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Wherever You Are, Cape Henlopen State Park is a Wonderful Getaway

Wherever You Are, Cape Henlopen State Park is a Wonderful Getaway

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spotlighted new and well-established neighborhoods within close proximity to some of Delaware’s most beloved places: Our beaches! I focused on communities on the east and west side of Lewes for two reasons. 

One, the number of homes on the market overall is still low, but a large number of homes that have been built in these neighborhoods, which means they’re good places to monitor for resales and new construction. 

Two, almost all of the communities I spotlighted are amenity-rich, offering resort lifestyles outside your door, while all being an easy bike ride to the ocean or bay.

But what if you’ve already found your dream home a bit farther from the ocean? If so, you can still spend a wonderful day – or even an overnight camp – at the extraordinarily beautiful Cape Henlopen State Park.

Getting there is easy, even in the summer if you know when to go. If you’re up north it’s probably a 90-minute drive on a weekday and much faster if you’re mid-state or downstate and also able to go during the week. Once you go through the gates from the Lewes side at the end of Cape Henlopen Drive, or on the Rehoboth side near Henlopen Acres, you’ll find all kinds of ways to enjoy the sand and surf, biking and walking trails, and WWII history as well. Here are some highlights:

Destination One: The Beach!

Drive on and fish: One of the MidAtlantic’s most beautiful coastlines is located with this park, and there are different beaches offering different experiences. If you like to fish in the surf and have a four-wheel drive vehicle – preferably a large pick-up or SUV – you can drive right on to the beach from the Lewes end of the park if you’re fortunate enough to have secured a reservation. Read this carefully for the rules: There’s also a fishing pier on Delaware Bay at the northernmost end of the park.

Park and relax: If you just want to park your car and enjoy the waves you can enter from the Lewes side and go to Herring Point There’s a large parking lot with a portable restroom, and access to the beach via a wide trail. The waves tend to break a little more uniformly on parts of this beach, which makes it great for body surfing, and with its expansive dimensions you won’t feel too crowded even on the busiest days. 

Rinse and eat: There’s also a very nice beach alongside the bathhouse, which is also easily reached from the Lewes side and offers more parking. There are changing rooms and showers and an on-site restaurant offering fun fast foods. Look for it on the map above, or get directions when you go through the gate. 

Consider the Reho option: If you’re in Rehoboth you can get to another beautiful and long stretch of Cape Henlopen State Park beach via Ocean Drive. In both cases the fees are very low – between $4 and $10 for each vehicle, based on in-state or out-of-state registration. And there are all kinds of special discounts

IMPORTANT NOTE: The park tends to fill up very quickly on great weather weekend days, and frequently closes for a few hours when the parking lots are full. Your best opportunities for stress-free access are to arrive before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m. This applies to entry if you want to spend time on the beach, or if you’re driving into the park to spend time at Fort Miles or the walking trails

Destination Two: Bike Trails Through Nature

Cape Henlopen State Park also offers several miles of biking and walking trails that take you through deep and fragrant pine forests, over marshlands, past WWII era observation towers, and to spots where you can view the ocean all the way to the horizon. You can pick up a map at the Seaside Nature Center, or plan your trip with this map If you’re driving in with your bike you can park it at the bathhouse lot or nature center or the lot at Herring Point. If you don’t have a bike you can borrow one for free from 9:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Seaside Nature Center

Destination Three: Fort Miles

Located within the park is Fort Miles, which was built during World War II to deter potential German attacks on local communities and on the port cities such as Wilmington and Philadelphia that are reached via the Delaware Bay. The circular towers visible throughout the park were staffed with U.S. Army personnel on the look-out for U boats and other threats, there’s an inspiring museum located underground in Battery 519, which features all kinds of exhibits that take you back to that historic era and demonstrate what life was like for the 2,000 military personnel and civilians who were stationed there during the war.  

The museum and grounds are managed by the Fort Miles Historical Society in collaboration with Delaware State Parks. There’s a robust schedule of educational and experiential programming year-round. Visit to learn more.