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Historic Wilmington

In-Person Program with a cruise on the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel

Weekend All-Day Tour

Saturday, June 22, 2024 - 7:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1CD037
Departs from the Holiday Inn Capitol at
550 C St SW (corner of 6th & C Sts)
Fringe: I-495, Exit 27 carpool parking lot
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Kalmar Nyckel (Photo: Acroterion / CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

Travel back to 1638 in Wilmington, Delaware, with a daylong immersive exploration led by transportation expert Scott Hercik. In that year, Swedish and Finnish settlers arrived on the ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip, landing on the Christina River at the site of present-day Wilmington. Eventually they signed a treaty with the Lenni Lenape Indigenous people and built Fort Christina, creating the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley.  

The first stop upon arriving in Wilmington is the Copeland Maritime Center and Museum for a private guided tour exploring why the Swedes and Finns settled in the Delaware Valley. After a boxed lunch at the museum, visit the Old Swedes Historic Site, which includes a former church and a repurposed historic home. Old Swedes Church is one of the very few surviving remnants of the New Sweden Colony in the Delaware Valley and one of the oldest structures in Delaware. The Hendrickson House, a furnished 18th-century Swedish-American farmhouse, serves as museum, office, and research space.

Stop at Fort Christina Park, the Swedes’ 1638 landing site, before a leisurely afternoon sailing on the Kalmar Nyckel—a full-scale replica of the original ship—where you have the opportunity to haul lines, set sails, and learn the history of the ship from its crew.

Know Before You Go

  • The tour departs by motorcoach from downtown Washington, DC with a designated secondary pick-up outside the city. Content delivered by the study leader on the way to the destination, after the secondary pick-up, is an integral part of the study tour experience. Meeting the group once the tour is en route is discouraged.
  • Tour participants meet at and leave by bus from the Holiday Inn Capitol (550 C St., SW), with a pickup stop at I-495 exit 27 carpool lot at about 8:10 a.m.

General Information

  • Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Friday, June 21, 2024.
  • Smithsonian Associates is a mask-friendly environment. Please feel free to bring and wear a mask at any time during a tour, both for your safety or the safety of others.
  • For additional tour information: