Discover the 46th President’s favorite home state places.
In the small state of Delaware, population 975,000, the saying goes that “everyone knows Joe.” And part of the reason, locals have shared, is because he takes the time to get to know you. He loves being out in the neighborhoods, chomping on a burger at a local BBQ joint, or cooling off with ice cream at the beach, and he is always mingling, asking questions, and listening to stories. His visits will become a little more complex, of course, when he takes on the presidential mantle, but one thing is sure—when he’s back in town, he’ll figure out a way to stop by his favorite places and greet his fellow Delawareans. Here’s where you might run into him.
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Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Railroad Station
Biden has been riding Amtrak’s rails since he was a young senator in the 1970s, choosing to commute the 90 minutes between Wilmington and Washington so he could spend quality time with his young sons. “For 36 years, I was able to make most of those birthday parties, to get home to read bedtime stories, to cheer for my children at their soccer games,” he wrote in a 2010 article for Amtrak’s Arrive magazine. “Simply put, Amtrak gave me—and countless other Americans—more time with my family.” It’s estimated “Amtrak Joe” has made more than 8,200 round-trips since then. The hub of it all is the Wilmington train station, built in 1907 and renamed “Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Railroad Station” in 2011 in honor of the then-Vice President.
Team Biden-Harris has taken over this historic, beautifully-restored music hall in downtown Wilmington for meetings and press conferences before making the big move to Washington. Biden taped his interview here with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell for a big 60 Minutes profile story. We tried to obtain more info about their stay, but the entire staff has been required to sign NDAs, “so we cannot comment on Biden’s involvement at the Queen as of now until inauguration,” they said. When the political duo (and their rooftop counter-terrorism snipers) are not around, you can enjoy live music in the open-air Knights Bar. The Queen sits in the heart of Wilmington’s historic district, with the Delaware Historical Society just next door. That’s where you can purchase “Joe Biden-scented candles”—smelling like Biden’s favorite orange-flavored sports drink. Harris has one too—smelling like lotus (“kamala” means “lotus” in Sanskrit). But we digress…
Hotel Du Pont
A gilded, painted ceiling graces the spectacular lobby of this elegant, Italian Renaissance hotel in downtown Wilmington, where Charles Lindbergh, Joe Dimaggio, John F. Kennedy, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are among the luminaries who have checked in. Built by Pierre S. DuPont in 1913, this apex of luxury may have global appeal, but Delawareans are proud of the fact that one of their own is making a stake in the hotel’s elite history. Joe Biden has long centered many of his political activities here—starting off in 1972 with the announcement of his Senate bid and on up to today. “The Hotel DuPont and the historic Gold Ballroom proved to be the right background for the Biden team to produce their socially distanced interaction with the media during what will be remembered as a most unusual convention,” says Managing Director Greg Kavanagh.
Established in the 1950s by the Sloan brothers (Lou, Aaron, Samuel, and Aaron), this iconic burger joint on Concord Pike still harbors its neon sign, jukeboxes, vinyl booths, and Kitchen Sink (20 scoops of ice cream and a barrage of toppings). Original devotees have returned through the ages, bringing their children then grandchildren—with Biden, who used to come with his high school football team, probably being the most famous. “He often comes to the Charcoal Pit,” says manager Eric Maney. “It’s awesome for us.” And while the Pit tries to stay unpolitical and is charging ahead “business as usual,” Maney imagines Biden will continue to stop by. “He’ll pull up, with all of his Secret Service, and everyone will get a shake,” he laughs.
Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
In the heart of Little Italy, Capriotti’s is a little sub shop founded in 1975 that has been elevated to national status with Biden’s declaration that it’s the best sandwich shop in America. It’s a small, garlic-scented place, with just a bar to give your order and a small room of chips and drinks, with nowhere to sit. But devotees can’t say enough about its grilled hoagies and submarine sandwiches—including the signature Bobbie, an extravaganza of pulled turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayonnaise. “I’m pretty sure that’s his favorite,” says Nicole Ramirez, manager of the original Union Street location. Lucky for Biden, the shop has franchised to many places across the U.S., including Arlington, Virginia, just across the river from the White House.
