For charm, simple pleasures, and plenty of festivals, you can’t beat Delaware’s small towns.
Lewes, the oldest town in the First State, attracts a crowd year-round. Scrapple puts Bridgeville on the map, and the town celebrates it with its annual Apple-Scrapple Festival. Seaford, off Route 13, boasts the Seaford Museum and the Governor Ross Plantation. Look for tiny Woodland near Seaford, both for its free ferry and its annual festival.
Lewes has been attracting visitors since 1681, when Dutch settlers established a whaling station.
Today, history buffs come for the 12 historic buildings of the Lewes Historical Society; the Zwaanendael Museum; Fort Miles, which guarded the seacoast during World War II; and the Lightship Overfalls, the last of the U.S. Lighthouse Service’s lightships.
Nature lovers flock to the 3,143-acre Cape Henlopen State Park for its sandy shoreline, walking and biking trails and the 80-foot Great Dune, the highest sand dune between Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod.
What could make a visit more fun? Festivals!
Lewes has events for every taste. The Cannonball 5K, dubbed “The Most Beautiful Race Course in Delaware,” begins at 8:30am Sept. 11. The following Sunday, Sept. 18, 36 teams will compete in the Lewes Dragon Boat Festival.
“Each of the towns along the Delaware coast has its own unique elements,” said Betsy Reamer, of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. “That’s great for visitors.”
Bethany Beach turns its boardwalk into an open air arts festival Sept. 10. More than 100 juried artists, both local and from around the country, will be displaying jewelry, glass, pottery, watercolor and oil painting, photography, basketry, woodworking, and other works.
Beyond coastal Delaware, Bridgeville hosts the annual Apple-Scrapple Festival and, this year, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin event. Near Seaford, the Woodland Ferry Festival celebrates one of the nation’s oldest ferries.
Bridgeville’s Apple Scrapple Festival marks its 25th anniversary Oct. 14–15. The area is known for both apples grown by T.S. Smith and Sons Farm and the scrapple produced at RAPA Scrapple. The festival brings together 500 crafters and vendors, entertainment, and food.
The Little Miss Apple Scrapple contest and a street dance get things rolling Friday night. On Saturday, live entertainment — including the Mayoral Scrapple Sling at 2:00pm — goes on until 10:00pm.
The festival’s stars are apples and scrapple. Scrapple takes center stage at the Union United Methodist Men’s breakfast on Saturday morning. Later in the day, indulge in apple dumplings with ice cream or a scrapple sandwich.
The Punkin Chunkin World Championship returns to Bridgeville for the first time since 2013 and is set for Nov. 4–6. The popular event challenges human and machine to hurl pumpkins as far as they can, and it’s a hoot to watch.
The Woodland Ferry Festival on Sept. 10 features free ferry rides across the Nanticoke River all day, plus craft vendors, food, music, and children’s activities. “It’s a family-friendly, old-fashioned event,” said Linda Allen, the festival coordinator.
The event runs 9:00am to 4:00pm, but come early for breakfast at the Woodland United Methodist Church, served starting at 7:00am.
Georgetown’s Wings and Wheels Festival on Oct.1, 10:00am-4:00pm, includes activities on the ground like a huge car show, World War II encampments, and exhibits. In the air, there is a vintage plane “fly-in,” parachute jumping, plane rides, and pilot competitions. There’s all-day entertainment and craft and food vendors, too.
Across Delaware Bay
Lewes is also one terminus of the ferry that connects Delaware with New Jersey’s own seaside charmer, Cape May. After the 90-minute trip across the Delaware Bay, rent a bike or hop on the shuttle into downtown Cape May.
In Cape May, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities promotes lots of fall festivals:
The Cape May Food and Wine Celebration, Sept. 9–18, features winery tours, tastings, demonstrations, and food.
The Harvest Brew Fest is set for Sept. 17 at the Physick Estate, with local beer and wine, crafts, music, and kids’ activities.
Cape May celebrates its own heritage on Victorian Weekend, Oct. 7–10, with lectures, house tours, performances, and workshops.
Also that weekend, the Chocolate Tasting Tour is set for Oct. 8. Tour historic inns, homes, and restaurants, and sample their chocolate delights.
The following day, Oct. 9, the Cape May Time Capsule Trolley Tour will feature costumed interpreters who bring the town’s Victorian heritage to life.
Find out more:
Southern Delaware Tourism: visitsoutherndelaware.com
Cape May Festivals: capemaymac.org