The busy boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware in the summer. Image credit Ritu Manoj Jethani via Shutterstock

These Small Towns in Delaware Come Alive in Summer

Experience the vibrant spirit of small-town Delaware as these charming communities come alive in the summer season. With populations below 50,000 residents, these towns offer a delightful blend of history, natural beauty, and local charm that captures the essence of summertime in the region. From the coastal allure of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach to the historic appeal of Milton and Smyrna, each town has its unique character and attractions.

Explore boutique shops, deepen your knowledge of local history at museums, and delight in fresh seafood at quaint eateries. Enjoy the scenic beauty of parks, rivers, and nearby coastal areas, where outdoor activities abound. These small towns offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere where you can relax, connect with the community, and create cherished memories. Whether you're seeking coastal getaways or inland retreats, these small towns in Delaware provide a perfect escape for a memorable summer experience.


View of downtown Lewes, Delaware from bridge with canal.
Downtown Lewes, Delaware, from the bridge with the canal.

Lewes, a historic coastal town on Delaware Bay, comes alive in the summer with its rich history, natural beauty, and coastal charm. The town's scenic Second Street is a haven for boutique shoppers, art enthusiasts, and seafood lovers. Discover local artwork at galleries such as Peninsula Gallery.

Gratify your inner foodie with delicious seafood at renowned restaurants like Agave, Half Full, and Kindle. Visit the Zwaanendael Museum to learn about the town's Dutch heritage and explore the historic Lewes Historic District's well-preserved buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Nature enthusiasts can explore Cape Henlopen State Park, known for its pristine beaches, nature trails, and stunning views from the historic observation tower. Don't miss the opportunity to take a scenic ferry ride from the Lewes Ferry Terminal to Cape May, New Jersey. Lewes is a must-visit town in Delaware for its unique blend of timeliness and modern features.

Rehoboth Beach

People enjoying the sun and the sea at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
People at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Known as the "Nation's Summer Capital," Rehoboth Beach is a vibrant coastal town with a population of around 1,100 residents. This popular summer destination offers a lively boardwalk, beautiful beaches, and a wide array of shops and restaurants. Explore the boardwalk and regale your senses with saltwater taffy, ice cream, and other treats. Explore Rehoboth Avenue's boutique shops, including Browseabout Books and Bellinger's Jewelers.

Immerse yourself in the local art scene at galleries such as the Rehoboth Art League. For retail therapy, visit the nearby Tanger Outlets, where you can find many brand-name stores. Enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and fishing on the pristine sandy beaches. Head to Funland, an amusement park offering classic rides and arcade games for a break from the sun. Food lovers will appreciate the diverse dining options, ranging from fresh seafood to international cuisines. Rehoboth Beach is a true gem of summer in Delaware with its lively atmosphere, family-friendly attractions, and stunning coastal setting.


Sunflower field in Milford, Delaware.
Sunflower field in Milford, Delaware. Image credit Wirestock Creators via Shutterstock

Nestled along the picturesque Mispillion River, Milford is a quaint town that offers a peaceful escape and small-town charm. With around 11,000 residents, this riverside retreat boasts unique shops, art galleries, and antique stores that line its downtown streets. Dive into the town's artistic spirit at the Mispillion Art League Gallery, showcasing the works of local artists.

As you explore, take in the historic architecture and embrace Milford's warm ambiance. Visit the Milford Museum to learn about the town's rich history and browse its extensive collection of artifacts. Take a scenic walk along the Mispillion Riverwalk, a picturesque path that winds along the river, offering beautiful views and opportunities for birdwatching. Milford is also known for its vibrant arts scene, with regular events and performances at the Riverfront Theater and the Second Street Players' Riverfront Theater. Milford stands out for its artistic energy, making it an ideal retreat from the everyday.

Bethany Beach

Aerial view of Bethany Beach.
Aerial view of Bethany Beach. Image credit Philip Kopunek via Shutterstock

Bethany Beach, with a population of around 1,000 residents, is a charming coastal town known for its family-friendly atmosphere and pristine beaches. The town's boardwalk offers a relaxed environment for leisurely strolls and cycling. Enjoy a day on the sandy beach, building sandcastles and soaking up the sun. Explore the boardwalk, where you can find beach essentials and local artisan crafts.

Stop by the Bethany Beach Farmers Market to sample fresh produce and local goods. For nature lovers, visiting the Bethany Beach Nature Center is a must, where you can learn about the local wildlife and join educational programs. Don't miss the opportunity to indulge in fresh seafood at the town's many restaurants, offering a variety of coastal culinary delights. Coming alive with its entrepreneurial energy, this town is a definite hit.

Delaware City

DELAWARE CITY, DE, USA - September 30, 2022: Exterior of The Old Canal Shops at 129 Clinton St, Delaware City, DE 19706.
Exterior of The Old Canal Shops at 129 Clinton St, Delaware City. Image credit John Arehart via Shutterstock

Resting at the confluence of the Delaware River and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Delaware City is a picturesque town with a population of around 1,800 residents. This historic waterfront town offers a glimpse into Delaware's rich maritime heritage. Stroll along the canal and marvel at the historic buildings, including the 19th-century Delaware City Historic District.

