Although it is a small state, Delaware has numerous recreational facilities and is noted for its historic sites and buildings. Facilities for swimming, boating, and other water sports are located at numerous places along the coast, and camping, hiking, and picnicking are popular pastimes in the state parks and forests. There are no national parks or national forests.
State Parks and Forests
Among Delaware's 13 state parks is Fort Delaware State Park, on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River and accessible by boat from Delaware City. The huge granite fort was a Union stronghold during the Civil War. Bellevue State Park, in Wilmington, once was the estate of the du Pont family and features the Bellevue mansion.
Also near Wilmington is Brandywine Creek, with its towering tulip trees, rolling hills, and wildflower meadows framed by gray stone walls. Cape Henlopen State Park, east of Lewes on the Atlantic shore, includes a fishing pier stretching into Delaware Bay and the Seaside Nature Center, popular with bird-watchers.
Delaware Seashore State Park, south of Dewey Beach, includes 10 km (6 mi) of ocean and bay shoreline. Trap Pond State Park, east of Laurel, encompasses part of the Great Cypress Swamp that is home to the unique bald cypress trees.
There are several state forests. Among them are Blackbird State Forest, Ellendale State Forest, and Owens Tract and Red Lion Tract state forests. Redden State Forest in southern Delaware is the largest.
Many regions of the state have been set aside as wildlife preserves, fishing sites, and public beaches. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is located around Broadkill Beach, while near Dover is Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
Other Places to Visit:Fort Christina, in Wilmington, marks the site where Swedish pioneers landed in 1638 to establish the first permanent European settlement in Delaware. The John Dickinson Plantation, built in 1740, was once the home of the American patriot John Dickinson. It is one of several early American buildings in the historic Dover area. The former state capitol in Dover, dating from about 1790, is one of the oldest capitols in the country.
The structure faces the historic Green, which appears today almost as it did in 1717, the year Dover and the Green were laid out. The historic Court House in New Castle, which dates from the early 1730s, is one of the oldest existing public buildings in the United States. Its cupola served as the focus from which surveyors drew the arc forming Delaware's northern border.
The Amstel House Museum depicts 18th-century life in New Castle. Another popular New Castle attraction is the George Read II House, a classic Federal style mansion. The De Vries Monument near Lewes marks the approximate site of the former Zwaanendael (Swanendael), Delaware's short-lived first community, which was founded in 1631.
Among Delaware's many historic churches is Old Swedes Church and Hendrickson House Museum, in Wilmington, which has been in use since its completion in 1698. Barratt's Chapel in Frederica, Christ Episcopal Church near Laurel, and Old Drawyers' Presbyterian Church near Odessa were built between 1770 and 1780.
Immanuel Episcopal Church in New Castle was built early in the 18th century, as was the recently restored Presbyterian church there. Prince George's Chapel in Dagsboro was built in 1757. Fenwick Island Lighthouse, which began operation in 1859, was decommissioned in 1978 and now is operated by the state as an attraction. The Wilmington and Western Railroad operates a steam train through the scenic Red Clay Valley.