Delaware may be the second smallest state in the U.S., but that doesn't mean it isn't packed with tons of gorgeous and interesting places. Most people already know about the beautiful beaches along the state's Atlantic Coast but Delaware is also home to many parks and quaint seaside towns. It also played an important part in American history and was the first state to ratify the Constitution.
The lighthouse off the coast of Cape Henlopen State Park is one of the most photographed locations in the state and it's not hard to see why. Delaware's natural beauty shines here. The park features graceful dunes, beaches, and is a great spot for birding and photography. Six miles of shoreline are ideal for sunbathing and fishing and the wildflower-lined trails let you walk or bike along the beaches and through the wetlands.
Bethany Beach is known for its quiet, laid-back style. It's smaller than some of the other beaches in the area, which makes it an ideal destination for a relaxing vacation. Spend the day sunning yourself on the sand, then head to the Boardwalk for some tax-free shopping. There are plenty of delicious restaurants to choose from, including barbecue and brews at Bethany Blues, delicious seafood at Off the Hook, or happy hour and live music at the Bethany Boathouse.
The Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is one of the most beautiful places in Delaware. It was the childhood home of Henry Francis DuPont and was opened to the public in 1951. The 175 rooms contain nearly 90,000 pieces dating back to 1640—one of the most impressive collections of American decorative arts in the country. Plus, Winterthur hosts more than 200 events every year, including concerts, trivia nights, and antique shows.
If you like swimming, surf, and sand, check out Delaware Seashore State Park. It's surrounded by Indian River Bay, Rehoboth Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean which makes it the perfect destination for water sports. In addition to swimming and lounging on the beach, the park also offers water access for boating and fishing piers. If you feel like hiking or exploring the salt marshes, head to Thompson Island or Burton Island to go exploring.
Lewes is a quiet seaside town founded in 1631, often called the "First Town in the First State." You can access plenty of beaches from Lewes, but don't miss the town itself. In only a half-square mile, you'll see the historic district and plenty of shops, restaurants, and museums. Head to the canal for more shopping and take in the stunning sunset over the bay. If you feel like exploring a bit, take the ferry from Lewes across the Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey.
Delaware is home to lots of beaches but if you prefer spending your time outdoors away from the sand, Bellevue State Park might have just what you're looking for. This park has everything an outdoor lover could want, including a fitness track, tennis courts, and plenty of paved and unpaved trails for hiking, biking, and running. The fishing pond is stocked with catfish and bass; there are also horseback riding facilities onsite.
Looking for a place to surf in Delaware? Head to Fenwick Island State Park, one of the only beaches in the state with an area dedicated to surfing. The park consists of three miles of barrier islands and is made for beach lovers. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, and there's a bathhouse with showers onsite so you can get cleaned up when it's time to head back to civilization. You can also surf fish by taking advantage of the three dune crossings and grab a bite to eat at the snack shop.
The First State National Historical Park is made up of seven sites throughout Delaware. Take a hike at Beaver Valley, then visit the first landing spot at Fort Christina and walk to the Old Swedes Church in Wilmington. Head to the New Castle Courthouse where the Delaware Assembly voted to separate from England and become their own state. Or, stop by The Green in Dover, home to the Golden Fleece Taven where the Constitution was ratified, officially making Delaware the first state.
Another great outdoor space, Lums Pond State Park is one of the best destinations in the state for camping. Lums Pond is the largest freshwater pond in Delaware, which makes it ideal for fishing and boating. The park also features more than 10 miles of trails for biking, hiking, and horseback riding and as well as a Treetop Adventure Course. If you just want to relax or enjoy a picnic lunch after a day on the trails, there are pavilions and picnic areas throughout the park, too.
Dewey Beach is the place to go for rock 'n' roll and adventure. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Rehoboth Bay on the other, Dewey is great for sunbathing, swimming, boating, and parasailing. The nightlife here is pretty great, too. Stop by the Bottle and Cork—the self-proclaimed "Greatest Rock and Roll Bar in the World"—and then head to the Rusty Rudder for drinks and dancing, or indulge in the Bloody Mary Bar at The Starboard.