Some things to do in Delaware
I'm originally from Delaware, and I figured it would be fun to write about some fun places to go, if you ever happen to be in the First State for a day or two...So, contrary to what Wayne and Garth said on their brief trip to Delaware, there are a few things to do for fun, and since it's such a small state you can hit a ton of them in one day. There are some great things about being a Delawarean and I'm sure I've forgotten a few, and I'll be sure to add any that I've neglected to mention. If you can think of anything I've missed please feel free to contribute!!
Carousel Park in New Castle County is an absolutely great place to take your dog. There is a HUGE amount of open space for him or her to race around, a great body of water for retrievers and avid swimmers to play, and it's totally free. I highly recommend it if you're passing through on I-95, and both you and your pooch need to stretch your legs. It's just a short drive from the interstate and well worth the trip. In my experience tired dogs make the best co-pilots.
Delaware has some fantastic beaches with tons of attractions. Rehoboth is the more family-oriented beach with Funland, Grotto Pizza, the boardwalk, and a long stretch of sand which, although continually threatened by beach erosion, has been restored each winter as long as I can remember. Dewey, well Dewey, is just ridiculously fun and the sand smells like stale beer. It is a favorite summer spot for college kids, and anyone who holds a special place in their heart for beer pong and blacking out. Hit the Starboard for their world famous Bloody Mary bar. Stop by the Lighthouse for a crushed and oh so boozy citrus drink, the Rudder for its fantastic patio and house reggae band, and if you're in the mood for some bigger names in the music biz check out the Bottle and Cork's concert schedule. Bethany is by far the most quiet of the beaches best for those really wanting to take it easy and unwind, and Fenwick Island is perhaps best known for its wicked speed traps and lovely ocean and bayside mega-homes.
Another great thing about the beach is that on rainy days there is always the option to go outlet shopping. Coach, Nike, GAP, LLbean, etc, etc, etc there are tons of shops which allow you to take advantage of Delaware's tax free shopping. Just like with any group of outlets, you will definitely wade through your fair share of crap, but it's a fun way to spend a day if you're up for it.
Newcastle County is the home of Delaware Park. If you're a fan of slot machines or betting on ponies this is the place for you. It's fun in a slightly bizarre way. Some of the rooms smell like moth-balls and arthritis cream, but on days when big races are being held anywhere in the country, it's a fantastic place to really catch the excitement. Delaware Park also has the honor of hosting the Del 'Cap race which has historically had one of the largest purses in the country after the Triple Crown races. Its a cool way to see Derby, Stakes, or Preakness caliber horses run without having to travel too far or deal with total infield insanity. It's like a little secret that Delaware keeps. I'm still trying to get my friends to get onboard with starting a tradition of wearing big hats and sundresses, but that hasn't quite caught on yet.
Fort Delaware, found on Pea Patch Island, is one of the coolest places in the state. You have to take a boat to get there, and it has the dubious distinction of having been featured on Ghost Hunter's Halloween Special with some serious activity found and recorded. There are tons of reports of spooky activity. It was a prison for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, and was originally erected to help keep Mid-Atlantic cities safe from attack. There are no dungeons so if anyone tells you that they're lying or a little misinformed, but there was a tremendous amount of suffering and sickness there. Local historical societies and volunteers lead guided historical tours, and there are candlelit ghost tours offered by a local folklore expert at times throughout the summer. In the fall, near Halloween, Fort Delaware becomes the backdrop for a scarier tour with spooks and re-enactments, and all things creepy. The ticket price for this helps fund restoration projects within the park. For history buffs and those with an interest in the paranormal, or anyone just looking for a nontraditional way to spend a day Fort Delaware is definitely a place to visit.
If you're near Wilmington during the spring or summer a very fun and accessible thing to do is a Blue Rocks game. It's a fun way to spend a night at a ball park without having to travel to Baltimore or Philadelphia, and parents are able to let their kids do a little more on their own. There is a bounce-house, games, and lots of activities to keep the little ones happy if the game itself isn't enough of a draw. There are fireworks displays post-game many nights throughout the summer, and those dates are marked on the Blue Rocks calendar. Rockybullwinkle and Mr. Celery are kind of local celebrities at this point, and it's just an all-around fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. Oh, the lemon water ice? Yeah, it's pretty ridiculously amazing good.
Old Newcastle is probably one of the loveliest towns in Delaware. Lots of local artisans sell their wares, and there are some absolutely beautiful homes some of which date back to the 1700s. Like many old towns in which property taxes were levied based upon the widths of homes, many of the buildings have very narrow little fronts and shoot way, way, back forever. Check out the courthouse and Battery Park. There is a nice paved trail to walk as you check out the water and views around this tiny and wonderfully preserved historic town. Jessup's tavern is very cozy, with not a tv in sight. You have the sense in the tavern that many many people have been there before you. It's a very cool place to just visit with the people you're hanging out with, without the distraction of fifty flat-screen tvs which can be a nice change of pace from time to time.
The University of Delaware's campus and surrounding downtown Newark are very fun places to kill an afternoon or evening. There are lots of fun and quirky shops on Main Street such as Bloom and Grassroots, and historic restaurants such as the Deer Park Tavern, which has a checkered past once being a bar/brothel/hotel, later a seminary, and eventually a bar/restaurant. Klondike Kates, Iron Hill Brewery, and Kildare's Irish pub all serve standard bar food and attract many college students on the nights where they have particular food specials or drink specials. Home Grown is a fantastic place for vegans and vegetarians as well as those who appreciate a fancy cocktail in a cool lounge-type atmosphere. They have a menu which changes seasonally and is not limited to just veggie fare. Grotto Pizza on Main Street has most of the sports bar market cornered and is a great place to catch a game on Sunday during football season. Its $2.50 25 oz Bud Lights are very popular among college kids and happy hour regulars alike. Newark also has a Food and Brew festival each summer pairing local restaurants with different micro or craft breweries as well as a Wine and Dine which occurs each spring. The truly brave can try a bar crawl hitting every business with a liquor license on Main Street, it helps if you make a t-shirt to commemorate the challenge, and please be sure to arrange safe transport home.
Mr. O was one of my professors at UD, and he's a fantastic resource. His books are well-written and engaging.