11 Best Delaware State Parks for Outdoor Fun

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Lighthouses at Cape Henlopen State Park
Get out on the water for a view of these stunning historic lighthouses at Cape Henlopen State Park. Photo credit: VisitSouthernDelaware.com

Delaware is small but mighty. With an area of only 1,982 square miles, the East Coast state is densely packed with sandy beaches, beautiful state parks and popular attractions. Delaware is also a great place to uncover U.S. history, as it was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and it’s a popular shopping destination, being one of the few states that does not collect sales tax.

Delaware’s state parks are especially popular among nature lovers. These parks feature pristine beaches, dense woodlands, marshes and sand dunes. Plan your next outdoor adventure with our list of the best Delaware State Parks.

SheBuysTravel Tip: To learn more about any of the following parks, head to destateparks.com.

1. Cape Henlopen State Park

Located in Lewes at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, Cape Henlopen State Park has a little bit of everything. The park stretches along the coast, providing more than six miles of sandy beaches where visitors can sunbathe, swim, kayak or canoe. A network of biking and hiking trails trace through the park’s dunes, beaches and maritime forests.

The park also boasts a historical attraction: the Fort Miles Historical Area. This area is home to a museum that preserves the history of Fort Miles, a military fort used during WWII and for several decades after.

If history isn’t your thing, visit the Seaside Nature Center, which features several exhibit tanks with stingrays, horseshoe crabs and other local wildlife. There is a gift shop and the center has a variety of activities and programs for all ages.

2. Delaware Seashore State Park

Delaware Seashore State Park is a magnificent stretch of land, featuring six miles of ocean and 20 miles of bay shoreline. The park is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Rehoboth and Indian River Bays on the west. Visitors can explore more than seven miles of trails or stay overnight at one of two campgrounds, suitable for RV camping and tent camping.

Many of the park’s activities feature the Indian River Inlet, where the Indian River lets out to the Atlantic Ocean. There are beaches on either side of the inlet, making it a popular destination for anglers and beach goers.

The park is also home to several historic sites, including the Indian River Life-Saving Station. Built-in 1876, the station was built to address an increase in shipwrecks. Now, it is used as a visitor and education center.

3. Fenwick Island State Park

Located on a barrier island, Fenwick Island State Park is a 334-acre park home to sand dunes, marshes and three miles of pristine ocean beaches. Visitors can hike along the Indian River Bay, or watch the sunset at Little Assawoman Bay.

The park has a rich history and visitors can explore a World War II-era fire control tower, which played a vital role in protecting the coastline. There is also a modern bathhouse with bathrooms, concessions and a gift shop.

Popular activities include surf fishing, crabbing, sunbathing, beachcombing and surfing. Those seeking an outdoor adventure, can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards or sailboats.

4. Killens Pond State Park

Killens Pond State Park is especially popular among families. The park features a water park with thrilling water slides, several pools and a water play zone for young visitors. Killens Pond, a freshwater park located in the middle of the park, also has lots of family-friendly attractions. There are pedal boat, kayak and canoe rentals in the summer.

Anglers will enjoy fishing in the pond and hikers will love the popular Pondside Loop Trail. Visitors can sleep in the park in a wooded campground or in family cabins. There is also a nature preserve that lots of bird species, including the red-shouldered hawk, barred owl and pileated woodpecker, call home.

5. Lums Pond State Park

Lums Pond State Park is another state park in Delaware known for its freshwater pond. Lums Pond is a popular fishing, boating and paddling destination. Paddlers can search for turtles in the pond, while anglers can expect rappie, bluegill and largemouth bass. There are hiking, biking and equestrian trails around the pond.

For a thrilling outdoor adventure, try the Go Ape Ziplining course, which includes a Tarzan swing, four zip lines and rope ladders. There is a newly-renovated campground, four horse campsites and yurts.

The park’s nature center includes a 500 gallon freshwater aquarium exhibit and its nature store sells gifts, clothing and books.

6. White Clay Creek State Park

White Clay Creek State Park is a hiker’s paradise. One of Delaware’s largest state parks, the park boasts more than 37 miles of trails. Hikers or bikers will enjoy lush valleys, beautiful woodlands, impressive rock outcrops and calming creeks and historic sites along the way.

Aptly named, this Delaware state park is located along White Clay Creek, which occupies parts of Delaware and Pennsylvania. The creek is stocked with rainbow and brown trout, attracting anglers. Fly-fishing is also permitted in some parts of the park.

7. Alapocas Run State Park

Located in the heart of Wilmington, Alapocas Run State Park is an urban park filled with trails, rock climbing opportunities, athletic fields and an accessible playground. The park spans more than 400 acres and is the perfect place to escape the city.

Thrill seekers can scale the park’s climbing wall. Those new to rock climbing can take a climbing course. The park also features Blue Ball Barn, an abandoned dairy barn that now houses the Delaware Folk Art Collection.

Serving children of all abilities, the park’s 27,000 square foot playground is the first Boundless Playground™ in Delaware. Those traveling with kids can also head to Brandywine Zoo, located just a short drive from the park.

8. Trap Pond State Park

One of the best ways to see Trap Pond State Park is from a kayak or canoe. The park boasts nearly nine miles of paddling trails, and there are kayak, canoe, rowboat and pedal boat rentals available. Paddlers can take off from one of various boat launching ramps. In the summer, there are also narrated pontoon boat tours.

The park is also a great spot for birdwatching. Birders can look out for bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, orioles and wood ducks. Those interested in learning more about the local wildlife can visit the Baldcypress Nature Center. The park’s campground is in a relaxing wooded area, and its recreation area has volleyball courts, a disc golf course and a playground.

9. Brandywine Creek State Park

Located in Northern Delaware, Brandywine Creek State Park invites its visitors to hike, bike, horseback ride, fish and canoe. The park is known for its rich wildlife, beautiful meadows and blue walls built from a local stone.

With more than 14 miles of hiking trails, there’s lots to be explored. Hugging parts of the creek, the Rocky Run Trail and the Brandywine Trail are especially popular. Hikers can rest in open meadows or at picnic tables.

The park also features a nature center and several nature preserves, which protect the park’s natural resources. The Flint Woods Nature Preserve protects mature Piedmont hardwood forest while the Tulip Tree Woods Nature Preserve protects old growth Tulip Poplar.

10. Holts Landing State Park

Holts Landing State Park is a calm waterfront park located along the Indian River Bay. The park has beaches, forested areas and salt marshes. There is a boat ramp and the park houses Delaware’s only crabbing pier.

Families can go kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or wind surfing in the bay. There is a pavilion with a fire pit, perfect for larger groups. In the summer, the park hosts Family Fun Nights, which feature live music and a cozy campfire. The park also features a primitive campsite.

11. First State National Historical Park

Dive head first into U.S. history at First State National Historical Park. Although technically not a Delaware state park, this park needs to be on your Delaware bucket list. The park is located in parts of both Delaware and Pennsylvania, where it preserves the Brandywine Valley while telling Delaware’s colonial history.

The park consists of six distinct sites: Brandywine Valley, Fort Christina, Old Swedes Historic Site, New Castle Court House Museum, The Dover Green and John Dickinson Plantation. Together, these sites tell the story of how Delaware became the first state. Although the park doesn’t have a central visitor center, each site offers tours and historical information.

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