For an East Coast vacation that is close to the region’s largest cities yet feels worlds away, spend your next getaway in Delaware. Its small size makes all parts of the state easily accessible to visitors, meaning you can pack your day with attractions and still be back in time for dinner.
Quiet seaside communities meet popular beach towns on the Delaware coast, which is also home to a diverse waterfront ecosystem. There are plenty of opportunities to engage with nature on both the coast and further inland. Learn about Native American culture, historic estates and quaint maritime structures or immerse yourself in the landscape. Wilmington’s shows, museums, and walkable riverfront offer a contrast to the smaller towns throughout the rest of the state.
Head to this tiny state and expect the unexpected; you might just be surprised by how much there is to experience in the First State. Here are 27+ things to do in Delaware you’re not going to want to miss.
BEST BEACHES IN DELAWARE
Overlooking both open ocean and bay waters, Delaware’s beaches are one of the east coast’s hidden secrets. While some are popular regional destinations, other local favorites are tucked into the dunes, waiting to be discovered.
Fresh seafood, wildlife viewing and fun on the water are all part of the Delaware beach life, so make sure this gateway to the Atlantic is on your next summer bucket list.
CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK
Located in between Lewes and Rehoboth Beaches, Henlopen State Park is a former military base that was most active during and after the Second World War. The site is home to wartime- era Fort Miles, which is open to the public as a museum.
The park’s fire and lookout towers are one of its highlights, along with the charming Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits right off the coast, and while boat tours run intermittently, you can also take in the view from the park.
Short trails run through coastal forest, while the beach itself offers swimming, a fishing pier, and water sports. If you find that you want to spend more time at the park, a state-run campground has campsites available seasonally.
Lying just south of Cape Henlopen, Rehoboth Beach is a classic Delaware beach town, drawing summer visitors from the DC area and beyond. The town’s highlight is its boardwalk, which invites you to stop into one of the many small businesses along the way.
Enjoy beach bites, souvenirs, and entertainment as you stroll the mile- long walkway before heading down to the shore.
Make sure to set some time aside for Funland, the boardwalk’s premier family amusement park. This small, family- owned park is a local success story and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of bringing laughs and thrills to families on vacation. You’ll find rides, games and concessions steps away from the sand; Funland reopens for the season in early May.
When visiting Rehoboth Beach, keep in mind that parking in the area is by permit or meters only, so plan ahead.
Located just above the Delaware- Maryland border, Fenwick Island is located on an island-like strip of land called a barrier spit. Sitting just off the mainland, the island has amusement parks, water sport rentals, award winning eats and the quintessential Atlantic lighthouse, all for you to enjoy during your stay.
If you’re not staying on the island, its an easy drive from Ocean City, Rehoboth Beach and other destinations along the shoreline. Town highlights include Salted Vines Vineyard, Thunder Lagoon Water Park and more. The DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum displays an impressive collection of maritime history gems.
Covering part of the island’s eastern bank, Fenwick State Park is just north of town and has some of the area’s best swimming beaches, along with a surfing area. After walking the town boardwalk and grabbing a freshly popped snack at Fisher’s Popcorn, you can walk across the state border to Maryland Beach without even noticing you’ve just changed states.
Along with Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach makes up Delaware’s Atlantic coastline. This sleepy oceanside haven is perfect for a slow morning or lazy afternoon.
Pack a picnic before heading to the town’s spacious beach, located along a boardwalk with a vintage feel. Bethany’s center is small but inviting, with gift shops and plenty of eateries highlighting local flavors.
The town’s convenient location means you can spend all day lounging at Bethany Beach, or combine it with either Rehoboth Beach or Fenwick Island without spending too much time in the car. If you’re in the mood for a walk, try the Fresh Pond Trail at the Delaware Seashore-Fresh Pond natural area.
SENSATIONAL STATE PARKS IN DELAWARE
If you had no idea Delaware was home to so many state parks, visit at least one and you’ll see why. The state’s unique coastal habitats and forested interior are a unique pairing, especially when experienced in the same day.
Delaware’s parks are on the smaller side, meaning you can hit one, two or even three in one day without running out of steam.
TRAP POND STATE PARK
While Delaware’s seaside attractions are a must, the interior of the state also has plenty of bodies of water for you to enjoy. Known for its bald cypress trees, Trap Pond State Park is an ideal day destination to get to know at your own pace.
Visit the park’s Baldcypress Nature Center to learn about the natural and cultural history around you before heading out on the Bob Trail for nearly five miles of hiking or biking on the shores of Trap Pond.
Canoeing and kayaking on the pond is one of the park’s most popular activities, and the Terrapin Branch Water Trial takes you through the park’s cypress groves. If you just want to sit back and relax, the park offers guided pontoon boat tours that treat you to shoreline views from the water.
