15 Best Small Towns to Visit in Delaware

As early as 1787, Delaware was created as the first official state of the modern United States. Today, it is one of the smallest countries in size and population. Small towns can be found everywhere, most of which have well-preserved historic buildings, parks and natural landscapes. Interestingly, almost the small towns you visit will play an important role in American history. While many small towns may appear similar on the surface, each has a unique personality that can only be understood by visiting it in person.

Travelers love Delaware for its historic sites and museums, incredible landmarks, friendly neighborhoods, and peaceful life. On the coast, expect colorful houses, boating, clean beaches and good weather. Some beach towns are lively, while others are completely relaxed. Inland, you can easily find wildlife habitats, garden paths and old mansions. Odes to ancient Native American culture also abound.

If you like shopping, Delaware is a great place to visit as there is no sales tax. Many boutiques, artists, and luxury stores take advantage of this fact, so the quality of the mall is top-notch in this small state. If you’re traveling the entire East Coast of the United States, keep that empty suitcase handy when you arrive in Delaware.

Here are the 15 best small towns in Delaware:

1. Clayton

From 1850 to 1950, Clayton was primarily a railroad town, once known for transporting peaches and part of Delaware’s first railroad. Visitors can get a taste of this history by visiting the red brick monument at Clayton Station.

Culturally, Clayton, despite its small size, has a lot going for it. Catch a live performance at the Smyrna Opera House, Schwartz Center for the Arts, or watch a children’s play at the Dover and Kent County Children’s Theatre. You can use Clayton as a base to visit a nearby Civil War fort and learn more about that era from the Union’s perspective.

2. Odessa

Odessa is an 18th century village that cherishes its identity and manages to maintain its colonial heritage. Visitors can take part in a variety of activities centered on recreating what was once life—like the Heart of the Heart Cooking Workshop at the Historic Odessa Foundation. Most of Odessa’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and there’s even a guided walking trail through the most photogenic neighborhoods.

Sip a drink at Cantwell’s Tavern, shop for antiques, and enjoy a hearty meal at one of Odessa’s restaurants. Visit during the Christmas holidays for a truly unique experience you won’t find anywhere else.

3. Milton

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy their time in the sun in the small town of Milton near the Broadkill River and Edward H. McCabe Preserve. Here you can fish, kayak, hike, stand up paddle and explore wildlife areas. Or, just hop on a boat and pass the time.

See also  15 Best things to do in Glasgow (DE)

In town, Dogfish Head Brewery has a farmers market, historic buildings, spa, arts center, shops and craft beer. To experience the full community vibe, visit at one of the many festivals such as Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Festival, Broadkill Banjo and Seafood Festival or Holly Festival.

4. Kitts Hill

Kitts Hummock is a seaside town with a tight-knit community that welcomes visitors once the sun starts to shine. Americans have used Kitts Hummock Beach as their primary vacation destination since the late 1700s, and therefore consider it their American pastime. Today, colonial cottages, local taverns and a few bed and breakfast options remain.

Kitts Hummock owns Dickinson Plantation, Ted Harvey Reserve and St. Jones Reserve. Delaware locals and out-of-state tourists alike use Kitschumock Beach as a vacation destination.

5. Bowers

It’s easy to feel nostalgic in the small town of Powers, which has the tagline “The Way of the Past.” Those who enjoy water sports like kayaking, boating, swimming or fishing will feel right at home on the shores of this small beach community. The locals are energetic, friendly and eclectic – so don’t be surprised if they start calling you by your first name. You can explore the area by boat or stop inland at the Powers Beach Maritime Museum. The museum often hosts fun events such as pirate-themed festivals, parades, and live entertainment.

Dine on delicious home-cooked meals at cozy-style restaurants like The Bayview Tavern, or sample locally sourced seafood at JP’s Wharf. Bowers is also an ideal base for exploring nearby parks, the St. Jones River and the Murderkill River.

6. Bethel

If you like old buildings, you’ll love Bethel, a town with fewer than 200 residents. The Victorian-style buildings were once built by boatmakers when the town was a major boatbuilding community. Today, you can learn about its interesting history by visiting the community home, walking through Bethel Memorial Park, and visiting the home of a famous captain. While the buildings are mostly Victorian, most of the buildings actually date back much earlier.

7. Lewis

Founded in 1631, Lewes can be found at the junction of Delaware Bay with Cape Henlopen, right next to Cape Henlopen State Park. This beautiful town is completely walkable, so you can spend the weekend exploring museums, restaurants, historic districts and boutiques without ever stepping into your car. There are a variety of accommodation options, from luxury villas to manicured campsites to suit your comfort needs.