St. Joseph on the Brandywine
The Du Pont family built the original St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville in 1841 for their Irish and Italian Catholic workers. The yellow, stuccoed stone building, renovated and repaired over the years, little resembles that original structure. As interesting as all that is, the reason why it’s on this list is, of course, is because it’s Biden’s go-to home parish, located just minutes from his Greenville home. A long-practicing Roman Catholic (and only America’s second Catholic president, after JFK), Biden has attended services here for decades. Here, too, are buried in the vast and green cemetery his beloved son Beau, along with his first wife Neilia, daughter Naomi, and parents.
Tucked away in a shopping mall just minutes from the Biden home in the community of Greenville, near Wilmington, the rustic-chic Brew HaHa! is Joe’s favorite place for a cup of joe. We don’t know if, back in the day (a.k.a. before he had a Secret Service entourage), he lounged in the atmospheric great room, with its cozy seating, hanging plants, and framed photographs on the wall, but one thing is sure: The selection of small-batch, home-roasted coffees—along with loose teas, light eats, and alcoholic beverages—remains impressive.
INSIDER TIPThere are more locations throughout Delaware, including near Wilmington’s Trolley Square.
Does dog-lover Biden frequent PureBread Deli—deemed his favorite local sandwich shop—because all of the sandwiches are named after breeds of dogs? No idea, but we do know that several times he has ordered the “Golden Retriever”—a grilled focaccia sandwich with turkey, provolone, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto. But not always. “When he comes in he tries something different a lot,” says manager Tiffany Moore. “Nothing consistent. Sometimes he just wants coffee and a muffin.” He often stops by with his family, his children, and his grandchildren. “They’ll come in, relax, have a meal,” she says. “And he’s always very personable, very local. If someone wants a picture or a few words, he’s always willing.” Of course, he hasn’t been around so much recently. “We have a lot of Secret Service now,” Moore adds.
University of Delaware
Biden majored in history and political science at the University of Delaware, Newark (1961–1965), where he also served as freshman class president. You can stroll the pretty campus—which has grown a lot since his time—and give a nod to the Biden School of Public Policy and the global-minded Biden Institute. “UD doesn’t have the profile of some of the Ivy League schools,” says UD history professor and Delaware historian Jonathan Russ, “but it’s a real pride that Joe Biden is a graduate.” And today, when the history department publishes its list of what you can do as a history major, “We’ve added that you can become president of the United States,” he says.
Cape Henlopen State Park
Cape Henlopen State Park is a scintillating wetland near Lewes, Delaware, attracting all manner of birdlife. There are swimming beaches here, sand dunes, and a beautiful old lighthouse. And the Bidens have been spotted biking and hiking its trails. But before the crowds flocked here toting their sun umbrellas and fishing poles, before the Bidens came to relax, these lands were a strategic military spot dating back to the Revolutionary War. We have Senator Joe Biden to thank for transferring the final parcel of land from the military to the state park. “He was honored for his efforts in returning more than 1,200 acres in 1998 with the dedication of the Biden Environmental Training Center, a former U.S. Navy Reserve training building,” says Shauna McVey, community relations coordinator for Delaware State Parks.
The Ice Cream Store
WHERE: Rehoboth Beach
It’s no secret that Joe loves his ice cream, and the Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth is one of his favorite go-to’s when the Bidens are in town (they own a beach house here). “He always likes to joke with staff, crack a few jokes,” says Aileen Hearn, whose father, Chip Hearn, owns the shop. In anticipation of the president-elect’s arrival into office, Chip is prepping a specialty flavor. “He will do an old-fashioned White House cherry flavor and name it after Biden,” Aileen says. She doesn’t know the precise name of the new ice cream quite yet (the shop is currently closed for winter but will reopen in spring) but hopes Biden will get the chance to come back down and try it.