The Little State That Could
Baltimore magazine|March 2021
Delaware becomes a worthy destination——and not just because of Joe Biden.

Poor Delaware. The “First State” has long had a rather lukewarm rap, with its intrigue for tourists perhaps most memorably captured in 1992’s Wayne’s World, where the boys sum up the excitement of various states. “Delaware!” exclaims Wayne with a puzzled look. “Hi . . . I’m in . . . Delaware . . .”

But Maryland’s tiny neighbor is actually a small wonder—once the state’s actual nickname—and one that’s likely to soon be discovered, thanks in part to the hometown pride of America’s 46th president, Joe Biden. “I am proud,” said Biden, before departing for his inauguration in January. “Proud, proud, proud to be a son of Delaware.”

Less than an hour’s drive to the state line from Baltimore, Delaware is much more than just the 20 miles of I-95 you drive through on the way to Pennsylvania. The second-smallest state—actually part of Maryland for some 50 years in the 1600s—features plenty of reasons to visit, from college-town charm to metropolitan buzz to a long, winding portion of the Delmarva peninsula that provides ample access to some of the best beaches on the Atlantic Coast.

So pack up the car, or purchase a train ticket. Of course, ice cream is encouraged along the way.

CITY CENTER

For many, a trip to Delaware begins and ends at the old Amtrak station on the edge of the Christina River in downtown Wilmington. Built-in 1907, the majestic brick building has become most famous for one particular passenger, “Amtrak Joe,” as he came to be known, with Biden using the railroad as his primary form of transportation to and from Washington, D.C., during his decades as a senator and eventually vice president—so much so that they named the station in his honor. But the short ride from Baltimore’s Penn Station only takes 45 minutes, with impressive views over the Susquehanna River to boot. On our last visit, we detrained onto one of the old, un-remodeled platforms, fit with vintage tile floors, long wooden benches, and a chandeliered ceiling—a glimpse into the golden age of American travel.

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