man posing in front of a wall mural of fish underwater

Dela-WHERE? – Hidden Gems in the Cape Henlopen Area
RVer travel tips for visiting Lewes, Delaware.
By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller

man posing in front of a wall mural of fish underwater

Lewes, Delaware (pronounced LOO-uhs) sits where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Henlopen. Just 77 miles from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Lewes packs a ton of exploration into a small area. The town’s beauty and history can easily be explored on foot since the town measures a mere half-square mile.

Founded in 1631, Lewes proudly claims to be the first town in the first state, and there is much to do in this town. We camped at Cape Henlopen State Park Campground while we attended a Winnebago owners’ meet-up. 

Things to Do in Lewes, Delaware

Here’s a short list of what you might want to line up for your visit to Lewes.

Battery 519

The United States built Fort Miles on Cape Henlopen in 1941, immediately south of Lewes, to defend Delaware Bay and the Delaware River. Battery 519 was a reinforced concrete World War II, 12-inch coastal gun battery. 

Military strategists prioritized defense at this location because these waterways allowed access not only to oil refineries and factories on its shore, but also to the major trade centers of Wilmington, Philadelphia, and beyond. 

A key piece of the nation’s coastal defense at the time, Fort Miles never saw major action. Except for range practice, it fired its guns only once between its establishment and the end of World War II.  The fort ceased operation altogether in 1991 and was deeded to the State of Delaware. 

Today visitors can tour Battery 519 and the Fort Miles Museum. While on the docent-led tour, you’ll visit a variety of rooms in the underground battery, observe a demonstration of the plotting operation as it was originally used featuring the watch towers, and hear a reenactment of the operation of a 12" gun breech. 

Beer at the First Brewery

In addition to producing delicious beer, Dogfish Head claims fame as the first brewery in the first state. They began in 1995 with a plan to bring original beer, food, and music to the area. At the time it was the smallest commercial brewery in America.

man and woman posing with a chalk wall mural

They continue to brew small batches of beer as they experiment with flavors and ingredients. They even have trademarked the invention of continual hopping. 

Their namesake comes from Dogfish Head, Maine, a favorite vacation spot of the founder. Tours, with samples provided, are available at the brewery in Milton. 

Biking Trails

There are many bike trails in the area. The Junction and Breakwater Trail runs five miles between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. The trail, which follows a former section of the Penn Central Railroad, winds through forests and fields. Interpretive signs provide education about nearby plants, wildlife, and local history. The trail accommodates all ability levels.

three people on bikes looking out at the ocean

The Gordons Pond Trail is located in the Cape Henlopen State Park. This trail travels along the western side of Gordons Pond, a 900-acre great salt lagoon. This trail affords wonderful views of scenery, wildlife, and native plants. Scenic overlooks and a boardwalk highlight a lagoon, a beach, and a salt marsh.

Beach Trails

Bay and ocean beaches in Lewes and in nearby towns, provide swimming, fishing, boating, and a host of other water sports. Bring your water toys or rent them when you arrive.

Cape Henlopen State Park also hosts a variety of hiking and walking trails throughout the park and beaches. Trails range from .6 miles at the Seaside Nature Center to the two-mile Pinelands Nature Trail to the Bike Loop Trail which is five miles each way. All trails are rated easy.

woman posing with her arms out in front of the ocean

Perhaps the most popular trail is the Walking Dunes Trail. This trail travels through woods and marsh before ending at The Great Dune. It’s 1.6 miles is suitable for all levels and traverses sand, crushed shell, and pavement.  

Birding

Bring your binoculars and cameras if you enjoy birding. There are a number of great locations in the area for birdwatching. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge hosts bald eagles year-round, as well as shorebirds during spring and late summer migrations. Cape Henlopen State Park is home to hawks and seabirds overhead, and the pine forests house nuthatches and chuck-will’s-widows. 

You can also scout for large nests resting on top of telephone poles at Silver Lake, in nearby Rehoboth Beach. Spy the Monk Parakeets along with many other types of waterfowl. 

Beyond 

There are many more adventures within a couple hours of Lewes. Take a ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and visit Victorian Cape May. Camp at Delaware’s Trap Pond State Park to see the northernmost natural stand of bald cypress tress on the East Coast. Visit Assateague National Seashore with its famous wild horses. Explore Pennsylvania’s Amish country or take in the sights of Washington, DC. 

man driving a winnabego motorhome giving a thumbs up

Lewes is definitely a small little gem that offers the RV traveler a wonderful mix of great experiences!

Comments

User commented on June 26, 2022 10:24 AM
We live in Lewes now and frequent most all of the locations you mentioned. A quaint town and beautiful state park as well as beaches, brews and trails. We used to camp with our RV at Cape Henlopen. Beautiful sunsets off the Point with the lighthouse on the background. The Wallace’s
User commented on June 26, 2022 10:55 AM
This article is Just silly, Cape Henlopen campground has been totally booked since the pandemic started. There is scattered availability mid October. You must realize our camping world is permanently changed by pandemic events, may never return to unplanned RV exploring.
User commented on June 26, 2022 12:24 PM
Failed to mention hoe few camps are in the park and state.
User commented on June 26, 2022 4:48 PM
That’s my home you are talking about ! The best move we ever made 💜 💚Glad you enjoyed our Paradise
User commented on June 27, 2022 5:41 PM
Nice to meet you both and so glad you had a chance to visit the lovely Cape Henlopen!