Cape Henlopen State Park
Guide to Delaware State Parks
Play outside. Try something new. Expand your mind. The possibilities are wide open, just like the spaces, at Delaware’s many state parks. Unique opportunities await you. Each park offers a different experience, a different scenic view and a different day of adventure in Delaware.
Alapocas Run State Park is a picturesque getaway that doesn’t require getting away. Located right across the Brandywine Creek from the heart of Wilmington, there is something for everyone there. Rock climbing is an option for adventurous people. The artsy crowd can check out the Blue Ball Barn, a form dairy barn built by AI DuPont. It is now home to the Delaware Folk Art Collection. And kids can enjoy the unique play areas at the Can-Do Playground. Combine that with multiple trails for hiking and biking, and you’ve got one amazing place to spend a day.
Bellevue State Park is a place to show off your refined tastes. Bellevue Hall, designed to look like James Madison’s home, offers tours and an elegant locale for meetings and receptions. The Cauffiel House is another option sure to make an event more special and sophisticated. Or you could try the Mount Pleasant Meeting House, which is perfect for weddings, lectures and other occasions. And there are few ways to look more cultured than astride a horse. And the Wellspring Farm Equestrian Center offers riding lessons, summer camps and pony rides. All this is in addition to miles of trails and beautiful views.
Delaware loves former DuPont diary properties, none more so than the one that is now Brandywine Creek State Park. The park’s most notable feature is the long, gorgeous stone walls that run throughout and divide it up. It has state’s first two nature preserves, and meadow management has helped the animal and plant populations flourish for visitors to enjoy.
Lums Pond State Park is a can’t-miss stop for anyone looking for a fun day. The Go Ape! Treetop Adventure has rope ladders, treetop crossings and most importantly five zip lines – four of which go over water. A marina gives boaters access to the C&D Canal. And visitors can do more than just hike and bike on the multi-purpose trails, but also horseback ride and snowmobile. And fantastic fishing spots abound for anglers to enjoy. And not far away is White Clay Creek State Park, which has lots of places to hike and explore just off the growing development of New Castle County.
Llamas, Tigers and Red Pandas – oh my! The Brandywine Zoo is the place in Delaware to see all kinds of exotic, sometimes endangered, animals. Don’t miss Zhanna, the amur tiger. And for an encounter of the up-close kind, the zoo has educational programs with lots of different animals to meet. And also in Wilmington is Rockford Park with its century-old stone water tower. That striking tower sits in a spot that also offers striking views of the heart of the city. You can see a different city from Fox Point State Park. It started as a vision to create a “window on the river” and now offers beautiful views of Philadelphia to the north and the Delaware Memorial Bridge to the south.
The most recent addition to the state park system is Auburn Heights Preserve. The former Marshall family estate is home to the Marshall Steam Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of operating steam cars.
Right smack dab in the middle of the state is Killens Pond State Park. Its family-friendly water park is a perfect reason to make the short drive from the north or the south. If natural water is more your style, the pond is a fun place to boat, kayak and fish.
Explore Delaware’s history at the First State Heritage Park & Welcome Center, which is also part of the First State National Historical Park. Covering a large part of central Dover, its components include the Old State House, Legislative Hall, the Biggs Museum and more. Fort DuPont is another history haven. It was an active military base in the Delaware City area from the Civil War through World War II. Nearby, but in the middle of the Delaware River, is Fort Delaware. It was a Union fortress and once held Confederate prisoners of war.
Trap Pond State Park is home to one of Delaware’s most distinctive sites, the cypress swamp. Boating or fishing in the freshwater wetlands puts you in the center of the northernmost natural stand of baldcypress trees in the country. Visitors can learn all about that in the park’s nature center, which has a state-of-the-art exhibit gallery.
Beaches meet history at Cape Henlopen State Park. During the summer season, the park’s beaches are a favorite among swimmers and sunbathers. Year-round the park includes a blast from the past – Fort Miles and the huge armaments put there to defend access to the Delaware River during World War II. A walk or ride along the numerous trails in the park is a fun and healthy way to get great views and some exercise.
And you can keep the beach fun by driving just a bit further down the coast. Fenwick Island State Park is a quiet place to take in the sun and sand. It’s a favorite with surfers as its home to one of the state’s only designated surfing areas. Delaware Seashore State Park features six miles of ocean and bay shoreline. Try surf fishing or enjoy the saltwater marsh of Thompson Island Preserve. Holts Landing has the only pier just for crabbing on Delaware’s Inland Bays. The park is also a wonderful spot for a picnic or a hike to spot lots of different wildlife.
The Delaware state parks system has existed since 1951. In 2015 the National Recreation and Parks Association awarded the system a gold medal for park and recreation management.