Delaware State Capital: Dover
Dover was founded in 1683 by William Penn, who named the city after a port town in England’s county of Kent. He gave the county in which Delaware’s capital resides the same name.
Air Mobility Command Museum: Very cool place to take the kids. They’re always updating and adding additional activities. The guides are very informative and answer any questions you may have. Going on the old planes might be your favorite! A true bargain, with free admission, the museum has a phenomenal collection of aircraft, from the simplest, smallest, single seater to the monstrous C-5A Galaxy. Many can be boarded, so you can see them from inside and out. Ever flown a fighter? Now you can try the next best thing with their free simulators. Call ahead to check hours of operation. Be sure to climb the control tower to get a great aerial view of all the planes outside. Looking for the perfect selfie opportunity, why not in the Vice-President’s Air Force Two. The DC-9 was also used as a make-shift Air Force One for presidents Reagan, Clinton and both Bush presidents when they flew into smaller airports that couldn’t handle Air Force One. The museum is located next to the Dover Air Base runways and the previous tower from the base is now in the museum. When you climb the old tower, you can watch the planes taking off and landing at the base.
Dover International Speedway: Go to this track to view a NASCAR race usually in September. Parking is adequate but gets a little crazy on race day. Take a tour of this track when you get there. The tour was simply AMAZING! And highly recommend it for any NASCAR Race fans. The tour guide is so informative. You’ll love the tour! Dover Speedway…. top fastest cars… Exciting and fun. But, LOUD! Don’t forget the ear plugs!
Johnson Victrola Museum: This place is fantastic! You’ll never see so many machines and records all in one collection. There are thousands of 78 RPM recordings, and 2 floors of musical machines. See the Auxetophone (1 of 14 still in existence), Graphophone, Gramophone, and Radiola Electrola – from table top machines to luxurious floor models selling for $1500 in the 1920s. Learn the difference between a Victor and a Victrola!
Hear the amazing acoustic sound reproduction on these machines using no electronics. The tour guide will do a superb job in making history come to life. She will demonstrate the machines, and is just full of fun & fascinating facts about the history & development of recorded sound and music. There is no fee for touring this museum, but gratuities are very welcome. It’s just amazing, though, to see what the volunteers/staff have done with the donations they’ve received over past years. This is definitely a museum worth visiting!!!!
John Dickinson Plantation: You’ll really enjoy a tour of this place and the experience. What a wonderful piece of history for the State of Delaware. The tour guide is open to questions and very accommodating. The house and grounds are a treasure. You’ll be greeted by a woman in period clothes, who will welcome you and explain what there is to see. Watch a video which will tell of the Dickinson family. Then walk over to the house and take the tour. It can be a great visit. It’s free and now part of the First State National Historical Park.
Delaware State Police Museum and Education Center: A small museum with some interesting exhibits including a mock-up of a crime scene where you are invited to solve the crime. You’ll enjoy the siren and lights in a police car and even younger children will too. Sort of an unusual stop but highly recommended! Lots of police history, wonderful displays of police uniforms, vehicles, equipment and more. Don’t miss this one! The museum is curated by a retired police officer, and he helps kids find clues in the interactive crime scene, and let them sit in the police car and play with the lights. Another museum employee is dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog and poses for pictures. Excellent exhibits and a nice amount of games to keep kids involved.
Lots of things to do and lots of places to stay; it’s an easy flight to the Philadelphia Airport, rent a car for a short trip to Dover. When you are finished with your visit to Dover, visit Southwestern Delaware…
Ten Strange, Cool, and Compelling Reasons to Visit Southwestern Delaware
Delaware is not a state that gets much hype, tourism-wise, and when it does, it’s usually about the beaches, the Brandywine River Valley, or the City of Wilmington.
But here’s the thing: Southwestern Delaware – or more precisely Western Sussex County, which includes the towns of Laurel, Seaford, Bethel and Georgetown – is shot through with so many rivers and rivulet’s, creeks and streams, it is kayaking nirvana. And very few know about it.
This segment of Delaware is also a skydiving hotspot – very fitting, as DuPont opened the word’s first Nylon plant here in 1939; pumping out massive amounts of the material used to make a significant number of the country’s parachutes. Western Sussex County is also a Bass Fishing utopia, and full of local color – both visually and personality-wise. Read on for the best reasons to visit this little known part of the Small Wonder State.
