Best of Delaware: Fun and Leisure in 2023

If you’re looking for the best businesses providing fun and leisure in Delaware, check out this list selected by Delaware Today’s readers.

Annual Festival

Downstate, Readers: Seawitch Festival
Rehoboth Beach; beach-fun.com/sea-witch-halloween-fiddlers-festival.html

Upstate, Readers: St. Anthony’s Italian Festival
Wilmington; stanthonysfestival.com

Annual Festival: St. Anthony's Italian Festival
Annual Festival: St. Anthony’s Italian Festival

Art Gallery

Downstate, Readers: Rehoboth Art League
Rehoboth Beach; rehobothartleague.org

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Charity Event

Downstate, Readers: Schellville Village
Rehoboth Beach; schellbrothers.com

Upstate, Readers: Winterthur Point-to-Point Steeplechase
Winterthur; winterthur.org

Community Theater

Downstate, Readers: Milton Theatre
Milton; miltontheatre.com

Upstate, Readers: Delaware Children’s Theatre
Wilmington; dechildrenstheatre.org

Cycling Route

Downstate, Readers: Cape Henlopen/Breakwater Trail
Lewes; delawaregreenways.org/trail/junction-breakwater-trail

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Upstate, Readers: Jack A. Markell Trail
Wilmington; delawaregreenways.org

Duckpin Bowling

Editors: Wilma’s

This is a smaller, lighter take on traditional bowling, with a ball you can roll from the palm of your hand. A bonus: Duckpin bowling doesn’t require special shoes, only a willingness to have fun. Enjoy a Cajun-inspired boozy brunch in the adjoining bar and restaurant—or right there at your bowling lane. The four-lane alley, mezzanine and lounges are also available for private events.
Wilmington; goodtimewilmas.com

Duckpin Bowling: Wilma's
Duckpin Bowling: Wilma’s

Golf Course (Public)

Downstate, Readers: Baywood Greens
Long Neck; baywoodgreens.com

Upstate, Readers: Deerfield
Newark; deerfieldgolfclub.com

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Hiking Spot

Downstate, Readers: Cape Henlopen State Park
Lewes; destateparks.com/Beaches/CapeHenlopen

Hiking Spot: Cape Henlopen State Park
Hiking Spot: Cape Henlopen State Park

Upstate, Readers: Brandywine Creek State Park
Wilmington; destateparks.com/brandywinecreek

Hotel

Downstate, Readers: The Bellmoor Inn & Spa
Rehoboth Beach; thebellmoor.com

Upstate, Readers: Hotel Du Pont
Wilmington; hoteldupont.com

Kayaking/Canoeing/SUP Spot

Downstate, Readers: Killens Pond State Park
Felton; destateparks.com

Upstate, Readers: Lums Pond State Park
Bear; destateparks.com

Kid-Friendly Adventure

Editors: The Kalmar Nyckel

This massive ship accurately replicates a 17th-century Swedish ship by the same name that brought the first permanent European settlers to the Delaware Valley in 1638. The colorful vessel now glides along the Christina River and beyond, functioning as a floating classroom that allows kids to help sail the ship and interact hands-on with maritime history. Go on a day trip or a pirate-themed sail—dressing for the occasion during the pirate sails is encouraged. People of all ages are invited to help haul the ropes, turn the capstan and get involved. You can also check out the Copeland Maritime Center, the museum beside the ship, which features an indoor version of the ship and a giant collection of model ships from around the world.
Wilmington; kalmarnyckel.org

Live Music Venue

Downstate, Readers: Freeman Arts Pavilion
Selbyville; freemanarts.org

Upstate, Readers: The Queen
Wilmington; thequeenwilmington.com

Most Formidable Delaware Dinosaur

Editors: Dryptosauridae, Delaware

Museum of Nature & Science In 2022, students at Shue-Medill Middle School in the Christina School District voted for the Dryptosauridae as the Delaware state dinosaur, with research assistance from the Delaware Museum of Nature & Science (formerly the Delaware Museum of Natural History). This birdlike predator lived here during the Cretaceous Period. It was related to the Tyrannosaurus rex and bears some similarities to the shorebirds that populate our coasts now. Its skeleton can be found in the PaleoZone in the Delaware Museum of Nature & Science, looming over the exhibit that educates people on our region’s prehistory.
Wilmington; delmns.org

