By Ashley Breeding, Matt Amis, Eileen Smith Dallabrida, Pam George and Angie Gray
The stretch between New Year’s Day and the return of daylight saving time in March can seem endless. Inhospitable weather and long nights take a toll on your spirit and strength. Fill the gap with mood-boosting activities that are fun, nurturing and rewarding.
Open your eyes. Delaware Art Museum’s (delart.org ) exhibit Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection features more than 60 highly fragile objects spanning over 30 years of the famous glassmaker’s prolific career. The showcase opens March 12.
Get cultured. Check out the Biggs Museum of American Art (biggsmuseum.org ) in February for an all-new juried exhibition highlighting the work of regional African American artists, including works of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, craft, fiber and video.
Take in a show. A futuristic, gamer-inspired dreamscape awaits as Delaware Theatre Company (delawaretheatre.org ) unveils Other World: A New Musical on February 23, featuring art direction from Academy Award–winning Weta Workshop, the New Zealand–based special effects and prop company that contributed to The Lord of the Rings and Avatar.
Listen to the music (whoa, oh). Sway away to blues-rock guitar savant Tinsley Ellis at intimate Arden Gild Hall (ardenconcerts.com ) on February 12. Or moonwalk to MJ Live, a Michael Jackson Tribute Concert, a back-by-popular-demand spectacle of song and dance at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino (doverdowns.com ) on February 11.
Have a good laugh. Comedian Lucas Bohn, who’s shared the stage with Dave Chappelle and Jimmy Fallon, brings his hipster dad swagger to historic Milton Theatre (miltontheatre.com ) on February 4. Or give open-mic night a try yourself, testing out those one-liners you’ve been practicing around the office at Wilmington’s House of Laffs (houseoflaffs.com ). Also buckle in for Whitney Cummings at The Grand (
thegrandwilmington.org ). The comedian, podcaster and writer behind the NBC series Whitney and Emmy-nominated CBS series 2 Broke Girls brings her sexed-up Touch Me tour to Wilmington on February 5.
Go out. Move your body. Stimulate your mind. Take it back to the 1990s and lace up your vintage roller skates, then hit the open skate session at Dover Skating Center (doverskate.com ) on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Get footloose. At the Christina Cultural Arts Center downtown (ccacde.org ), dance classes include ballet, African, hip-hop, jazz and adult jazz. The nonprofit also has music classes.
Work the kitchen like a pro. Private cooking classes are back at Chef’s Haven in Hockessin (chefshavende.com ), where Chef Mark teaches you how to prepare fine meals from a winter harvest.
Knit one, purl one. Scarves, sweaters and throws come in handy in winter. Learn to make your own at The Yarn Maven (theyarnmaven.com/gathering ), which offers knitting and crocheting classes as well as advanced courses on making sweaters, blankets and building blocks.
Tap your inner creative. From painting and drawing to ceramics and photography, the Delaware Art Museum (delart.org ) and the Creative Center for the Arts (ccarts.org ) have a full roster of classes for all levels. The Rehoboth Art League’s (rehobothartleague.org ) catalog is equally impressive, and there are classes for kids, teens and adults. Landscape painting, pottery and watercolors are a few of the classes at Mispillion Art League (mispillionarts.org ).
Taste the sunshine. The Hawaiian-themed Nalu Surf Bar & Grill in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach (nalusurfbar.com ) stays open all winter, and there are some sunny specials, including Aloha Hour from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, and $6 pineapple margaritas on Mondays.
Spice things up. Some like it hot, and those in the know patronize Southeast Kitchen in Trolley Square, whose spicy curries will turn up the heat on your taste buds (southeastkitchen.net ).
Enjoy the winter perks. Linger over a steaming latte and catch up with friends simultaneously. Kent County buds gather at The House of Coffi (672-0059).
Enjoy off-season specials. Coastal restaurants tempt locals with half-priced burgers or bottles of wine, steak nights and check discounts. Rehobothfoodie.com has a list of specials. Also, visit restaurant websites. SoDel Concepts restaurants, for instance, list the daily specials on their landing pages.
Taste an iconic Delaware comfort food. Now is the season to sample a Sussex County staple: chicken with slippery dumplings. Expect squares, not round balls. The dish is labor-intensive to make, which is why you’ll find it on certain days in most restaurants. The Southern Grille of Ellendale (thesoutherngrilles.com ) offers the dish on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Work out the tension. Once considered a luxury, massage is now an integral part of many wellness programs. There are many styles, including the well-known Swedish and shiatsu. Visit a local spa, or have a practitioner like Aimee Moulder (753-7999) come to you, and enjoy a relaxing treatment in the privacy of your own home.