This middle section of the Delmarva Peninsula was once almost all swampland, until lumber companies in the 1700’s cut down trees and drained the swamps. One of these drained swamps became the rainwater-fed lake at Trap Pond State Park (Laurel, DE), considered to be one of the Top Ten Bass Fishing lakes in the country by Bassmaster Magazine. Be sure to sign up for a Pontoon Boat Tour (offered throughout the day and even at night, in season), which winds through a Floridaesque setting, dense with the northernmost stand of bald cypress trees in the USA. These partially submerged trees form a ghostly landscape at night, a spookiness amplified by the sounds of winged creatures (heron, owls, other things) that shriek and moan in the dark. For the full effect, stay in a tent, trailer, or cabin by the water, and take advantage of Trap Pond State Park.
One local story, that of the Swamp Monster, captures the essence of this swampland -a comfort-food version of a monster tale with a completely nutty twist. In 1963, the then 23-year-old Fred Stevens donned his Aunt’s fur coat, picked up a bat, put on a scary mask and marched in the local Halloween parade. As a prank, Stevens (in full regalia) and a friend headed to the swamp where the friend captured the “Swamp Monster” on film, sent photos to the town paper, and thus a created a legend. Stevens kept his secret for 25 years, and when he revealed his true identity, the newspapers were all over it. In 2010, Brown University mistakenly sent Stevens an invitation to a 50th Reunion (supposedly, Stevens was Ted Turner’s roommate). Stevens responded by sending a photo of the Swamp Monster and newspaper clippings about himself. Brown University published these as an “alum update” in its annual magazine.
Annual Return Day repairs a fractious community. Back in 1791 (and every year since), farmers would travel to Georgetown, DE to vote, then go back to their fields. Two days later, they’d “return” to hear the results of the election. Back then, and still now, the winning party parades through the streets ending in the town center where all who ran for office gather to “bury the hatchet,” in an actual box of sand. A community event, Return Day is one of the most civilized post-election proceedings in the country.
In 1608, John Smith and his crew rowed and sailed on the Nanticoke River from Chesapeake Bay to what is now Western Sussex, DE at the mouth of Broad Creek. Smith’s 1613 map of the area remains accurate to this day, in fact, as most of these major and minor ribbons of water haven’t changed much in 400 years.
Take your love for a picnic at riverside Phillips Landing. You can just imagine John Smith paddling upstream at this dogleg turn of the Nanticoke, it is so pristine and untouched. This is one of the most romantic spots in SW Delaware, so pack some wine and cheese and leave your cell phone at home.
The Nanticoke and its tributaries are so tranquil and picturesque, kayaking here allows for true communion with nature. Countless creeks and rivers are relatively unknown, making the area enticing for recreational kayakers looking for new bucolic waterways to paddle. The best way to explore here is with knowledgeable outfitters. Learn to SUP on flat-water with Delmarva Board Sports and/or discover Stan Shedaker’s favorite excursions. As owner of Adrenalin High Outfitters, Shedaker has investigated them all.
Skydive Delmarva (Laurel Airport) is serious about safety…and fun. They train the US Naval Academy Parachute Team, after all. But, the pros there are also about having a good time. Try a tandem jump for $225, and you might discover you just adore jumping out of a plane from 13,500 ft.!
The public 18-hole golf course at Heritage Shores (Bridgeville) is peppered with 17 ponds, which ups the challenge and enhances aesthetics. There are so many water hazards in fact; the Golf Shop sells floating balls. If golf is not your thing, try Bocce Ball. Though small, Heritage Shores has one of the finest Bocce Courts in the land. After a round, head to the hip Sugar Beet Market on Heritage Shores property for a drink at the cool bar or to pick up some local cheese and crackers to enjoy on the deck out back. It’s particularly beguiling at sunset.
For some down-home food, and for a real taste of Western Sussex County, find a Fish Fry being catered by My Turn to Cook (for hire, too). Watch fresh-caught fish turn golden brown before your eyes – fixin’s include cooked greens and potatoes as well.
Chefs in the area “train each other” and a true culinary scene is “unfolding before our eyes,” says one local. This farming community is smack dab between Bay and Ocean watersheds, so chefs benefit from nearby farms and fisheries. Right now, the best example of locally sourced cuisine is Abbott’s on Broad Creek in Laurel. The food here can compete with the best restaurants in America. Chef Ryan Cunningham looks like a chill dude, but works magic in his kitchen, turning out delights like Grilled Octopus with Truffle Vinaigrette Tendrils, Mussels and Fries, Apple-Scrapple Flatbread, just-picked salads, and other tweaked comfort foods.