Milford is a town of about 13,000 residents that’s located near the state of Delaware’s geographic center.
Portions of the town reside in both Kent and Sussex counties, and Milford is perfectly positioned to give ambitious visitors relatively easy access to all of the state’s most popular attractions.
For those who’d prefer to stick close to home, Milford offers plenty of annual festivals that draw crowds from all over the region. There are also a number of historical sites, as well as lots of dining and lodging options.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Milford that have been known to keep visitors busy for days.
1. Bug & Bud Festival
Milford residents love their annual festivals, and for such a small town, there are quite a few to choose from throughout the year.
Many of them draw visitors from far and wide, and the Bug & Bud Festival is a spring event that celebrates both the end of winter and the state’s official bug, the ladybug.
The festival also coincides with Arbor Day and includes fun, family-friendly activities like games and tree plantings supervised by the festival’s organizers.
The Bug & Bud Festival is a free, all-day event that’s held just a few blocks from downtown. There are lots of food choices and arts and crafts as well.
2. Milford Community Parade
Small rural towns across the country rarely pass up a chance to show their patriotism and community spirit; the Milford Community Parade is a much-loved event that allows guests and visitors to do both.
The parade has been going strong for more than seven decades. Though it was originally a Halloween only event, since then, its scope has expanded significantly.
The parade takes place in mid-October on Walnut Street and features a different theme each year.
Parade participants include civic organizations, businesses, school groups, and marching bands, and there are always lots of great food and family activities as well.
3. Abbott’s Mill Nature Center
Located on Abbott’s Pond Road in Milford, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center is one of Delaware’s only remaining water-powered mills, and it’s conveniently located just outside town.
For nearly all the state’s pre-electric history, mills were crucial for producing meal and flour from the products grown close by. For those who’ve never seen one in action, they’re incredible feats of engineering.
The nature center portion of the facility is open during the week from 9 AM to 4 PM. There are several trails leading to the undeveloped areas around the grounds, which are great places for picnics.
4. Milford Art District
Milford is located along the shores of the Mispillion River. Like many small towns across the country, its downtown area has experienced a revitalization in recent years.
Downtown Milford features several galleries and artists’ studios that are free to visit, and there are a number of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops within just a few blocks of one another as well.
The art district hosts a variety of annual outdoor events during the spring and summer months and tends to come alive on the weekends in the afternoon and early evening, especially when the weather is warm.
5. Vinyard Shipyard
Milford’s Vinyard Shipyard dates back to the latter part of the 19th century when it was founded by a shipbuilder originally from Wisconsin.
For centuries, the Delaware and Mispillion river shores were dotted with shipbuilding businesses that constructed civilian, fishing, and military vessels. Though they’re nearly all gone these days, they’re still a unique bit of local lore and history that warrant a closer look.
Vinyard Shipyard was closed for nearly a century before being reopened as a tourist attraction in the ‘80s. Now, the site includes shipbuilding equipment, renovated homes and warehouses, and an indoor museum.
6. Milford Museum
Local museums in small towns often get overlooked by many harried travelers on tight schedules, but for those watching their dimes interested in getting an overview of the area they’re visiting, they’re perfect stops.
The Milford Museum is located inside the town’s first post office building on South Walnut Street and features a small but impressive collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs relating to the town’s culture, economy, and history that date back more than two centuries.
Much of what’s on display focuses on the Revolutionary, Civil, and World War II-eras, especially the contributions made by local servicemen and women.
7. Dolce Coffee and Bakery
Dolce Coffee and Bakery was established in Milford in 2005. Since then, they’ve consistently been ranked the region’s number one coffee shop.
Dolce is located on North Walnut Street in the historic downtown area. It features coffee made with freshly ground beans, and made-from-scratch baked goods that are created on-site every day except Sunday when they’re closed.
Previous guests have noted of all the coffee shops they visited on their trip to Delaware, that Dolce was a clear standout, not only for its great food and drinks, but for its comfy and welcoming ambiance, ample seating, and attentive staff.
