Dover is Delaware’s capital and is located in the central portion of the state, between the Delaware Bay to the east and the state of Maryland to the west.
It’s also home to one of the most extensive Air Force bases in the country, which is one of the largest military air transportation hubs in the world.
Those visiting Dover have an abundance of varied, year-round activity options at their fingertips, ranging from beaches and historic sites to auto racing venues, casinos, and state parks.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Dover, Delaware, that warrant a closer look when in the area.
1. Air Mobility Command Museum
Though lots of majestic old war-birds end up in scrap and recycling yards, many are returned to their former glory in aviation museums after decades of neglect and disuse.
The Air Mobility Command Museum is one of Dover’s premier attractions. It draws a diverse crowd, not all of who are history and aircraft aficionados and veterans.
The museum is located on Heritage Road on Dover Air Force Base and is primarily dedicated to transport and aerial refueling aircraft.
The collection of planes is vast and impressive, and they offer special programs and events regularly that are open to those of all ages.
2. 33 West Ale House & Grill
33 West Ale House & Grill is conveniently located in Dover’s downtown area and features a full range of rare and popular handcrafted brews.
Many of their most popular beers are brewed in town and at other small-batch breweries around the state.
In addition to beer, 33 West are known for their tasty, upscale bar food. They’re open for lunch and dinner daily and have a popular happy hour on Friday evenings.
Previous guests have described 33 West Ale House & Grill as contemporary and comfortable. It’s family-friendly too, so appropriate for those traveling with hungry little ones.
3. Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village
Though it’s one of America’s smallest states by land area, Delaware’s economy has always been mostly agricultural.
The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village is located on North DuPont Highway in Dover. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, from ten o’clock in the morning to three in the afternoon.
The museum has been open to the public for more than four decades. It sports an impressive collection of artifacts, equipment, and memorabilia that relate to The First State’s farming history.
Admission is dirt cheap, and discounts are offered for students, military members, and seniors. Children under three get in free.
4. First State Heritage Park
First State Heritage Park is one of the state’s oldest urban parks. In addition to offering visitors outdoor recreation activities, it also features art, cultural, and live entertainment events on a regular basis.
The park is most well-known for its first Saturday events. They change monthly, which means each time is a little something different.
For those who won’t be around on Saturday, the park is open daily and is a great place to stretch tired legs, burn a few extra calories, and learn about the state’s history, which dates all the way back to the 17th century.
5. Biggs Museum of American Art
The Biggs Museum of American Art is often overlooked by visitors more intent on seeing the city’s more prominent attractions. But for lovers of art and history, it’s the perfect place to spend an hour or two out of the elements.
Much of the museum is dedicated to photojournalism. Its exhibits are spread over three floors and include local and regional art, period furniture, and other historically significant memorabilia as well.
Though admission is free, there is occasionally a small charge to see special, temporary exhibits. There’s a nice little on-site gift shop that’s worth checking out as well.
6. Jonathan’s Landing Golf Club
Though Delaware can be downright hot and humid during the dog days of summer, golf is a popular outdoor activity that’s generally enjoyed from early spring until late fall.
Jonathon’s Landing Golf Club is a links-style course that’s known for its natural environments, wide fairways, and well-manicured greens.
The front and back nines are often described as two distinct courses. In addition to being scenic and moderately challenging, they’re appropriate for players of most ages and skill levels.
Jonathon’s Landing is one of the state’s most popular public courses and tee times go quickly during peak season, so reserve your space in advance if that’s when you’ll be playing.
7. Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
For its abundance of activity and dining options, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino is in a class by itself.
Though the casino draws a hefty gambling crowd from the neighboring states of Maryland and Pennsylvania, its proximity to Dover International Raceway makes it a popular destination for race fans as well.
The facility’s amenities include a harness racing track, plentiful dining options, and lots of comfortable watering holes to take a load off and relax with a cold drink.
The hotel features rooms at a variety of price points. They tend to go quickly during events and NASCAR races, so book in advance to avoid a sold-out situation.
8. Dover International Speedway
Dover International Speedway is an east coast racing mecca and holds a number of races each year.
