer. Just outside the Delaware Art Museum stretches Rockford dog park, a perfect place to give your canine some running room while you socialize with a neighbor. As you wind up the hill to the historic Rockford Tower you observe a tranquil setting: picnics on park benches, children play baseball at the diamond, bicycles whiz by, and hawks float lazily above.
Rockford Park is the venu for the Wilmington Flower Market
On a clear blue day, you gather a few sandwiches and a frisbee or a chessboard and walk over to the Marian Coffin Gardens, hidden behind a massive stone wall. The historic gardens surrounding the old Gibraltar estate, located just on the edge of the Highlands, are maintained year round by a local preservation group. You meander through green paths flanked by blooms of every color, past weathered statues, and reflect for a moment at the gorgeous lotus pond, around which a courtyard of flagstones and elegant trees soothe every nerve. You finally arrive at the gazebo where an ornate picnic area lies framed under a colonnade of arches. You really can’t imagine a better setting for your perfect picnic with someone special.
Marian Coffin Gardens are open to the public, although priately owned.
Alapocas Run is the perfect example of a prized wilderness living side by side with the surrounding community. Sheer cliffs known for rock climbing, a maze of nature trails punctuated by the paved Greenway, and acre upon acre of peaceful open space. The park is a highlight of Wilmington’s Greenway as it rounds across Rock Manor Golf Course and heads east toward the Delaware River.
Just on the other side of Route 202, the Alapocas Run Field is the popular site for various leagues of sports like soccer, rugby, flag football, kickball, and ultimate frisbee.
The trails through Alapocas Run State Park create a connection from the city to the Wilmington suburbs
The city’s paved recreation trail, the Greenway, provides the surrounding neighborhoods with a safe and gorgeous path that curves its way through all of northern Wilmington’s iconic landmarks. Since it’s never far from home, you’ll find yourself frequently strolling, buzzing, or lounging along its scenic byways. The trail is never short on beauty. It’s a truly sacred avenue for all nearby residents in need of a peaceful place to stretch their legs.
Lying just west of Route 202 and stretching into southern Pennsylvania lies what most refer to simply as the Valley: over 2200 acres of public open space preserves. Comprising the Brandywine Creek State Park (not to be confused with Brandywine Park), the First State National Historic Park, and surrounding forests and farmlands. The moment you walk into the Valley, you’ll understand why residents have recently fought to preserve its rolling hills, scenic waterways, and dense forests. It’s a priceless wildlife habitat with an exceptional trail system for hikers, bikers, runners, horseback riders. The Valley takes the cake for its sheer untouched natural beauty.
Owning a home in these areas isn’t just an investment in equity, it’s investment into your mental and physical health. The rewards for such an investment will carry you into a long and happy life. If this article hasn’t convinced you, take a walk through any one of the parks and neighborhoods above. We’re sure you won’t leave without yearning for chirping birds and rolling green hills, for blue skies punched with leafy branches, for a world of peace just outside your door.
The walkability of Trolley Square offers a small-town atmosphere coupled with a lifestyle of convenience that is unmatched by the suburbs. A series of village-style shops make it possible to do all your shopping in one place. And why not be within walking distance of the finest selection of taverns, gastropubs, fine dining, and food from nearly every culture within a few square blocks?
As you walk northwest of Trolley Square, you’ll notice apartment buildings give way to the single houses and pleasant row homes of Forty Acres. The old sycamores lean over familiar brick sidewalks, roots gently push against and spill over the worn red blocks. A unique feature of Forty Acres is the feeling one would expect of a European neighborhood - where quiet restaurants, diners, and boutiques nestle in between houses. No expansive parking lots, no rumble of impatient traffic. Just the ambiance of a cheery town going about its day.
Bordering Rockford Park, the Highlands neighborhood is close enough to Trolley Square and Forty Acres to enjoy all of their perks while delivering a family-centered atmosphere removed from the nightlife. Free-standing homes, each displaying a garden or lawn, abound down every tree-lined street. Kids play with their dogs in front of yards hedged with picket fences. It’s easy to wonder if Norman Rockwell drew inspiration from a trip to the Highlands.
Rockford is a neighborhood of sprawling brick homes and creeping ivy, brilliant green lawns, and high, windowed gables. The wide streets and pristine sidewalks skirt the boundary of Rockford Park, its large canine recreation area and the nature trails beyond. You’ll find a more restrained atmosphere among the ornamental gardens and short stone walls of Rockford’s home fronts. Every passerby is held rapt by its charm. Amid the beautiful architecture lies a peaceful haven under tall tree canopies, removed from the bustle of Trolley Square, but not too far away to enjoy it regularly.
Mid-Town Brandywine combines the accessibility of city life with the safety of small town insulation as it borders Trolley Square, Brandywine Park, and Wilmington’s cultural center on Market Street. Sidewalks adhere the quiet village of Mid-Town Brandywine to its shaded streets, lined with protective sycamores over dual-family and rowhouses. You wave a friendly greeting to your neighbors as you pass. In Mid-Town Brandywine, the community here feels like a rebirth of an old idea: a tight knit tapestry of eclectic peoples from all walks of life, thriving and free of the crime so often associated with the city.
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