It’s the new year and that means it’s time to make plans! Do you have plans to travel this year? Each month we will pick a state we’ve enjoyed and recommend our top 5 places to visit in that state. We feel compelled to start with our home state of Delaware because we love it, and it is a wonderful place to enjoy a vacation (9 million people a year can’t be wrong)!
Since most people ask, “Dela-where?” here are some facts about our state:
• Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, on December 7, 1787.
• Delaware is the second-smallest state in the nation and has the fewest number of counties – only 3! (We live in Sussex County, the largest and the farthest south of the three. It is accurately -and usually affectionately- referred to as “Slower Lower Delaware.”)
• Horseshoe crabs cover the Delaware coast to spawn in May. These tough crabs have been around since the dinosaurs were here and can endure extremes in temperature and salinity. They can also go a year without food!
• Seaford, in western Sussex County, is known as the “Nylon Capital of the World,” because this is where nylon was first produced at the DuPont Nylon Plant.
• Delaware is the lowest state, with an average altitude of 60 ft. above sea level. Perhaps its flatness helps move the internet along speedier, because Delaware has ranked highest in internet speed in the nation!
Because I am just sure my previous article has talked you into going camping (ha ha), I will also recommend our favorite campground and note how far it is from each location to get you started on an itinerary. Don’t worry if you haven’t picked out a camper yet; there are lots of fantastic hotels and VRBO listings around here as well. Delaware is lacking in the air travel department though (there are no major airports in the state), so a road trip would be ideal!
We have only camped at a handful of campgrounds in the state, because we live here, so usually we sleep in our house! All the places we have camped have been great, but to recommend one, it would have to be Delaware Seashore State Park at the Indian River Inlet. It is located at 39415 Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971. This was the first campground where Tom and I camped together (in a tent, without kids!). It was also the campground where we took our new camper out for the first time, for its “shakedown cruise.” There aren’t a ton of amenities here, and we weren’t allowed to have a campfire (but it may be allowed certain times of the year). But you can see the water and hear the ocean, and they have full hookups. It’s a short walk to the ocean beach. It is pretty rare to find an oceanfront campground with full hookups, so that’s a huge plus for our family. There are also two restaurants, a full service marina, and the Indian River Life-Saving Station and gift shop nearby.
Here are our TOP 5 PICKS for places to visit in Delaware:
Rehoboth Beach. 9 miles
Rehoboth Beach is a picturesque beach town with plenty of fun activities to do. There is a large, free public beach with a mile-long bustling boardwalk filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, hotels, and our personal favorite, Funland. Bumper cars, haunted house, kiddie rides, thrill rides, and games galore make up the summer fun that is Funland. Ride prices range from 30 cents to $2.40 per ride, depending on the ride and the amount of tickets purchased at one time. It is an old-fashioned bargain! Also, the tickets never expire so you can use them on your next visit if you run out of time. Rehoboth Beach is also an outlet shopping destination, and Delaware has no sales tax, so it is a shopper’s paradise.
Dover. 50 miles
Dover is the capital of our great state, and tax-free shopping abounds here as well. Dover Downs Hotel and Casino and Dover International Speedway (the Monster Mile) are huge tourism draws to our state.
But the real reason I’m putting Dover on this list is for its museums. Most of them are free and they tell the history of our First State. Our personal favorite is the Air Mobility Command Museum, located at 1301 Heritage Rd, Dover, DE 19902 on the grounds of the Dover Air Force Base, so you can often watch incoming and outgoing planes. The museum has over 30 aircraft such as cargo haulers, fighters, helicopters, a presidential aircraft, and a bomber. There are usually a few open that you can tour. They also have an indoor display with information about airlift and air refueling history. Some of the other interesting museums nearby in Dover include Delaware Agricultural Museum and 1890’s Village; Delaware State Police Museum; Woodburn, the Governor’s Residence; John Dickinson Plantation; The Old State House; Johnson Victrola Museum; and Biggs Museum.
Wilmington. 99 miles
If you love gardens, you must plan a visit to the Wilmington area. Some of our country’s finest gardens are located here. They are ever-evolving, superbly maintained, and breathtaking year-round. While Longwood Gardens is not actually in Delaware, it is just 5 miles from the state line and worth the trip while visiting Wilmington. These are your must-see stops: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library; Hagley Museum and Library; Nemours Estate; and Longwood Gardens.
Bethany Beach. 6 miles
If you’re looking for a quieter free public beach with a small boardwalk and quality shops, Bethany Beach is your spot. Bethany is slower and lower than Rehoboth Beach. The Bethany Beach Nature Center is a great place to take kids or to walk the trail not far from the beach.
The James Farm Ecological Preserve, just northwest of Bethany Beach, has three miles of marked hiking trails, three observation platforms, a boardwalk beach crossing, wildflower gardens, an amphitheater, an informational kiosk, and rest areas.
Lewes. 14 miles
Of course I must include our hometown on this list! Lewes is another one of the quieter resort towns. Because it is located on the “corner” of the state with a cape (Cape Henlopen), it has beaches both on the bay and on the ocean.
Cape Henlopen State Park offers miles of hiking and biking trails, beaches, a fishing pier, a campground, a nature center, a nature preserve, and even a WWII history museum at Fort Miles. There is an WWII observation tower you can climb to see 14 1/2 miles on a clear day.
We have spent many peaceful summer days on Lewes Beach, a free public beach on the Delaware Bay, located right behind the Dairy Queen. From the beach you can watch the Cape May – Lewes Ferry leave and then return from her 17-mile trip to New Jersey on the other side of the bay. The ferry is a relaxing way to travel and is great for reducing time stuck in the car with little ones!
Downtown Lewes offers information on its place in history at sites like Ryves Holt House, the Cannonball House, and the Zwaanendael Museum. There are many fine restaurants and quaint shops located downtown as well. Of course if you visit Lewes in the spring, you’ll have to look us up and visit!
Delaware is a small state but full of good things and definitely worth visiting! I know that I didn’t cover everything wonderful Delaware has to offer (like Milton, which definitely would be in a top 6!), so please feel free to share other Delaware gems with our readers! Tom and I have each lived here since we were teenagers in the mid-80s, so if you have any questions, we can probably answer them. Please let us know and we will be happy to point you in the right direction!