A Delaware Spring Road Trip
Each year, spring arrives with promises of new life and fresh possibilities. Shades of brilliant green and gold begin to emerge in forests and fields, nudged into the sunshine by warm days and the sweet breezes they bring.
Sensing a chance for a fresh start ourselves, we embrace spring’s arrival, and open ourselves to its gifts: It’s time to head out and explore the picturesque Delaware places where nature’s charms will soon be on full display.
Make it a day trip, or even stretch it into the weekend, taking time to smell the flowers, hear the birds, feel the sun – at last. Go ahead, you deserve it.
There’s something very special about Delaware’s Chateau Country mansions in the spring. Picture-perfect vistas of blossoms and budding trees greet visitors to Winterthur Museum Garden & Library, and the well-tended gardens of Nemours Estate and Hagley Museum are just coming back to life. Nearby, the native plants of Mt. Cuba Center celebrate a respect for nature in its most natural state, and Brandywine Creek State Park’s winding trails through wooded hillsides offer a chance to invigorate the body as well as the mind.
When it’s time to refuel, Chateau Country does it with style, from the gourmet pies of Pizza by Elizabeths, to the fine-dining feel of Krazy Kat’s, to laid-back coziness of Buckley’s Tavern. Eat light, for more possibilities beckon nearby: Valley Garden Park is a wonderful place for a slow stroll and quiet contemplation, and Brandywine Park along the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington offers a restful perspective on city life.
Farther south, travelers seeking more secluded perspectives adore Carpenter State Park and Lums Pond State Park (ziplining, anyone?). For a deeper dive into native plants and their importance, head for the Botanic Gardens at the University of Delaware, minutes away from a great lineup of restaurants along Newark’s Main Street.
Nature is on brilliant display this time of year along the breezy shorelines of Central Delaware, home to the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a world-class stopover for millions of birds returning from their winter journey. As the bird flock above at the 16,000-acre refuge, you can take your own wildlife driving tour, or explore waterways, trails, and observation towers on foot.
Restaurants and attractions of the nearby town of Smyrna will serve well as home base: Check out Brick Works Brewing & Eats, or go crack some freshly steamed crabs at Sambo's Tavern or Boondocks. Quench your thirst at Painted Stave Distilling or Blue Earl Brewing Company.
Heading south of the city of Dover, Killens Pond State Park is a prime spot for exploring wooded trails, renting a kayak, or just enjoying the nature center and family-friendly activities. The nearby DuPont Nature Center with its waterside observation desk is known as one of the best vistas on the East Coast for observing the spring shorebird migration.
Just outside of Milford, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center has miles of pet-friendly trails, a scenic lake with seasonal kayak rentals and a historic working grist mill. Take a break and reward yourself with a refreshing craft brew from Mispillion River Brewing or try a hand-made cocktail at easySpeak Spirits.
The beaches of Southern Delaware offer so many opportunities for soaking in nature in all its sea-scented beauty. Be sure to check out the Junction and Breakwater Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park, and you’ll get a chance to stroll along the shoreline from Rehoboth Beach to Lewes, both brimming with fun restaurants like Kindle, Crooked Hammock Brewery, Matt’s Fish Camp and many more.
You can also immerse yourself in the sounds of the sea and seabirds at Delaware Seashore State Park or Fenwick Island State Park, great spots for feeling nature’s unspoiled presence. Be sure to explore the bayside as well as oceanside parts of these parks, where outdoor activities in and out of the water are plentiful.
Away from the ocean, Southern Delaware also celebrates the season beautifully at Lavender Fields at Warrington Manor, where the fields of blossoms will start appearing in late May or early June. And be sure to check out the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek for its world-class, sustainable public botanic garden that showcases native Atlantic Coastal Plain beauty.