I have been coming to the DE beaches my entire life. As a kid, we went to my grandparents' beach house in Lewes...and now with a 2 and 4 year old, myself, we return nearly every weekend to my in-law's beach house. We take daily bike rides (have you tried the Breakwater Trail or the bike path around the Villages of Five Points?), hit up the pool, and of course truck a cartful of stuff to the beach.
Despite returning every one of my 32 years, I still manage to find new kids activities at the Delaware beaches each time I return. When we come down for week long stretches, it's nice to find beach and boardwalk-alternatives, especially for the really hot, rainy, or really crowded weekend days.
Funland at the Rehoboth Boardwalk, Jungle Jim's and the other water parks, outlet shopping, and the beach are the obvious kid-friendly activities. But aside from the biggies, there are some real hidden gems (many of them free). Lucky you - now I'm letting you in on my little secret so you and your kids can get even more out of the DE beaches. Free events are indicated with an "*"
Ferry Terminal Fun - The Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal (near the entrance of Cape Henlopen State Park) may seem like an unlikely spot for kid-friendly activities, but it's actually very much geared toward kids. There is a free mini golf course (just hand over your license at the ticket counter to get clubs and a ball), a playground, an arcade, and grill-style food. There are also several overlooks, piers, and plenty of shaded seating where you can watch the ferry come in. Around happy hour on most summer nights, a live band takes the stage at the outdoor bar, On the Rocks. Click here for the entertainment schedule
U-Pick Produce/Farms - If you're looking for farm-fresh strawberries, blueberries, peaches and more there are at least a dozen U-Pick farms and orchards in southern Delaware. These are always a hit with kids...plus, there's no easier way to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies by gathering it themselves! A full list of places where you can pick fruit in Sussex County can be found here (scroll down on the page)
Lewes Concert Series* - Free weekly outdoor concerts at Stago Park next to the Lewes Library. Music in the Park Schedule Concerts are Tuesdays at 7pm. (The Villages of Five Points also hosts a free outdoor, family-friendly summer concert series.)
Rehoboth Library* - The Rehoboth Beach Library offers kids
activities several times a week - everything from tot story time to
magicians to arts and crafts on Monday Funday. Full schedule of activities
All Hallow Farm - The All Hallow Farm in Georgetown
is open to the public on weekends (and weekdays by appt) and features a
petting zoo, mini train, bucking cow train, a large playground, and
inflatable jumpers. There's also a reptile house, kids
zip line, and carnival games to keep the kids entertained all day. Food
is available and picnic gazebos are set up for a shady spot to each
lunch. (Children $10, Adults $5)
Bonfire on the beach* - Every Wednesday from 7:30 to 11 p.m., at Dagsworth St. in Dewey.
Home Depot* - The first Saturday of every month between 9-11am, the Home Depot in Lewes offers a free kids workshop.
Cinema by the Canal* - Outdoor movies play weekly at Canal Park in Lewes. Let the kids run out their energy at the playground and check out the docks before enjoying a family-oriented outdoor screening under the stars. Films,
shown during the summer months, start at dusk...usually around 8. Don't forget a blanket or chair and insect repellent. Download Summer Outdoor Film Schedule here.
Cape Henlopen State Park & Nature Center - Cape Henlopen State Park offers endless of kid-friendly activities. The daily schedule is packed with low cost and free activities for the whole family beginning with - but definitely not only - the beach. Free bikes are available to ride around the park at the shack next to the nature center. The nature center has several tanks of fish and turtles. There is also a touch tank where little hands can touch some sea creatures. The park also has dolphin watch programs, kayak tours, hay rides at the beach, lantern tours, lighthouse tours, and seining. There's also a large fishing pier that my kids enjoy walking and a drive on beach (special permit required). Entrance fees: DE residents $4 ($27 annual state park pass), out of state: $8. The nature center is free to get into. Check the daily schedule to find out what's going on each day.
Hopkins Farm Creamery and working Dairy Farm - Pick up and after dinner treat or cool down in the hot sun with some homemade creamery ice cream. While that fresh dairy farm smell can definitely make the experience "authentic", there's a reason this place won 2012 Best of Delaware!