DuPont Environmental Education Center
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:1400 Delmarva Lane, Wilmington, DE
Hours:Trails open dawn to dusk daily; visitor center open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., from late March to early November; and Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., from late November through early March
Fee: Free
Contact:, 302-656-1490

Bathrooms: In visitor center (when open) and outside of building (lower level)
Water/Snacks: Water fountain inside visitor center (when open)

Displayed at entrance

Along the riverfront in downtown Wilmington, you’ll find hike and bike trails that climb high above a tidal marsh wildlife refuge.

DuPont Environmental Education Center
Photo by: Susan Charkes

The DuPont Environmental Education Center (DEEC) at the Russell Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge is an expansive and beautiful marshland wildlife refuge, integrated into the heart of downtown Wilmington by a multiuse trail along the Christina River. Hiking and biking trails along stroller-friendly boardwalks wind high above the refuge on a pedestrian bridge and on the ground through the marsh, providing intimate encounters with resident amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and plants.

The 212-acre refuge was built from reclaimed industrial wasteland. The story of the reclamation is one of several interactive exhibits featured in the small but impressive visitor center. Within sight of the bridge is an osprey nesting platform, where in summer the large birds of prey raise their young in a huge nest made of sticks. The beautiful “green” building was designed to have a minimal environmental footprint. It’s worth a visit for the state-of-the-art technology that engages children with nature and the features of the site. Kids will enjoy looking through a bird-spotting telescope on the open-air balcony, perhaps eyeing sandpipers snagging tiny crabs from the mudflats, or osprey circling back to the nest, talons gripping fish for their young.

From the trails, kids will find it easy to spot the wildlife of the marsh. Ducks, turtles, frogs, herons, and fish are common, as are butterflies and dragonflies in summer. More-secretive marsh dwellers, such as red foxes and muskrats, are not as easily seen, but their tracks in the mud give them away; kids can play detective and try to figure out where the animals went and what they did.

The DEEC is focused on education and engagement with the public (especially kids), from the friendly staff eager to answer young visitors’ questions, to daily walks with a naturalist. The Delaware Nature Society holds numerous programs for families at the DEEC throughout the year, in which naturalists introduce children to the marsh’s birds, insects, and wildlife. (Fees may be charged.)

Remember: Dogs must be leashed.

Plan B:

Explore downtown Wilmington, including the nearby Delaware Children’s Museum.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Return to the Riverfront area (near the train station) to find restaurants.


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