Delaware may be a very small state, but there are a lot of excellent reasons to add it to your list of road trip destinations. The cities and towns here are full of history, and there are some really fun beaches to visit too. Since they’re all relatively close together, it’s easy to pack a lot of things into a day in Delaware. This is an ideal place to visit for beach bums, outdoor lovers, and anyone interested in learning new things through museums and architecture.
These are 10 of the best places to visit in Delaware next time you’re driving through the area or looking for a weekend getaway.
Lewes (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Lewes is an incredibly charming and historical city that was originally settled by the Dutch in the 1600s. It’s a coastal town surrounded by Cape Henlopen State Park the Great Marsh Preserve wetlands. Make sure to see the Ryves Holt House and other historic buildings around town. Ryves was built in 1665. There is a great farmer’s market here, as well as restaurants and boutique shops. Lewes Beach is historic and family friendly, and the Hopkins Farm Creamery should be added to any Lewes itinerary. When you visit Lewes, there are a lot of nice accommodations to choose from, including Hotel Blue, the Inn at Canal Square, and Hotel Rodney.
Wilmington (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The city of Wilmington is situated on the Christina and Delaware rivers and is a hot spot for arts, culture, and restaurants. There are lots of museums and family-friendly attractions here, as well as some awesome craft breweries to check out. For your art fix, visit the Delaware Art Museum and the Andre Harvey Studio. Wilmington has a lovely Riverwalk that’s perfect for taking a stroll and stopping by shops and restaurants along the way. The waterfront is home to the Delaware Children’s Museum, an indoor trampoline park, and an outdoor skating rink in the winter. The Iron Hill Brewery is also in this area, and visitors can catch a game of the Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball team nearby. You can also check out the Nemours Mansion & Gardens, the Wilmington and Western Railroad, and Bellevue State Park. For accommodations, consider staying at the Hotel du Pont for a charming and old-world feel or the Inn at Wilmington a convenient location and good prices.
Smyrna (Hotel Prices & Photos)
A small town worth visiting in Delaware is Smyrna, which is in the northern part of the state. It’s easy to combine a visit to Smyrna with a trip to the state capital, Dover. Definitely make a point to see the Duck Creek Village, which is a historic district and the local opera house that has been a town staple for over a century. To get outside and active, you can head to the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Lodging options are more limited in Smyrna, but there is a Best Western and the Clements Mansion Bed and Breakfast just a few miles away from town.
Dover (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Dover is the capital of Delaware and worth a stop on any road trip through the state. This city is known for NASCAR culture, casinos, and even the Amish community nearby. Loockerman Street is lined with historic buildings, shops, and eateries that make for a perfect afternoon of city exploration. You can visit the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, or try your luck at the Dover Downs Casino. Other top things to do here are the John Dickson Plantation, the Biggs Museum of American Art, and watching a race at the Dover International Speedway. The Dover Garden Suites is a charming place to stay, the casino has its own hotel, and the Home2 Suites by Hilton Dover is a trendy and modern hotel that has pet-friendly rooms.
New Castle (Hotel Prices & Photos)
New Castle is located along the Delaware River and not too far from Wilmington. This was originally the state capital before Dover was promptly picked instead. Make a point to visit the New Castle Court House, which is a museum. Other historic sites to see include the Old Library Museum and the Amstel House Gardens. The Terry House Bed and Breakfast is a nice B&B to stay at when you visit New Castle. For hotels, there’s the Sheraton Wilmington South, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Wilmington/New Castle, and the Super 8 motel in New Castle for a budget-friendly option.
Milton (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The town of Milton has many places that are listed on the National Historic Register, and it also has some excellent examples of Victorian architecture. Milton has a quaint downtown area that hosts little local music concerts by the waterfront in the summer. The town is located along the Broadkill River and has a long history with the shipbuilding industry. One of the biggest draws to Milton though is the nationally famous Dogfish Head Brewing Company. The brewery offers tours and tastings, but gets very busy and crowded on weekends. However, the beers are quite unique and delicious. If you’re looking for a place to stay near Milton, consider the Pine Hollow House Bed and Breakfast for a peaceful retreat that’s great for weekend getaways or celebrating an anniversary.
Rehoboth Beach (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Probably the most popular reason to visit Delaware, especially in the summer, in Rehoboth Beach. This is a seaside town that has an impressive boardwalk that’s welcoming and family-friendly. The town itself is actually very small, but people flock here from all over the east coast in the summertime. It’s easy to find great food and shops when you take a walk along the boardwalk, and the Rehobooth Beach Farmers’ Market is an absolute must-do in the area on Tuesdays. The Sea Witch Halloween Festival is an annual tradition that’s fun to check out. A top-rated hotel here is the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel, and the Bellmoor Inn and Spa is a wonderful choice as well. Other cozy spots include the Oceanus Motel and the Beach View Motel in Rehoboth Beach.
Bethany Beach (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Another beach town to visit is Bethany Beach, which tends to be a bit quieter and more laid back than Rehoboth Beach. It has a boardwalk too, but is much smaller than Rehoboth’s. Come here for a peaceful retreat and to get away from the largest beach crowds but still enjoy amazing views of the coast. Assawoman Bay State Wildlife Area is nearby too to help you get your nature fix. There are a couple nice B&Bs to stay at here, including the Addy Sea and the Bethany Beach Bed and Breakfast. You can also find a lot of vacation rental properties here that are just steps away from the beach and perfect for families and groups of friends looking to spend a lot of time on the sand.
Odessa (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Another small town in Delaware is Odessa, which has remained largely unchanged throughout history. There are a lot of historic homes here that date back over 200 years. In fact, the town’s history can be traced back to the mid-1600s. An especially fun time to visit is during the winter holidays because the local historical foundation leads tours of some homes that are all decked out for a festive and merry time. One home worth seeing is the Corbit-Sharp House, which is a National Historic Landmark. Outdoor lovers will enjoy kayaking on the Appoquinimink River nearby. Accommodation options are limited in Odessa, but there is a nice B&B, the Cantwell House Bed and Breakfast, that is near town center and serves delicious food.
Newark (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Newark is a small city that’s located southwest of Wilmington in New Castle County. This is a great place to explore Main Street to do some shopping and also wander around the University of Delaware campus. This is a picturesque college town that has lots of things to see and do. Christiana Mall and White Clay Creek State Park are nearby attractions as well. Carpenter State Park is an ideal place to go hiking and play a game of disc golf, and Glasgow Park is a nice place to go for a run or take the kids to play. Also, the Newark Reservoir is a hidden gem that’s beautiful and lovely to go for a walk. If you’re looking for a nice hotel in the area, consider staying at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Newark/Wilmington South, the Embassy Suites Newark-Wilmington/South, or the Courtyard Wilmington Newark/Christiana Mall.