Well, it’s official. More than 5,000 acres of fragrant pine forests and marshes and miles of pristine wide sandy beach will now be protected forever for the benefit of Delaware residents and visitors.
That’s the big headline from Governor John Carney’s signing of legislation just last week to restrict Cape Henlopen State Park from any large scale commercial development that could interfere with the quiet natural setting and resources that people love.
Sponsored by Senator Russ Huxtable, who represents Lewes, it came about as a direct result of a proposal last year to build a very large restaurant on the beach inside the park. More than 1,000 people showed up at a community meeting to oppose the proposal because of its impact on trash, noise, artificial lighting and interference with migrating birds.
As a result of the resistance, the restaurant owners (who happen to be very nice people) gracefully withdrew their proposal, but it was a dramatic wake-up call to the danger of losing cherished natural spaces that contribute so much to our quality of life.
Cape Henlopen is one of many amazing places and actually my personal favorite place in Lewes!
Cape Henlopen is front and center of my radar since we live about a mile away and we take our dog for a long walk there just about every single day. But regardless of where you live you’re never too far from other parks and nature preserves that are likewise protected. Even better, the Delaware State Parks Web site https://destateparks.com/ spotlights an astounding array of experiences you can enjoy – from paranormal adventures to Autumn-specific nature and cultural events to the perfect camp site or gathering place. Here are a few especially cool ones.
In New Castle County
Just outside of Wilmington, you can walk along 14 miles of trails through beautiful old-growth forests, fish (with an easy-to-obtain license) for bluegill, crappie, bass or trout, and spy all kinds of native and unique wildlife at Brandywine Creek State Park https://destateparks.com/BrandywineCreek.
In Kent County
Killens Pond https://destateparks.com/PondsRivers/KillensPond spans 66 acres and is set within a lovely natural setting for its waterpark and the scenic Pondside Loop Trail. It also features an elevated boardwalk for hikers and bikers, with lots of spaces to sit and reveal at the wildlife. While the waterpark makes this a great destination for your kids and grandkids in the warm months, late October and November will be prime times for taking in the lovely fall foliage.
Elsewhere in Sussex County
You’ll find more great stretches of beautiful preserved land at Trap Pond, https://destateparks.com/TrapPond, which is home to fascinating bald cypress trees towering out of and over the water. You can see a lot of it by kayak or canoe, and fish from docks or from your boat, or hike or bike through 12 miles of trails. There’s also a nice Nature Center where you can learn about the park’s natural and cultural history, and a campground where you can relax in your tent or RV.
Fall and Winter Festivals Celebrate Lower Slower Life
Fall and winter festivals are another reason to love this time of year if you live downstate or just want to take an easy day or weekend trip from elsewhere in Delaware. You’ll find a comprehensive list of everything happening in the Cape Gazette’s Fall Festivals Guide https://www.capegazette.com/article/fall-festivals-2023/262530.
Over the next few weeks we’ll have some of the world’s best loved musicians and vocalists at the True Blue Jazz Festival https://www.truebluejazz.org/festival/ Wednesday through Sunday, October 11th through 15th, and the Rehoboth Jazz Festival https://rehobothjazz.com/index.php/tickets. From Thursday through Sunday, October 12th through 15th. This is a major annual event that’s very popular with locals and visitors. Many sessions are already sold out so visit the Web sites now to reserve tickets for anything you’d like to see.
From October 27th through 29th there’s the renowned Sea Witch Festival https://www.beach-fun.com/sea-witch-halloween-fiddlers-festival.html, offering three days of Halloween-themed fun in downtown Rehoboth. It’s another hugely popular event that’s become a lot easier to attend thanks to several transportation options to get you in and out of town. In other words – do not try to drive because you won’t be able to park. Visit this link for Jolly Trolley options https://www.jollytrolley.com/images/Sea_Witch_Festival_Poster_Final.pdf and this one for travel by DART Bus https://dartfirststate.com/RiderInfo/Routes/index.shtml.
From the 8th through 12th of November you can enjoy all kinds of fascinating cinema at the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival https://www.rehobothfilm.com/rehoboth-beach-independent-film-festival.
This all happens before December, when Sussex celebrates with its famed Lewes Christmas Parade https://www.leweschamber.com/event/91st-annual-lewes-christmas-parade and when both Milton https://www.capegazette.com/article/womens-club-milton-planning-holiday-house-tour-dec-9/264273 and Lewes https://www.historiclewes.org/events/2023-holiday-tour-of-lewes.html open the doors of some of their most beautiful residences for Holiday House Tours.