When you think of Coastal Delaware, you may dream of the beach, the boardwalk, & summer vacation. Yes, all of these elements are key to the experience, however, the area also comes with a rich history, museums not to be missed, and some of the oldest landmarks in the state. Tiny beach towns with incredible stories to tell. We were delightfully surprised with what we uncovered in our own backyard.
Opened in 2014, Dogfish teamed up with Studio Tack and Lighthouse Construction in Magnolia to design and renovate the property. The hotel comes complete with a treasure hunt: Somewhere on the walls of each room, Delaware artist Steve Rogers painted a portrait of the Lightship Overfalls, a National Historic Landmark (and one of only 17 remaining lightships). The actual lightship is docked just a few hundred feet away, in Lewes Harbor.
Boat adventures are typically one of the main ingredients that help make up any classic seaside town and Lewes is no exception. What started as a one boat operation has grown into a full-fleet, full-scale fishing and cruise group offering dolphin & whale watching, fishing charters, and sunset cruises. Since 1937, Fisherman’s Wharf is proud to be a “family-run, family-fun, family-friendly” business with 3 generations of Parsons waiting to welcome you aboard.
Best known for its heroic surfmen’s actions during the great Bilzzard of 1888, the station exhibits the tools and artifacts used by the surfmen to rescue the victims of shipwrecks up and down the coast.
When the water is too deep, or otherwise unsuitable to construct a permanent light, these floating lighthouse vessels take to the waves to ensure safe passage for others at sea. Little did we know that one of the rarest of them all was located right here in Lewes, Delaware.
Named due to the battle scars it bears from a little run-in with the British in 1813. During the Bombardment of Lewes, the British attacked the town and kept the canal front under siege, but eventually were defeated with the help of two forts that once sat in the park across the street.
Perhaps one of the most unique structures in the entire town, the 17th Century Dutch architectural elements of the Zwaanendael Museum may make you believe you are nearer to the Netherlands then you are. But check your map, and you’ll find you’re almost 4,000 miles (~6400 km) West in Lewes, Delaware.
For the perfect morning pick me up, you’ve come to the right place.With more than 125 different types of coffee to choose from, along with homemade baked goods, it is no wonder they have been a Lewes staple for over 30 years.
Built in 1665, it is purportedly the oldest surviving house in the state of Delaware. Now owned & operated by the Lewes Historical Society, it was run for a time by Philip Russell, who was “recorded as a cupbearer to William Penn”.
Formed in the 1960s by a group of preservationists who would not sit idly by as many historic homes in the area were being torn down, the LHS has sought to preserve the city’s impactful history and connect the past with the present beach town. While some historical societies may have one headquarters to call home, this city’s historical society has a campus—a testament to their decades-long effort to share Lewes’ history.
Opened in 2013 the candy shop includes over 220 jars full of colorful sweets line the shelves, and the top-end chocolates. Owner Leisa Berlin searches nationwide for the highest-quality, most unique chocolates and candy available.
Legend has it that the Fountain of Youth was discovered by the area’s first Dutch colonists in 1631. A spiral conch shell cup that hung from the gazebo was said to boost the waters’ regenerative powers. Unfortunately, the shell has since gone missing along with the fountain’s magical powers.
No, you’re not looking at a UFO, nor are you on the set of a movie. What you see here is a Futuro House. One of less than 100 ever produced, providing owners a taste of the “Jet and Space Age way of living”.
Designed in Finland in the 1960s as a hopeful solution to the world’s housing shortage, these prefab, fiberglass, flying-saucer domiciles were created to be “quick to heat and easy to construct in rough terrain”. Unfortunately the dream was not realized.
What began as Delaware’s first brewpub, grew well beyond the first 12–gallon batches of ‘off-centered ales for off-centered people’. By 2018, the family-operated organization became one of America’s largest & most well-known breweries producing ~15,000 gallons of beer every single day.
The Milton Historical Society was founded in 1970 when the town recognized the importance of preserving the history of Milton and the Broadkill Hundred. The museum is located in a former Methodist Church that was originally built in 1857.
In 1978, Tom and his wife Chris King saw a delicious business opportunity in Lewes, Delaware–opening up their own ice cream shop. Tom’s father already owned King’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop in nearby Milton, but the couple thought the “beachy” town of Lewes was perfect for a second location. Up against the recession of the late 1970s, risky interest rates, and humbugs, the Kings decided to risk it all to create what would become a nightly summertime tradition.
Erected circa 1910, the two-story building served, at one time or another, as the town’s movie theatre, basketball hall, fire station, social center & community stage. Since its reopening five years ago, the Milton Theatre has been a catalyst for the flourishing arts and entertainment scene in the region.
Guiding ships at sea is one thing, but enduring hurricane force winds while doing so is a whole ‘nother level of lighthouse badassery. According to a logbook entry in 1929 by lightkeeper Robert C. Taylor, the Harbor of Refuge Light once braved such a gale in the dead of night and somehow managed to see the light of day.
Situated at the mouth of the Delaware Bay along the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Henlopen has been open to the public for centuries since William Penn, the founder of the nearby state of Pennsylvania, decreed the area as public lands for the Delaware colony in 1682. Over 200 years later, it officially became Cape Henlopen State Park.
With seafood sustainably sourced exclusively from the Chesapeake and Maine region, this restaurant brings Dogfish Head’s connection to both areas together in a unique & delicious way.This coastal themed seafood & cocktail bar is decked out with original artwork from fantastical nautical maps to an alley of sea monsters.Look closely and you might even find Elvis Presley portrayed as a pirate.
When life gives lemons, consider bringing them over to Archie’s.This picture perfect, tiny shop estimates they go through a whopping 600 lemons per day for their fresh squeezed lemonade and offers 10 different flavors to choose from.
No one likes sand in their salt water taffy. Well, perhaps you do, but thanks to some local mechanics who saved the 3,500lb (~1500kg) ‘Rolls-Royce’ of taffy machines from the deep dredges of the beach, when you swing by the iconic Dolles candy store you can count on finding fresh, chewy, sand-free taffy.
Step back in time and see what life was like as part of the night beach patrol back in the late 1800’s. Built in 1876, the Life-Saving Station has been carefully restored and now serves as a museum where you can learn what it took to rescue shipwreck victims during the heyday of coastal trading.