Smyrna is a town of about 13,000 residents that’s located in both Kent and New Castle counties in central Delaware.
Smyrna is equidistant from the neighboring state of Maryland to the east and the Delaware Bay to the west. It offers visitors a convenient base of operations from which to explore the diverse and historically significant state.
Despite its small size, Smyrna features a surprising abundance of attractions. For those with the spirit of the open road, the rest of the state offers beautiful beaches, state parks, and relatively large metropolitan areas.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Smyrna, Delaware.
1. Historic Downtown
Many important events around the time of the Revolutionary War and the founding of the nation took place in small, mid-Atlantic towns just like Smyrna.
Smyrna’s historic downtown area contains nearly 500 historic buildings – many of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area has plenty of sidewalks, making it easy to explore on foot. The Old Town Hall, original jail, and historic fire department are perennial favorites.
There are lots of restaurants and unique shops, too, and the area tends to come alive in the afternoon and early evening during the warm summer months.
2. Smyrna Museum
The Smyrna Museum is owned and managed by a local historical society focused on preserving the area’s rich past, which stretches back more than three centuries to when Delaware became the nation’s first state.
Its exhibits include historical documents, period clothes, and fascinating firsthand accounts of those who lived during some of the young country’s most tumultuous years.
The facility is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM and most guests spend about an hour on-site before heading off to other adventures.
The museum is free to visit and is located on South Main Street downtown.
3. Smyrna Opera House
For most travelers who find themselves with free time in Delaware, opera doesn’t exactly stand out as a not-to-be-missed activity.
For those looking for a truly unique and memorable way to spend an evening, however, the Smyrna Opera House is just the ticket.
Located on South Main Street, in addition to being a classical music venue, it’s also an art gallery.
The historic opera house has a long and interesting history and has had quite a few memorable figures take in shows over the years.
Due to its relatively small size, tickets have been known to sell out, so buy in advance if you can.
4. Smyrna Summer Concert Series
Though Delaware can get downright hot and humid during the summer, the state is blessed with relatively pleasant weather year-round. From May through August, the town of Smyrna hosts an annual summer concert series that has been known to draw music aficionados from as far as Baltimore and Philadelphia.
In addition to tons of great live music, the event includes loads of food and drink options, family-friendly activities, and a pleasant small-town atmosphere that’s often missing in larger cities.
Tickets to individual shows can be purchased online or on the day of the event, and season passes are available as well.
5. Henry Levin Center
Smyrna’s Henry Levin Center is located on North Main Street in town. In addition to being a conference center and entertainment venue, it’s also home to a unique museum that’s dedicated to preserving pharmacy history and memorabilia.
Needless to say, it’s popular with visiting pharmacists and lovers of quirky attractions. It’s conveniently located downtown close to other things you’ll likely want to check out as well.
Though most visitors don’t make a special trip to the museum, those that do typically spend less than an hour checking out the exhibits, many consider it one of the unexpected highlights of their trip.
6. Painted Stave Distilling
Craft beer, wine, and spirit producers have taken the adult beverage industry by storm in recent years, and Painted Stave Distilling on West Commerce Street in Smyrna is one of the town’s most popular.
The distillery is housed in what was once a movie theater that was originally built in the ‘40s, and the facility is open to tastings and tours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
They’re particularly well-known for their radical concoctions like vodka infused with scrapple essence, but for those not familiar with it, it’d be wise to try the vodka first before looking into the mystery meat’s contents.
7. Blue Earl Brewing Company
For such a small state, Delaware has an impressive number of world-crass craft breweries.
Blue Earl Brewing Company is located on Artisan Drive in Smyrna and usually features at least a dozen beers on tap at any given time.
Blue Earl is also a popular live entertainment venue, especially on the weekends, when beer-loving revelers are looking to unwind with friends and pints.
They’ve recently started serving their own food too. Most visitors agree that their hot wings are to die for, and they come with a variety of tasty sauce options that range from hot to sweet and mild.
