Delaware on a Dime – Where to Find the Best Beaches, Parks and Trails

If you’ve never been to Delaware, you’re missing out on some great outdoor opportunities. Maybe you’ve heard that the state has some beautiful beaches. This is very true. What you might not know is that many of these beaches are found within some wonderful state parks. Some also adjoin terrific hiking and biking trails and have nearby exhibits where you can find out about area wildlife and ecology.

What’s more, some beach towns are vibrant summer venues featuring live music festivals and amusements. Others are quieter environments where you’ll find fewer amenities but gorgeous surroundings and spectacular sunrises over the ocean.

Delaware beaches deliver a delightful time no matter what your budget. Whether you’re coming to the area for a day out with your significant other, or planning a week-long holiday with the whole family, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what the area has to offer in outdoor fun.

Read on to learn more about where to have fun in the great outdoors in Delaware.

Traditional Beaches

There’s nothing like packing up a beach towel, bathing suit and sun block for a day on the beach. Listening to the sound of the waves gently rolling into shore, the far-off cries of gulls and the contented sounds of children playing in the sand is a wonderful way to wash away the stresses of the work week.

When it comes to fun with the family, some of the best Delaware beaches have everything you need to make the most of your experience. Many have lifeguards and nearby concession stands where you can purchase snacks.

At popular beaches like Lewes, Rehoboth, Fenwick Island, Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore you’ll also find bath houses with change rooms, washrooms and sometimes showers.

If you’re looking to take things up a notch and participate in some water sports, you’ll find equipment rentals at Bethany, Cape Henlopen, Dewey and Fenwick Island beaches. Depending on the location, this includes paddle boards, surf boards, kayaks and small sail boats.

State Park Beaches

Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seaside and Fenwick Island beaches are positioned within Delaware state parks. An entrance fee is required. However, the cost of a day pass is quite reasonable. You can also purchase a more economical yearly pass if you plan to frequent any of these facilities.

A benefit of beaches at these locations is that they each have wheelchair accessible areas where anyone using a mobility device can more easily enjoy the beachfront. Several 30-foot mats, called Mobi-Mats, connect the boardwalks to the beaches.

As you might expect, at state parks there’s much more than just the shoreline to explore. Various educational and social programs are run during the summer, suitable for all ages and interests. So, if you want to partake in more than sun, sand and surf, there’s a lot to choose from. Eco-education and historically significant sites are some of the offerings within state parks.

For example, you could join Fenwick Island park naturalists on a hunt for ghost crabs. At Delaware Seaside State Park, you might be interested in touring the Indian River Life-Saving Station, going on a hike through Burton’s Island Nature Preserve or taking a fishing charter boat from the nearby marina.

The excitement continues at Cape Henlopen. Here you can bring a bicycle and take a trip along paved paths to places like the Fort Miles historical site or visit the park’s nature center where you can get close to marine life with the touch tank and sign up to take part in an organized dolphin watch. 

Festivals at the Beach

Some of the best Delaware beaches are hot tourist spots. These are often found beside small year-round communities that swell from hundreds of inhabitants to thousands during the summer months. There are a range of holiday accommodations at these beach resorts—from upscale hotels to inexpensive cottage rentals.

The beach-going population comes to these destinations for more than just lounging on a beach chair and swimming in the surf; they come to immerse themselves in the experience. There are a number of different types of festivals and attractions to choose from.

For example, if you’re searching for a more economical beach experience, stay for an evening beach bonfire or take in one of the free live music festivals at Dewey or Rehoboth. Music genres include something for every taste, from Rehoboth Beach’s Autumn Jazz festival to the annual Fiddlers Festival and Elvis Festival at Dewey Beach. Rehoboth Beach also has a Sea Witch Festival that has been an annual attraction to the area for 30 years.

Something for Everyone

With the diversity of beach adventures to choose from in Delaware, you should definitely put this state on your travel bucket list.