Hi. I’m in Delaware.” –Wayne’s World
Delaware may be among our smallest of states, but you can still find big fun for your family. It has the honor of being known as the First State and hosts beautiful beaches, natural settings, museums, and history.
Most people aren’t too familiar with Delaware. The above reference to Wayne’s World was quoted to me numerous times while discussing this article with three of my west coast editors. The line from the movie insinuates that the only entertaining thing to do in Delaware is to stand in front of a bridge and hesitantly state that you are, in fact, in Delaware. Although often quoted, I hope to prove to you that this line is quite wrong.
Stay at these family friendly hotels in Delaware during your vacation.
10. Delaware Museum of Natural History
I’ve yet to meet a kid who isn’t intrigued by dinosaurs. The Delaware Museum of Natural History hosts the only permanent dinosaur exhibit in the state. The museum also features one of the country’s top collections of shells in their Shell Gallery! Kids will love having a chance to touch some of these shells and explore them up close. The Nature Nook was made with kids in mind. This interactive exhibit allows them to explore animal habitats such as caves and woodlands and observe live animals. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum hosts several temporary visiting exhibits throughout the year to expand your learning as well as camp experiences, birthday parties, and fun classes. When you are done exploring inside, be sure to head outside to discover the Butterfly Garden and take a walk along the nature trail. The yellow trail is even stroller friendly!
Explore the world of dinosaurs and butterflies with your kids and stay at these family recommended hotels.
9. Historic New Castle
For a slower pace and a trip back in time, a visit to Old New Castle is in order. Step back into the Colonial era where you will be surrounded by the beautiful Colonial, Dutch, and Federal architecture. Walk along the tree-lined streets on the centuries old sidewalks to discover historic restaurants and quaint shops. A visit to the Dutch House, Amstel House, and Old Library Museum will allow visitors to discover the architecture, artifacts, and gardens of the time period. When the kids get antsy, stop by Battery Park where they can play on the swings and slides or take a walk along the waterfront.
Check out the lodging options for the family when you visit Delaware!
8. Delaware Art Museum
The Delaware Art Museum, like most museums, offers both permanent art collections and temporary exhibits. What makes this museum stand out is how they try to reach families. Family offerings include stroller tours, family programming, youth and adult studio classes, and homeschool programs. In addition, Delaware Art Museum has tried to make art accessible and affordable for families by offering a family admission rate. For 2 adults and up to 4 kids, the admission fee is just $25. Better yet, visit on Sunday and the admission price is free!
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7. Dover International Speedway
Calling all NASCAR and motor sport lovers! Pay a visit to the Dover International Speedway to see some of the biggest names in the sport battle it out on what is known as the Monster Mile. Come early and visit the FanZone which features vendors, live music, interactive games, driver appearances, autograph sessions, and much more. The kids will love the Monster FunZone where they will find fun attractions such as bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, rides, a DJ, and face painting. For a behind the scenes look at the racetrack, take an “Explore the Monster” tour available on most Thursdays at 2pm.
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Winterthur is a museum, library, and garden all in one stop. The 175 room home, once owned by the du Pont family, houses an immense collection of American decorative arts. Much of it appears as it did when the du Pont family resided here. The galleries, which are filled with curated objects, are devoted to specific themes and change often. The home sits on a 1,000 acre preserve of meadows and woodland and features a stunning garden.
Winterthur has suggested itineraries based on your available time to visit, including one for families. Enjoy a family oriented tour, hands on history carts, family programs, tram tours, and explore the Touch-It room. The Touch-It Room is located on the first floor and set up for children to be able to learn through play! In the Enchanted Woods (located inside the children’s garden), kids can explore the world of fairies and discover exciting places such as the Troll’s Bridge, Acorn Tearoom, Tulip Treehouse, and many other magical places!
5. Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge
The urban wildlife refuge is located where the city meets the river and marshlands. The Delaware Nature Society operates the DuPont Environmental Education Center which is the centerpiece of the reserve. Enjoy the four-story environmental center which features indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs for everyone in the family. Be sure to take a step outside on the observation deck to take in the panoramic views. The kids will love walking along the boardwalk through the marshland and observing the variety of wildlife.
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4. Hagley Museum and Library
The Hagley Museum and Library is located along the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington, DE. Hagley was founded by du Pont in the early 1800’s as a gunpowder factory and remains today as a beautiful example of early American industry. Visitors will find restored mills, a worker’s community, and the du Pont family home and gardens to explore. Throughout the year special exhibitions and events are held, including family friendly activities, so be sure to keep an eye on the calendar. While transportation is provided to the three major interpretive areas, you will want to wear some comfy shoes as the grounds are expansive. An organic café is available on site for snacks or lunch and the Hagley store offers a variety of books, gifts, and reproduction items for purchase.
3. Cape Henlopen State Park
Delaware has some beautiful places to explore nature and Cape Henlopen is the perfect place for families. Visitors will never have a hard time finding something to fill their day with so many activities available to do within the park such as swimming at guarded beaches, biking, hiking along trails, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, and picnicking. Turn your visit into an adventure by camping with your choice of camp sites, cabins, cottages, or yurts. History buffs will enjoy the Fort Miles area which showcases Delaware’s coastal defense during World War II. Take a tour of the fort, participate in an interpretive program and enjoy learning about the shore. The kids will love stopping by the Seaside Nature Center where they can explore the touch tanks and learn about the park through exhibits. While you are there, borrow a free bike for a ride around the park! Families will also enjoy the fun festivals and events held throughout the year.
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2. Delaware Children’s Museum
The kids will love the Delaware Children’s Museum because it is made just for them! Children’s museums know that kids learn best by doing so they harness the power of learning through play. The kids are having so much fun they don’t ever realize they are learning! Enjoy the many hands-on exhibits that explore the workings of nature, transportation, and structures. Kids can learn the operations of a bank and write a giant-sized check, create a masterpiece in the studio, and learn what their bodies can do. The sure hit will be the Stratoshphere, a giant climbing structure accessible from the lobby. In addition to all the fun exhibits, the museum offers fun workshops, special events, and date nights where the kids play while the parents sneak away for some adult time. There is a café and gift shop on site making this a complete destination.
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1. Rehoboth Beach
For family fun at the beach, Rehoboth Beach and Boardwalk is the place to go. Enjoy sunbathing or building a sandcastle on the free, guarded beach or take a dip in the Atlantic. When you tire of lounging, stroll along the mile-long boardwalk or treat the kids to some rides and games at Funland. For a day off the beach the kids may enjoy Jungle Jim’s water park, a ride around the go-kart track, or a round of miniature golf. In the evenings the family can enjoy a leisurely stroll in the quaint downtown to browse the shops or grab a bite to eat and be sure to stop and listen to a concert at the bandstand.
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Lead image: Bigstock/Jim Shaner