8. Marian Coffin Gardens
Those prone to weak knees and uncontrollable spine chills need not worry when visiting one of Wilmington’s most unique attractions: the Marian Coffin Gardens are named after a well-known female landscape architect, not for their corpse-filled coffins.
The home and gardens were originally built more than 150 years ago. Though they were once the height of order and opulence, they both fell on hard times over the years, and now they’re little more than an interesting curiosity.
They’re still one of the area’s most photographed attractions, and the gardens are open from dawn to dusk and free to visit, but the mansion is off-limits.
9. Fort Delaware
Located on a small island in the Delaware River, Fort Delaware was originally built to protect the city of Philadelphia from naval attack.
It’s an impressive structure brimming with powerful cannons protruding from parapets behind massively thick masonry walls and is one of the area’s most iconic historical landmarks.
Guided boat tours to the fort are available from both sides of the river. For first-time visitors and history buffs, they’re truly memorable ways to spend a day.
Prices are relatively reasonable, and the views up and down the river and of the surrounding towns are second to none.
10. Museum of Business History and Technology
The Museum of Business History and Technology doesn’t exactly have the same romantic ring as historic forts and Revolutionary War sites, but even for those who shun plastic pocket protectors, it usually ends up being a surprisingly enjoyable attraction.
The items on display include vintage business machines from bygone eras such as clunky calculators, pencil sharpeners, typewriters, and copy machines that only printed in black and white.
The museum is located in Wilmington and is only open by appointment, so you’ll need to call ahead before showing up. Plan on spending no more than an hour before getting your fill.
11. Ebright Azimuth
It’s been said that it’s possible to stand on a tuna fish can and see from one side of Delaware to the other. Though that may be a slight exaggeration, The First State is one of the country’s flattest.
The Ebright Azimuth is located near Barkley and stands nearly 450 feet above sea level, making it the state’s highest point.
To some, it’s little more than a geographic curiosity that doesn’t warrant a look, but many visitors find it a unique and free attraction that was well worth their time.
There’s a small plaque at the exact point, and it’s free to visit.
12. Steampunk Treehouse
The Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware, is the state’s most well-known beer producer. Though it started small, it now ships its tasty beer all over the region.
The Steampunk Treehouse is located on the brewery’s property and has an interesting story that starts all the way out in the deserts of California.
The treehouse has been called everything from a cult-art masterpiece to an eyesore, but it’s one of the area’s most interesting attractions, and there’s loads of world-class beer just a stone’s throw away.
Only the brewery’s employees are allowed inside, so visitors will have to settle for a selfie from the ground.
13. Johnson Victrola Museum
The Johnson Victrola Museum in Dover is home to one of the region’s most complete collections of vintage and antique Victrolas.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Victrolas were record players that featured large and ornate speakers that resembled horns. Before the days when electricity was common, they were powered by hand cranks.
For many seniors, a stroll through the museum is a walk down Memory Lane. Even for those who were born later, it’s often a memorable and educational experience. Admission is dirt cheap, and many guests leave a few dollars to help with upkeep before heading off.
14. Golden Fleece Tavern Site
The Golden Fleece Tavern is another of Delaware’s most historically significant sites. In the 1780s, it was the meeting location for a group of delegates who needed to review the Constitution of the United States before signing it.
Much of the original building that dates to the pre-war years is long gone, but it’s been renovated over the years and now functions as a humble retail store.
There’s a historical marker on the outside and an original looking sign as well, but since it’s now a private business, history aficionados will have to take it all in from the outside.
15. Rothschild Patent Model Collection
The Rothschild Patent Model Collection features an impressive array of models built by eager patent seekers in the years between the late 18th and late 19th centuries.
In those days, inventors were required to submit working models along with their patent applications. Now, many of them have become valuable collector’s items that are becoming increasingly rare.
The collection is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is conveniently located on Bucks Road in Wilmington, just an easy drive north from Smyrna.