Understandably, Delaware isn’t high on everyone’s travel wish list, but it should be! As the first state in the US, the region offers many attractions centered around history, yet it also boasts pristine coastline and a collection of Delaware tourist attractions.
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From the historic Hagley Museum and Library to the Delaware Art Museum and the Nemours Mansion, the places to see in Delaware are plentiful. There are so many photo opportunities and things to do in Delaware!
What to Do in Delaware
Head to Delaware Beaches
One of the most romantic getaways in Delaware is the beaches. Peppered along the coastline, the best beaches in Delaware are Bethany, Dewey, and Rehoboth Beach. Things to do in these areas are very water-centric and the area offers beautiful views. There are a few popular Delaware vacation spots for ocean lovers.
Things to Do in Rehoboth Beach, DE
If you are wondering what to do in Rehoboth Beach, there is enough to keep you occupied for a fun long weekend. The original ocean line itself is pristine, and another positive is that there is a boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants so that you can get out of the sun and beat the heat for a bit. There is also a history museum site located in the area, which visitors seem to enjoy.
Things to Do in Dewey Beach and Bethany
Just south of Rehoboth is Dewey Beach, which is more for relaxing the day away. Of course, you can visit the boardwalk or have a bit of fun in the sun. Bethany Beach offers mini-golf and other ways to pass the time – especially on a Sunday with children.
Although Rehoboth is the main attraction, many of the Delaware beach resorts – such as the Atlantic View Hotel or Boardwalk Plaza Hotel – are close to the other Delaware beaches. There is no shortage of other Delaware beach hotels.
Things to do in Lewes, DE
Lewes is one of the fun places to go in Delaware if you crave variety. This coastal town address not only has typical sand and sun, but it also contains a trail, history museum, and the Cannonball House, which is one of the fun things to do in Delaware. Where else can you view a Revolutionary War cannonball embedded in the side of a historic house?
Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes used to be a military base, and you can look out at the observation tower that was built in 1941. Lightship Overfalls is a tourable museum ship that used to serve lighthouses until it’s retirement.
Observe the Dover Delaware Attractions
Many of the famous things in Delaware are inland. There are so many things to do in Dover, DE, which serves as the capital of Delaware. Delaware was the first state to ratify the US Constitution, so there are a lot of historical sites in the city.
The First State Heritage Park houses many buildings filled with history, including the 1791 Old State House. Of particular interest is the Air Mobility Command Museum, which houses historic planes, including an original presidential aircraft on site.
Dover has a casino and hosts races and day festivals in season at Dover International Speedway. From history and a library to fast-paced cars, there are so many things to do in Dover, Delaware!
Explore Fun Things to Do in Wilmington, DE
Although Dover is the capital of the first state, the most popular site might be Wilmington. It’s one of the places to visit in Delaware that has a variety of ways to spend the day.
Art lovers will enjoy spending time at the Delaware Art Museum, which boasts pre-Raphaelite art and illustrations. A highlight of the Delaware Art Museum is its 9-acre sculpture garden.
What can you do for free in Delaware? Walking the streets of Wilmington is undoubtedly high on that list. Be sure to notice the Du Pont Building, which encompasses an entire block and pays homage to the Du Pont family.
The Hagley Museum and Library offers opportunities for learning, which makes it one of the best things to do in Delaware with kids, but it’s the first choice for many adults, too. The Nemours Mansion is a 300-acre house and gardens that are reminiscent of gardens you would see in France. No wonder the Hagley Museum and Library is a popular site!
Other things to do in Wilmington, Delaware include taking a side trip to the Brandywine Valley, which includes wineries and outdoor activities. The Brandywine Valley is one of the day trips in Delaware that is entirely feasible for those staying in Wilmington, Delaware.
Head to a National Wildlife Refuge
If seeing animals in their natural habitat while you are in Delaware is a high priority, then you are in luck as there are two from which to choose! Head to Smyrna to visit the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, or go a bit further south to explore the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The locations make fabulous Delaware day trips, and you can also view the natural landscape and gardens surrounding the properties.
Enjoy Delaware Activities in Bear
Yes, it’s a funny name for a town and not an animal, but there are many things to do in Bear, Delaware. It’s a very outdoor-centric area with places like Lums Pond State Park and Beck’s Pond Park open for exploration as free things to do in Delaware.
For those who want to incorporate exercise into their activities, there is an indoor rock climbing gym, and the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is a fun way to challenge others to see who is better and can finish first.
Experience Other Things to Do in Delaware
Not everything in Delaware is all in one place. After all, we are talking about an entire state full of experiences! There are many great tour options and other cool things to do, such as museum tours, mills, the Winterthur Museum, New Castle, and seasonal events. If you are wondering what is popular in Delaware, there are several additional options below.