Falling in love with Trap Pond? The park’s state campground offers tent and RV sites, along with yurts and cabins for colder months.
KILLENS POND STATE PARK
Close to the cities of Dover and Milford, Killens Pond State Park has water activities, a wooded trail, and plenty of opportunities for family fun.
After talking to wildlife experts at the park’s Nature Center, take a slow walk around the pond while enjoying the fauna and flora that call this habitat home. Then kayak the pond itself, or look out over the Murderkill River from the Pondside Bridge.
If you want to be out on the water but don’t have access to a kayak or canoe, check out the Killens Pond Waterpark, located near the park’s northern entrance. Enjoy rides with the kids before heading in for the night at the adjacent Killens Pond State Park Campground. Stay at the campground for easy access to Dover or Milford, as well as the chance to greet the sunrise over the pond’s still surface in the morning.
BRANDYWINE CREEK STATE PARK
Located towards Delaware’s northern border with Pennsylvania, Brandywine Creek State Park is a nature preserve with a long agricultural history. One of the park’s highlights are the late 19th century stone walls that run through the area, once used to separate property lines.
Meadows, woodlands and creekside habitats can be found throughout the park, especially while out on a serene hike.Take the Brandywine Trail to stay by the creek, or head out on the Loop Trail which runs through the Tulip Tree Woods Nature Preserve.
Curious about the plants and animals you’ve noticed in the park? Join a guided hike free of charge and listen to an expert while you meander through the woods. Guided hike schedules can be found on the park’s main website. If you’re visiting in the winter, don’t miss the park’s designated sledding and cross country skiing areas.
FORT DELAWARE STATE PARK
This astounding Civil War fort is sure to make an impact on your next visit to Northern Delaware. Accessible by ferry, the structure is perched on the Delaware River and served the Wilmington and Philadelphia areas.
Visitors at Fort Delaware State Park can tour the interior of the fort, as well as experience its grounds via the Prison Camp Trail. Today, the fort grounds are also home to diverse nesting habitats for birds.
On your visit, enjoy guides in costume that transport you back to the fort’s heyday. Visit in autumn for a paranormal tour of the structure and hear the stories trapped within its walls. You can purchase ferry tickets to Fort Delaware online, or stop by the ticket office, located on the ferry dock in Delaware City. Weekend tours begin in late April, while weekday tours will be available starting in June and running through September.
LUMS POND STATE PARK
Lums Pond is Delaware’s largest freshwater lake, and Lums Pond State Park is filled with activities that take advantage of this awesome place.
At this state park, you’ll find a variety of recreational activities. Hike or bike the 17 miles of trails through the hardwood forests, or experience fun in the trees with an adventure on the Go Ape Treetop Course.
The boathouse offers you the chance to kayak, canoe, or pedalboat around the pond, while looking at wildlife along the way. You’ll also find pavilions, disc golf, a dog park, tennis courts, and fields for cricket, football, and soccer.
Make sure to stop by the park’s nature center, where you’ll find live animal exhibits, including a 500-gallon freshwater aquarium exhibit! You’ll also find a campground here, for both tents and RVs, so you can make a weekend of it.
Delaware’s colonial and industrial past means it was once home to the country’s most influential figures. Their estates live on throughout the state to give the public a glimpse of a former splendor.
The Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library sit adjacent to Brandywine Creek State Park, adding to the one of a kind character of this region of Delaware.
Formerly the home of Henry Francis du Pont and his family, the 175- room mansion that stands on the property is now a museum, housing a huge decorative arts collection. The amazing American art collection holds nearly 90,000 American- made objects dating back to the 17th century, displayed in the opulent home for curious audiences to enjoy.
Beyond the museum lies a 60-acre garden designed by du Pont himself, as well as 1,000 acres of protected landscape. The Winterthur Library doubles as an educational and research center devoted to American history since the colonial era.
Along with exhibits and the chance to tour the impressive du Pont family home, Winterthur offers a day of indoor and outdoor learning. Tickets are available in advance or on site, and there are various tour options for you to delve deeper into the estate’s past and present.
HAGLEY MUSEUM AND LIBRARY
The Hagley Museum and Library is not far from Winterthur, meaning you can combine these two Henry du Pont historical attractions into one fact- filled day trip. The Hagley grounds are home to du Pont’s famed gunpowder works, founded at the dawn of the 19th century.
Mills, workers quarters and gardens remain on the site, which you can experience through 75- minute long guided tours. The Hagley Library contains documents, records and artifacts cataloging American business and technology through the centuries.
The home and gardens on the property are open to visitors, as is the actual powder yard where production took place. The worker’s hill community puts you in the shoes of 19th century labourers, while the library’s Patent Models display gives you a glimpse into the world of patent miniatures.
