Delaware Holiday Planning Guide
Nicknamed the "First State" for its role in ratifying the U.S. Constitution, Delaware is only 160 km (100 mi) long and about 80 km (49 mi) wide at its widest point. Despite its small size, the state is a patchwork of complex and diverse communities, with an industrialized north and rural south. More than just a tax-free shopping haven, the state features great sightseeing in its picturesque countryside interspersed with sleepy colonial villages and long sandy beaches. It also offers several organized trail systems that focus on things to do in the outdoors, including history, geocaching, culinary activities, and wine and spirits. Largely because of its size, Delaware remains one of the country's least-explored states.
Places to Visit in DelawareRehoboth Beach
: A tourist hotspot, Rehoboth Beach is a liberal-minded beach city jam-packed with shopping, dining, beach-going, and all-in-all relaxation opportunities. Wilmington
: Spacious Wilmington appeals to the nature-lover and history buff in all of us, offering parks, museums, and historic sites. Lewes
: Delaware's first European settlement, Lewes allows visitors to explore museums, tour historic sites, and relax at its popular beachfront. Dover
: The state's capital, Dover is the heart of the state, with plenty of historical and political significance. Browse museums, shopping malls, and other popular Delaware attractions. Dewey Beach
: The sandbar community of Dewey Beach boasts an ocean on one side and a bay on the other, offering a view of some of the finest in the area. Newark
: A college town with plenty of history, Newark is sought out for its historical sites, nature spots, and theme parks, making it a great destination for active Delaware vacations.
Things to Do in Delaware
Popular Delaware Tourist AttractionsRehoboth Beach
: Relax along the bustling shoreline of Rehoboth Beach, where eclectic boutiques, beach kiosks, and sand and surf are waiting to greet you. Funland
: Fun for the whole family, Funland is an amusement park that originally opened in 1962, combining classic favorites such as the carousel with modern thrill rides like the superflip. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
: Step into an eclectic antique collection at the former residence now known as Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. The fascinating collection is matched only with the lush gardens that surround the property. Cape Henlopen State Park
: Nature lovers rejoice--Cape Henlopen State Park brims with camping grounds, fishing spots, beach games, and plenty of recreational activities. Air Mobility Command Museum
: Take a step back in time at Air Mobility Command Museum, an important addition to Delaware itineraries for history buffs and aviation fans. The museum houses a collection of 30 restored aircrafts in an Air Force hangar. Hagley Museum
: Get in touch with your inner scientist as you browse the history of the DuPont family and the company that contributed to the discovery of nylon, teflon, and kevlar. Interactive exhibits and videos present this fascinating family history. Nemours Mansion & Gardens
: Live like French royalty at Nemours Mansion and Gardens, an estate built in the Louis XVI Rococo architectural style. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc
: See where the magic happens at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, the source for the craft beer that's dominating the nation. Follow the production process of its acclaimed IPAs and Ancient Ales, and top off your tour with some tasty samples. Lewes Beach
: Quiet in comparison to its bustling counterparts, Lewes Beach remains family friendly and scenic. Enjoy the calm atmosphere, build a sandcastle, and watch the ferries come and go your Delaware holiday. Bethany Beach
: Clean, calm, and picturesque--Bethany beach is a bit of a hidden gem. This quiet beach has few crowds and plenty to offer, including a boardwalk, ice cream kiosks, and lifeguards on duty.
Planning a Delaware Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Delaware with Kids
Despite its small size, Delaware is big on family fun--with lovely beaches, historic sites, museums, and natural wonders.
Slow-paced but full of charm, the historic town of New Castle
seems frozen in time. The town brims with colonial-era architecture, along with plenty of museums, historic restaurants, gardens, parks, and a lively waterfront to keep young travellers busy and entertained.
Another slow-paced option is Winterthur
. The museum and gardens of the estate can keep the kids entertained for hours on end, with the fairies of the Enchanted Woods, the Troll's Bridge, Acorn Tearoom, Tulip Treehouse, and more.
If you're looking for something slightly more fast-paced on your Delaware trip, look no farther than the beach community of Rehoboth Beach
for some good old-fashioned beach family fun.
Things to Do in Delaware with Kids
Delaware's rich history yields plenty in the way of fascinating and fun attractions to fill up your family's Delaware itinerary.
Check out Delaware Museum of Natural History
, where kids can come face to face with dinosaur bones and live animals, as well as walk across a glass bridge across the "ocean."
Let the little ones' imagination soar at Delaware Art Museum
, housing paintings, historical furniture and housewares, modern sculptures, digital displays, and a lovely garden.
Speed junkies of all ages will feel the adrenaline rush that comes with a visit to Dover International Speedway
, where you can witness NASCAR vehicles zooming around a world-renowned track. Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge
encourages a curiosity for the outdoors. Long boardwalks lead eager visitors through the wildlife refuge to witness birds, turtles, fish, rabbits, and other animals in their natural habitat.
