Great Trips

Family Trip to Lewes

Historic Lewes, Delaware, sits at the very point where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Views of both the estuary and the ocean abound from this unique vantage point. This tiny coastal town is historically and environmentally significant, and its natural surroundings offer year-round family fun and pet-friendly accommodations for your entire crew. Whether you go for a day trip, a weekend or even longer, you'll wish you had even more time to experience everything this area has to offer, and you'll be eager to return.

Day-trippers should set their sites on Cape Henlopen State Park, located just east of Lewes. This bay- and ocean-front natural wonder features five miles of shoreline with two lifeguard-protected beaches, more than seven miles of hiking and biking trails, and over 4,000 acres of unspoiled coastal scenery, including the Great Dune. But most importantly, families will have access to public restrooms, a bath house, and a snack shop while visiting in season.

Items at the top of your packing list should be sunscreen and a good pair of binoculars. Cape Henlopen sits right on the Atlantic Flyway, so there will be no shortage of birds and other wildlife-watching opportunities. Prime viewing time occurs in the spring, when migratory shorebirds flock to Delaware Bay and feast on plentiful horseshoe crab eggs. More spawning horseshoe crabs reside in the Delaware Estuary than anywhere else in the world.

Don't forget the fishing poles because Cape Henlopen is a surf-fishing paradise dotted with fishing beaches, and this includes a quarter-mile-long pier that is perfect for dropping a line in the bay. If the car is too packed to bring your gear, don't worry. You can rent fishing equipment and purchase tackle inside the park.

Do you want to see fish up-close, without all the work? Visit the Seaside Nature Center and its five huge tanks, each of which is teeming with local aquatic species. The Nature Center is also where you can sign up for all sorts of year-round sea and bayside adventures, including guided hikes and canoe trips, bird watching, net fishing, and dolphin watching, just to name a few. Additional information on the park's facilities and programs is available at, or by calling (302) 645-8983.

Quest Kayak is sure to get your crew on the water with its guided kayak tours. These vary from season to season, but previous offerings have featured dolphins, history, and sunsets. Quest is located in Lewes and can be reached at (302) 74-KAYAK. Visit them on the Web at to see what the current paddling season offers.

If power boats are better suited for your gang, hop aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry for an 80-minute voyage to Cape May, New Jersey. Bicycles and kids six years and younger sail for free, so consider spending a day exploring Cape May on your bikes, or simply take advantage of convenient shuttle services on both sides of the bay. Visit for current rates, and make your reservations by calling (800) 643-3779.

Charter boats and tours are readily available for families and groups of all sizes. A perfect boat trip for kids is the three-hour sand shark fishing trip (June through September), or a narrated historic tour onboard the Angler Party & Head Boat, which sails out of Anglers Fishing Center in Lewes. Call (302) 644-4533 for charter and tour information.

Lewes is known for being very dog friendly. In fact, the charming, shop-filled town is small enough to explore with your best four-legged friend and small children. Some of the local eateries even allow the family dog to dine with you on outdoor patios, like Nottinghill Coffee and Striper Bites. Nottinghill Coffee offers an incredible selection of fresh-roasted, fair-trade, and Rainforest Alliance-certified brews. It also serves freshly prepared baked goods, soups, sandwiches, and salads. Striper Bites, meanwhile, specializes in fresh seafood and salads, and the restaurant serves American-style lunches and dinners Monday through Saturday. It, too, welcomes polite and leashed canines at its outdoor tables.

For the family with more time to stay and play, the Lewes/Cape Henlopen area offers a fine selection of kid and pet-friendly accommodations. Cape Henlopen State Park offers campsites in season, with or without water hookups. Leashed pets are welcome in the park and at the campground.

If solid walls and a roof are preferred, the Red Mill Inn (302-645-9736) on the Coastal Highway offers suites and efficiencies where you and your pet can stay. The kids will enjoy their outside pool and arcade, and those 12 and under stay for free. At the King's Inn B&B in Lewes, well-behaved children and dogs are welcome for an additional fee. Reservations and inquiries can be made by calling (302) 645-6438.

Located just outside of Lewes, the self-proclaimed "pet-friendliest" B&B is the Lazy L at Willow Creek. Offerings include a large fenced-in area for off-leash play, as well as bird watching, fishing, and kayaking from their very own dock. The "L" also has a hot tub and swimming pool. If your pup needs to stay behind for more than three hours, doggy daycare services are available, as are directions to nearby pet-friendly beaches, restaurants, and more. Children are welcome at the Lazy L, but they must be over the age of 10. Please call (302) 644-7220 for info and reservations.

Photo by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Photo by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Photo by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Photo by Amie Howell

Photo by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Photo by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Photo by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary