Monday, February 10, 2014

50 States: Delaware

Despite being first, Delaware is one of the easiest of the 50 states to overlook, especially if you are not beach people, like we are not. Nonetheless, in the mid-90s we found reasons to go to Delaware. In particular, Delaware is chock full of mansions either directly or peripherally associated with the DuPont de Nemours family. Winterthur is a grand estate loaded with examples of the decorative arts. And the Rockwood Park and Museum hosts a delightful ice cream festival every year with great food and all sorts of Victoriana.

Unfortunately, a thorough scouring of the my film photography archives has no evidence of my having been to these places. However, there is a place in Delaware that we have been to many, many times which features a large airy lobby and a great variety of dining experiences. That is the Delaware Welcome Center.

Located roughly  in the middle of the section of I-95 that runs through Delaware, the rest area is a near perfectly placed stop for when we are headed to New York or points beyond.


For dining choices, it is almost a embarrassment of riches with cuisines from all over the world. Italian, French, Mexican, you name it. And if you don't need a full meal, the centrally situated Starbucks nearly always has a line for those wanted to refuel with caffeine.

But the building also serves as a billboard for Delaware with murals of all its attractions and display cases showing off its history.


You might think this post is in jest and it is partly tongue-in-cheek, but the Delaware rest area is really about the best rest stop in the entire northeastern corridor. Much nicer than any of the claustrophobic New Jersey Turnpike areas.

The Delaware Welcome Center was such a huge success that Maryland immediately decided they needed to up their game with its two decrepit highway rest areas. A mere six years later the first of these is finally open. The newly opened Maryland House just north of Bel Air has aped many of the the Delaware Welcome Center's features including tall ceilings, a food court, and lots of greenery.

And while it tries hard, it just doesn't catch the certain je ne sais quoi that Delaware has captured. For one thing, it has Dunkin Donuts for coffee instead of Starbucks and that right there is a deal killer. So if you ever do find yourself literally passing through Delaware, take a break and enjoy a warm welcome before heading off into the sunset. Or sunrise for that matter.


DemetriosX said...

Maybe it's because I'm a westerner and distances are different for us, but it seems to me you'd have barely gotten started on your trip before you got to this place. I've had commutes that were farther than that. I can maybe see having to stop on the way back if the fuel situation called for it. This place is, what, an hour from where you live?

yellojkt said...

It's about 90 minutes from my house which makes it a nice breakfast or lunch stop on the four hour drive to New York. The two Maryland rest areas are even closer to me which is another reason (in addition to their previous decrepitude) I pass them buy. After Delaware it's all Turnpike stops which have cheap gas but are kinda dingy.

DemetriosX said...

Yeah, I'm definitely seeing an east/west difference of perspective here. Four hours is about where I start thinking about taking my first break. At 90 minutes I'm just starting to get into the flow.