Tucked along the Eastern Seaboard, the first state in the U.S. is also one of the smallest – stretching just 35 miles wide and 96 miles long. But Delaware represents more than just a crossroads between D.C. and N.Y. Within a two-hour drive, visitors discover a diverse landscape and plenty of outdoor adventure, from the hills of Brandywine Valley to the white sands of Rehoboth Beach.
Established as a Swedish colony in 1638 and nestled on the Christina River, Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware, covering 17 square miles. Spend the day strolling along the Wilmington Waterfront populated with shops and eateries, or picnicking near the Riverfront jogging trail. Situated among tree-shaded colonial homes in Kentmere Parkway, the Delaware Art Museum features the pirate paintings of renowned Wilmington artist, Howard Pyle. During the evening, unwind to the swirling notes of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, located on Market Street.
A retreat to the countryside in Brandywine Valley, just 10 miles north of Wilmington, brings sweeping views of the Brandywine River, as the water curves past rolling hills and grand estates. Take a road tour; wander through Nemours Mansion and Garden (the former duPont family home) or sip apple wine at the vineyards along Brandywine Valley Wine Trail.
The coastal town of Rehoboth Beach draws visitors to the quiet, public beach and oceanfront cottages. Steps from the Atlantic, on the south side of Rehoboth, mansions overlook freshwater Silver Lake. Go bicycling on Route 1 along the Delaware Shore or fishing on Rehoboth Bay. Peruse storefront shops for antiques or feast on French fries by the boardwalk. For nightlife and live music, head about five minutes south to Dewey Beach, a small town with big entertainment; a trolley links the towns during the summer.
Twice a year, racecar fans flock to the state capital of Dover, where NASCAR hosts two races annually at Dover International Speedway. About an hour south in Sussex County, nature-lovers enjoy a slower pace at Trap Pond State Park: hiking trails, canoeing on a wilderness stream or reeling in largemouth bass from freshwater wetlands.