14 Cool Attractions to Check Out Along Delaware Route 1

From must-try Kent County breweries to lesser-known museums, these destinations are worth taking a detour.

Adobe Stock/Oleksii

From must-try Kent County breweries to lesser-known museums, these Delaware attractions are worth taking a detour.

By Pam George and Sydney Kerelo

In 2003, beachgoers celebrated the completion of the Delaware Route 1 bypass, which helped ease bumper-to-bumper traffic on U.S. 13. But an accident, holiday weekend, festival or road construction can still turn the highway into a parking lot. Lower your blood pressure with some mood-boosting detours to attractions near Del. 1. Even if traffic is flowing, a few pit stops can make the trip more fun. (If you plan to visit the wineries and breweries, drink responsibly.)

You don’t need to drive far to take a break. The Historic Houses of Odessa is a 70-acre property peppered with five historic structures that reveal the town’s heritage. Odessa dates back to 1731 when it was named Cantwell’s Bridge for the toll bridge that spanned Appoquinimink Creek. To buoy port operations, the town became Odessa in 1855. The historic houses are open for tours. Plan your visit to coincide with lunch at Cantwell’s Tavern, which was built in 1823. It’s operated by the Ashby Hospitality Group, which also owns The Deer Park Tavern in Newark.
201 Main St., Odessa • 378-4119

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Or, save lunch for Smyrna and Brick Works Brewings and Eats, a brewpub owned by seasoned restaurateur Kevin Reading. While beer fuels the concept, Brick Works is also a family-friendly restaurant. (There is a kids’ menu.) There are sandwiches, salads and entrées such as Strawberry BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Brick Chicken and Blackened Salmon. If you miss this one, try its other location in Millsboro.
230 S. Dupont Blvd., Smyrna • 508-2523

Between Smyrna and Dover, you could carve out an easy self-guided brewery and distillery tour. Smyrna is also home to “The Juke,” which is the taproom at Blue Earl Brewing. Sample a flight of craft beers with too-cool-for-school names like Disco Alien. Food is available Wednesday-Saturday. Ronnie “Blue” Earl Price is the founder of the brewery, making it the seventh microbrewery in Delaware.
210 Artisan Dr., Smyrna • 653-2337

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The brewery is near Painted Stave, a distillery located in the former Smyrna Theater. Owners Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen, who spearhead the craft distillery movement in Delaware, named their company for the curved wood pieces that form a barrel. As a homage to their location, one of their first products was Silver Screen Vodka.
106 W. Commerce St., Smyrna • 653-6834

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If it’s a beautiful day, consider a visit to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a 16,251-acre nesting, resting and mating area for ducks, geese and other wildlife. (The waterfowl population peaks in October and November.) Laced with footpaths, bike paths and a 12-mile auto trail, the refuge is a destination for birders. You might also spot deer, muskrat, river otters, foxes and possums.
2591 Whitehall Neck Rd., Smyrna • 653-9345

For a path less traveled, hop onto Del. 9, which will take you past Sambo’s Tavern in Leipsic, which is near Bombay Hook. Take a break and get crackin’ at this iconic seafood restaurant, which was founded in 1953 by Samuel “Sambo” Burrows. Still family-run, the tavern is open from April through October. That’s largely because tasty blue crabs, harvested seasonally, are purchased from local watermen, who pull up to the restaurant’s dock on the Leipsic River. Note that it is a tavern; you must be 21 to enter.
283 Front St., Leipsic • 674-9724

Bargain hunters will appreciate Spence’s Bazaar and Auction, which is open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 7 a.m. The indoor/outdoor flea market—known by locals as “The Sale”—boasts a bakery, deli with Amish foods and 250 tables with wares ranging from antiques to nurse uniforms.
550 S. New St., Dover • 734-3441

Not far from the bazaar is the unusual Johnson Victrola Museum, a tribute to Eldridge Reeves Johnson, inventor of the Victor Talking Machine Co. Born in Wilmington, he grew up in Dover and worked as a machinist in Camden, New Jersey, where he met Emile Berliner, creator of the gramophone and disc record. In 1901, Johnson combined his and Berliner’s patents to form the Victor Talking Machine Co., which created the Victrola. RCA bought the company in 1929. The museum has phonographs, recordings, memorabilia, trademarks, hundreds of machines and thousands of records and advertisements.
375 S. New St., Dover • 739-3262

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Visible from Del. 1, the Air Mobility Command Museum is located in Hangar 1301, which was used for the development of air-to-ground rocket weaponry, a secret project, during World War II. (Bombay Hook served as a firing range for the innovations.) Among the 30-plus aircrafts in the collection are bombers, cargo planes, tankers, fighters and the C-5A Galaxy, is the Air-Force’s largest strategic air lifter. Visitors can attempt to fly the museum aircraft via a flight simulator and climb into an aircraft control tower.
1301 Heritage Road, Dover Air Force Base, Dover • 677-5938

Harvest Ridge Winery is about a 23-minute drive from Dover. Owner Chuck Nunan turned a hobby into a destination in a pleasant, rural setting. Harvest Ridge’s sister business, Rebel Seed, is born from the Nunan family’s love of the United States and strong family roots.
447 Westville Rd., Marydel • 343-9437

Just south of Dover is Fifer Orchards, a family-run farm and market with an active calendar of events and seasonal U-pick produce.
1919 Allabands Mill Rd., Camden-Wyoming • 697-2141

As you’re driving through the Milford area, keep an eye out for the giant propeller in front of Meding’s Seafood. The seafood, particularly the crabs and the fried oysters, makes Meding’s worth the stop.
3697 Bay Rd., Milford • 335-2722

Happily born out of co-founder Eric Williams’ midlife crisis, Mispillion River Brewing opened in 2013, and its products—packaged in colorful cans—are now found throughout the state. The beers have eye-catching artwork and names such as Not Today Satan IPA, Reach Around IPA, and Space Otter, a pale ale.
255 Mullet Run St., Milford • 491-6623

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