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Delaware Coastal Highway

The Delaware Coastal Highway is more than just a route; it’s a journey through some of the most picturesque and vibrant areas on the East Coast. Stretching along the scenic coastline of Delaware, this highway offers a blend of stunning beaches, historic sites, and recreational activities that attract tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or just looking for a relaxing beach getaway, the Delaware Coastal Highway has something for everyone.

History of Delaware Coastal Highway

Early Beginnings

The origins of the Delaware Coastal Highway date back to the early 20th century when the need for better connectivity between coastal towns became apparent. Initially, the route was a series of dirt roads and pathways used by locals and traders. Over time, these paths were developed and paved, evolving into the modern highway we know today.

Major Milestones

The highway saw significant development during the mid-20th century, especially with the rise of automobile travel. Key milestones include the construction of major bridges and the expansion of lanes to accommodate increasing traffic. Today, the Delaware Coastal Highway stands as a testament to progress, connecting various towns and offering a smooth travel experience.

Route Overview

Starting Point

The journey along the Delaware Coastal Highway typically begins in the charming town of Lewes, known as the “First Town in the First State.” This historical town sets the tone for a trip filled with rich culture and scenic beauty.

Key Destinations Along the Route

As you travel southward, you’ll pass through several notable destinations including Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Bethany Beach. Each of these spots offers unique attractions and experiences.

Ending Point

The highway concludes near the border of Maryland, just past Fenwick Island. This area marks the end of a journey that showcases the best of Delaware’s coastal charm.

Major Attractions


Delaware’s coastline is renowned for its pristine beaches, offering a perfect blend of relaxation and recreation. From sunbathing to surfing, the beaches here cater to all preferences.


State parks along the highway provide opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and exploring natural landscapes. These parks are a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Historic Sites

The Delaware Coastal Highway is dotted with historical landmarks that offer a glimpse into the region’s past. Museums, lighthouses, and old life-saving stations are just a few of the historical treasures you’ll encounter.

Popular Beaches

Rehoboth Beach

Known as the “Nation’s Summer Capital,” Rehoboth Beach is famous for its mile-long boardwalk, vibrant nightlife, and family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a must-visit for anyone traveling the Delaware Coastal Highway.

Dewey Beach

Just south of Rehoboth, Dewey Beach is known for its lively party scene and water sports. It’s the perfect spot for those looking to mix fun and relaxation.

Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach offers a quieter, more laid-back experience. Its tranquil environment makes it ideal for families and those seeking a peaceful retreat.

State Parks

Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park is a jewel along the highway, offering miles of trails, sandy beaches, and historical military structures. It’s a great spot for both relaxation and exploration.

Delaware Seashore State Park

Located between the Indian River Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, this park is a hotspot for fishing, swimming, and camping. The views here are simply breathtaking.

Fenwick Island State Park

Fenwick Island State Park offers a serene environment with less crowded beaches. It’s perfect for a quiet day by the sea or a peaceful walk along the shore.

Historical Landmarks

Indian River Life-Saving Station

This historical station offers a fascinating look into the past of maritime rescue operations. It’s now a museum that showcases the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Service.

Fenwick Island Lighthouse

Standing tall since 1858, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse is a beacon of history and a great spot for photography and learning about maritime navigation.

Zwaanendael Museum

Located in Lewes, the Zwaanendael Museum commemorates the founding of Delaware’s first European settlement by the Dutch. Its unique architecture and exhibits make it a standout attraction.

Activities Along the Highway

Water Sports

The Delaware Coastal Highway offers numerous opportunities for water sports including surfing, paddleboarding, and jet skiing. The coastal waters provide the perfect playground for water enthusiasts.

Hiking and Biking

Numerous trails and paths along the highway cater to hikers and bikers. From scenic coastal trails to challenging inland routes, there’s something for every level of adventurer.


Whether you prefer deep-sea fishing or casting a line from the shore, the fishing opportunities along the Delaware coast are plentiful. Local charters and fishing piers are readily available.

Dining and Shopping on the Delaware Coastal Highway

Best Seafood Restaurants

Delaware’s coastal towns are famed for their seafood. From fresh crab cakes to succulent oysters, the culinary offerings are sure to delight. Restaurants like Dogfish Head Brewery and The Starboard are local favorites.

Unique Shops and Boutiques

Each town along the highway has its own unique shops and boutiques. Whether you’re looking for beachwear, local crafts, or souvenirs, you’ll find plenty of options to choose from.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets offer fresh produce, local goods, and a chance to interact with the community. They’re a great way to taste and take home a piece of Delaware.


Luxury Resorts

For those seeking luxury, there are several upscale resorts offering top-notch amenities and stunning ocean views. The Bellmoor Inn and Spa in Rehoboth Beach is a prime example.

Budget-Friendly Hotels

Travelers on a budget will find plenty of affordable accommodations that don’t compromise on comfort. Chains like Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express offer great value.

Cozy Bed and Breakfasts

For a more intimate experience, consider staying at a bed and breakfast. These charming establishments often provide a personal touch and a homely atmosphere.

Seasonal Events and Festivals

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival

Held every October, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival attracts music lovers from all over. It features performances by top jazz artists in various venues around the town.

Sea Witch Festival

This family-friendly festival in Rehoboth Beach celebrates Halloween with a parade, costume contests, and various activities. It’s a fun event for all ages.

Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival

In September, the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival showcases works from local and regional artists. It’s a great opportunity to purchase unique art and enjoy the beach setting.

Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit

The best time to travel the Delaware Coastal Highway is during the late spring to early fall months. This period offers the best weather and a full range of activities.

Packing Essentials

Pack for the beach with essentials like sunscreen, hats, and swimwear. Don’t forget comfortable shoes for walking and exploring the various attractions.

Safety Tips

Stay hydrated, follow beach safety guidelines, and be mindful of the traffic along the highway. It’s also wise to have a map or GPS for easy navigation.

Sustainability Efforts

Conservation Programs

Delaware has several conservation programs aimed at preserving its coastal environment. Efforts include beach cleanups, wildlife protection, and sustainable tourism practices.

Eco-Friendly Travel Tips

Traveling green is easy along the Delaware Coastal Highway. Use reusable water bottles, support local businesses, and opt for biking or walking when possible to reduce your carbon footprint.

Personal Stories and Testimonials

Visitors’ Experiences

Many visitors rave about their experiences traveling the Delaware Coastal Highway. Stories often highlight the beauty of the beaches, the friendliness of the locals, and the variety of activities available.

Local Insights

Locals share their favorite spots and tips for making the most of a trip along the highway. From hidden gems to must-try eateries, their insights add a personal touch to the travel experience.


The Delaware Coastal Highway offers an unforgettable journey filled with beautiful landscapes, rich history, and diverse activities. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, this route promises a memorable experience. So pack your bags, hit the road, and discover the charm of Delaware’s coast.


  • What is the best time of year to travel the Delaware Coastal Highway?
  • The best time to travel is from late spring to early fall, when the weather is warm and most attractions are open.
  • Are there any tolls on the Delaware Coastal Highway?
  • No, the Delaware Coastal Highway does not have any tolls, making it a hassle-free drive.
  • Can you camp along the Delaware Coastal Highway?
  • Yes, several state parks along the highway offer camping facilities, including Cape Henlopen State Park and Delaware Seashore State Park.
  • What are the must-see attractions?
  • Must-see attractions include Rehoboth Beach, Cape Henlopen State Park, and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.
  • How long does it take to drive the entire highway?
  • Driving the entire length of the Delaware Coastal Highway can take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours without stops, but it’s recommended to take your time and explore along the way.

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