Peaceful Place for a Stroll—When You Need a Break from the Party

Editors: Hagley Museum & Library

Hagley, the site of the gunpowder factory founded in 1802 by E.I. du Pont, is a serene oasis filled with history and is the perfect place for a peaceful walk. Explore the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family surrounding the scenic Brandywine River. Plenty of parties and events are held here, but it’s easy to take a break from socializing when you have access to the tranquil, 235-acre grounds filled with fragrant blooms. There is also a terraced garden that was built circa 1920 from the ruins of Eleutherian Mills. Check out the newest exhibit while you’re there, Nation of Inventors, which discusses the history of innovation in our country.
Wilmington; hagley.org

Place to ‘Take a Bath’

Editors: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

The family home of Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur is a sprawling 175-room mansion brimming with American antiquities, a museum and a library where important conservation work takes place. But the best part? The massive gardens with mature trees, colorful blossoms and meandering paths that wind through the woods. This is the ideal place to practice the art of forest bathing, a sensory experience that focuses on being mindful and present in nature. Although Winterthur no longer offers classes on forest bathing, there are plenty of peaceful, tucked-away spots scattered throughout the woods to enjoy. Give it a try while your kids explore the Enchanted Woods, a mystical place complete with a thatched-roof cottage, a giant bird’s nest and a fairy mushroom circle with secrets to reveal.
Winterthur; winterthur.org

Place to View the Stars

Editors: Mt. Cuba Astronomical Observatory

Want an experience that’s out of this world? Head to this planetarium and astronomical observatory, home to a variety of telescopes and a great vantage point to see the cosmos. Founded in 1958 and inspired by astronomer and Delaware native Annie Jump Cannon, it is now a resource for budding astronomers of all ages and holds regular events that educate the public on space and celestial bodies. Remember to wear warm clothes when you visit: Observations take place outdoors, and it can get chilly at night. Keep in mind, too, this is not an accessible area for those with mobility issues and disabilities.
Greenville; mountcuba.org

Mountain Bike Trail

Downstate, Readers: Trap Pond State Park
Laurel; destateparks.com/TrapPond

Upstate, Readers: Brandywine Creek State
Park Wilmington; destateparks.com/brandywinecreek

Paranormal Tours

Editors: Rockwood Mansion

At this Rural Gothic estate, built in the mid-1800s by retired banker Joseph Shipley, both the mansion and sprawling grounds are said to still be occupied by the families that once resided here—and died many years ago. The property was eventually left to New Castle County for public use and became Rockwood Park and Museum, offering various guided tours and events to help sustain itself. Among them: a paranormal tour hosted by former skeptic Rick Loveless and Bill Hamel, who employ a series of investigative tools to help you detect—and interact with—spirits.
Wilmington; rockwood.org

Place for a Picnic

Downstate, Readers: Cape Henlopen State Park
Lewes; destateparks.com/Beaches/CapeHenlopen

Upstate, Readers: Bellevue State Park
Wilmington; destateparks.com/History/Bellevue

Sports Venue

Downstate, Readers: Delaware Turf
Frederica; deturf.com

Sports Venue: Delaware Turf
Sports Venue: Delaware Turf

Upstate, Readers: Daniel S. Frawley
Stadium Wilmington; delawarestadiumcorp.com

Themed Events

Editors: Delaware Art Museum

The museum isn’t just for paintings and sculptures. Director Molly Giordano has helped breathe new life into the institution, appealing to all generations with one thing in common: They appreciate fun. This year saw the advent of creative concepts, including an “Only Murders in the Museum” mystery event, plus a “Swinging ’60s, Art of the Cocktail” soirée complete with martinis, live music and more. We can’t wait to see what 2024 brings.
Wilmington; delart.org

Related: Where to Eat, Shop & Have Fun Around the University of Delaware

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