In the words of our state slogan, “it’s good being first.” As the first state, Delaware is is overflowing with rich history in all three of its counties. Whether you’re a history buff looking to learn more about our state’s role in in the Civil War or someone who appreciates the character that accompanies older communities, you’ll love visiting these nine towns.
1. Delaware City
Stroll along Clinton Street to experience the history of this small port town, or hitch a ride to Pea Patch Island, home to Fort Delaware. Fort Delaware served as a prisoner-of-war camp for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Some even believe it is haunted.
Dover was founded in 1683 by William Penn. The capital of the state was moved here in 1777 because it was more centrally located and considered a safer location, away from British raiders on the Delaware Bay. Today many historic structures remain in the state's second-largest city, including the State House and Wesley College buildings, which date back to 1873.
Every two years, Georgetown hosts Return Day, a parade and festival two days after Election Day. Its history dates back to colonial days, when the residents would travel to Georgetown two days after the election to hear its results (that's how long it took to deliver the news via horseback). The winners of the election would parade in carriages around the town Circle.
Laurel was incorporated as a town in 1883 but its history dates back to the 1600s. Step into Old Christ Church, built in 1771, and you'll feel as if you've been transported back to the 18th century.
The first town in the first state lives up to all historic expectations. The town was the site of the first European settlement in the United States. It dates back to June 1631.
This adorable town, claiming both Swedish and Dutch heritage, was founded in 1885. A sign outside the John B. Lindale House states: "This is Magnolia, the center of the universe around which the earth revolves.” The home is one of two town locations on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Milton's deep history starts when it was settled by the Lenni Lenape and Nanticoke tribes. The town's industry centered around shipping on the Broadkill and later by railroading on the Queen Anne's Railway. Today its historic Town Center shows remnants of a simpler time.
Odessa's small historic downtown area will transport you to the past when you visit for Christmas in Odessa, when restored 18th and 19th century homes are opened to the public for tours.
9. Old New Castle
Briefly the capital of Delaware, New Castle's historic district along the Delaware River still has cobblestone streets and a historic court house that will take your breath away. While the neighborhood looks like something out of a movie, it is a fully functioning residential community. It's worth spending an afternoon wandering the streets and then ending the day with a pint at Jessop's Tavern.
You won’t need a time machine to feel like you’ve been transported to the past. What are your favorite historic towns in Delaware?