Indulge in some pampering. Many local salons and spas have packages. Bad Hair Day? in Rehoboth Beach (badhairday.biz ) offers the Queen for the Day for women and Prince Charming for men. Both include manicure, pedicure, massage, facial, shampoo and lunch. Women also get a blow-dry and makeup application.
Sweat out the bad feelings. Perform a vinyasa in summer-like heat at the Hockessin Athletic Club (hachealthclub.com), which offers a variety of perspiration-producing classes. Need a personalized approach? At Harmony Yoga Therapy in Wilmington (harmonyyogatherapy.com ), founder Diana Hoscheit customizes a routine to bring physical, mental and spiritual balance. And at Ritter Family Farms (goatjoy.com ), you can do your downward facing dog with—goats.
Shed the skin you’re in. A great facial will make you look as refreshed and cheerful as you feel after warrior-posing with goats. Two to try: Carey McCoy at Abel Aesthetics (abelaesthetics.com ) and Avenue Apothecary and Spa (227-5649; avenuedayspa), which specializes in all-natural products.
Take a breath. Many people don’t understand how their breathing affects their overall well-being. The Art of Living (393-5521) shows you how to connect with your breath and improve your mood.
Stoke the fire. Most hygge fun happens near or around a fire. Don’t have a fireplace? Angerstein’s (angersteins.com ) sells gas and electric fireplaces. Some are freestanding; others are inserted or mounted.
Wind your way through rural Kent County on Route 9 to Leipsic, population 178, a tiny fishing town on the river of the same name. Drink in views of water and wetlands at Sambo’s Tavern (facebook.com/sambostavern ), famous for its crab dishes. If you want to catch your own, stop at Smith’s Bait Shop, where expert fishing tips are dispensed by the seasoned proprietors along with the bait. Or travel down the road to birdwatch at nearby Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/refuge/bombay_hook).
Terminating at Trap Pond State Park, the 40-mile Nanticoke Heritage Byway (nanticokeheritagebyway.org ) is a pleasant way to take in lower, slower Delaware and the western Sussex County towns of Seaford, Bethel and Laurel. Stop along the way for a hike at Phillips Landing State Park, where a monument commemorates the meeting of Capt. John Smith with Nanticoke chiefs during his 1605–1607 exploration. Cross the river via the Woodland Ferry. Founded in the 1760s, it’s America’s oldest continuously operating ferry.
A network of 28 backroads within the Red Clay watershed, the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway includes the Ashland Bridge, one of Delaware’s two surviving covered bridges. Make a day of it because there’s a lot to enjoy. Expect a picturesque blend of northern New Castle County’s loveliest topography and historic places of interest, including the village of Hockessin; Mount Cuba, a nature center and observatory; Auburn Heights, an estate and steam museum; Wilmington and Western Railroad, a vintage train on a scenic route; and Coverdale Farm Preserve, a showcase for regenerative agricultural methods.
Follow in the footsteps of African American freedom seekers on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 95-mile stretch that starts in Kent County, winds through New Castle County and terminates at the Pennsylvania state line. It includes 13 stops along the Underground Railroad, including Quaker meeting houses, the Corbit-Sharp House in Odessa and a marker in Wilmington at the site where the home and store of abolitionist Thomas Garrett once stood.
Only 12 miles long, the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway (delawaregreenways.org ) travels through the heart of Wilmington’s oldest neighborhoods, then out into the rolling hills of Château Country, dotted with grand estates. Along the way, enjoy Wilmington’s Kentmere Parkway, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York’s Central Park, then move on to landscaped country gardens at stately homes-turned-museums, including three former du Pont estates: Nemours, Winterthur and Hagley.
Get away to historic New Castle at the David Finney Inn, whose roots go back to 1685. Guests can book through Airbnb to enjoy nights in apartment-style suites, coffee and danish in the morning from the downstairs coffee shop, and meals in Booth House Tavern (boothhousetavern.com ). Battery Park, a relaxing green space with panoramic views of the Delaware River, and local shops are within red-brick steps of the inn.
The brewers of Dogfish Head craft beer pride themselves on their fun, off-center image, and the Dogfish Inn (dogfish.com/inn ) reflects that vibe. Although it’s been completely restored, the inn retains the hip, funky feeling of the 1950s motel it once was. Bring your bike or ride one provided by your host. (There’s air for your tires, too.) Its central downtown Lewes location is also pedestrian friendly, and is a short walk from bars, restaurants and shops. Communing with other guests at the firepit or outdoor game area is encouraged.