The speedway has been open for more than five decades. Though it started small, it has become a regional favorite for its fast track, fun-loving crowd, and all-around exciting atmosphere.
The track is a moderately banked, high-speed oval. During races, the entire town swells with visitors.
Days of tailgating before the race are characterized by lots of adult beverages, live entertainment, and tons of food options. Many visitors choose to forego the race itself and watch it on television from the comfort of their RV.
9. Spence’s Bazaar
According to some regulars, Spence’s Bazaar is the oldest market of its kind in Delaware.
For over seven decades, it’s been attracting the thrifty flea market crowd, but regulars agree that it’s head and shoulders above the competition.
Much of what’s for sale is from Amish farmers and artisans. There are both indoor and outdoor portions that house hundreds of individual vendors selling everything from baked goods and jewelry to vintage clothing, obscure records, and prepared food items like local honey, salsa, and cheese.
Most guests spend more time on-site than they’d originally intended, so consider allotting at least a few hours.
10. House of Coffi
Though the House of Coffi has only been open since 2018, it’s attracted a loyal following of diehard coffee and caffeine junkies.
Their beans are roasted on-site multiple times daily to ensure each cup is as fresh as it can be. The eclectic background music and local art adorned walls give it a chic, bohemian vibe that’s definitely lacking in national chain coffee shops.
House of Coffi is located in a historic part of town and opens at 6:30 every morning – except Sunday, when it opens a tad later.
They offer plenty of non-coffee drink options, fresh baked goods, and light fare as well.
11. Restaurant 55
For lovers of craft brews and world-class gourmet burgers, there’s no better place to dine when in Dover than Restaurant 55.
It’s located on South State Street, and in addition to classic Angus beef burgers, they offer other burgers made from non-traditional ingredients, like turkey, tuna, veggies, and locally-caught crab.
Their beer selection numbers in the dozens and includes both bottled and keg beer in a variety of colors, flavor profiles, and alcohol contents.
They also have lots of other non-burger menu items to choose from, as well as unique cocktails like Long Island ice tea and chocolate martinis.
12. Delaware Seashore State Park
The southern portion of Delaware is dominated by Atlantic coast beaches. Though they’re less developed than beaches in neighboring Maryland, they’re particularly popular with those who prefer natural beauty to hordes of tourists, noisy boardwalks, and gaudy high-rise hotels.
Delaware Seashore State Park has been open to the public since the mid-‘60s. Lying between the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware River, and Rehoboth Bay, it is popular with surfers, surf fishers, and those who enjoy long days swimming, body surfing, and sunbathing.
Despite its relative remoteness, there are several dining, lodging, and activity options nearby to fit most budgets.
13. Killens Pond State Park
Killens Pond State Park is located just a relatively short drive away from Dover, in the town of Felton.
The park’s pond is comprised of nearly 70 surface acres and offers outdoorsy visitors a number of recreational activities, including fishing, swimming, and canoeing.
The park also features campgrounds that are open year-round, plentiful picnic areas and an interactive nature center that’s a big hit with those traveling with inquisitive kids.
Killens Pond has been a state park for more than five decades. Long before the area was officially settled, it was home to Native Americans, who left remnants of their homes and camps behind.
14. Delaware Museum of Natural History
Located on Kennett Pike in Wilmington, the Delaware Museum of Natural History is the only attraction of its kind in the state.
The museum’s permanent exhibits touch on the environment, plants, animals, and dinosaurs. Most of them are interactive, which means they’re perfect for children in need of mental stimulation and physical activity.
The cost of admission is moderate, and most traveling families consider it good value considering all there is to see and do.
The museum’s staff also host a variety of special programs and seasonal events, so check out their website before making a special trip.
15. Wilmington and Western Railroad
The historic Wilmington and West Railroad played significant roles in the development and economy in Delaware for more than a century before finally being relegated to a tourist attraction in the mid-20th century.
The railroad’s terminal is now located on Newport Gap Pike in Wilmington, and tours are a great method of exploring the city in a unique and romantic way.
Train tours include historic narration from a knowledgeable local guide. For many first-time visitors, it’s the perfect way to see the city quickly and get lots of ideas for things to see and do later that they may have missed otherwise.