Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Delaware!

Delaware is proudly known as "The First State," having been the first of the original 12 states to ratify the new U.S. Constitution (Dec. 7, 1787). The Du Pont family settled here in the early 19th century, laying the groundwork for what would become one of the biggest firms in the state - let alone the country.

You can pretty much find any kind of fun thing to do in Delaware: historical mansions in Wilmington to miles of beaches and boardwalk to racing, music festivals and other offbeat activities. Here are 20 of our favorites.

1. Visit Winterthur

The Du Pont family used this as their "country retreat" and it's pretty spectacular. The 60-acre gardens are breathtaking, but the 175-room mansion houses an amazing collection of American decorative arts from two centuries. It's easy to spend an entire, relaxing day exploring. Oh, and it's pronounced "winter-TUR." Now you know.

2. Dover International Speedway

It's a key stop on the spring NASCAR circuit, so prepare to lose your hearing. There are plenty of fun race-related activities for families, like a NASCAR simulator.

3. Tiptoe through the tulips

The Lewes Tulip Celebration is as close to Holland as you can get. Volunteers and landscapers plant the colorful bulbs all over town and when they bloom - wow! Tours let you experience the full beauty of this event.

4. Dover Days Festival

Since 1933, this springtime celebration combines colonial history, crafts, fireworks and more. Watch wartime re-enactments, take a vintage auto ride, watch traditional maypole dancing or wander through a colonial artisans' village.

5. Sail into the blue with the Great Delaware Kite Festival

This fun annual event allows everyone from kids to grown-ups to strut their kite-flying stuff. From demonstrating precision skills to the kite that goes the highest, it's magical fun.

6. Hit the beach

In a state with lots of beaches, Rehoboth Beach has long been the preferred destination for locals. The sand is great and the waves make for excellent swimming or body-surfing. Plus, the nearby boardwalk features lots of little shops, food and an amusement park for the kids.

7. Sample a local brew

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton brews excellent beer and spirits, and you get free samples on their popular tour. Then, pull up to one of their picnic tables and enjoy excellent "pub grub" served from their own food truck.

8. Chow down on the Culinary Trail

There are 24 great restaurants to indulge in. Download your "passport" from the state tourism office; after you've earned a certain number of "codes," you'll get a limited-edition, hardbound cookbook of the state's best recipes.

9. Check out Firefly

The Firefly Music Festival in Dover has become one of the coolest music fests in the country. Over four days in June, you'll hear cutting-edge indie acts as well as established stars like the Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney. Camping options are available.

10. Go crabbing the old-fashioned way

Crabs are a staple of the summer. The traditional "handline" way of catching them is to tie a chicken neck to a piece of string and gently pull it up from the water, scooping the crustacean up with a net. The Love Creek Bridge is a popular location to try your hand.

11. Relive a Civil War skirmish

In September, the historic Wilmington & Western Railroad operates a special trip aboard a steam locomotive to the site of a battle between Union and Confederate troops. Re-enactors in period costume with authentic weapons give a glimpse into that difficult time in our history.

12. Try your luck

Dover Downs Casino attracts those who want a date with Lady Luck. There are over 2,000 slot machines, plus table games, horseracing and plenty of entertainment to take your mind off the bet that didn't pay off.

13. Air Mobility Command Museum

Located on Dover Air Force Base, this museum is home to dozens of retired military aircraft. From fighter planes to bombers and more, it's a fun way to explore the history of military flight. Simulators let you go inside the cockpit and artifacts from as far back as World War I show how far we've come.

14. Go kayaking at Trap Pond State Park

This hidden gem of a park in Laurel features the country's northernmost stand of bald cypress trees. Rent a kayak and paddle around as the colors change. There's also great birdwatching in the area.

15. The Apple-Scrapple Festival

Scrapple is a pork product, beloved in these parts - and this Bridgeville street festival celebrates it with cook-offs, crafts and tons of local vendors. So what exactly is in "scrapple"? As the locals say, "Everything but the oink."

16. Beach time solitude

The beaches of Delaware have a stark beauty in the wintertime. Take a mindful walk along the shore or take some photos of the sunrise or sunset. In February, seals come to the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park.

17. Explore history

The Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington tells the story of the area's pre-eminent family, the Du Ponts, and the gunpowder factory they established here in 1802. The museum features their ancestral home, plus mills and more.

18. Enjoy a genteel meal

The Green Room at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington is one of the last bastions of truly elegant dining, earning four stars from both Forbes and AAA. Servers even wear white gloves! It's like you've stepped back into the Gilded Age, so mind your manners.

19. Sled the Brandywine

On a snowy day, you'll think you've stepped into a scene from Currier & Ives. Sledding Wilmington's Brandywine Creek State Park is a fun, frozen way to awaken your inner five-year-old.

20. Check out the Hummer's Parade

Since the 1970s, this New Year's Day tradition is a silly, slightly off-color way to poke fun at the prior year's pop culture, scandal and more. People line the streets of Middletown to see who - and what - will be in the crosshairs of snark.

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