Lewis also attracts cyclists and hikers who like to zip along the Breakwater Trail, Gordon Pond Trail and the beach. Some trails are stroller and wheelchair friendly, making the trails a fun excursion for families and those with physical disabilities.

See also  15 Best Romantic (Weekend) Getaways in Delaware

8. Bethany Beach

Other beach resort towns in Delaware are often crowded and busy, especially during peak season. However, Bethany Beach is a beautiful beach town that offers a more peaceful vibe. Whether you’re traveling with your family or alone, you’ll love Bethany Beach as a quiet getaway.

Visit Bethany Beach during the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Festival, then stop at Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market. The beach is also an ideal base for the Assawoman Bay State Wildlife Area. When in town, be sure to order the seafood of the day at Bluecoast Seafood Grille and stop by Mango’s for a lively atmosphere.

9. Millsboro

Walk down Main Street in Millsboro and you’ll find a “Welcome” banner across the road. This kind of hospitality pervades the whole town. You can go fishing or charter a boat, play golf, or even explore the nearby freshwater ponds and streams. The town is also a bird’s paradise, so be sure to add binoculars to your packing list. There are a variety of accommodation options and homely family-style restaurants to meet your basic needs while in Millsboro.

Millsboro also has a well-preserved culture that dates back to the South Ticock Native Americans having sole custody of the land. Today, their history is celebrated at the Nantickok Indian Museum.

10. New Castle

When it comes to historic towns, New Castle is one of the best preserved in the country. Cobblestone streets with colonial-style buildings surround the Delaware River. You can learn about its interesting past at the historic Newcastle Court Museum (it was once owned by Swedes, Dutch and British). Nearly every garden is meticulously manicured, especially around the Amstel House and Emanuel Episcopal Church.

Throughout the year, New Castle hosts lively events such as barbecue festivals, beer festivals, food festivals and competitions of many types.

If you want to experience what life was like for colonial Americans, look no further than Newcastle.

11. Delaware City

Want to go to scary places? There’s an enchanting aura surrounding Delaware City, thanks to the resident ghosts that linger around it. Delaware City is also one of the only ways to access Pea Patch Island – Fort Delaware, a fortress that was used as a prison by the Union Army during the Civil War. If you want to meet the spirits of the past, you can take a ghost tour at the fort or take part in a paranormal fair.

In addition to the creepy attractions, there are cruise nights, concerts, canal festivals, craft shows, fitness competitions, antique shows and more to experience. The town itself is situated on tranquil waters where you can go boating and fishing.

See also  15 things to do in Lewis (DE)

12. Seaford

Seaford is a coastal town with plenty of parks, historic sites and interesting attractions. Most notably, the Ross Mansion and Plantation were once owned by former Governor William Ross. While visiting the plantation, you can learn more about the dark history that took place during the Civil War. The Seaford Museum also displays Native American artifacts, Independence War documents, and other interesting past items.

Over the Christmas period, Seaford hosts the largest parade on the Delmarva peninsula, overdoing it in terms of entertainment and holiday cheer. Nanticoke Riverfest is a must-attend summer event that includes rafting down the Nanticoke River on an inner tube or stand-up paddle board.

Seaford is also the perfect hub for exploring nearby attractions Woodland Ferry, UNOI Mill and Patty Cannon House.

13. Wyoming

Imagine a mirrored calm pond surrounded by manicured lawns, playgrounds, play areas and picnic facilities. It can all be found in Wyoming Parks. The small town of Wyoming (the self-proclaimed best) focuses on building a strong sense of community and comfort.

Interestingly, it is best known for its peaches. Every summer, the town hosts the Peach Blossom Festival, serving a variety of peach pies, peach-flavored ice cream, and a visit to Fifer Orchards, the largest peach orchard in the state.

14. Rehoboth Beach

Colorful, vibrant and never boring, Rehoboth Beach is the perfect place for adventurous travelers who like to spend all their time by the sea. Stroll along the restaurant-lined boardwalk, dip your toes in the sea, and keep an eye out for free concerts by local musicians. The town is known for attracting an eclectic mix of art people who love to share their work in boutique art stores and galleries. The restaurants at Rehoboth Beach are above standard and usually have a fun atmosphere, so come hungry and leave room for dessert.

There are also four major parks for relaxation, Rehoboth Beach is not far from Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore State Park.

15. Arden

Arden is perhaps one of the most charming towns in Delaware — if not the entire country. It was built by two utopian architects who wanted to create a single-tax community focused solely on equality and solidarity. Homes designed by founder Will Price are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Citizens believe in simplified spelling, support live theater (especially Shakespeare’s “gilded” performances), and welcome visitors of all kinds.

If you visit Arden, you’ll want to stay a few more days for the full experience. Here, people created the place, not the area’s attractions.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Delaware (DE)
Lowest price guaranteed.