Clayton is a small town in rural Delaware, located in Kent and Newcastle counties.
The town has about 4,000 residents and is located between Middletown in the north and Dover in the south. It’s just off US Route 13, the largest north-south highway in the state.
Although the town itself is small and the surrounding area is mainly agricultural, various attractions are within easy reach.
Museums, historic sites and state parks are popular, as are gaming venues, racing cars and scenic beaches.
Here are 15 things to do in and around Clayton that rank high on many travelers’ itineraries.
1. Taste of New York
Although it’s only been open for a little over a year, the New York taste of nearby Smyrna has gained a loyal following.
The restaurant’s founders worked at restaurants in the Big Apple before settling in Delaware, and the menu is full of traditional American fare.
Previous guests have commented on the restaurant’s authentic New York flavor, as well as its eclectic menu, from Reuben sandwiches and steaks to oxtail soups and pastas.
Taste of New York is also known for its Maryland-style crab cakes, which are made with fresh Delaware crab in season.
2. Brick Works Brewing and Eating
Delaware has a large percentage of locally owned and operated restaurants compared to most other states. In addition to serving home-cooked meals, many of them also serve delicious locally produced beers.
Brick Works Brewing and Eats in Smyrna is a favorite among locals and the leisure crowd. In addition to their dining room, there is a cozy outdoor seating area that is popular in spring, summer and early fall.
They have a wide variety of beers, from light and refreshing to dark and malty, and their menu items are designed to pair perfectly with a wide variety of beers.
3. Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village
Agriculture has always been an important driver of Delaware’s economy, and even today it employs a large portion of the state’s workforce.
Located on Dover’s North Dupont Highway, the Delaware Agriculture Museum houses thousands of agricultural-related memorabilia; many of which date back more than a century.
The outdoor portion of the museum includes historic buildings such as the schoolhouse and barn, as well as some vintage tractors and farm implements on display.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm and tickets are very cheap.
4. John Dickinson House
Although he is not as well known as other historical figures such as George Washington and John Hancock, John Dickinson played an important role in the founding of the nation.
John Dickinson House is located on Kitts Hummock Road in Dover. It was the home of a constitution framer more than two centuries ago.
At that time, Dickinson’s plantations were largely dependent on slave labor. Visitors agreed that it depicted a fascinating historical contrast of a wealthy man fighting for freedom from the oppression of colonial rule, while still enslaving and exploiting others.
5. Henlopon Point State Park
Southern Delaware is most often associated with its family-friendly beach resort towns and open spaces. For many vacationers, these are where they spend most of their time.
Cape Henlopen State Park is located in Lewis, where the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It offers guests a choice of activities that are known to keep visitors busy for days.
Swimming, surfing, and sunbathing are big pastimes at the park, and lifeguards are on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
There’s also a disc golf course, basketball court, and multi-use trails that meander through the park’s diverse environment.
6. Delmarva Peninsula
The Delmarva Peninsula is so named because it is made up of the lands of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. It is one of the least developed coastal areas in the entire mid-Atlantic region.
The peninsula is almost entirely flat farmland, but there are plenty of quaint historic towns, state parks, and expansive pristine waterfronts that appeal to those who prefer to avoid the crowds usually associated with more commercial resorts.
Seafood restaurants abound, and even microbreweries have popped up in rural communities. Many tourists choose to drive through the area in a day or two before heading to other areas.
7. Jungle Jim’s
Even those traveling with young children will eventually tire of the endless days spent at the beach. For those who do, a Jungle Jim tour on Rehoboth Country Club Road will be a great place to while away a few hours.
Jungle Jim’s is the largest water park in the area. Its facilities include slides, bumper boats, fountains, wave pools and a lazy river perfect for rafting.
If water sports aren’t your thing, fear not; there are also multiple mini golf courses, a video arcade and batting cages. Jim’s is open in late spring, late summer and early fall.
8. Fenwick Island State Park
Despite its small size, Delaware has an impressive variety of state parks.
Bordered by Assawoman Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Fenwick Island State Park is one of the state’s most popular destinations for surfers.
The park is known for its strong waves and has only designated areas for surfers.
Surf fishing is also popular, especially in the fall, when many game fish like striped bass run along the coast each year.
Located between Ocean City, Maryland, and Bethany Beach, Delaware, Fenwick Island is open daily from 9am to 5pm during the peak summer season.
9. Zwaanendael Museum
More than three centuries ago, Dutch settlers established a colony in what is now Delaware, making the First State one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in North America.
The Zwaanendael Museum is located on the Kings Highway in Lewis. Its exhibits focus on the military, maritime, and colonial history of the region, and most out-of-state visitors are surprised to discover the fascinating history of this small country.
Items on display include relics and memorabilia from various shipwrecks from long ago. There’s even a small art gallery on the second floor, showcasing the work of local and regional artists.
10. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
At over 10,000 acres, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest protected areas in the region. It includes several different habitats such as woodlands, swamps and grasslands.
The Prime Hook is a relatively short drive from Clayton and is the state’s main stopover point for flocks of migrating poultry that travel between the north and south of the continent each year.
The sanctuary features a network of trails, and birds and other animals can often be seen, especially during the low-light mornings and evenings, when many of them are most active.
11. Dover International Speedway
Dover International Speedway has been a regional racing icon since its opening more than 50 years ago. It is now firmly rooted on the national stage too.
The track is a relatively short oval with highly banked turns, which makes for a high average speed. Throughout the year, there are many competitions at different levels.
Even for non-race fans, the atmosphere during the event is exciting, with many visitors opting to enjoy the party atmosphere outside the track rather than paying a fortune to get in.
Accommodations can fill up quickly during peak hours, so plan accordingly if you’re visiting.
12. Air Mobility Command Museum
Dover Air Force Base is one of the largest military transportation hubs in the country. While most of it is off-limits to tourists, it has an impressive museum that is open to the public every day.
The Air Mobility Command Museum has one of the largest collections of its kind in the country, focusing on transport and aerial refueling aircraft.
The museum’s collection includes two dozen preserved warbirds, both vintage and modern. While the entry fee isn’t cheap, it offers a truly unique opportunity to get up close and personal with an impressive machine that can usually only be seen from a distance.
13. Tanger Outlets
No retail tax means Delaware visitors can save a fortune on what they buy in their home state anyway.
Not surprisingly, First State is a regional retail giant that attracts shoppers from near and far.
Tanger Outlets have been an icon of the state’s retail scene for years, with nationally recognized brands such as Gap, Eddie Bauer and Nike at their core.
Tangier has multiple locations in the southern part of the state, most of which are in Rehoboth Beach.
While clothing is the best-selling item at the outlet, they also offer sporting goods, books, toys and electronics.
14. Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market
While southern Delaware is full of sun, sand, and surf, it’s also home to one of the largest farmers’ markets in the region, which is a great place to visit early before spending the day at the beach.
Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables are the market’s biggest draw, but its vendors also sell a variety of other products, including locally made arts and crafts, fresh baked goods, and prepared foods like salsa and honey.
The market is open on Tuesdays this season from noon to 3pm. For those who are in the area for the first time, this is a great place to rub shoulders with the locals.
15. Rehoboth Beach Museum
The Rehoboth Beach Museum has been open since the mid-70s and is managed by the local historical society.
It’s not the largest museum in the world, but its exhibits include an impressive array of artifacts and memorabilia related to the region’s history, culture, and economy.
Agriculture, fishing and tourism are well represented, and there is quite a bit of history from the settler era dating back more than two centuries.
Admission is free, but visitors typically leave a few dollars apiece to help fund the museum’s exhibits and maintenance.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Clayton (DE), Delaware
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