Enjoy the Beauty and Slow Pace of Lewes, Delaware

This quiet coastal town is no stranger to shipwrecks, sunken treasures, and beautiful beaches.

Lewes, Delaware, dates back to 1631, and today its rich history still resounds through the salty air. Walking around the quiet, peaceful town today, Lewes is difficult to imagine as a place of great drama and action. While Lewes may no longer be the site of pirates' raids or great naval upheaval, it's almost ironically a popular destination for retirees because of its coastal location and slow pace.

Just north of popular Atlantic Coast destination Rehoboth Beach—known for its classic boardwalk and family-friendly beaches—Lewes offers similar charms with fewer crowds. Of course, you can spend the day lounging by the beach, but Lewes has much more to offer than just pretty views. Here's what to do in this historic, small coastal town.

Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes, Delaware
Courtesy of via VisitDelaware.com

Immerse in the History

Lewes proudly calls itself "the first town in the first state." It's home to several museums, including Zwaanendael Museum, which offers a glimpse into the area's past. Some significant historic structures, such as the Ryves Holt House, are believed to be the oldest house in the state, dating to 1665.

The Fort Miles Museum and Historic Area, a coastal defense site during World War II, provides an enriching educational experience for kids and adults. You can tour Battery 519, a gun bunker constructed in 1941, and climb to the top of Tower 7, a critical coastal observation tower that also offers a panoramic view of the park and coast.

cape henlopen beach lewes delaware
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Eat & Drink Like a Local

Pick up NY-style bagels at Surf Bagel and house-roasted coffee at Notting Hill for breakfast. When it's time for lunch, sample some authentic delicacies at Touch of Italy, a restaurant, deli, and market known for its freshly baked mozzarella and hero sandwiches. The Da Vinci has salami, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried and roasted red peppers, and extra-virgin olive oil piled high on a seeded sub roll. Get your sandwiches and a few other artisanal grocery staples in one stop and pack up for a beachside lunch. Don't miss the eclairs for dessert.

Spend an afternoon unwinding at Crooked Hammock Brewery, a backyard-style hangout brewing a stellar IPA (the Beach Escape) and fun seasonal flavors, like a summer pilsner, Actively Fishing.

For a formal evening dining experience, visit Heirloom, an upscale but approachable farm-to-table restaurant.

Stroll the Shops

On foot, you can tour most of Lewes's quaint attractions—wander the Historic district, admire the architecture, and pop into a few downtown shops. This town has excellent walkability. Check out The Vintage Underground, a basement-level shop stocked with vinyl and other unique finds, and PUZZLES, a family-owned puzzle shop. After you've hit the antique shops and souvenir stores, stop by Edie Bee's Confection Shop for unique candies, chocolates, and other treats.

Get Active

Catch the sunset at Cape Henlopen, where the Delaware Gulf meets the Atlantic Ocean. Cape Henlopen State Park features over 4,013 acres of preserved land, including attractions for the whole family. The Point Overlook at Cape Henlopen provides a fantastic vantage point for birdwatching or simply taking in the view. Staying close to the shore is also an option because the park's fishing pier is open for fishing 24 hours a day. You can borrow a bike for free and take a loop around the park. The 3.2-mile trail, Gordons Pond Trail, tours the park's various ecosystems, from the dunes to the wetlands.

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