You can purchase tickets in advance and keep an eye on the museum’s schedule on the Hagley website.
When in WIlmington, complete your du Pont tour of Delaware by dropping by Nemours Estate, yet another family mansion to admire. This was the home of Alfred and Alicia duPont, and even incorporated many of the industrialist’s own inventions.
The gardens complement the main home and are decorated by outdoor sculptures, fountains and even a reflective pool. These are considered to be the largest French formal- inspired gardens in the country.
A collection of vintage vehicles is also on- site for car buffs. While tours are self- guided, staff is available to answer any questions you might have about the 77 room mansion, the estate, or the duPont family.
AMAZING ANIMAL ADVENTURES
Whether you’re an indoor or outdoor person, the Delaware area has plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Take a self- guided hike to spot local migrating birds, or spend a day at the zoo to learn from keepers and see animals from around the world.
BOMBAY HOOK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Looking over Delaware Bay, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge offers five trails, a scenic drive, and an educational Visitor’s Center to introduce you to Delaware’s diverse ecosystems. Photographers, birdwatchers and nature lovers in general will get the most out of this coastal refuge, that dates back to 1937.
The area is a major stopover for migrating birds, and is designated as one of the world’s most important bird areas. Keep an eye out for waterfowl and shorebirds, which vary depending on the time of year. For example, the region sees a peak in shorebirds in May, while Avocets are best seen in October.
Woodchucks, turtles, eagles and snow geese are just some of the species that call Bombay Hook home for at least part of the year. Wildflowers and wetland flora are also abundant, allowing you to tune out the world and tune into nature on a hike through the refuge.
For a more organized wildlife viewing experience, plan a visit to the Brandywine Zoo, located in the heart of Wilmington. This small but inviting zoo has plenty of family-friendly activities on the schedule, including keeper chats, close-up creature features and story time.
Pandas, porcupines, and even domestic goats join birds, reptiles and invertebrates as the zoo’s full time occupants. A monthly calendar of events keeps you up to date with special activities, while a gift shop and snack bar have you covered with souvenirs and light bites.
If you’re in the area in winter, check out the zoo’s winter visit information to see which exhibits will be available. The Brandywine Zoo is open daily from 10am to 4pm, making it an easy addition to your Wilmington itinerary.
CREATIVE CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS
Delaware’s metropolitan areas and small towns host cultural events throughout the year, meaning you can catch a performance, showcase or art exhibit any time you go. A strong native heritage, colonial American history and contemporary arts scene all contribute to Delaware’s cultural attractions.
GRAND OPERA HOUSE
Wilmington’s Grand Opera House is both a contemporary cultural destination and national historic site, boasting over 140 years as a local landmark. The Opera House has hosted entertainers, cinema showings and theatre performances, and continues to do so each season.
Current offerings range from Broadway shows to rock concerts and ballets, meaning there’s something for every visitor, no matter their age. Just being inside the opera house is a historical experience, and you can admire its elegant interior while waiting for the show to start.
After applauding the performance, head to Downtown Wilmington for supper or drinks to wrap up the perfect night. The Grand Opera House is your go to for big- city entertainment in a small- town atmosphere.
DELAWARE ART MUSEUM
Displaying contemporary collections along with rotating exhibitions and older works, The Delaware Art Museum is one of Wilmington’s most -visited cultural destinations. The museum’s Copeland Sculpture Garden blends indoor and outdoor artwork, while robust collections focusing on 18th century American painting and illustration paint a picture of the nation’s creative history.
Twentieth century Wilmington illustrator Howard Pyle’s creations are an example of the museum’s role in preserving the work and legacy of local artists. A calendar of events joins regular exhibitions, featuring public programming and artist talks.
As you make your rounds, stop by Kaffeina at Thronson Cafe for a hand crafted caffeine boost before checking out the museum store. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
THE NANTICOKE INDIAN MUSEUM
For an even more localized art experience, visit the Nanticoke Indian Museum, located near Reheboth and Bethany Beaches. Housed in a former school, the museum is operated by the Nanticoke Tribe.
The museum’s collections include artifacts like jewelry, spearheads and other items once used by people native to the area. Contemporary work from tribe members is also on display, linking the tribe’s history to its continued presence in modern Delaware.
In September, the museum hosts an annual Nanticoke Powwow, hosting Nanticoke dancers as well as the food and traditions of the tribe. Museum hours vary seasonally, so be sure to visit the organization’s website for an updated schedule.
AIR MOBILITY COMMAND MUSEUM
The Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, is a must-visit for any aviation buffs in your crew.
At this free museum, you’ll find amazing exhibits, collections, history, and plenty of airplanes. The museum houses over 30 aircraft varying in roles and sizes, and has exhibits telling the story of humanitarian and airlift and air refueling history. You’ll learn more about the role aviation has played in the U.S. military throughout the years, and much more.
