Governor Jack Markell on Delaware's Hidden Treasures

The state’s variety of activities surprises even lifetime residents.

No matter how well you think you know Delaware, there always seems to be a surprise in store.

Maybe it’s discovering the grand groves of bald cypress trees at Trap Pond State Park, the northernmost stands of these magnificent giants in the nation. Or finding out that Delaware beaches have been rated as having the nation’s cleanest ocean water, year after year.

No matter how long you’ve lived here, or how many times you visit, Delaware always seems to deliver a new experience. Maybe it’s a treetop adventure at the Go Ape zipline course at Lums Pond State Park, or just a quiet moment watching thousands of migrating birds fill the sky at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In historic towns like Old New Castle and Lewes, the discoveries seem to emerge around each corner, visit after visit. And no matter what time of year it is, there’s sure to be a fun Delaware festival brewing, whether it’s the offbeat revelry of Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler’s Festival, the world-class music acts of Firefly Music Festival and Big Barrel Country Festival, or the uniquely Delaware delights of the Bridgeville Apple Scrapple Festival.

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The more you get to know Delaware, the more you realize that perhaps no other state packs so much adventure, so much history and culture, and so many diverse attractions and events into such a convenient and affordable package. In the north, be sure to take a day or two to explore the grand DuPont family mansions and their world-class gardens. Spend an evening enjoying a dinner at one of Wilmington’s fine restaurants, then catch a Broadway show at The Playhouse on Rodney Square, or a top musical act at the Queen Theatre or Grand Opera House. Wrap up the weekend with a visit to Wilmington’s vibrant Christina Riverfront district, filled with restaurants, museums and fun.

Heading south, you’ll find that Delaware begins to embrace a distinctly country flair and an unspoiled natural beauty, as shown at such off-the-beaten path treasures as Harvest Ridge Winery (part of the Delaware Beer, Wine and Spirits Trail) and the Amish farmlands of Western Kent County. Kent County’s also a hotspot for history and culture, from the Colonial-era authenticity of the John Dickinson Plantation to the rare historic aircraft of the Air Mobility Command Museum. More adventuresome travelers will find all the fun they crave at Dover Downs, home of twice-yearly NASCAR races and a full-service casino.

As your travels take you into the coastal areas of Sussex County, you’ll discover quickly why Delaware’s beaches consistently rank among the top in the nation for family fun. From the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach to the beaches of Fenwick Island, Delaware’s seashore resorts possess soothing charm, unspoiled beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure on the ocean and in the bays at three big state parks along the coast.

No matter where you go in Delaware, you’ll also discover endless shopping options at Delaware’s tax-free malls and boutiques, ranging from the upscale shops of Christiana Mall to the brand-name bargains at Tanger Outlet Centers near Rehoboth Beach. And all across the state, history buffs will find a rich legacy, ranging from the original DuPont gunpowder mills of Hagley Museum to the well-preserved Civil War fortress-prison of Fort Delaware to the Colonial-era charms of Historic New Castle and Dover.

Chances are, you’ll also discover that all of this history—all of the beauty and adventure—is amazingly convenient and accessible. In just a day, from any point in the state, travelers can go from the rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley to lush farmlands and scenic wildlife refuges to miles of sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.

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While you’re out exploring all of those options, you’ll probably also discover that Delaware is the kind of place that seems familiar. It seems friendly, comfortable, and congenial. It seems like a place that we all find ourselves seeking, all through our lives:

It kind of seems like home.

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