The first state to ratify the constitution back in 1787 was Delaware. With only 1,900 square miles of real estate, it still manages to pack quite a bit of action in. Nicknamed the Diamond state when Thomas Jefferson described it as a jewel due to its location, Delaware is filled with moments you’ll treasure. It has history, beaches, family fun, amazing craft beers, and all the Mid-Atlantic coastal charm you could want.
Lets explore the best things to do in Delaware:
1. Hagley Museum and Library
Take a guided tour through Delaware’s Eleutherian Mills, the original du Pont family home.
The Hagley Museum and Library comprises the original gunpowder mills, the estate itself, and its extensive gardens.
Built in the early 19th century, it’s a wonderful example of cultural taste at that time.
The library itself focuses on innovative American business and technology.
In the mill itself you’ll illustrations of exactly how gunpowder was made.
As a bonus, the barn has a wonderful collection of antique cars.
2. Delaware Beaches
The beaches in Delaware are quiet, small town affairs, perfectly suited for long walks and quiet escape into nature.
Imagine yourself, coffee in hand, rambling past galleries and quaint cottages, soaking up the sunrise.
The most popular is undoubtedly Rehoboth beach.
With year-round fantastic weather, the streets in town have top notch dining and cute boutique shopping.
They’ve also got a wide range of water sports to choose from.
If you’re in search of a younger crowd, try Dewey beach.
Regardless of where you’ll end up, you’re destined to find yourself disappointed that you couldn’t do it all in one trip.
These wonderful coastal towns have some serious charm that will keep you coming back.
3. Brandywine Zoo
Open year-round, the Brandywine Zoo allows you to experience life in the animal kingdom.
The zoo is located in Wilmington and keeps 150 friendly animals.
There are kid-centred classes like Winter Day Camp, Art in the Park, and Zoo Kids.
Visit Zhanna the Amur tiger and cute two-toed sloths while visiting.
There are 12 acres to explore and plenty of passionate staff members to enrich your experience with their knowledge and love of the animals they care for.
4. Nemours Mansion
Alfred du Pont built Nemours Mansion in the early 20th century as a gift to his wife Alicia.
Complete with distinctive gardens, the estate is a marvel to see.
Newly restored, the 300 acres are open to the public and guided tours are offered.
Located in Wilmington, visitors are treated to classic French architecture, five floors, and over 100 rooms.
The furniture is antique, much of it original to the mansion, and the artwork and artefacts on display are impressive.
Stroll through the gardens after you’ve visited the house and discover fountains, sculpture and a maze garden.
5. Delaware Art Museum
Filled with 19th through 21st century American art, the Delaware Museum is a worthwhile diversion for art lovers and history buffs alike.
Primarily curated by benefactor Helen Farr Sloan, she is responsible for bringing in more than 5,000 pieces.
Special collections include the works of John Sloan, known for his stunning depictions of turn-of-the-century New York City, the Howard Pyle collection, American posters, and Arts and Craft style metalwork and jewellery.
6. Wilmington Riverfront District
Located on the lovely Christina River, the Riverfront District is a redevelopment success story.
Beautifully combining history and modern attractions like sports, entertainment, fine dining, and shopping, the area is not to be missed.
Once an industrial giant of the mid-Atlantic, then an industrial wasteland, the district is now thriving and considered a destination spot.
Enjoy a Blue Rocks baseball game at Frawley Stadium, a scenic walk along the Christina, and one of the best meals to be had in all of Delaware.
7. Cape May-Lewes Ferry
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry connects New Jersey and Delaware.
It’s quite possibly the most relaxing experience that Delaware has to offer.
The ferry brings you past stunning lighthouses, exotic seabirds, picturesque harbours, and maybe even a dolphin family.
While in Cape May, check out the Mid-Atlantic Centre for the Arts, the county zoo, or a wine tasting trail.
8. The Grand Opera House
A magnificent restored late 19th century Victorian theatre is now home to the Grand Opera House.
Located in Wilmington, the opera house has seen Victorian melodramas, vaudeville, burlesque, symphonies, musicals, and, of course, opera.
Today the venue focuses on dance and classical symphonies, but the history of the grand opera is still on full display.
Get tickets if you can, but at a minimum stop by and tour this beautiful building.
9. The Air Mobility Command Museum
Originally a World War II military base, the Air Mobility Command Museum is now home to 30 vintage planes.
They showcase airlifting, air refuelling, planes from the 1940’s.
You can see a C130 Hercules, a C-141B Starlifter, helicopters, fighters, a presidential aircraft, a bomber, and more.
The museum also tells the history of Dover Air Force Base and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
10. The Delmarva Peninsula
This small peninsula on the east coast has three state lines.
Occupied mostly by Delaware, drive down it, and you will also cross into Maryland and Virginia.
Thus, its name: Del-Mar-Va.
Technically an island after the development of the Chesapeake, the culture on Delmarva is distinctly different from the rest of the Mid-Atlantic.
It is much more southern and conservative than ‘mainland’ areas.
You can take the Bay Bridge-Tunnel or ferry out to the peninsula and enjoy a scenic drive along its 183 miles.
11. The John Dickinson Farm
Known as the “Penman of the American Revolution,” John Dickinson is credited with drafting the 1778 Articles of Confederation.
Today, you can visit his farmstead, which includes the families mid-18th century brick house, outbuildings, and the slave and tenant houses.
Located in Dover, the family moved to the farm when John was just eight years old.
Now a museum that reflects the critical role that Dickinson played in the founding of a nation, visits can enjoy this fully restored historical homestead.
12. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
In the mid 1990’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery opened its doors in Rehoboth Beach.
Today, they produce hundreds of thousands of beer barrels a year and are a Delaware institution.
Beer connoisseurs will love the eclectic range of beers that includes the incredible Shelter Pale Ale.
In addition to tastings, you can tour the facilities to learn more about the brewing process, sample a variety of beer infused food, fresh grilled seafood, and relax with friends.
13. World Café Live at the Queen
The historic Queen Theatre was once a hotel built in the early 20th century.
Converted into a theatre, it remained unused for over 50 years.
After a remarkable 425 million renovation, it is now the thriving musical and entertainment venue in Wilmington.
Get tickets to a concert and enjoy not just the music, but the experience that is World Café Live.
Loyal patrons include Trombone Shorty, The Lone Bellow, and Alabama Shakes.
14. The First State Heritage Park
Known as a ‘park without boundaries,’ the First State Heritage Park is an urban park that links cultural and historical sites throughout the city.
Dover has been the capital of Delaware since 1777 and the park highlights this fact.
Most of the parks attractions are open throughout the week, but on the first Saturday of every month, special programs are held.
You can tour the governor’s house at Woodburn, follow the Delaware History Trail, and relax on The Green.
15. The Fenwick Island Lighthouse
A long-time landmark along the Delaware coast, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse was first built in the early 19th century.
Though no longer an active lighthouse, its historic significance remains.
Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, the island sees a record number of visitors each year who come to learn the unique maritime history of Delaware.
Although you can’t climb to the top of the 87-foot lighthouse any more, you can visit the museum and gift shop.
A visit to Fenwick Island is a relaxing and lovely way to spend an afternoon in the quaint town that has built up around the historic monument.