Visit Fort Delaware State Park, accessible by ferry, to explore the well-preserved Civil War-era fortress and learn about its intriguing history. Stop by the Delaware City Marina, where you can rent a boat or enjoy the scenic views of the waterfront. Enjoy a meal at one of the charming waterfront restaurants offering fresh seafood and panoramic river views.


Red home with green bushes out front in the Milton Historic District in Milton, Delaware.
Milton Historic District in Milton, Delaware.

Tucked away in the heart of Delaware, the small town of Milton welcomes visitors with its rich history and quaint charm. With a population of around 2,500 residents, Milton offers a delightful array of shops, galleries, and eateries along its picturesque downtown area. Explore the Milton Historical Society and explore the town's past through its exhibits and artifacts. Stroll down Union Street, lined with charming storefronts and antique shops where you can find unique treasures.

Take a break at the scenic Milton Memorial Park and enjoy a picnic amidst the serene surroundings. Beer enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, where you can take a tour and sample their famous brews. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore nearby natural attractions such as the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge or take a scenic drive along the Broadkill River. Milton offers a delightful summer escape with its small-town charm, historical appeal, and warm community spirit.


Boardwalk in Smyrna, Delaware
Boardwalk in Smyrna, Delaware.

Smyrna is reputed to be a friendly, tightly-knit town with a population of around 12,000 people. It's famous for the breathtaking flora in the refreshing parks, balanced by an energetic downtown that features plenty of cultural experiences. Explore the quaint shops and boutiques along Main Street, where you can find unique gifts and local crafts.

Enjoy a picnic at Lake Como Park or stroll along the Smyrna Riverwalk, offering scenic views of the water and surrounding nature. Sports enthusiasts can catch a game at the Smyrna Clayton Little Lass Complex or play a round of golf at one of the town's golf courses. Don't miss the opportunity to savor the diverse culinary offerings, ranging from comforting American fare to international cuisines. Smyrna can infuse your summer with the rest and relaxation you seek. 


Former Bridgeville Public Library in Bridgeville, now a curio shop.
Former Bridgeville Public Library in Bridgeville, now a curio shop.

Bridgeville is a charming town with a small population of just over 2,000 residents. Despite its small size, Bridgeville offers many attractions and activities. Explore the Bridgeville Historical Society Museum and delve into the town's heritage through its exhibits and archives. Browse the local antique shops and thrift stores, where you might stumble upon unique finds and hidden treasures. Visit the nearby Redden State Forest and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking.

For a taste of local flavor, dine at the town's cozy restaurants, offering hearty comfort food and delicious homemade desserts. Bridgeville is also known for its lively community events, including the Bridgeville Apple-Scrapple Festival, which celebrates its agricultural heritage. By embracing the harvest, there is the opportunity to embrace the wonderful parts of summer as the season of lush greenery and coming into the full light of the year.


Delaware State Fair participants enjoy a ride on a midway roller coaster.
Delaware State Fair rollercoaster. Image credit Herbert Quick via Shutterstock

In central Delaware, Harrington is a niche location that's popular for its celebration of the spirit of the state. You can explore the Delaware State Fairgrounds, where you can attend concerts, rodeos, and the annual Delaware State Fair. This is perhaps the most beloved summer tradition. Take a leisurely walk through the town's historic district and admire the well-preserved Victorian-era buildings.

Visit the Harrington Raceway and Casino for an evening of entertainment, gaming, and live harness racing. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the scenic Killens Pond State Park, offering opportunities for fishing, boating, and hiking. The beauty in Harrington is there in any season, but summer lets you make the most of your time at this peaceful spot.


Selbyville, Delaware, abandoned farm buildings overgrown with trees and shrubs, in a field of corn husks in rural Delaware.
Selbyville, Delaware, abandoned farm buildings.

Selbyville is a close-knit community, known for its warm hospitality and proximity to coastal attractions. Explore the town's downtown area and discover local shops, boutiques, and eateries offering a variety of goods and culinary delights. Visit the nearby Fenwick Island State Park, where you can relax on pristine sandy beaches and enjoy water activities such as swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the nearby Bayside Resort Golf Club, featuring a scenic course with stunning bay views. The Freeman Stage at Bayside hosts a variety of outdoor concerts and performances, providing entertainment for all ages. Indulge in fresh seafood at the local restaurants, known for their delicious crab cakes and coastal cuisine. Small yet mighty, this town comes alive through its active community and vast opportunities for tourism.

As the summer days draw to a close, the small towns of Delaware have left an indelible mark on your heart. From the quaint streets of Lewes and the lively boardwalk of Rehoboth Beach to the historical charm of Milton and the welcoming community of Smyrna, every stop has that X-factor that makes it a summer gem. Engaging with local history, exploring boutique shops, and delighting in the coastal beauty and recreational opportunities of Delaware is an ideal way to spend the summer.

The warmth and hospitality of the residents made you feel like a part of the community, creating a sense of belonging and leaving you with cherished memories. As you depart these small towns, the spirit of summer lingers, reminding you of the beauty of small-town Delaware and the joy that can be found in these hidden gems. Until the next summer arrives, carry the essence of these towns with you and treasure the experiences that have made your summer truly special.

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