Goodness, what is Delaware known for? Dewey Beach’s nightlife is definitely pretty fly. Yes, there is indeed shopping without that darn sales tax I pay here in Virginia. And I’m sure the Dover International Speedway is a thrilling experience. But these things aren’t what I like best about The First State. The more I think on it, the more I realize how much Delaware actually has to offer! In honor of Delaware Day (a few days ago), here is a slightly biased list of my favorite things about my little home state.
1. Crabbing. I can’t imagine life without feasts of blue crabs atop old newspapers, much less the sport of catching them. I’ve been blessed to have grandparents who live on the Indian River Bay. A day on the water entails Froggy 99.9 (Delaware’s continuous country) and cans of Milwaukee’s Best (consumed by my grandpop) while slowly trailing up and down the trot line. Staring at the bait and dipping the net can become monotonous and I sometimes find myself daydreaming. But spacing out for just a few seconds can cost the crew Big Blue. I don’t think I would want to swim in that water, but it really is beautiful out there. And I always return with a killer tan.
2. Middletown Old-Tyme Peach Festival. My hometown hosts this family-friendly celebration in the heat of August. The Middletown Athletic Club kicks off the day’s events bright and early with a 5k race.Then, there’s a parade including the high school band, every major club in town, and of course…Little Miss Peach. Lastly, people can get their yearly fill of peach-flavored things with ice cream, peach pies, peach water ice, peach jelly beans, peach tea, and what else am I missing?
P.S. Delaware’s state flower is the Peach Blossom.
3. Everett Theater. While on the topic of Middletown, I can’t forget to recognize one of the most nostalgic places in my memory. Every summer, I participated in a theater production with all my best friends (pretty much everyone in town). The building is really old with especially uncomfortable red velvet seats. But its charm is practically unrivaled. Robin Williams once spent some time in the structure during the filming of “The Dead Poet’s Society” in 1989. The Everett still plays new movie releases each month.
4. World Cafe Live at The Queen. Finally, Wilmington gets a snippet of nightlife. This immaculate music/food venue has only been around a few years. Actually, it has deep history boasting of an old tavern and presidential visits. The new space is stunning. It doesn’t quite have the traffic of the Philly WCL, but is arguably just as great and cuts 20 minutes off the I-95 drive! They even have some well-known acts every once in a blue moon. I look forward to many more fabulous evenings here.
5. Delaware Route 9. This drive is much more than an alternate to sitting in beach and race traffic on the highway. This is “local Delaware. Farmlands and marshy (but pretty) areas extend for miles. I’ve found many of my dream homesteads alongside this windy wonder.
6. Wilmington Blue Rocks. I went to dozens of these games at Frawley Stadium before I ever stepped foot into Citizens Bank Park. For the longest time, I thought they were better than the Phils even though they are minor league. These guys rule the Carolina League. At least, they used to. I haven’t followed them since 5th grade. I’ll never forget the view of the city from the stadium at dusk.
7. Brandywine Creek State Park. This place is where Delaware loses its “special” flatness and begins to look more like Pennsylvania. My first memory here was with my mom, sister, and brother. We were touring some of the DuPont museums with our home school buddies. As soon as we could break away, my mom lead us deep into the woods. We played and hiked and got a little wet in the creek until the sun went down. It was magical. The stone wall lives in infamy (sorry, Roosevelt). Years later, I had the privilege of running many cross country races here. Today, I’m due for a trip.
8. 3 R’s Beach. Who wants to be sitting in oceans of shoobies obnoxiously feeding seagulls while trying to enjoy the elements? At 3 R’s you can chill with the locals and there is room to spare. You can sprawl out as much as you wish (literally). It’s a drive-on beach and a surf-fishing one at that. If you drive on, you’ve got to have a pole set up with a line in the water. And if you’re there to simply enjoy the beach, you have to be careful where you swim so as to not get hooked (or stumble upon a Hammerhead). Other than that, it’s utter perfection. I’ve finished many a good book here.
9. Bethany Beach. The Quiet Resort. I don’t think anyone would necessarily call it quiet, but it is much more low-key than Rehoboth/Dewey/Ocean City. The boardwalk isn’t extensive and there isn’t much commercialism. But what more do you need than a bandstand, DB Fries and the glorious ocean? BB makes for a spectacular end-of-the-day event.
I used to get on Delaware’s case for being boring and lacking culture. Who was I kidding? Hicks in the South, “city” folk up North, and a little too much suburbia in between. It is its own through and through. It may not be the big city and definitely has waaayy too many chickens, but there are indeed some gems dispersed throughout. I’m probably missing quite a few on my brief list.
People say Texas sunsets are the best (maybe they are). Others say sunsets on Africa’s sahara come unparalleled (rightfully so). But I’ve been around the world and the best I’ve seen have been in The Small Wonder. I can’t wait to head back in a few weeks for Christmas.