Newly renovated in midcentury style, Atlantic Sands (atlanticsandshotel.com ) retains its tradition of exceptionally friendly service and spectacular ocean vistas. Located on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, rooms feature private balconies ideal for taking in beach views or people-watching. In summer, cool off with a dip in the outdoor pool. In winter, reserve a room with a Jacuzzi. Year-round, savor a drink in the Sandcrab Beach Bar. Parking is no problem, even in high season, as guests get a complimentary spot in the multistory garage.
Once a settlement for laborers at DuPont mills, the Inn at Montchanin Village and Spa (montchanin.com ) dates back to 1799 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. These days, the village is an elegant retreat with 11 restored cottages, most with intimate courtyards and fireplaces. In all, there are 28 guest rooms with period reproduction furniture and marble baths. The on-site spa is known for luxurious treatments in a tranquil setting. Kamala Harris celebrated her election as vice president at Krazy Kat’s, the inn’s glamorous restaurant.
Outdoorsy types can rent an affordable vacation cabin, with winter rates as low as $57 a night, at family-friendly Killens Pond (destateparks.com ). Or reserve an RV spot or tent site. Rent a boat or go fishing in the park’s serene 66-acre millpond.
Kids can spend those long winter hours (and energy) at Delaware Children’s Museum (delawarechildrensmuseum.org )— but make sure you’re there at 12:30 p.m. when the fish at the aquarium chow down on lunch. With diverse exhibits spread across an expansive campus, the museum is the perfect blend of brains and bonkers— with its winding Strasotphere ladder-ball, virtual banking simulator, and a regular calendar of workshops, activities and more.
Witnessing the majesty of a Vietnam War-era C-123K Provider aircraft up close and personal brings out the kid in anyone at the Air Mobility Command Museum (amcmuseum.org ). Explore Dover’s longtime favorite, which features more than 30 real aircraft and more cool buttons, switches and gadgets than kids can imagine, plus free flight simulators.
An inflatable, pastel-colored dreamland,Shell We Bounce (shellwebounce.com ) is the ultimate indoor romp for kids. The husband-and-wife owners designed the bouncy oasis with safety and fun in mind, meaning the big kids can knock each other silly into the foam, while the little ones have their own places to climb, crawl and play.
Just like The Matrix—only without the downer apocalypse vibes—Bear’s Ctrl V Arcade (ctrlvarcade.com/location/bear ) allows kids to enter dozens of virtual reality worlds, from living out superhero fantasies to blasting zombies’ brains out. Book ahead for an hour or two—and be prepared to get sucked into the fun yourself.
Lefty’s Bowling and Eats (iloveleftys.com ) is the Lewes hot spot with a knack for pleasing all generations—hosting both monthly wine dinners and the beach area’s coolest kids’ parties. Kick your Velcro’d shoes up at one of 16 luxury bowling lanes and let the kids get their game on at the arcade or laser tag course.
Be a Caribbean queen. Winter woes don’t stand a chance in St. Lucia. Luxurious spas and hotels, like the world-renowned Ladera Resort or Jade Mountain, offer top-notch pampering. Volcanic beaches, hot springs and delicious local cuisine are perfect for those looking to wind down. Adrenaline junkies will jump at the opportunity to scuba dive, zip line or hike the Pitons (a UNESCO-listed must-see).
Get lost inside Cambodia. Angkor Wat, the renowned 12th-century temple complex built for the Hindu god Vishnu, is a classic example of Khmer architecture and a main draw for tourism in this Southeast Asian locale. However, there’s plenty more to boast about: In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, modern culture thrives. Take in a traditional Apsara dance performance, dine on amok (steamed coconut fish in banana leaves) or visit a colorful, bustling market (on foot or by boat)! Outside the city, take in captivating landscapes, from turquoise seas to lush green jungles. See if your aura isn’t the same pretty colors when you return.
Step back in time in Puerto Rico. While only a short flight from Philadelphia, San Juan, Puerto Rico, feels a world away. Admire the historical sites, museums shops and coffee houses in Old San Juan, including the impressive El Morro fort. Explore the United States’ only tropical rainforest: the breathtaking El Yunque. At nighttime, hop in a kayak to cruise one of the bioluminescent bays, or go rappelling at Cañon San Cristóbal. Just want to relax and soak up some sun? You have 300 beautiful beaches to choose from.
