The Getaway
Set Out on a Small Town Delaware Adventure

Delaware is like a trip to a penny candy store. Everything looks enticing, and it can be hard to settle on just one treat! Small towns in America's first state burst with charm, natural beauty, friendly people, unique beaches, and distinctive eateries. Festivals and celebrations include fresh fish and crab galore. Most of the state's towns also have a distinctive history, and a quick getaway can be as educational as it is fun.

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01 Lewes – Delaware's oldest town

The waterway in historic Lewes, Delawate at dusk. mdgmorris/ Getty Images

Quirky and free, Zwaanendael Museum is a great first stop for your Lewes visit. This quaint first Delaware town is renowned for its beaches and its calm beauty. But the view from atop the tower at Cape Henlopen State Park will take your breath away. Get your fill of WWII history here, and then take a canal-side stroll, stopping to sample oysters, crab, and fresh fish at the fabulous Harbour restaurant.

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02 Sample craft beer, art, and festivals in Milford

Known for year-round festivals, special events, and craft beer, Milford is a favorite with the fun-loving crowd. Time your visit for a Third Thursday Celebration and enjoy extended hours and discount deals at local shops and restaurants. Return through October to see what's new at the Riverwalk Farmers Market. With no less than ten breweries nearby, you'll never be dry in Milford.

03 Hockessin – Unique and easy to love

Hockessin, just over a mile from the Pennsylvania border, had one of the first Quaker meeting houses in New England. Later, the first Roman Catholic Church in Delaware was built here. Today, the town is home to the Hindu Temple of Delaware, while the pastoral lifestyle embraces cultural diversity. Savor locally-grown produce and home-cooking Delaware-style at Lettie's Kitchen—the place to go. Then, order a tap from Dew Point Brewing Company, the state's only family-run microbrewery in nearby Yorklyn.

04 History lives on in Smyrna

An important shipping port for products heading north until about 1850 and located along the King's Highway, Smyrna has a population of about 12,000. It's also a historical jewel. Nearly 850 buildings comprise its historic district, many of them on the National Register. First called  Duck Creek Cross Roads, Smyrna is also home to Lake Como, one of only a few public swimming lakes in Delaware.

05 Second-generation colonists founded Millsboro

Millsboro's first settlers moved north from Virginia in the mid-17th century to cut timber and build lumber mills. Then, Elisha Peterson built a dam across the headwaters of the Indian River, and the town grew. Visit for a glimpse into a past long gone. Order takeout from Longneck Deli or Ada's Picnic, spread a blanket on the riverbank, and enjoy the relaxing vibe.

06 Rehoboth Beach – sea life at its best

Rehoboth Beach is a city on the Atlantic Ocean along the Delaware Beaches in eastern Sussex County, Delaware DenisTangneyJr/ Getty Images

Dotted with summer homes and called one of the most beautiful Atlantic beach communities anywhere, this tiny northern coast village attracts throngs of visitors, especially on summer weekends. Time your visit to correspond with an annual event like Sea Witch Festival, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, or the Rehoboth Beach Autumn Jazz Festival. You're sure to love your time spent here, even if the weather's less than stellar.

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07 Dover – anticipate a good time in Delaware's capital

The Capital Building in Dover, Delaware. traveler1116/ Getty Images

You're guaranteed a good time in Dover. Try your luck at the casino, tour the allegedly haunted Delaware Governor's Mansion, visit John Dickinson Plantation, or learn about vintage aircraft at the Air Mobility Command Museum. Dover also has a speedway, a great American art museum, historic buildings, stunning parks, and waterways that lead to the ocean.

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08 Delaware City's waterfront is the draw

The Battery Park waterfront is the "happening place" in Delaware City. The town's annual celebration takes place here, overlooking the fort at the foot of Clinton Street. If you own or charter a boat, the Delaware City Marina will be your quintessential "anchor." Close to the center of it all, walk to local restaurants and events. Take a ghost tour, shop for antiques and crafts, or attend concerts in the park.

09 Bowers – it's all about fun!

Beaches, boating, fishing, and food are top reasons to explore Delaware's small towns. The Bowers Beach motto is "the way life used to be," and the little town is known for both commercial and recreational fishing. This is the place to catch your limit or eat your fill of the day's fresh catch at a waterside pub like JP's Wharf. Another popular eatery is known for generous drinks and mouthwatering wings.

10 Wilmington – well worth a weekend

Built on the site of the first Swedish settlement in North America, Wilmington's history is tied to the DuPont name. Lavish estates, the Hagley Museum and Library, the Grand Opera House, and the Delaware Art Museum are cultural treasures. For fun, ride into the past aboard the Wilmington and Western Railway, or take a tour through the beautiful Brandywine Valley. And, in case you've forgotten, U.S. President Joe Biden and his wife call Wilmington home.

11 Natural beauty surrounds Laurel

Laurel became a Southern Delaware grain and lumber center after its start as a Nanticoke Indian settlement. Its recently improved downtown area and waterfront attract tourists to view numerous "potato houses" set on Broad Creek. Hiking Loblolly Trail is a must, as it's one of the best in Delaware at nearby Trap Pond State Park. Nature lovers go to marvel at the Bald Cypress trees and study forest and water diversity at the Nature Center.

12 Magnolia retains its original boundaries

This tiny town was established with a circular footprint to signify brotherhood. The boundary is only one-quarter mile in diameter, but the town council has voted against expansion, so Magnolia won't grow much beyond its current 235 residents. Allee House, one of three archeological sites on the National Register, is a great way to spend an afternoon, and three preserved historic homes vie for your attention.

13 Little Creek – lost to time

Not much more than a historical marker and a memory, Little Creek was once the hub of the Delaware Bay oyster industry. Begun as the wharf between two neighboring plantations, the town was incorporated in 1899 and thrived until about 1930. Step into history at 11 farm complexes, an old octagonal schoolhouse, the Quaker meeting house and cemetery, and 21 other buildings that comprise the Little Creek Hundred Rural Historic District.

14 Slaughter Beach – once a summer playground

If you're a birder or fascinated by the weird and unusual, this is your destination. The Milford Neck Wildlife Area represents nature at its best, and during the season, you'll see horseshoe crabs migrate by the millions along nearby beaches. It's a sleepy place with just over 200 residents today, but in its heyday, it attracted a posh summer crowd from nearby Milford and beyond.

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