48 Hours in Delaware
Editorial Assistant Emma Way shows her boyfriend around the First State.
Emma spent a weekend taking her boyfriend, MITCHELL, Around her home state. // all photos by emma way
When I tell people that I am from Delaware, they often give me that blank stare of confusion we Delawareans know all too well. "Is that in New Jersey?" people ask when I tell them I’m from Newark. It’s frustrating, but it also provides an exciting opportunity to enlighten others about the small state I love.
My boyfriend, Mitchell, was one of those people. He’s from North Carolina, only seven hours away, but had never once been to Delaware until last weekend. Delaware is small, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to see all the state has to offer in one weekend. I wanted to try to show him Delaware as a whole—from the beaches to Wilmington—all in 48 hours.
If I could describe Delaware with one bite of food, it wouldn’t be scrapple; it’d be the Capriotti’s Bobbie sandwich. I go to Washington College in Maryland, so our 48 hours in Delaware technically began in Maryland after I picked Mitchell up at the airport and we drove to the Capriotti’s location in Annapolis. Eating a Bobbie is a rite of passage in Delaware, and with every bite you know why. Its Thanksgiving-reminiscent flavors are simply addicting—especially for me, who always asks for extra cranberry sauce.
Next we drove toward Lewes, where we’d be spending the night with my family at their beach house. When we hit the Delaware state line, I stopped the car and made Mitchell pose with the “Welcome to Delaware” sign. Our time in the First State had officially begun.
As this was our only full day, we rose early and didn’t stop moving until well past midnight. We started in Rehoboth Beach, where we caught my dad’s finish in the Seashore Marathon.
Clear skies and unusually warm December weather mandated a short walk on the beach. Along the way we couldn’t resist a stop at Kilwins for some fudge.
A quick photo with Santa before a busy day
After a quick meet-and-greet with Santa on the boardwalk and some Thrasher’s fries to go, we were off to our next stop: Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton. The brewery itself was a lot bigger than I expected, but that makes sense when you realize that they're pumping out 5.4 million gallons of beer annually. Walking up to the entrance, we were in the shadows of a massive sculpture, "The Steampunk Tree House"—or what the guys at Dogfish Head like to call their conference room. This “off-centered” yet beautiful piece of art definitely sets the tone for a visit to Dogfish Head, where uniqueness is their trademark.
"The Steamhouse Tree House" sculpture
For college students on a budget like us, a stop at Dogfish Head Brewery was the perfect move. You get an hour-long tour of the brewery and distillery, plus four samples, for the very reasonable price of $0 (not including the tip we left for our sassy and fun tour guide). Also included: stylish safety goggles and Crocs sandals to wear on the tour.
We weren’t very hungry, but the brewery also has a top-notch (and reasonably priced) food truck just two steps from its main building, where beer-infused brats take center stage. We shared a bowl of the truck's Hard-Tack clam chowder, and it did not disappoint.
Next up was a long drive up the state as we slowly made our way to Longwood Gardens. While we were driving through Dover, Mitchell started drooling over the numerous jets on the side of Route 1 at the Dover Air Force Base. I had never been to the museum, so we took a quick detour so that he could continue his drooling up close and personal. The completely free museum is a great way to spend an hour—there's a well laid out interactive exhibit inside and a sprawling display of planes outside.
We continued our trek up the state to Middletown, where we spent an hour admiring the cute downtown atmosphere and picking out some gourmet cheese to fuel our addiction at Fromage. I’m lactose-intolerant, but for the cheese at Fromage, I make an exception. These guys know their cheese, and they helped us pick two perfect varieties: one Gouda and one fontina. The Gouda was my personal favorite. With our cheese in hand, we set out for Longwood Gardens just as the sun was setting.
I know what you’re thinking: Longwood Gardens isn’t in Delaware. You’re right; so sue me. I originally wanted to do everything in Delaware and had hoped to go to Winterthur’s Yuletide display, but we simply weren't able to make it up the state before its 5 p.m. closing. After about an hour of wandering around outside and admiring the lights, our extremities were thoroughly frozen, so we headed inside the Conservatory building. This was definitely the highlight of our visit, whether it was due to the elaborate holiday decorations or the warmth.
After Longwood we headed to my hometown of Newark for some drinks and dancing. We started out at Santa Fe for some tacos and margaritas, then made our way down Main Street to Klondike Kate's, Home Grown Cafe and Grotto Pizza. Our exhausting day of travel ended just after midnight, and I had never been more excited to sleep.
Our last few hours in Delaware were spent in Newark at the Deer Park Tavern’s Sunday brunch. I had a breakfast sandwich with scrapple on the side, which Mitchell refused to try; he got blueberry pancakes. Everything was delicious, and it was the perfect way to end our time in Delaware.
There was so much more I wanted to show Mitchell—and mostly so much more I wanted to eat—but two days is simply not enough time. We missed Trolley Square and all of Wilmington entirely. We didn’t get the chance to dine at Claymont Steak Shop or Newark Deli & Bagel, or visit Fenwick Island or downtown Dover. I have a long list of the things we missed, but more importantly, I have a large collection of memories we made from just 48 hours in Delaware. Our state is distinctively tiny, but that doesn’t mean we have a limited selection of sights. Good things often come in small packages—and that’s the beauty of Delaware in a nutshell.