The northeastern state of Delaware was established as the first of the original 13 colonies to reportedly ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Here’s how to spend seven days in “The First State” of Delaware.
Day 1: Pennsylvania to Delaware
Since Delaware is a smaller state, its main attractions are fortunately within a reasonable driving distance from each other. The main airport in Delaware is Wilmington Airport (ILG), which is a regional airport and will likely have limited direct flights inbound and outbound. If you’re looking to fly direct, I suggest flying into Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) in Pennsylvania, making a 25-minute drive to Wilmington, DE.
Although Dover is Delaware’s capital city, Wilmington is a great first stop on the trip, with many museums and restaurants. I suggest spending a night in Wilmington and taking advantage of the city’s local attractions. Visit the historical Hagley Museum to learn about the founder of gunpowder, Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours. Next door is the Nemours Estate, an expansive DuPont family estate with 100 acres of stunning gardens to explore.
Day 2: Head to Dover
Delaware’s capital city of Dover is much closer to the beauty of Delaware’s beaches than Wilmington. Check-in to your accommodation in Dover for the rest of the week and spend the afternoon in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge’s 12-mile wildlife drive through tidal salt marshes. Bird lovers and animal enthusiasts flock to Bombay Hook in hopes of spotting bald eagles, white-tailed deer, and numerous other species of shorebirds and wading birds.
Day 3: Barn Hill Preserve
In the unlikely instance that you didn’t catch a glimpse of any wildlife at Bombay Hook, Barn Hill Preserve of Delaware in Frankford offers up-close and personal animal interactions with species you won’t find in any wildlife refuge or park throughout the state. Hand-feed a sloth while sipping wine, or register for a morning session of kangaroo yoga (yes, yoga with kangaroos). Be sure to plan your visit ahead of time and purchase your ticket online in advance to make sure you reserve a slot for your desired animal activity. To browse Barn Hill Preserve’s event calendar and learn more, visit www.barnhillpreserve.com.
Day 4: Rehoboth Beach
Drive to Delaware’s Atlantic coast to popular Rehoboth Beach to spend the day in the sun. With a charming boardwalk, amusement park, and Delaware’s best sandy beaches, Rehoboth is an excellent summer vacation getaway. If sunbathing isn’t your style and you’re looking to stay active, kayak or paddle board Rehoboth Bay. Drive up and down the coast to see more of Delaware’s coastal beauty at Cape Henlopen State Park or Delaware Seashore State Park. If you’re hungry, grab some fresh seafood along one of the many boardwalk restaurants in Rehoboth before heading back to Dover for the evening.
Day 5: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Since the majority of the recommended activities in Delaware are nature-based, take a break from the outdoors and check out Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton. Offered daily, visitors can take a 25-minute Quick Sip Tour of the brewhouse and receive four free samples of beer. Dogfish also offers a more extensive tour, as well as tours of the Dogfish Head Distillery and cocktail-making classes. Enjoy pizzas, sandwiches, and a Bavarian-style pretzel from the Dogfish Head kitchen, and choose from one of the many beers on tap before (safely) traveling back to Dover.
Day 6: Fort Delaware State Park
On your last day in Delaware, explore the state’s history by visiting the civil war fortress of Fort Delaware. Fort Delaware State Park is located 45 minutes north of Dover and is nothing short of a historical site for sore eyes. Only open seasonally, the well-preserved fortress is surrounded by the Delaware River and offers costumed guides to provide visitors with thorough history lessons and guided tours of the grounds. After exploring, chow down on river-side seafood at nearby Crabby Dick’s and take in your last few hours of Delaware’s coastal scenery.
Day 7: Depart PHL
Philadelphia International Airport is less than 90 minutes away from Dover, but be sure to check out of your Dover hotel with plenty of time to spare in case traffic gets heavy. If you’ve chosen to leave from Wilmington instead, your morning commute will be a bit shorter, but with fewer airport eateries to choose from before boarding your flight home.