In Southern Delaware, you’ll find a tapestry of rural and coastal communities that weave their way from pristine beaches on the Atlantic coast through vibrant towns and picturesque farmland to create a wonderfully unique region with something for everyone.
Although the region is commonly noted for its beautiful beaches and summer resorts, close to a quarter-million people call Southern Delaware home — residents drawn to the diverse and appealing towns which differ in personality but all share the same sense of warmth and community.
Southern Delaware is just a 90-minute drive from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is under two hours away from most locations in the Southern region. Getting here from Wilmington and other parts of Delaware is easy using DART, the intracity bus system.
The Delaware Coastal Airport, offering charter flights, is located to the east of Georgetown and the nearest airport with commercial air service is Wicomico Regional Airport in Salisbury, Maryland.
In Southern Delaware, the median monthly rent is $1,052 and housing can run the gamut from huge coastal estates to condos and townhomes to affordable starter homes to farmhouses with lots of land. Median home value is $254,100.
In 2019, Thrillist selected Rehoboth Beach as one of the 25 greatest beach towns in America and it’s easy to see why. A wide clean Atlantic beach fronts a classic boardwalk lined with restaurants, shops and amusements, but Rehoboth is anything but a tourist town. It’s a year-round foodie haven and craft-beer lover’s paradise, featuring everything from boardwalk bites and brewery tastings to upscale cuisine and fine wines. In fact, the southern Delaware coast is often referred to as the Culinary Coast™ because of its wealth of award-winning chefs and restaurants, year-round farmer’s markets and immersive food-focused festivals.
In 2018, the Blue Hen, a Rehoboth Beach restaurant that celebrates American cuisine, was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, and in 2017, co-founder Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which is based in Southern Delaware, received a James Beard Award as the country’s most Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits.
Rehoboth Beach is also host to many exciting events in the fall like the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers Festival, a jazz festival and the renowned Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival each November. It’s the oldest and largest event of its kind in the state and has evolved into a mid-Atlantic destination event for film enthusiasts from more than fifteen states.
Before leaving the Rehoboth area, don’t miss a session of serious retail therapy at the Tanger Outlets Delaware where a mile of tax-free shopping — at outlet prices! — awaits.
To the north of Rehoboth Beach, perched at the point where the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet at Cape Henlopen is lovely Lewes, a charming historical town that’s eminently walkable with a half-square mile full of colonial and Victorian homes, many of which house restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and museums. One of the finest dining establishments in all of Delaware is located in Lewes, Heirloom Restaurant, whose chef has twice received nominations for a James Beard Best Mid-Atlantic Chef award.
The Lewes beach area is a relaxing oasis with a lot of charm. Bring your beach chair for fun in the sun, hop aboard a sunset cruise on the Lewes canal front (you can take the canal taxi down to Rehoboth Beach for a change of pace, too) or perhaps take a tour of the two lighthouses at the mouth of the bay. Lewes also provides passenger and auto ferry service over to Cape May, New Jersey.
For history buffs, the Lewes Historical Society, the Zwaanendael Museum (the city was founded by the Dutch in the 17th century), and the WWII museum at Ft. Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park offer a variety of exhibits and tours year-round. Art lovers will find many accomplished artisans here with studios and galleries, and foodies won’t want to miss the award-winning Lewes Farmers Market held each Saturday.
Next stop is Georgetown, located at the heart of Sussex County. Many enjoy calling Georgetown home because of the central location and its beautiful downtown with a circular layout featuring a park and fountain. Georgetown provides easy access to ocean beaches, a coastal airport with charter services, and unique stores including craft barns and antique shops.
Since the turn of the 21st century, Perdue Farms has been a major employer in Georgetown, attracting numerous immigrants from Haiti and Guatemala as workers, stimulating growth of the population and changing the town’s demographics. Georgetown has a diverse and interesting population, speaking a variety of languages from Haitian French or Creole to Spanish and English.
Georgetown is also home of the legendary Georgetown Speedway, which is considered one of the fastest dirt tracks in the nation. The Speedway is rich in history and tradition, having provided a starting point to some of the top racers in the industry.
Every October, Georgetown hosts the Wings & Wheels festival at the Delaware Coastal Airport featuring a “fly in” of WWII-era and other vintage aircraft, a huge classic car show, all-day live entertainment, and reenactments of WWII encampments.
On the banks of the Nanticoke River sits picturesque Seaford. Previously ranked as one of the Best Small Towns in America, this enclave of 6,000 residents embodies a close-knit, hard-working spirit which fully celebrates its history while looking forward to the future.
History lovers can take a tour of the Ross Mansion, a grand estate which was home to Delaware’s governor Ross before the Civil War or visit one of Delaware’s most interesting museums. The Seaford Museum has thousands of local artifacts from the Nanticoke Indians and exhibits on early agriculture, shipbuilding, canning, the poultry industry, railroads, Black River Pilots, and the Nanticoke River’s connection with the Chesapeake Bay.
Take a real step back in time by boarding the Woodland Ferry southwest of Seaford. This small cable run ferry crosses the Nanticoke River and is one of the last remaining ferries of its kind on the East Coast.
Just north of Seaford, you can celebrate a local delicacy in all its glory at the annual Apple Scrapple Festival, held every October in Bridgeville. Arguably Southern Delaware’s unofficial state food, this classic dish is made with pork, cornmeal, and spices and is reimagined by acclaimed local chefs throughout the region.
Agriculture remains a major part of the economy in Southern Delaware, employing 15,000 people with approximately 45% of the county’s land composed of almost 1,400 farms. Tourism is tops here, too, and employs around 15,000 workers as well. The region also caters to manufacturers like Dogfish Head Brewery, Crystal Steel, Craig Technologies and James Thompson Mill. There’s also a significant expansion occurring in the healthcare sector.
There are ample health care choices in Southern Delaware with three expanding hospitals and coverage by Beebe Healthcare, TidalHealth and Bayhealth. There are extended-care and extended living facilities across the region, along with many outpatient locations offering imaging and rehabilitation services. Beebe Healthcare has recently opened a $48 million comprehensive cancer center and is building a $125 million four-story specialty surgical hospital campus.