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Discovering the First State: History, Nature, and Charm Await in Delaware

Delaware, though small in size, is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Known as the “First State” for being the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution, Delaware offers a variety of remarkable attractions and experiences. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or beach enthusiast, Delaware has something for everyone. Here’s a guide to the best things to see and do in this charming state.

Historical Significance and Cultural Highlights

Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley: Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, is a cultural hub with attractions like the Delaware Art Museum, renowned for its collection of American art and illustrations. The Brandywine Valley is home to the Hagley Museum and Library, located on the site of the original du Pont gunpowder mills, and the stunning Nemours Mansion and Gardens, a French-style château with beautiful gardens.

Historic New Castle: Step back in time in Historic New Castle, where cobblestone streets and well-preserved colonial buildings tell the story of early America. Visit the Old Court House, where Delaware declared its independence from Pennsylvania and England, and stroll through Battery Park along the Delaware River.

Dover and the First State Heritage Park: Dover, the state capital, offers a wealth of history at the First State Heritage Park. Highlights include the Delaware State Capitol (Legislative Hall), the Biggs Museum of American Art, and the John Dickinson Plantation, home of one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Rehoboth Beach Delaware beaches
Rehoboth Beach DE image courtesy of Nicole Rosania from The Abroad Blog

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Activities

Rehoboth Beach and the Delaware Beaches: Delaware’s coastline is famed for its pristine beaches. Rehoboth Beach, known for its vibrant boardwalk, offers a mix of sun, surf, and shopping. Nearby, you’ll find Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick Island, each with its own unique charm and a range of water activities from swimming to paddleboarding.

Cape Henlopen State Park: Located near Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features beautiful beaches, hiking and biking trails, bird-watching opportunities, and historic World War II observation towers. The Seaside Nature Center provides educational exhibits and activities for all ages.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge: For nature lovers, the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit. This expansive refuge along the Delaware Bay is one of the best bird-watching spots on the East Coast, with thousands of migrating birds passing through during the year. The refuge offers trails, a wildlife drive, and educational programs.

Unique Attractions and Local Delights

Lewes, the First Town in the First State: Lewes is a picturesque town rich in maritime history. Visit the Zwaanendael Museum, which showcases the area’s Dutch heritage, and the Lewes Historical Society complex. From Lewes, you can also take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry for a scenic trip across the Delaware Bay.

The Delaware Wine and Ale Trail: Delaware offers a delightful experience for wine and beer aficionados. The Delaware Wine and Ale Trail features a variety of wineries and breweries, such as Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, known for its innovative craft beers. Tour the facilities, sample local brews and wines, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

Tax-Free Shopping: One of Delaware’s unique perks is tax-free shopping. Visit the Christiana Mall in Newark or the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach for a wide range of retail options, from high-end stores to popular brands, all without sales tax.

Zwaanendael Museum
Enchented Woods at Winterthur

Family-Friendly Fun

The Delaware Children’s Museum: Located on the Wilmington Riverfront, the Delaware Children’s Museum offers interactive exhibits and activities designed to engage and educate young minds. The nearby Riverwalk also provides a scenic place for a family stroll.

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library: Just outside Wilmington, Winterthur offers an enchanting experience for visitors of all ages. This former du Pont estate features an impressive collection of American decorative arts, stunning gardens, and family-friendly activities, including the Enchanted Woods, a magical garden for children.

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