Aerial view of Lewes, Delaware, USA. Editorial credit: Khairil Azhar Junos /

6 of the Most Hospitable Small Towns in Delaware

In the heart of the First State, Delaware's small towns offer a unique blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and coastal allure. Each town's rich heritage invite visitors to explore and experience its stories. Laurel, a hidden gem in western Sussex County, is renowned for its scenic parks and waterways, offering a quiet escape into nature's embrace. Bethany Beach, a picturesque resort town, is a haven for beach lovers with its stunning public beaches and vibrant boardwalk. Millsboro, set on the banks of the Indian River, offers a tranquil retreat with opportunities for boating, fishing, and nature exploration.

Lewes, steeped in history as the "first town in the first state," blends historical intrigue with beautiful beaches and cultural richness. Smyrna, rich in history and nestled between Duck Creek and Lake Como, serves as a cultural hub with its museums and wildlife refuge. Lastly, Selbyville, quaint and peaceful, provides a serene coastal experience and celebrates its heritage annually. Each of these towns, though small in size, is big in character, offering something special for everyone.


A beautiful newly restored colonial-style home in blue with black shutters stands out in the historical district of downtown Laurel, Delaware, USA.
A beautiful, newly restored colonial-style home in downtown Laurel, Delaware, USA. Editorial credit: Dee Dalasio /

A serene destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Laurel, Delaware, is steeped in history and adorned with natural beauty. This town, founded in 1683, is celebrated for its extensive historic district, featuring a large number of buildings listed on the National Historic Record. Laurel offers a tranquil atmosphere for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing, particularly at spots like Holts Landing State Park and Trap Pond State Park, where nature’s splendor is on full display. The town's history is showcased at the Laurel Heritage Museum, situated in the historic Laurel Train Station, providing visitors with a glimpse into the town's colorful past.

Laurel’s rich Native American heritage is also highlighted at the Nanticoke Indian Museum, the only Native American museum in Delaware, which boasts an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits detailing the proud heritage and culture of the Nanticoke tribe. Additionally, Laurel Junction, a vibrant indoor/outdoor flea market, and the nearby Seaford Museum offer unique experiences for visitors. Laurel truly encapsulates the essence of a peaceful community intertwined with historical depth and natural allure​​​​​​​​​.

Bethany Beach

 Drone photo of Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Drone photo of Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Right on the ocean, along Delaware's picturesque coastline, Bethany Beach emerges as an idyllic retreat for beach aficionados and lovers of quaint charm. This resort town, a harmonious blend of natural beauty and refined leisure, is a beach lover's paradise with miles of public beaches caressed by the Atlantic's gentle waves. Stroll along its vibrant boardwalk, where boutique shops and gourmet restaurants offer a taste of local flavor. For the more adventurous, the nearby Fenwick Island State Park beckons with its exhilarating surfing opportunities. Bethany Beach, where the sand meets sophistication, is a haven that promises a serene yet vibrant beach experience.


Aerial view of waterfront homes with a private dock near Millsboro, Delaware, USA.

Aerial view of waterfront homes with a private dock near Millsboro, Delaware, USA.

In the heart of Delaware, Millsboro stands as a serene sanctuary by the Indian River's gentle flow. This town, a perfect blend of tranquility and outdoor adventure, beckons those who yearn for a respite from the rush of everyday life. Here, the sun-kissed waters invite boating and fishing enthusiasts, while the sandy shores offer a haven for sunbathers. The natural allure extends to the Edward McCabe Nature Preserve and Cupola Park, where the beauty of Delaware's landscapes unfolds. Millsboro is more than a destination; it's a peaceful escape where nature's rhythms dictate the pace of life, and every moment is an opportunity to reconnect with the great outdoors.


Aerial view of Lewes, Delaware, USA. The beach town, fishing port, and waterfront residential homes along the canal are visible.
Aerial view of Lewes, Delaware, USA. Editorial credit: Khairil Azhar Junos /

Lewes, affectionately known as the "first town in the first state," radiates a charm that seamlessly blends its rich history with stunning coastal scenery. This enchanting town, where history is etched into every street and building, offers a journey through time. Visitors are drawn to the pristine Lewes Beach, a perfect spot for relaxation and sunbathing. The town's historical significance is highlighted by its iconic lighthouses and an array of museums that offer a glimpse into Delaware's storied past. Lewes is a living museum, a coastal haven where every path leads to a discovery, and the whispers of history are as constant as the ocean's tide.


Northbound Main Street approaching the intersection with Commerce Street in Smyrna, Delaware.
Northbound Main Street in Smyrna, Delaware. By Dough4872, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Smyrna lies in the heart of Delaware, a town where history and nature converge to create a tapestry of cultural richness and scenic beauty. Between the meandering Duck Creek and the serene Lake Como, Smyrna unfolds as a historical haven. Its streets tell tales of the past, with landmarks like the Smyrna Museum and the Old Town Hall standing as testaments to its rich heritage. The Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge offers a natural escape, a place where wildlife thrives, and the beauty of nature is unspoiled.

Meanwhile, the Smyrna Opera House, a beacon of arts and culture, offers a diverse array of performances, enveloping visitors in the town's vibrant cultural scene. Smyrna is not just a destination; it's a journey through Delaware's historical and cultural landscape.


View east along Delaware State Route 54 (North Main Street) at Pepper Road in Selbyville, Sussex County, Delaware.

View east at Pepper Road in Selbyville, Sussex County, Delaware. By Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Selbyville blends seamlessly into the picturesque landscape of Delaware, emerging as a quaint and tranquil town. This peaceful community, with its warm and inviting atmosphere, stands as a testament to a slower, more measured way of life. Celebrated annually with the "Old Timers Day and Car Show," Selbyville embraces its rich heritage with a sense of pride and nostalgia. Its streets, lined with friendly faces and historic architecture, lead to the serene beauty of Delaware's pristine beaches, offering a perfect blend of tranquility and seaside pleasure.

Selbyville is not just a place to visit; it's a destination where one can immerse in the gentle rhythms of coastal living, where every moment is a step back in time, and every experience is steeped in the town's charming and serene essence. Here, life moves at a leisurely pace, allowing visitors and residents alike to savor the simple joys of a peaceful coastal existence.

Discovering Delaware's Small Town Charm

Delaware's small towns offer a rich tapestry of experiences that blend historical charm with natural beauty. From the sun-kissed shores of Bethany Beach to the tranquil waters of Millsboro, the historical allure of Lewes, the cultural vibrancy of Smyrna, the quaint serenity of Selbyville, and the hidden treasures of Laurel, each town holds its appeal. These towns are not just destinations; they are gateways to stories, landscapes, and experiences that embody the heart of Delaware's spirit and hospitality.

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