Day Trips: Places to Go, Things to See
Communities in the Lewes Delaware Area
Lewes is the first town in the first state so it’s a special place for a day trip in southern Delaware. Start your day on Second Street in Lewes, where you’ll discover a unique variety of shopping and dining options.
Become an expert on the rich history of the area at the Zwaanendael-Museum, built in 1931 by the State of Delaware to commemorate the 300th Anniversary of Delaware’s first European settlement. The museum is named after that colony, a Dutch whaling community known as Swanendael that began in 1631 and the building is a careful adaptation of the city hall, or Stadhuis, of Hoorn, Holland. You’ll want to snap a few pictures of this unique and colorful structure. Museum exhibits reflect the history of southeastern Sussex County, most notably the maritime theme. Artifacts include pieces from H.M.B. DeBraak, a recovered British warship that sank off the coast of Cape Henlopen in 1798 and items from the bombardment of Lewes during the War of 1812. Other exhibits feature information about the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, the local Delaware Bay, and River Pilots of the area.
On your way through town, be on the lookout for the Cannonball House at 118 Front Street, hit during the two-day British bombardment in April 1813 as part of the War of 1812. The original cannon ball is still there!
Your next stop is the Lightship Overfalls, built in 1938 as a “floating lighthouse” off the east coast of the United States until 1971. She was decommissioned in 1972 and retired to Lewes the following year. Stop in to learn more about this Lightship, take a guided tour through the rooms, and get a glimpse into the life of those that worked on the ship in the 1900s. The Overfalls Lightship is managed by the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation and serves as a museum that is open for tours from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day. For information on guided tours and group events, call 302-644-8050.
For a special local treat, plan to take part in the tour of the Lewes Historical Complex of preserved and restored buildings, including charming structures such as The Burton-Ingram House, Rabbits Ferry House, Thompson Country Store, Plank House, and the Doctor's Office. Tours are available from mid-June through Labor Day, Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The best time to visit is between June and October, when you’ll experience the Historic Lewes Farmers Market, a local gathering place where people meet to share pleasantries and purchase the freshest local foods available. Discover why their motto is “Where being fresh is socially acceptable.” Lewes Historical Complex, Shipcarpenter & Third Street, Lewes, DE 19958, 302-645-7670.
Enjoy a relaxing lunch in the historic district at Agave or Striper Bites before heading out to an afternoon of fun at Cape Henlopen State Park, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. This 3,000-acre park near Lewes has the famous "walking" sand dunes, nature trails with guides, a nature center, camping bathhouses, tennis courts, and areas for surf fishing and swimming. While visiting the park ,you’ll experience the "Great Walking Dune" and WWII Observation Towers. The Walking Dune rises 80 feet above sea level and slowly moves across the pine forest. Several WWII-era bunkers provide scenic overlooks, and one of the concrete observation towers has been renovated to provide a panoramic view of the Cape. If you are ready for a good climb, the view is worth it!
To learn more about sea life and the Delaware beaches, be sure to stop in the Seaside Nature Center. Its many exhibits and displays include five 1,000-gallon tanks with local fish, a touch tank with marine invertebrates and exhibits that explain the different habitats within the park. Don't forget to take a look at the live Osprey Cam from April through August. You can shop at the Nature Store and even borrow a free bike from their Friends Park Pedal program for a great ride around the park!
To wind down after an energetic day, check out the Nassau Valley Vineyards in the late afternoon and discover Delaware’s only winery, or grab a yummy ice cream cone at Kings Ice Cream on Second Street. Then, spend some time planning your next day trip in gorgeous southern Delaware!Zwaanendael Museum: 102 Kings Highway, Lewes, DE 19958 Cannonball House: 118 Front Street, Lewes, DE 19958 Lightship Overfalls: 110 Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, DE 19958 Lewes Historical Complex: 110 Shipcarpenter Street, Lewes, DE 19958 Agave: 137 2nd Street, Lewes, DE 19958 Striper Bites: 107 Savannah Road, Lewes, DE 19958 Cape Henlopen State Park: Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, DE 19958 Seaside Nature Center: 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE 19958 Nassau Valley Vineyards: 32165 Winery Way, Lewes, DE 19958