5 Weekend Trips to Take from Dover, DE
Sometimes you just need a little adventure. Luckily, you’ll find a wide range of choices not far from the capital city of Dover, where our award-winning 55+ community is located. From lighthouses to house museums and train rides, Delaware is rich in history. Each destination has plenty of restaurants and overnight lodging options as well. Here are 5 Weekend Trips to Take from Dover, DE.
Less than an hour from Dover, Delaware’s largest city of Wilmington is a social history lover’s dream. From important stops along the Underground Railroad Network to civil rights activism and a small venture that started the rise of the duPonts, one of America’s wealthiest families in the 1800s, Wilmington has it all. This could easily be a weekend adventure. Here are three interesting things to do when you visit:
- Take a ride on the Wilmington & Western Railroad. Travel back in time and board a steam- or diesel-powered tourist train for a 10-mile journey through the countryside. As you look out the window of the restored Royal Blue Coaches, you’ll spy the waters of Red Clay Creek several times as you travel between the Greenbank and Hockessin stations. Open weekends in the spring through December 30th.
- Stroll the luxurious gardens and the ornate mansion of the 3,000 acre Nemours Estate and marvel at the gorgeous Louis XIV style of French architecture. Built as a gift for his young wife and named after his French great-great–grandfather, Alfred duPont spared no expense in creating this spectacular home.
- Music and theater lovers will be thrilled to see live performances of Broadway shows and other educational programs at the Grand Opera House. This majestic performing arts venue has been in operation for over 140 years.
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, DE
Approximately an hour and half’s drive from Dover, plan a day at Winterthur, the 175-room former home of Henry Francis duPont. Well known as the “premier museum of American decorative arts,” this sprawling estate also includes a world-class research library that traces American history from colonial times to the present. End your visit by unwinding in nature as you wander the 60-acre artistically designed garden that blooms in color all year long.
Fenwick Island, DE
Less than two hours from Dover, Fenwick Island is a nice day trip and provides a little something for everyone. After spending a few hours at the beach, cool down indoors and see a vast collection of treasures from the deep.
- If you love time at the shore, you’ll be happy walking on the soft sands along the ocean at Fenwick Island State Park, the southernmost beach in Delaware. Activities available include swimming, surf fishing, kayaking, boating, and horseback riding on the beach from November through April.
- If tales of buried treasure filled your imagination in your youth, take a look at the real-life pieces of history recovered primarily by the owner of DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. Funded by public donations, this museum showcases over 10,000 shipwreck and colonial artifacts such as gold bars and Spanish coins, many from deep sea dives. As a maritime history enthusiast and passionate archaeologist, the owner shares stories behind the significance of the treasures in his museum.
Only 45 minutes from Dover, spend a day in the coastal town of Lewes (pronounced like Lewis) known for its unique history. Originally settled by the Dutch, it was bombarded by the British during the War of 1812, attacked by pirates and is known today as the base for the Delaware Bay and River Pilots Association. Enjoy your own adventure on the water or explore maritime and Dutch history indoors.
A family-owned and family-friendly business, Fisherman’s Wharf offers sunset cruises as well as dolphin and whale watch cruises. Enjoy the fresh air and see the beauty of the water on a narrated cruise down the Lewes-Rehoboth canal and out into the Roosevelt inlet. Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are the most common sight. Full and half-day fishing trips are also offered, and you can enjoy a fresh seafood meal at their restaurant, the Wheelhouse, right at the wharf.
- You can’t miss the red brick and colorfully ornate architecture of the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes. Named for Delaware’s first European colony, Swanendael, was established by the Dutch in 1631 as a whaling post. This colony became known as New Netherland and would eventually contain the land which today is known as New York, New Jersey and Delaware. This museum contains a huge collection of photos and antique items showcasing the maritime, military and social history of Lewes.
Cape May, NJ
Turn your day trip in Lewes into a weekend adventure by adding a visit to Cape May, New Jersey. Start by driving your car right onto the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Once your car is safely loaded on board, you can enjoy seating on the middle or upper deck outside or inside in the enclosed Lido deck. When you’re not looking at the view, have a drink and a snack during the hour and half hour ferry ride. It’s a nice excursion and a shorter alternative than driving over land!
Don’t miss the elegant gingerbread architecture of the largest collection of Victorian homes on the East Coast. A windy day back in November of 1878 contributed to a historic fire that burned 40 acres of property in downtown Cape May. When residents rebuilt, the architecture reflected the time. Look for the Victorian homes on Columbia Ave., Perry St., Jackson St. and Ocean St. A number of them have been transformed into unique bed and breakfast lodging for guests.
- You’ll want to take photos of the 360-degree view atop the Cape May Lighthouse; it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Cape Henlopen, almost 25 miles away. This 157-foot tall lighthouse has 199 wrought iron steps inside that you can climb and tickets are available for advance purchase online. There’s also a visitor’s center and souvenir shop on the grounds so if you don’t want to climb to the top, you can still learn all about the lighthouse through books and photos.
- For an upscale overnight treat, book a room at Congress Hall. A popular summer destination for the wealthy, this elegant hotel built in 1868 feels like you’ve wandered onto a movie set for the Great Gatsby. Originally constructed as a large seaside boarding house, it was known as “Tommy’s Folly” by townspeople. When its owner later became a member of Congress and his colleagues started visiting to escape the Washington heat, he renamed it Congress Hall.
For a small state, Delaware is rich in history and seaside attractions. Not far from Dover, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do. From performances at the Grand Opera house in Wilmington, to the fascinating museum, garden and library of Winterthur and beach experience of Fenwick, there’s history all around. Enjoy time exploring the Dutch history or fresh seafood in Lewes and then take the ferry over to Cape May, NJ to see Victorian mansions and a grand old hotel. Next time you’re looking for a little adventure, enjoy one of these 5 Weekend Trips to Take from Dover, DE.
Noble’s Pond homeowners take part in trips like these regularly, thanks to the award-winning lifestyle director found at the community. If local travel, and beyond, is something that interests you as you are exploring 55+ active lifestyle communities, you are going to love Noble’s Pond. Contact us today to learn more!