First things first: Have a great time in The First State. Delaware provides people with numerous opportunities for things to do, and here are eight of the many options:
1. Drive the DE 9
View sights like Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (pictured above) while motoring along the 58-mile Delaware Route 9, which stretches from Kent County to New Castle County. The scenic DE 9 crosses several waterways and has many pull-off spots, plus a handful of quaint cities can be visited along the way.
2. Find Great Deals
Pay zero sales tax while shopping at Christiana Mall, a regional upscale complex in northern Delaware off Interstate 95. The mall's 150 stores include Anthropologie, Michael Kors, Nordstrom and Vera Bradley. And fun fact: The Apple Store at Christiana Mall sells more iPhones than any other location in the nation.
3. Play at the Beach
Visit Rehoboth Beach, which bills itself as having the cleanest ocean water in America. With a population of about 1,300 that expands to about 25,000 in the summer thanks to sun, sand, shopping, dining and entertainment, this community also hosts a popular Rehoboth Beach Autumn Jazz Festival every October.
4. Roar with Adventure
Go a little wild at Brandywine Zoo, which opened in Wilmington in 1905 and today features 150 animals representing 55 species. The facility showcases creatures native to the Americas and Asia, with several varieties of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians on display. Popular attractions include tigers, pandas, otters and sandhill cranes.
5. Experience Elegance
Stay overnight at the Hotel du Pont, a 12-story Italian Renaissance architectural icon in Wilmington that debuted in 1913. Part of the hotel experience is dining in the Green Room, a four-star restaurant with French-inspired cuisine. Also within walking distance is the Wilmington Riverfront and its many recreational, cultural and retail venues.
6. Do the Ride Thing
Enjoy a relaxing cruise along Delaware Bay aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which connects Lewes, DE with Cape May, N.J. Eye-pleasing views along the way include lighthouses, harbors, exotic seabirds and even some dolphins. Places to visit in Cape May are Cape May County Zoo and the Garden State Wine Trails.
7. Double Down
Play blackjack, poker, roulette, slots and more at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, located adjacent to Dover International Speedway off U.S. Route 13. Upgraded guest rooms in the hotel feature massage chairs and whirlpool tubs, and the resort has five bars, a steakhouse, casual Italian restaurant, indoor pool, spa and sauna.
8. Get on Track
Be one of thousands of tourists each year who board the Wilmington & Western Railroad that travels 10.2 miles to-and-from Greenbank and Hockessin. Antique coach cars are pulled by coal-burning steam locomotives, and the tracks follow Red Clay Creek to give passengers great views of interesting wildlife and natural habitats.