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Delaware

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Did You Know…?

  • Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  • Horseshoe crabs, which flock to Delaware’s coast in May, can live a year without eating.
  • Approximately 200,000 companies are incorporated in Delaware.
  • America’s first beauty contest was in Rehoboth Beach (1880); Thomas Edison was a judge.
  • DuPont, headquartered in Delaware, makes about 40,000 products.

In du Pont country

One of the original 13 colonies, Delaware makes much of its history when promoting its capital Dover and other historic towns. Also, the state’s most famous and wealthiest family, the du Ponts, built fine homes that lure tourists today.

With its Atlantic coastline, plus lakes, ponds, rivers and the eponymous bay, Delaware offers boating, fishing and swimming. Those waters also mean fresh seafood on the dinner plate.

America’s second-smallest state, Delaware is noted on the business side for its chemicals manufacturing, banking and the fact so many companies incorporate here. The shopping is tax-free, besides.  The du Ponts put Delaware on the map in terms of industry and finance, but few outside its neighboring states appreciate Delaware as a vacation destination.

As with neighboring states, it’s the seashore that offers the most popular recreation opportunities. Besides, Rehoboth Beach is the closest beach resort to Washington, D.C., and has long been a refuge for the tribe of legislators and bureaucrats who flee the District’s summer heat. The beach town is often called the nation’s second capital because so many Washingtonians vacation there. Chic shopping and gourmet dining have followed in their wake.

Also like other mid-Atlantic states, Delaware is noted for its seafood. Diners can fill up on crab cakes, as well as other fruit of the sea.

Delaware is known for its chickens, too, but in a different way. Broilers (chickens from five to 12 weeks old) are the state’s leading cash farm product, but poultry production does not make for a pretty countryside.

On the other hand, the historic centers in many of Delaware’s oldest towns are pretty, starting with Lewes, the state’s first settlement (1631). Those interested in the history of DuPont, officially E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, and/or the du Pont family will want to spend some time in Wilmington, in the far north of the state. (Although the family name is du Pont, the company uses the name as DuPont.)

For recreation and relaxation, this is a summertime destination. And, for its neighbors, shopping without a sales tax also makes Delaware worth the drive.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Order muskrat at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Smyrna. Trapped locally in January and February, the creatures are parboiled and sauteed.
  • Go crabbing. Recreational crabbing is permitted in any of the state’s waters but a license is required.
  • Buy your hot sauces at Peppers in Rehoboth Beach; more than 1,200 kinds are available, one so hot you have to sign a waiver before sampling it.
  • Compete in the Delaware Trail Marathon in Newark, Delaware. Or run the event’s Triple Crown in one morning; that is the half-marathon, 10K and 5K in succession. Also, the Delaware Marathon is run in Wilmington.
  • Test your GPS skills by participating in geocaching in Delaware’s state parks. If you wish to place a cache in a state park, you must complete an application and obtain a permit.
  • Rent a catamaran or sailboard for your fun on the water at Fenwick Island State Park.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Hike or bike the 3.6-mile Junction and Breakwater Trail on the southwestern side of Cape Henlopen State Park. Also, off the coast of the park, see the lighthouse commissioned by President John Quincy Adams and removed from service only in 1994.
  • Ride on the authentic 19th century Wilmington and Western Railroad, which travels the Red Clay Valley. Or, charter a train and station for your wedding reception, or stage a birthday party in one of Wilmington and Western’s red cabooses.
  • Sample seafood chowder and help choose the winner of the Great Seafood Chowder Challenge at the University of Delaware Coast Day in Lewes. The day’s signature competition, however, is the Crab Cake Cook-Off, and if that is not enough, a third event is the Delaware Bay Oyster Appetizer Competition. Buy samples on site.
  • Help the blacksmith hammer out parts for a cannon or help the laundress at Fort Delaware, a state park on Pea Patch Island off Delaware City. A Union fortress and prison for Confederate prisoners of war, the fort is now the setting for an interactive Civil War living history program presented by authentically clad interpreters who take you to the summer of 1863.
  • Also, hike in the Fort Delaware state park and, in summer, look for nesting areas for any of nine species of egrets, herons and ibis.
  • Tour the du Pont estates in the Brandywine Valley. Hagley Museum encompasses the gunpowder mills that were the beginnings of a corporate empire, along with the first du Pont family home.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Enjoy a shopping spree in a state without sales tax. Make that outlet shopping in and around Rehoboth or antiques hunting in southern Delaware.
  • Go to dinner for servings of the seafoods Delaware is noted for.
  • Take a walk in Dover, site of the new First State Heritage Park, a park with no boundaries. The self-guided walking tour, with audio wand, tells you much of Dover’s early history and leads you to 29 historic sites in the state’s capital.  Also, in Old New Castle, see a house where this can honestly be said: George Washington slept here. The house and a rich collection of other colonial-era buildings line the town’s streets.
  • Buy period clothing (the 18th century) at Common Goodes & Embellishments in New Castle. You can buy off-the-rack items or custom pieces.
  • Take up disc golf, which involves tossing a disc into a chain basket anchored on a pole. If you succeed on the first toss, it’s a hole in one, etc. Or, golf the traditional way.
  • See musical theater or a murder mystery, and enjoy a buffet dinner, at the New Candlelight Theatre in Ardentown.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Delaware Tourism Office at www.visitdelaware.com