You sense it in the joyful buzz glimpsed inside cozy-cool restaurants of quaint inland towns, and see it in a succession of roadside temptations, from farm-fresh food stands to down-home crab houses, so full of salty charm, yet still so close to the beach.
So summon your sense of adventure, load the car, and take the less traveled road to meaningful memories. The towns of Southern Delaware are great places to start. Passing the farm fields of Frankford, you might stop at Salted Vines Vineyard & Winery for a summer concert session and a sip of crisp white wine. Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek located in Dagsboro, offers a soothing nature tour and trail.
Enjoy Southern Delaware
Just beyond the beach, the towns of Southern Delaware boast some truly authentic coastal charm, and some memorable off-the-beaten-path adventures.
In Milton, you’ll find a charming Victorian vibe, some up-and-coming restaurants (and, of course, the world-famous Dogfish Head Brewery).
An engaging art scene makes Milford ideal for strolling, browsing and dining, especially along its main shopping strand, Walnut Street.
The list goes on: In Laurel, the annual Broad Creek Bike and Brew is a can’t-miss June event, and the town’s indoor-outdoor Laurel Junction flea market is 25 acres of bargain-hunting heaven. Museums pop up in a host of Sussex towns, ranging from Georgetown (Treasures of the Sea Museum), to Millsboro (Nanticoke Indian Museum).
So keep your eyes peeled as you wend your way to the beaches, and you might be surprised to find that absolutely amazing produce stand (fresh Delaware peaches, anyone?), or that fun-and-funky secondhand shop.
Discover Western Sussex
There’s a certain rural charm in the proud towns in Western Sussex, all a quick hop from the beaches. Imagine a calming canoe journey through the stands of towering bald cypress trees at Trap Pond State Park. Savor the delicious snap of juicy, just-picked produce at T.S. Smith & Sons Orchard Point Market. Take an afternoon to take off on a tasty tour of the craft-made brews at Delmar’s 3rd Wave Brewing Co., where you can sample fresh-made craft beer in the surf-themed tasting lounge or catch a guided tour on Saturdays. Keep an eye out for 3rd Wave’s half-price flight nights or settle in for some oysters at a Buck a Shuck Oyster event.
On your way down to Delmar—known as “the little town too big for one state”—you’ll surely notice the calm natural beauty of Western Sussex’s rural landscape, home to the Nanticoke Wildlife Area. This unspoiled gem is made up of three large tracts of wooded wilderness, along with a boat ramp to the Nanticoke River and a scenic walking trail. For a picturesque adventure by car, head for the Nanticoke Heritage Byway, a 40-mile journey through the pristine lands along this historic river, once home to the people of the Kuskarawaok tribe—the “people of the tidewater.”
If you happen to be in the area in mid-July, be sure to stop by the Nanticoke Riverfest, which for more than a quarter century has celebrated Western Sussex culture with music, dance and some simple pleasures—there’s a hotly contested fishing tournament for the young ones, a car show, and plenty of pageantry and art for all.
Roam and relax your way through Milton
It’s just one more reason why Milton is becoming one of Southern Delaware’s most buzz-worthy destinations: The scenic Broadkill River, where kayakers gather for a journey past forests and marshlands filled with life. Check out Quest Kayak’s Dogfish Pints & Paddles, and you can end your trip with a tour and taste at the famous Dogfish Head Brewery. Or, if you’re inclined, paddle all the way to the Delaware Bay.
While you’re roaming Milton, be sure to stop by Lavender Fields, a peaceful and fragrant oasis of blossom-filled gardens and acres of soft green lavender plants. Enjoy a cup of tea in the restored railroad stationhouse, and pick up some of their handcrafted soaps, lotions, shea butter creams and balms. Hudson Fields is Milton’s go-to place for sporting events, concerts and festivals, and outdoor adventurers will enjoy the Edward H. McCabe Nature Preserve, filled with native plants and wildlife, and conveniently located just outside of town (you can even get there via canoe).
Anchor Down at the Sandbar
It’s a Delaware tradition for water-loving adventurers: Rent a pontoon boat from Dewey Beach Watersports and spend the day relaxing on the Indian River Bay, anchored safely to one of the many shallow sandbars. It’s a day full of cool bay breezes, carefree laughter and the occasional leap into the refreshing bay, all you need to make memories for a lifetime.
Insider Tip: Drive the boat to Paradise Grill and park for free at their docks and enjoy a great meal.