Sample Delaware's pristine beaches and the small towns that encompass them:
Lewes: Calm bay beaches or fun ocean waves, a rich nautical past, historic house tours, lighthouses, quaint small town with boutiques, craft shops and restaurants specializing in local seafood.
Rehoboth Beach: Often called "The Nation's Summer Capital" because of the number of Washingtonians that vacation here, offers chic shopping and gourmet restaurants to a mile-long boardwalk loaded with fun family activities.
Dewey Beach: From windsurfing and jet skiing on the bay to skim boarding along the ocean’s edge, water sports rule here; also known for its hoppin' night life as well as eclectic, casual restaurants and pubs.
Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island: The Quiet Resorts of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island are perfect for people who want a quieter, more natural beach experience without the honky tonk of rides and flashing lights. The area is the center of the region's ecotourism attractions and perfect for those who want to bike, bird, paddle or hike.
Whether it’s a cool, tax-free shopping spree or a hot deal that’s too good to pass up, Delaware has it all:
Rehoboth Outlets: Choose from over 140 stores in this value-packed complex along DE Route 1.
Southern Delaware Antique Hunting: You'll find more than 500 antique dealers in more than 80 multi-dealer cooperatives, antique shops, flea markets, country auctions and auction houses in Delaware's Sussex County, all within a half-hour drive of each other. Try Laurel, Milton, Dagsboro, Georgetown, Bethany and Lewes for everything from Fiestaware to Bavarian china.
Centreville and Greenville: Hobnob with the bluebloods of the Brandywine Valley while browsing through some of the most unique, high-end shops this side of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Pick up an antique fishing reel for the sportsman that has everything, purchase designer seconds, carry-out a gourmet Scandinavian feast or locate that hard-to-find bottle of vintage port.
Oceans, scenic rivers, miles of nature trails, bicycling routes and bird watching hot-spots provide loads of unforgettable opportunities to "get away from it all" in nature:
Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes: This beautiful nature sanctuary, where the ocean meets the bay, is perfect for swimming, sea shell searching or hiking. Visitors can use "white bikes," free with park admission, to explore paved bike trails. A World War II observation tower provides a bird's-eye view of the coast, and families love the Seaside Nature Center's please-touch tanks and wide variety of educational programs.
Kayaking the Delaware shore area: One of the best ways to experience the abundant wildlife that resides at the Delaware shore area is via kayak. You can rent your own or sign up with one of the area's local outfitters for a guided tour. Touring the Rehoboth Bay is a great way to see a variety of herons, ducks and shorebirds. Kayakers in the Delaware Bay get a spectacular view of the Breakwater and Harbor of Refuge lighthouses as well as a close-up look at rare birds including nesting osprey, oystercatchers and terns.
During the Owl Prowl at Brandywine Creek State Park, guests get an up-close view at owls that are under the care of the park's rescue program. Then, the group heads into the woods with a trained guide. Birds and Breakfast features a light hike through the wildlife-rich woods of the park, followed by a tasty pancake breakfast where birders can compare notes on what they spotted.
Unique moments in time are told through living history "time machines," museums, festivals and Civil War forts, or whispered along the cobblestone streets of a neatly preserved colonial town:
Dover: Colonial history thrives in the state capital, where the Declaration of Independence was first ratified. The new First State Heritage Park, a “park without boundaries,” features a self-guided walking tour complete with audio wand that offers a wealth of interesting anecdotes about the historic sites along its 29 stops. Other must-sees include the Johnson Victrola Museum, where you can listen to Caruso on an early-1900s Victrola.
Fort Delaware: A former Civil War fort built on an island off Delaware City sets the stage for great adventure. Guests are taken by ferryboat to Pea Patch Island, where they are transported back in time with the help of costumed interpreters and cannon fire. Living history programs range from blacksmithing demonstrations to ghost tours.
Old New Castle: Some say this colonial town is Delaware's best-kept secret. New Castle's cobblestone streets and the historic structures that line them remain much as they did when Delaware was an English colony. A number of the buildings — such as one of the oldest courthouses in the country and a home where George Washington once slept — are open to the public.
Visit the du Pont mansions that have helped earn this area the title of "Chateau Country." View the world's largest collection of Early American furniture and tour the 60-acre naturalistic garden at Winterthur — “an American Country Estate” — then visit two of the most opulent mansions and gardens in the region, Nemours and Rockwood. Hagley Museum encompasses the first du Pont family home as well as the gunpowder mills that started a corporate empire.
When it comes to the performing arts, the Grand Opera House in Wilmington takes center stage. This restored 1871 Victorian opera house hosts world-renowned artists in classical music, popular entertainment and dance. A few blocks away is the Playhouse Theater, which features touring Broadway shows. The area is also home to the 1,000-seat Three Little Bakers Dinner Theater, featuring great entertainment, dinner and decadent desserts.
The Delaware Art Museum, also in Wilmington, features the largest non-American collection of pre-Raphaelite art. Wilmington's Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts presents the work of regionally, nationally and internationally recognized artists. In Dover, the Biggs Museum of American Art's offerings include works by the Peale family and a significant Delaware Valley silver collection.
Climb aboard for a tour of Delaware's “Tall Ship Ambassador,” an authentic re-creation of the historic vessel that brought Swedish settlers to the Delaware Valley in 1638. Kids will be amazed that the ship was steered across the Atlantic using only the wind and a whipstaff, a large vertical pole connected to the ship's rudder.
Ride through the Red Clay Valley on an authentic, turn-of-the century steam or antique diesel train. Special events for children include a Wizard Train, a 49ers Gold Rush Train, Children's Days, the Santa Claus Express and the Fireworks Express.
When the weather is cool or rainy and you can't hit the beach, there is still plenty for the family to do. The Wizard's Wisk is a cooking school especially for the little ones … and big brother and big sister, too. Creatable Crafts allows children to use their imagination in designing their own pottery. The DiscoverSea Museum lets kids get an up-close view of shipwreck artifacts, many of which were found on the Delaware Coast. Then, families can rent their own metal detectors at Sea Shell City and look for Spanish coins, which can still be found along a strip of shore dubbed "Coin Beach."