With 2014 barely in the rear-view mirror, 2015 is already showing signs of being a tempting year for Delaware as a great vacation destination. Aside from the annual crop of trendy new shops and eateries (especially in and around the beaches), Delaware is gaining some new attractions and events that are decidedly buzz-worthy, ranging from two new country music festivals to trampoline parks popping up all over.
After polling the trend-watchers and sifting through the press releases, we've identified the top new attractions and events in Delaware to keep an eye out for in 2015. Take a look, take your pick, and take a moment to check out how easy and affordable it is to take your next vacation in Delaware.
Country Music Festivals galore
This could be the year Delaware becomes the music festival capital of the East Coast. First, Firefly lit up the scene, and now the state is about to add two new music festivals, both packed with top country acts, and both well-suited to an extended on-site camping trip. First to debut will be the Big Barrel Country Music Festival, June 26-28 at Dover International Speedway’s Woodlands. Headliners include Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, along with a slew of supporting acts. In summer, the new Delaware Junction Country Music Festival is set to premier Aug. 14-16 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington, and judging from the buzz so far, it looks to be one of the top tickets of the summer. This year’s headliners include Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Toby Keith. Plans call for a two-stage setup -- one for bigger acts, and one for “up-and-comers” -- and there will be on-site camping available. Keep watch at www.livenation.com for details on ticket prices and the lineup.
New Cinemark at Christiana Mall
One of the best reasons to visit Delaware is the tax-free shopping, and one of the best spots for that is Christiana Mall, which is adding to its ever-expanding lineup of high-end stores with a 12-screen, 50,000-square-foot Cinemark Christiana. One of the screens has Cinemark XD ("Extreme Digital") technology, meaning a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor screen. All theaters have 4K digital projection with RealD 3-D capability. With the mall just a quick exit off Interstate 95, it’s truly a perfect destination for a dinner, movie and some shopping on some idle weekend this year.
Uber rolls in to Wilmington
Travelers to Wilmington may be able to forget about catching a cab -- the ride-sharing service Uber may be coming soon. The trendy and popular service is reportedly “highly considering” starting service in the state’s largest city -- home to great museums, top restaurants and a lively Riverfront entertainment district. Wilmington’s mayor said he’s “99 percent sure” that the service will come to the city, and expects things to get rolling in early 2015. With Uber, travelers Riders use a smartphone app to seek out independent drivers/cars, then arrange to “share the ride” to a common destination.
Year of the Trampoline Parks
Things got hopping last year in Wilmington and Newark, where two trampoline parks -- Stratosphere and Launch -- opened to much fanfare. In early 2015, another park – called Skyzone – is set to open in the Newark area. Keep an ear out for developments at Skyzone.com/Newark. In the meantime, you can check out Stratosphere, located in Wilmington, or Launch, in Newark.
Get ready for the Beach Bum
When it comes to artisanal beer, wine and spirits, Delaware’s quickly becoming a go-to state, especially with the recent expansion of the Delaware Beer, Wine and Spirits Trail. There’s been word recently that Delaware’s hand-crafted beverage market is about to get even bigger. Toward the end of 2014, a new outfit called Beach Bum Distilling began working its way through the approval process, and aims to set up shop inside an old farm building at the corner of Nassau Road and New Road outside of Lewes, one of the state’s best beach towns. Keep an eye on Beach Bum’s Facebook page for updates: www.facebook.com/BeachBumDistilling.
Firefly Music Festival -- on TV!
In 2015, there are more reasons than ever to go to Firefly Music Festival in Dover -- you might end up on national/global TV. In late 2014, AXS TV announced that it would be televising 15 hours of music live from the four-day festival on the grounds of Dover Motor Speedway. Set for June 18-21, Firefly is quickly becoming one of the top outdoor music festivals in the country, and is certainly the East Coast’s premier event, featuring top indie, alternative and rock acts.
New restaurants at beach
For many people, a big share of the Delaware beaches’ allure is created by the edgy, funky, fun restaurants that fill beach towns such as Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany. So it’s natural that there is always a good amount of giddy anticipation before beach season starts as foodies discover what new restaurants are opening, and which existing restaurants have new chefs, new concepts -- or both. The 2015 summer season will be another years of pleasant surprises, it seems, judging by the lineup of new restaurants and food destinations heading our way:
· Taco Reho is a new food truck that’s scheduled to set up shop next to Liquid Board Shop in Rehoboth Beach. Check them out at www.facebook.com/tacorehotruck.
· Lula Brazil isn’t quite new, but look for this fresh Brazilian face to create some buzz this summer in Rehoboth.
· The Cellar Door at 20 Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach touts “Southern comfort food,” and the kitchen’s Creole and Cajun tastes seem sure to be embraced by this saucy town, especially since it seems that live music will be on the menu.
More tasty treats
Not all great food at the Delaware beaches must be served at a table. There are great doughnut shops, unforgettable french fry stands, and shockingly good ice cream stands. This coming year, keep watch for a few more goodies in the beach area. One is a new line of gourmet soda from the restaurant empire of the late Matt Haley, who started such beach favorites as Bluecoast Seafood Grill, Catch 54 and Papa Grande’s. Flavors include Lemon Berry, Strawberry Basil Chili and Black & White (cracked black pepper with white balsamic vinegar, bay leaves and palm sugar). According to local bloggers, the sodas will be available at all sodelconcepts.com restaurants, and at select retailers: Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna and La Fia in Wilmington, and Seacrets, Waterman’s Seafood Company, Rosenfeld’s Deli and Sunset Grille.