If you’re gonna play in Texas, Austin is the hot spot this winter. The 65 F average temps are perfect for an outdoor mural tour while exploring all this cool city has to offer. Picnic on the shores of Lake Austin or Barton Springs. Meander through the Botanical Gardens or browse the eclectic shops in the trendy SoCo district. Catch a sunset on Mount Bonnell, then head out for some live music and barhopping on Rainey Street. Stay at one of many cool hotels downtown and consider renting a scooter to zip to all the nearby destinations.
Go wild for horses and ride to Assateague Island National Seashore (Berlin, Maryland; nps.gov ), where the Atlantic Ocean turns aqua-green and its waves break onto Caribbean-white sands. The surrounding grasslands are scenic in themselves, but the real treasure is the hundreds of wild ponies that roam here and nearby Chincoteague, Virginia. The wind really whips the sand in winter, so dress warmly—and whatever you do, give the horses their space. The opposite of tame is “wild.”
Ditch the stress and head for the Poconos, where The Lodge at Woodloch awaits in Hawley. The destination spa offers a variety of packages, plus luxury accommodations, gourmet meals and a spa concierge to help plan your bespoke stay. Exercise classes and lectures promote wellness of mind, body and spirit. Get yourself moving in a Bollywood Boogie class or enjoy a hike around Lake Teedyuskung. Afterward, unwind with a Restorative Herbal Massage or refresh with a Winter Wake-Up Body Polish. In between, relax in the hydromassage waterfall or float in the warm pool surrounded by natural light.
In Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, many warm-weather favorites are still open in winter—and less crowded (read: more peaceful) Crosskeys Vineyard hosts Fireside Fridays with live music and award-winning wines. Enjoy a performance at the American Shakespeare Center or visit the Camera Heritage Museum. If you feel like braving the cold, there’s plenty to keep you busy— skiing, ice-skating, tubing and hiking, to name a few. Ready to warm up again? The Shenandoah Caverns boast a balmy 56 F even around the winter solstice, providing a perfectly cozy way to enjoy nature.
The city that never sleeps (that would be New York, New York) will keep you so busy that you’ll forget about the cold. Under a fresh blanket of snow, Central Park is a gorgeous and uniquely peaceful experience. Exit the park onto Museum Mile, where the Guggenheim, the Met or the Museum of the City of New York offer culture in a cozy atmosphere. Broadway shows are open and ready to welcome back theater enthusiasts after a too-long pandemic break. Local bars and restaurants offer warm, spiked drinks alongside belly-warming fare. Winter is also a great time to score a deal on that hip NYC hotel you’ve had your eye on.
Strike a pose. Thirteen interactive murals throughout the state provide a colorful backdrop for family photo ops. Upload your photos to the Visit Delaware site for a chance to win a prize. See the map at
Drink in the state’s history. The Delaware Tourism Office has compiled a list of craft breweries, wineries, meadery makers and distilleries for you to learn about and try. There’s even an app for it:
To the moon and back. Twice a month, psychic healer Mandie Stevenson hosts a Full Moon Gathering—one upstate, one downstate—offering sound and energy healing, plus a close sense of community. Scribble an intention on a piece of paper, which you’ll toss into the bonfire. Visit
mandiesmagicalmarketplace.org for exact locations each month.
Pedi to the metal. Mountain bikers know that some of the best rides happen in wintertime when rugged terrain is visible. White Clay Creek State Park has more than 37 miles of trails that give bikers views of historic sites and nature. 368-6900; destateparks.com .
Take a bath. Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing) is a sure way to combat seasonal sadness, even when leaves are long gone. At Killens Pond, naturalists lead winter hikes twice a month, and leashed dogs are welcome. Pre-register at 5025 Killens Pond Road, Felton; 284-4526; destateparks.com . Throughout the state, parks offer a bevy of baby slopes to ride down—for kids of all ages!
Refuge to the rescue. At Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (653-9345; fws.gov ), bald eagles start to nest, and pintail ducks appear in February. The migration of spring waterfowl peaks in March. To the south, look for snow geese in Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (11978 Turkle Pond Road, Milton; 684-8419; fws.gov ). When they depart, osprey take the stage. City dwellers can get back to nature at the Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge (1400 Delmarva Lane, Wilmington; 656-1490; delawarenaturesociety.org ), an urban preserve in Wilmington. Walk to the quarter-mile pond loop or take the 5.5-mile trek to New Castle.