Visit Delaware: America’s Best Kept Secret

Kayaking in Trap Pond State Park
Kayaking in Trap Pond State Park

Delaware is small. It’s a simple fact. This is the second smallest state in the nation, and because of that, it gets overlooked. Jokes like “Dela-where?” take precedence. But here’s what you didn’t know: it’s a hidden gem. One of its many nicknames is The Diamond State, for crying out loud. This place is cool. I won’t lie, when I accepted an internship there, I wasn’t excited. After working in a national park in Alaska, it was just about the most disappointing news. But I spoke much too soon. When I got to Delaware I learned very quickly that this little state has so much to offer. Here’s why you should visit Delaware.

Everything You Need is Nearby

Wilmington, Delaware's largest city
Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city

Say you’re looking for a big city to visit. Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York City are just a few hours away. What about mountains? Head to the Poconos in Pennsylvania or Shenandoah in Virginia, both only a half-day drive. Complete some day hikes on the Appalachian Trail or camp for a weekend. Need a relaxing beach day? Delaware has some of the most beloved beaches in the mid-Atlantic. People come from all of the neighboring states to spend a weekend in Rehoboth Beach. No matter what you’re looking for, if it isn’t inside state lines you can find it within a day’s drive.

America’s Best State Parks

Fort Delaware State Park sits on an island in the Delaware River
Fort Delaware State Park sits on an island in the Delaware River

I’m not just saying this because I worked Delaware State Parks, I promise. The staff was actually given an award from 2015-2017 for excellent state park management, and for good reason. In a state of just 952,000 people with only 1,982 square miles of land, there are seventeen state parks. Seventeen! There are much larger states with fewer. Thanks to the parks, there’s always something to do. They host festivals and events and offer programs led by skilled naturalists. You can go camping, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, zip-lining, biking, stand-up paddle boarding, and so much more. Programs offered include yoga, tai chi, geocaching, and bird-watching. Take a ferry to Fort Delaware and walk through history-filled halls. Take a ghost tour if you’re feeling adventurous. Head to the beach for a day in the sand. State parks offer it all.

Experience the Four Seasons

Long, thick icicles growing off of my back porch
Icicles growing off of my back porch

As a Floridian, I looked forward to experiencing four seasons when I moved up north. One of the pleasures of living in Delaware was seeing bright red, orange, and yellow leaves grace the trees. More challenging was learning how to drive in the snow. What surprised me, in the end, was how mild these seasons are. You still have all four of them, but it doesn’t remain terribly cold for too long. You’ll receive snow, but only a few days each winter. When it does snow, most of the state shuts down so you get to stay home and cozy up by a fire. In spring, everything came back to life and suddenly 45 degrees didn’t seem so cold. Summer has days that are a bit too hot and humid for my taste, but I’ll take a couple here and there over every single day in Florida anytime.

Festivals and Brews

My wristband for the Firefly Music Festival
My wristband for the Firefly Music Festival

The brewery scene in Delaware is growing stronger and stronger by the minute thanks to its fearless leader, Dogfish. Smaller craft breweries are following and popping up across the state. Distilleries and meaderies aren’t far behind either. They also host some awesome festivals, such as Cheesetoberfest in October or Dogfish Dash in September. Additionally, Firefly has been bringing thousands to Delaware for a few years now. With the festival’s growing popularity comes acts like Mumford and Sons and Paul McCartney. The lineup is increasingly more impressive every year.

Still not convinced? Enjoy some more photos from Delaware (mostly taken in state parks) below.

Sunset at Killens Pond

Sunset at Killens Pond

Hiking trails at work

Hiking trails at work

State capitol in Dover with a snow dusted green

State capitol in Dover with a snow dusted green

Killens Pond

Killens Pond

Delaware Seashore bridge

Delaware Seashore bridge

Snow at Cape Henlopen beach

Snow at Cape Henlopen beach

Sun burst at Killens Pond

Sun burst at Killens Pond

Sunset over Trap Pond

Sunset over Trap Pond

First State National Historical Park in New Castle

First State National Historical Park in New Castle

Walking on the beach at Delaware Seashore

Walking on the beach at Delaware Seashore

Fall Colors at White Clay Creek

Fall Colors at White Clay Creek

Ziplining at Lums Pond

Ziplining at Lums Pond

Cypress trees at Trap Pond

Cypress trees at Trap Pond

Fort Delaware

Fort Delaware

 

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