Young science enthusiasts love Hagley Museum
, where they can learn about the discovery of nylon, teflon, and other inventions through interactive displays. Delaware Children's Museum
is bursting with hands-on fun and offers interactive activities like lessons in painting or how to fix a car.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Delaware
If you're looking for peace and quiet, stick to the smaller, historic towns of Delaware. Go for the less-known beaches like Bethany Beach
or Lewes Beach
, which remain low-key and relatively unexplored in comparison to their rowdier counterparts. Delaware's wealth of museums means that there are plenty of rainy-day options to choose from.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Delaware
Cuisine of Delaware
When eating in Delaware, be sure to try regional speciality of broiled chicken--known as "broilers"--with sour-milk biscuits. The state's lesser known nickname, "The Blue Hen State" is a nod to the bird's historical significance with soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. Ever since, work has been done to develop a strain of blue chicken to feed the "broilers" demand. The prominent local fishing industry also means plenty of seafood--including crab, clams, and oysters.
Ice cream remains a major dessert in Delaware. Beaches like Rehoboth Beach
and Bethany Beach
boast boardwalks lined with kiosks dishing out scoops of this sweet creamy treat.
One of the local delicacies in Delaware is none other than the state's craft beer. Taste some of the region's best brews by adding Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc
to your Delaware itinerary.
Delaware is also known for its savoury dish called scrapple--basically pork trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour and served for breakfast or in a sandwich.
Shopping in Delaware
Go guilt-free as you unveil your inner shopaholic during your Delaware trip--the state charges no sales tax on products purchased within its boundaries.
Zip down to the breezy streets of Rehoboth Beach
and Dewey Beach
to find quaint, one-of-a-kind boutiques selling everything from modern clothing to handmade souvenirs. One such shop is Browseabout Books
, with its fascinating collection of books and more.
If you're searching for brand name labels, visit the upscale shops in downtown Wilmington
, or the main street of Newark
With no sales tax, it's no wonder bargain hunting tops the list of things to do in Delaware. Check outChristiana Mall
, as shopping mecca with restaurants and stores offering arguably the best deals in all of Delaware.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Delaware
History of Delaware
European settlers first arrived in Delaware in 1631, but it wasn't until 1638 that a colony and trading posts were established by Swedes, Finns, and Dutch. These early settlers helped lead the Colonies' fight for independence and witnessed Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787.
You can travel back to the Civil War era by touring Fort Delaware State Park
, where interactive guides in period clothing put on entertaining and educational reenactments.
Delaware played a unique role in the Civil War as the northernmost slave state that sided with the Union. Delaware's history bears significant evidence of the fight for freedom fought by the area's early settlers. Follow their brave fight and their trials and tribulations by exploring sections of the Underground Railroad; you'll find various meeting houses in cities like Wilmington
Round out your Delaware trip by learning about the DuPont family. Explore their history at Hagley Museum
Landscape of Delaware
The landscape in Delaware is remarkably flat--it boasts the lowest mean elevation of any state in the country. The state's highest point is a mere 140 m (450 ft) above sea level. Most of the region is made up of gently rolling hills and plateaus, with a coastline dotted by beaches serving as popular vacation spots during the summer months. You may also stumble across some swampy marshland when exploring the coastline on your Delaware holiday. The western boundary of the state is home to a ridge that serves as the dividing line between the watersheds feeding the region's rivers and bays.
Holidays & Festivals in Delaware
Delaware is fortunate enough to celebrate many fun holidays and festivals, all centred around family-fun, community, and music. Every April, the state pays tribute to its celebrated natural scenery at the Mount Cuba Center Wildflower Celebration, where local displays of gardening are accompanied by music and food.
Moving on to May, the state's capital of Dover
celebrates its history during the Dover Day Festival, featuring arts and craft vendors and live entertainment.
At the annual Winterthur Point-to-Point an extravagant tailgate buffet fuels lavish horse racing events. If you're a music fan, check out the Firefly Music Festival in June, featuring unforgettable rock performances. Other music-related choices include the Big Barrel Country Music Festival in June, and the Delaware Junction Festival in August.
Gastro-tourists won't want to miss the Delaware State Fair in July, with deep-fried treats, music, and rodeo to boot. The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival in October, alternatively, dishes up the state's finest wines and craft beers.
Delaware Travel Tips
Climate of Delaware
Unpredictable at best, Delaware's climate features four seasons. Notably hot, humid, and stifling weather occurs in the summer, while the winter's are known to get quite cold. Luckily, heavy snow doesn't come often, but rainfall isn't uncommon. Comfortable, mild temperatures are enjoyed during the spring and fall. In the interim, retreat to the beach or to some indoor attractions on your Delaware vacation.
Transportation in Delaware
The car remains arguably the best way for exploring Delaware away from bigger urban centers. If your Delaware holiday takes you to cities like Wilmington, you will be able to rely on public transportation. The DART First State public transport system operates throughout the state, connecting most major cities. The same system connects to the Regional Rail line, which connects Wilmington to Philadelphia, the closest major airport.