8. Holiday Stroll
Milford residents take the holidays seriously, and though the weather’s often cold along the river in December, there’s a fun and celebratory holiday event that’s definitely worth bundling up for.
The Holiday Stroll harkens back to more historic eras characterized by sleighs instead of cars, and Christmas carols instead of CDs and audio downloads.
Like most of Milford’s events, Holiday Stroll takes place along Walnut Street and includes lots of lights and decorations, singing and dancing, great food, kid-centered activities, and even local musical performances.
There’s also a real live Santa Claus so kids can place their Christmas orders before the big day.
9. Riverwalk Freedom Festival
The Riverwalk Freedom Festival is a three-day event that takes place in mid-September from Walnut Street to Bicentennial Park in Milford’s historic district.
The event is primarily a 9-11 remembrance and memorial. It’s organized and produced by the local chamber of commerce and is the culmination of lots of funding and volunteer hours from local residents and businesses.
Though the national event which it marks is poignant, the festival is really a celebration. It includes live entertainment, locally made arts and crafts, carnival-style games, tons of great food, and lots of special activities for those traveling with little ones.
10. Mispillion Riverwalk
For many years between the early and mid-1900s, the area along the Mispillion River in downtown Milford had largely fallen into varying states of disuse and disrepair.
In the ‘70s, however, the government saw a need for more parks and community recreation areas. Though the Mispillion Riverwalk only spans slightly more than a mile, since it was built, it’s been a big draw for active town residents who value fresh air, exercise, and incredible views that include magnificent sunrises and sunsets.
The riverwalk is conveniently located downtown near lots of other attractions and is the largest municipal park of its kind in the state.
11. Ladybug Music Festival
The Ladybug Music Festival is a woman-centered music event that’s held annually in Milford on the third Saturday in September.
The festival highlights local and regional female performers and tends to draw pretty impressive crowds from as far away as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Ladybug originally started in Wilmington but added a second location in Milford recently. It typically features more than 40 artists and draws thousands of visitors.
For those traveling with men in-tow, it’s definitely not a women-only event. In fact, previous guests have commented that it was very family-friendly and ended up occupying more of their day than they’d originally planned.
12. Mispillion River Brewing
Mispillion River Brewing Company is slightly off the beaten path on Mullet Run Street in Milford, but it’s a popular destination for lovers of quality beer and all-around good times.
Mispillion River opens daily at noon and stays open until ten during the week – and even later on Saturday.
Most of their beers are brewed on-site, but they do offer others from area breweries like Dogfish Head.
They frequently host live entertainment as well as special outdoor events during the spring, summer, and early fall months.
Their beer choices run the gamut from hop-laden IPAs to low-calorie offerings infused with fruit.
13. Aunt Mary’s Soul Food Kitchen
Aunt Mary’s Soul Food Kitchen is located on North DuPont Boulevard in Milford. According to loyal customers, it serves the best crabs and soul food in The First State.
Aunt Mary’s is a favorite destination for those in search of down-home soul food made the traditional way. It’s such a draw that it’s common for hungry eaters to drive from Wilmington, Dover, and Rehoboth Beach to fill their stomachs.
Their fried catfish, macaroni and cheese, seafood boils, and fresh steamed blue crabs are perennial favorites. The restaurant is also known for its relaxed ambiance, ample portion sizes, and reasonable prices.
14. Air Mobility Command Museum
The Air Mobility Command Museum is located on the grounds of the Dover Air Force Base. For lovers of aviation and military history, it’s the state’s most iconic attraction.
The museum features an impressive collection of military aircraft from bygone eras. Most of them served in transportation and aerial refueling roles before outliving their usefulness.
The museum is free to visit and open from Tuesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
The airplanes are always the stars of the show, but there’s a great indoor section as well that’s the perfect place to start; it gives fascinating historical background on the things you’ll see along the way.