Ahhh Delaware. A state best known as the home of Joe Biden, a tax haven for U.S. corporations, and the first state in the U.S. Looking at an atlas, it’s easy for one to think that Delaware, if anything else, is pretty much one big middle finger in Maryland’s side. Have you looked at an atlas lately? It looks like they carved a door jam out of Maryland and then jabbed it in between PA and NJ.
Truth be told, we almost forgot about Delaware. We were going to head to Philadelphia after a week in Baltimore, but then we looked at the map and voila. A whole new state to explore. We could have done the easy thing and stayed in Wilmington and then proceeded on. But what fun is that? So we hunkered down at the First State’s First State Park (confused yet?) in Southern Delaware, Trap Pond State Park. It was an oddly peaceful stay. Nothing too fancy, but facilities were mostly clean. People were friendly. I bought a magnet with a raccoon on it. We ran and hiked the trail around the pond. Overall, it was lovely.
We were so captivated by the tiny state, that we decided to compile a short list of things to do for those of you who are less familiar with the charms of Delaware.
1. DRINK UP!
Delaware is home to Dogfish Head Brewery, whose headquarters are in teeny-tiny Milton. As Carson said, you have FOMO while you’re actually at the place. The beers were strong (the average ABV is 8%!). The tour was witty and outrageous and science-y. And you can admire the Steampunk Tree House firmly planted in the front yard. As our tour guide said, Dogfish Head Brewery’s owner bought it for only a dollar, but then had to spend something like $50K just to transport it. Go there.
2. PLAY REAL LIFE CANDYLAND
Dolle’s Candyland in Rehoboth Beach is a tiny slice of heaven for any one who enjoys fudge, popcorn and salt water taffy. The “Holy Trinity” of candy, as I like to say. It’s a little pricey, but c’mon. You’re at Rehoboth Beach. It’s a sunny day. Get yourself the caramel corn and sample one of each of the salt water taffy.
3. EAT CREOLE FOOD
We found that the state is really divided between North and South. The colloquialism? “Lower is Slower.” Ouch, we know. It sounds terrible, but we found that it’s more of a saying about pace and culture in the Southern part of the state. Their culture is more rural and more closely tied to Southern roots. So it makes sense that they would take one of the South’s delicacies, creole food, and serve it to a T. Go to Po’Boys Creole and Fresh Catch for a bite before you head over to Dogfish Head Brewery. Get the Shrimp Po’Boy, a gator bite and some beignets for dessert.
4. WALK BACK IN TIME IN LEWES
Their claim to fame is “the first town in the first state.” It’s a cutesy little historic town that won’t take you long to walk through, but you’ll enjoy it. Stroll their downtown and stop by the Zwaanendael Museum, which is a replica of the former City Hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands. We hear they have a merman display upstairs! We never got to it because there was a school group in town that day. Learning trumps exploring, I guess.
5. LIVE THAT #BEACHLIFE
Delaware beaches were surprisingly nice, and this is coming from a couple who spent three years at some of North Carolina’s best beaches. Rehoboth and Dewey Beach have that nice “good sand” and lots to do for families, adults, kids, you name it. I liked the boardwalk quite a bit and we found a pretty nice bookstore in Rehoboth (check out Browseabout Books and treat yourself to a good beach read).
Yes, Delaware is a small state. You can drive pretty much anywhere in about 2 hours or less. And much of it is agrarian — broiler chickens and watermelons are two of their biggest agricultural products. Then again, we both came from small farming and ranching towns in Nebraska, so it wasn’t all that different. Of course, Delaware has that thing Nebraska does not: miles and miles of pristine beaches. Oh, and that whole 100+ more years of history than us.