Visit the Winterthur Museum
The Winterthur Museum, Gardens, and Library is a bit north of Wilmington, and it is well worth the trip to see the estate with the library and house, which are surrounded by stunning gardens. They also offer tours with horticulturists, birding experts, and historians to make a visit even more educational. It’s one of the best museums to visit while in Delaware.
Explore New Castle
Not far south from Wilmington is the area of New Castle, which is a haven of things to do. Several house and garden combinations are both beautiful and tourable, and the weekends boast a farmers market. There is also a mini Delaware art museum, the Mo’zArt Gallery and Studio on Delaware street in town.
Where to Stay in Delaware
Narrowing down places to stay in Delaware can be tricky – after all, although it’s small, it is an entire state! Most of the things to do in Delaware are centrally located, so we can concentrate on various regions to book a stay.
The Bay Resort
This hotel on the bay is an economical option, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks amenities. The Bay Resort has an outdoor swimming pool. Many of the rooms have kitchenettes, which can help save a bit on food costs, and most of the accommodations offer lovely views of the bay.
Another perk is that you can fish or crab off of their pier, and the beach is a mere 3 minute walk so that you can park your car once and explore from the hotel.
Surf Club Oceanfront Hotel
If being on the ocean is a must, then the Surf Club Oceanfront Hotel is a fabulous option. With beachfront facilities, including a picnic area, gardens, and BBQ facilities, it’s a great place to stay and play while having outdoor activities at your fingertips.
Public transportation, such as the Dart Bus and Jolly Trolley, are available to take you to nearby beaches and attractions. It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while you are there!
Hyatt Place Wilmington Riverfront
Centrally located, the Hyatt Place Wilmington Riverfront is in an urban environment close to things to do in Delaware. It has an on-site restaurant, complimentary parking, free WiFi, and a fitness center. This is also not far from the Hagley Museum, which is a plus.
The hotel offers a hearty breakfast with options such as cage free eggs and whole fruit. Rooms are well thought out with areas designed specifically for relaxation. They are also a dog-friendly property, so feel free to travel with your pup in tow!
Where to Eat in Delaware
Delaware has rights reserved to be home to some of the best American cuisine. Whether you choose to spend the day at the state park, library, or beaches, be sure to experience some of the state’s best offerings.
Of course, original American cuisine makes sense in the first state of Delaware! If this is your type of dining, head to La Fia in Wilmington, which offers both vegan and vegetarian options for those who are on special diets. If you spend the day touring the Hagley Museum, this makes an ideal post-tour stop.
For waterside dining, JP’s Wharf in Dover is a destination itself. With views of the river, a menu of freshly caught seafood creates a mouthwatering experience. They also offer delectable desserts, including the Murderkill Mud Pie, which sounds like a scary name until you realize that Murderkill is the name of the river that runs past the restaurant.
Farm to table lovers, unite! You will find all that you wish for in a creative dining experience at Salt Air in Rehoboth. Their dishes are made from scratch, with ingredients sourced from local farms. Even in December and January, their winter menu thrives (see it on their .com site), so consider this a foodie heaven all year round.
Do you have suggestions in Delaware?
Have you visited the Hagley Museum, a state park, New Castle, or seen evidence of the affluence of the Du Pont family? Is Nemours Mansion a must-see, or is the original library built long ago your favorite spot?
If you have any hidden gems, music festivals, or great stories (even Dear John ones!) to tell about the state of Delaware, we would love to hear.
About The Author
Jennifer’s love for travel began at age 14 during a month-long trip to Europe. Since then, she’s been traveling for pleasure and philanthropic pursuits. Jennifer is a PA native residing in VA with her husband, kids, and a constant rotation of foster kittens. Keep up with her via Instagram or her website.
2 thoughts on “Best Things to do in Delaware, USA: Best Stays and Activities”
Delaware is tax free therefore tax free shopping at the beach outlets, malls, etc. Dover must sees are the Dover Air Force Base, Air Mobility Command Museum which is free. You can access the museum via route 1. Spence’s Bazaar & Auction is also a must see in Dover. The outside is loaded with vendors selling everything from farm fresh produce to antiques. There are more shops inside the building. My favorite part is the food area where our local Amish put on a food show every week. Wrapped hotdogs, roasted meats, made to order breakfast and lunch sandwiches, freshly butchered meats and wonderful cakes, pies and pastries. If you plan on vacationing in Delaware, especially at the beach, I suggest you book as early as possible. It’s no longer the hidden treasure that we tried to keep a secret and hotels are booked up to a year in advance. Your best bet is to come in the fall, after Labor Day when traffic, crowds and hotel prices drop.
Thanks for these valuable insights!