Delaware may be small, but it packs a big punch when it comes to things to see! As the nation’s second-smallest state, there may be less ground to cover, but there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Delaware is known as “the state that started the nation” since it is the oldest state in America, founded in 1787. With that billing, it’s no surprise the state is filled with historical spots to explore. Its location on the Delmarva Peninsula it shares with parts of Maryland and Virginia makes it a great state for beachgoers as well. If you’re traveling Delaware in an RV, you can hit the beach, the historical highlights and more in the First State. Here are a few of our favorite stops.
First State Heritage Park, Dover
First things first: we kick off our list with the best place to learn about Delaware’s history as the first state, First State Heritage Park. It’s an urban park in the capital city of Dover that showcases some of the most important buildings and documents in Delaware’s history. Here, you’ll find a welcome center with a display of Delaware’s founding documents, the traditional governors’ house known as the Woodburn House and the John Bell House where you can pick up a period costumed walking tour of Dover.
The real highlight of “The Green” though, are the two legislative buildings. The operating Legislative Hall has been in use for Delaware politics since 1933 and is open for tours during select time periods. Across the way is the Old State House, the state’s first permanent capital building built-in 1791. Inside, you’ll find a museum where you can learn all about the state’s founding history. If you plan your visit in November, you might come across the park’s 18th Century Market Fair which transforms the area into what it may have looked like when our founding fathers were around with 1700s-style artisans and craftsmen selling their goods on the Green.
Brandywine Park, Wilmington
For another incredible park experience, head to Wilmington to visit Brandywine Park. At 178 acres, it is the largest urban park in Delaware and was established in 1886. The park sprawls across the banks of Brandywine Creek and is on the National Historic Register. While the park’s main attractions are its gardens, walking trails and scenic views, it’s also home to the Brandywine Zoo which opened in 1904. Here, you’ll find red pandas, bald eagles, and serval cats. Explore the other areas of the park to see the swinging bridge, football stadium, and Vietnam memorial.
The Jasper Crane Rose Garden is overflowing with roses in every color, and you can enjoy a variety of concerts at the Sugar Bowl venue inside the park. If your visit aligns with cherry blossom season, then you won’t want to miss this park. The Josephine Fountain and Gardens are absolutely stunning when the light pink blooms are in full swing.
Plan a stop in Delaware’s “Chateau Country” northwest of Wilmington to see the most grand homes in the state. The founders of the chemical company DuPont called Delaware home, and their stunning mansions and gardens are open nowadays for visitors. The Nemours Mansion and Gardens is a 102-room European manor modeled after an estate on the grounds at the Palace of Versailles. At the Hagley Mansion, you can learn all about the history of the DuPont family and the business that started as a gunpowder mill in 1802. For the most grandiose experience, visit the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. This stately home has 175 rooms filled with beautiful art and furniture, but you’ll want to spend plenty of time outside the house as well. Its pristine gardens make it a favorite among visitors.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
If you prefer beauty that’s more natural that man-made, you’ll want to include Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in your itinerary. This protected area covers one of the largest tidal salt marshes in the region. It stretches 8 miles along the Delaware Bay. Hit the 12-mile wildlife drive in your RV. Or get out and explore its 5 walking trails and 3 observation towers. The refuge is an extremely popular stop for wildlife photographers as it provides a natural habitat for a plethora of migratory waterfowl. Make sure you bring your camera!
Lewes Historic District
This quaint downtown area is the perfect place to stroll on a sunny afternoon! Lewes prides itself on being the first town in the first state, and its historical buildings and tours will explain why. The maritime town has all the homey bed and breakfasts, local shopping and tasty seafood restaurants you could ask for. Attend a Tavern Talk or take a tour on a water taxi. Learn more about why this little town played such an important role in history.
Cape Henlopen State Park
Right next to the small town of Lewes is Cape Henlopen State Park. The area is home to two lighthouses, the Harbor of Refuge Light and the East End Light. It used to be the beacon that guided ships around treacherous waters. Now, the sandy park and its lighthouses jutting into the bay are a serene refuge for all who visit. At Cape Henlopen, you’ll be skipping the airbrushed tank top tourism of other beaches. Here, the beach is as close to its original state as it gets. Enjoy this escape from reality and a beach skyline that isn’t overrun with high-rise resorts.
Best Places to Visit in Delaware
Come for the First State’s history, stay for its beautiful sights. A vacation in Delaware will give you time to engage in an educational vacation. Also the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the peacefulness of nature. Has our list gotten you excited about visiting Delaware? Get inspired by checking out what other RV destinations you can discover on our blog!