Trip Ideas

Explore the Riverfront Historical Trail!

Riverfront Historical Trail logo
Riverfront Historical Trail logo featuring images of Fort Christina, Old Swedes Church and the Kalmar Nyckel.

Riverfront Development Corporation (Megan McGlinchy) and Old Swedes Foundation (Betsy Christopher)

Kalmar Nyckel sails by the monument at Fort Christina NHL
The Kalmar Nyckel sails past the monument at Fort Christina.

Ryan Gingo

In 1638, Swedish and Finnish settlers aboard the Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip landed at a rocky outcropping along the Christina River in present-day Wilmington. After purchasing land from the Lenni Lenape Indians, they constructed a stronghold named Fort Christina and established the colony of New Sweden, the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. In 1698, they built Old Swedes Church. While you visit the sites along the Riverfront Historical Trail, you will learn about the many challenges and successes the early settlers faced.

The Riverfront Historical Trail consists of three sites: Old Swedes Historic Site, Fort Christina, and Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s Copeland Maritime Center. We suggest starting your tour at Old Swedes Historic Site or the Copeland Maritime Center so you can park your vehicle and walk to the other sites.

At Old Swedes Historic Site, guided tours feature the 1638 burial ground, 1698–99 Old Swedes Church, and the 18th century farmhouse where the story of the New Sweden Colony comes to life. Be sure to meander the churchyard paths, discover gravestones that relate to five centuries of local and American history, and see the stained glass windows of the historic site.

At the tree-lined Fort Christina site, tour guides will provide an orientation to the historic landmark, point out hidden secrets that you may not notice on your own, and shed light on the nearly 400 years of history commemorated there. Before you leave, walk around the monument and see if you can find the hidden stories molded on the pillar.

The Copeland Maritime Center is home of Kalmar Nyckel, the Tall Ship of Delaware. The Maritime Center contains a ¾ scale model of the ship’s deck and interesting exhibits including: “Watercraft of the World” with model ship collection; “Wilmington’s Industrial Powerhouse,” which details the city’s rich industrial train- and ship-building history; “Science of Sailing;” and “Kalmar, Sweden – Key to the Kingdom.” The Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel offers public sails and serves as a floating classroom where guests of all ages can experience life at sea (select dates and times from May to November).

Old Swedes Historic Site: Thursday through Saturday 11:00am - 3:00pm
Fort Christina: Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Tuesdays through Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, Copeland Maritime Center: Open year-round with expanded hours from May through October: Monday to Friday 2:00pm - 4:00pm; Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm; Sunday 12:00pm - 4:00pm (Available by appointment. Please call the office at (302) 429-7447 to make arrangements.)
Please visit our partners website's (Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs , Old Swedes Historic Site, The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation) for information about specific fees, tours, and programs.
Pets are only permitted at Fort Christina and need to be kept on leash or restrained at all times.
Parking is available at Old Swedes Church and the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. All three sites are within walking distance of each other so you should not need to move your car once you park.
Restrooms are available at the Copeland Maritime Center. There are no public restrooms available at Fort Christina or Old Swedes Historic Site.
This trip idea was created through a partnership between the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Old Swedes Foundation, and The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. Please visit their website's to learn more:
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs
Old Swedes Historic Site
The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation

Last updated: June 23, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

First State National Historical Park
10 Market Street

New Castle, DE 19720


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