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15 Great ways to enjoy the best of Delaware’s outdoor activities

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Delaware won’t win any awards for being biggest, but they sure could rack up the awards for outdoor activities. From birding to biking, from sailing to surfing and from water activities to wildlife viewing, Delaware has endless opportunities to get outside and enjoy the best of Mother Nature. They’ve even come up with a Delaware Outdoor Trail Passport to inspire you, and they’ll reward you with an official Delaware Outdoor Trail backpack for your efforts.

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Dozens of areas are listed in each county. They range from walking, biking, hiking and running trails to wildlife viewing opportunities to water activities. Each is listed with addresses, websites, and lengths of the trails. Most can be completed in two hours or less.

Here’s just a smattering of activities you might like to try in Southern Delaware:

Rehoboth Beach

The beach is the draw at Rehoboth Beach and some will spend their entire weeks’ vacation swimming and tanning on the sand. But there’s much more to do for those with a wider range of interests. Start by biking the mile long boardwalk in a 4-wheel surrey (complete with fringe on top) or stretch your ride out to 7.5 miles one way to Lewes on the Junction and Breakwater Trail.

Love the sand, but don’t like swimming? How about surfcasting for one of the millions of fish in the sea at Delaware Seashore State Park. They’ll even lend you the equipment and show you the proper casting techniques. There are areas where you can even drive right onto the beach for surf fishing but special fishing vehicle tags are required. Surfing is allowed just north of the inlet.

Shopping is an outdoor activity for some and they might find some unusual nautical mementos at the Indian River Life-Saving Station gift shop. Stop in the park office for all sorts of suggestions for boating, camping, clamming, crabbing, kayaking and more. Yes, there is some great camping at Delaware seashore state parks. All spaces are available by reservation – so plan ahead. Better yet, sign up for their newsletter to get the latest news on new openings.

Horseback riding is permitted on a 4.6 mile stretch of the Delaware Seashore State Park. The Prickly Pear Trail is also available for hiking, biking and equestrian activity and is an easy 3.5 mile loop.

Standup paddleboarding (SUP) is the latest craze, and you’ll find great people with great equipment to rent or purchase in both Rehoboth and Fenwick Island at DelMarVa Board Sport Adventures. They offer rentals, instructions and tours, including LED-lit night paddling adventures. Kayaks and windsurfing boards are also available. Visiting Delaware? Take advantage of the state’s sales tax free status and save big by purchasing your SUP here in Delaware. They even carry used boards and they deliver.

Gordon Pond is a great place for checking out the giant lookout towers and bird watching along the Atlantic Shore. A new elevated walkway takes you out over the marsh to the beach. Even higher elevated platforms give you a great perch for bird watching.

Eating isn’t necessarily what you’d think of as an outdoor adventure, but if you sign on with Eating Rehoboth – it will be. It’s a 3 hour walk, drink and eat extravaganza. [Read my separate article about great Delaware cuisine here.]

Order a free Rehoboth Beach visitors guide for additional places to see, eat and stay.

Lewes

Cape Henlopen State Park is the site for the annual Great Delaware Kite Festival. This year was the 46th annual occurrence. It’s also the place to tower climb if you love aerial views. You’ll see a full 360 degrees above the park out to the ocean.

Did you fly to Delaware and couldn’t bring your bike – no problem. They offer free bike rentals from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Seaside Nature Center. Bike or hike the three-mile long paved path that encircles the park and take in the history of this one-time military installation.

Looking for handicapped accessible locations? Cape Henlopen has got you covered with their 30-foot long Mobi-Mats, enabling wheel chairs to be rolled out onto the beach.

If you are a fan of architecture, be sure to take a tour of the Lewes Historical Society Complex with many restored buildings from c 1725 through 1898.

Visit one of the few remaining “lightships” – the Overfalls. It was designated a National Historical Landmark in 2011 and is available for tours. This floating lighthouse was restored by local volunteers over 11 years and is a fascinating tale in itself. It’s located right in downtown Lewes.

[For more photos of these sites in Southern Delaware , click here]

Take a water taxi up and down the inland waterways on the Cape Water Taxi with Captain David Green. Besides regular taxi service, they also offer eco-tours, sunset cruises, fireworks cruises, live music cruises and kids camps. Bring a picnic basket and BYOB – alcohol is allowed. Water is available for purchase on-board. The taxi connects Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey and Long Neck. Bring your binoculars – you’ll have plenty of wildlife to see including recent spotting of dolphins in the Indian River Bay.

Laurel

Trap Pond is yet another wildlife area worth a drive. Just about an hour due west of Rehoboth, this state park is located off Route 24. With the northernmost cypress swamp in the US, this area begs to be explored by water. The lake has been here since the late 1700’s. Boating is available on canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and via pontoon boat. Eco-tours and moonlight cruises are available. Check the schedule at the Bald Cypress Visitor Center for special programs, summer camps, campground, boating and hiking information. Time your trip just right and you might be able to view the historic Bethesda Church which was recently renovated.

Milton

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is another prime area for bird watching – look for snow geese as well as osprey. Check the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calendar for a month-by-month list of wildlife you can expect to see.

Get Outside

With all there is to see and do in Southern Delaware, you’ve got to get yourself off that sofa and put on your walking shoes. Hope to see you on the trails. Got another favorite Delaware activity? Please leave it in the comments below.

Planning resources:

Southern Delaware Tourism – http://visitsoutherndelaware.com

Rehoboth Beach Main Street - http://www.downtownrehoboth.com

Delaware State Parks – http://destateparks.com

Delaware Tourism – http://visitdelaware.com

Group transportation - Atlantic Transportation Services - http://www.AtlanticLimoDE.com

[For more photos of these sites in Southern Delaware , click here]

[Read my other article on where to eat in Southern Delaware]

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about travel destinations, photography and tech topics across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.com with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. For travel ideas in Cleveland and around the world, check his Calendar of Events. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.

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