This free museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9am – 4pm.
DELAWARE DISCOVERY TRAIL
If you’re an art lover that prefers being outside rather than in a museum or gallery , the Delaware Discovery Trail is your gateway to the state’s best murals. Visit one or two, or treat it like a scavenger hunt and take a picture with all thirteen artworks on the list!
Every piece is inspired by its location, and you can even submit your photos to Visit Delaware for the chance to win a prize. However many you visit, these murals are sure to brighten up your day trip.
BIG CHILL BEACH CLUB
Spanning the walls of Big Chill Beach Club, Kelsey Montague’s mural is all about sea, salt and sand, matching perfectly with the restaurant.
Located in Bethany Beach’s Delaware Seashore State Park, Big Chill is a venue and eatery boasting seafood dishes and a rooftop bar. Visit as the sun goes down for a late dinner and cocktails overlooking the waves.
CAPE MAY-LEWES FERRY
The Cape May- Lewes Ferry Terminal’s underwater- themed mural by Christian Kanienberg gets you ready for the 90-minute boat ride from Lewes to Cape May, New Jersey. Connecting two popular beach towns, the ferry is a destination in itself, offering scenic views and even a waterfront restaurant at the terminal.
Spend the day in Cape May and head back to Lewes in time to catch the sunset.
DELAWARE BOTANIC GARDEN
You can find Leah Beach’s playful piece at the Delaware Botanic Gardens in Dagsboro. With nearly 40 acres of plant life, the garden offers tranquil strolls among blooming flora, which happen to complement the mural perfectly.
The garden also offers tours, classic, public programming and art exhibits that interact with its layout.
MISPILLION RIVER BREWING
Mispillion River Brewing is located in Milford, and features Michael Johnson’s mural, which references the magic that happens inside.
Founded In 2013, the brewery has brews on tap as well as canned options and a food menu. At Mispillion, handcrafting beer is all about enjoying the process as much as the final product.
Michael Johnson’s motivational mural at De Turf adds a splash of color to the area’s largest synthetic turf sports complex.
De Turf hosts various sports events throughout the year, including lacrosse and soccer tournaments. The facility is located in Frederica, just north of Milford, Delaware.
BOMBAY HOOK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Known for its flora, fauna and birdwatching opportunities, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is also home to Kelsey Montague’s vibrant wing mural, placed next to the entrance pavilion.
TOWN OF WYOMING
Adorning Wyoming, Delaware’s town hall, this work by Natalia Ciricao incorporates soft tones and gentle strokes to bring you back to simpler times.
This small town is worth a stop on any tour of the state: ice cream, antiques and a town lake await visitors in this pocket of central Delaware.
DELAWARE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
Laura Erickson’s whimsical mural at the Delaware Children’s Museum adds pizzazz to Wilmington’s Riverfront district. Children will love both the mural and museum, which has plenty of interactive activities and exhibits to keep any explorer engaged.
After a day at the museum, walk along the riverfront or stop into one of the area’s lauded dinner restaurants.
DELAWARE ART MUSEUM
Laura Erickson also has a mural at the Delaware Art Museum, which you can enjoy during your next visit to see one of the museum’s rotating exhibits.
HAGLEY MUSEUM AND LIBRARY
Don’t miss Leah Beach’s piece on your next visit to the Hagley Museum and Library. The mural reflects the surrounding gardens and is located in the Workers Hill area.
CHASE CENTER ON THE RIVERFRONT
Terrance Vann’s “handheld” balloon- themed artwork at the Chase Center on the Riverfront is another must see when in the Wilmington area.
Float away with the mural; when you’re ready to come back down to earth, head to the riverwalk for some of the city’s best shopping and dining.
FIREFLY MUSIC FESTIVAL – NORTH & SOUTH ENTRANCES
The annual Firefly Music Festival takes place in September, but the murals gracing its north and south entrances are available for viewing all year.
The south entrance features an interactive artwork at the Freeman Arts Pavilion, while the north entrance features a colorful hot air balloon- themed piece near Dover International Speedway’s Monster Mile. The works are by artists Terrance Vann and Leah Beach.
Things To Do in Delaware FAQ
What is Delaware most popular for?
Delaware is best-known for its amazing beaches. Rehoboth Beach, Lewes Beach, and Bethany Beach are perfect for swimming, fishing, and water sports.
Why do people visit Delaware?
Delaware is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts! With wildlife refuges, scenic drives, state parks, and beaches, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Delaware.
What is Delaware’s most famous food?
Delaware is well-known for its seafood. The Blue Claw Crab is one of the most famous seafood items found in Delaware.
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