For years, Delaware has been known as a great destination for fall foliage fans, thanks to its location in the heart of the mid-Atlantic region, putting it within easy reach for travelers planning a day trip or a weekend jaunt. Delaware’s proximity to major waterways and the Atlantic Ocean ensure many scenic moments, especially in the coastal areas where migrating birds flock by the thousands, and in the wooded hills in the northern part of the state.
Prime season for turning leaves runs from September through October in Delaware, giving plenty of time to explore some of our favorite scenic drives:
Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway. This spectacular journey through the hilly back roads of Delaware’s “Chateau Country” winds its way past grand Du Pont family mansions and stately museums. Trail stops to consider: Delaware History Museum; Hotel DuPont/DuPont Theatre; Delaware Art Museum; Nemours Mansion and Gardens; Hagley Museum and Library; Inn at Montchanin Village; Brandywine Creek State Park; Museum of Natural History; Winterthur; and Centreville Village.
Wilmington & Western Railroad. While not technically a “drive,” this journey has all the appeal of one. A resorted vintage steam engine pulls travelers on a relaxing and delightful journey through the wooded hills of the Red Clay Valley, pausing for a picnic lunch. Keep an eye out for their special weekend fall excursions, featuring Full Moon, Halloween and Hay Ride runs.
Delaware Bayshore Byway. This truly unique coastal drive delivers soothing views of the lowlands and wetlands that make Delaware a world-class destination for bird-watchers. The two-lane road meanders aalong the Delaware River abd Bay Estuary, passing through the largest tract of preserved coastal marshland on the East Coast. Each spring, millions of migrating birds pass through to rest and reinvigorate on their global journey, presenting an unforgettable spectacle of life and flight. Along the way, this drive also embraces historic attractions such as Colonial Old New Castle, the Civil War prison at Fort Delaware, and the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
Nanticoke Heritage Byway. The rural landscapes of Western Sussex County have a way of soothing the soul and inspiring gentle thoughts as new vistas of farm fields and tidy treelines emerge from around each bend in the road. Along the way, quaint small towns with rich histories invite exploration, and the natural beauty and easygoing terrain invite travelers to try their hand at biking or kayaking, especially at Trap Pond State Park. Points of interest to consider include the Woodland Ferry, the Ross Mansion and Plantation, and the waterways rimmed by natural beauty.
Coastal Highway Drive. Starting just north of Lewes, travelers can wend their way south along Delaware’s Atlantic Coast along Del. 1, enjoying the sea breeze through open windows as they explore the quaint nautical charms of Lewes and do some tax-free shopping in Rehoboth Beach. Then it’s time to fully immerse themselves in the scenic beauty of the ocean and bay, separated by just a thin stretch of land that carries Del. 1 south toward Maryland. Along the way, there’s plenty to explore in the seaside towns of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, and natural escapes abound in the major state parks: Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore, and Fenwick Island.