Planning Your Delmarva Summer Adventuresby Jim Rapp
For many of us, summer is the best season to explore Delmarva. We're known around the world for our beautiful beaches and bustling boardwalks, but there is so much more to our Peninsula than what you find along the Atlantic coast.
Between the bays and the ocean, you can cycle, paddle and hike along rivers and refuges, fields and forests, and scenic byways and small towns. From the C&D Canal north to Cape Charles at our Southern tip, there are hundreds -- no, thousands -- of day trip itineraries you can plan without doing the same thing twice.
Here's tip #1 for planning summer fun: use the internet to help you make your Delmarva travel plans. Don't spend too much time online, though -- it's amazing how fast time flies between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and you don't want to miss one more minute than necessary. There are many wonderful websites to help you, including our own, Delmarva hyphen Almanac dot com.
Some of the most informative online one-stop shops for travel are Delmarva's county-based tourism offices. You can also visit our State Tourism websites for more information, plus suggestions for planning your perfect vacation or day trip.
On the tourism websites, you can tap into their social media for up-to-the-minute info, download apps, watch travel videos, and request maps, guides, and brochures. You can also just call them to ask a few questions and get suggestions. Our tourism partners are all about customer service, and you're sure to find a friendly voice to help you when you call.
You're certainly going to spend some time outdoors on Delmarva this summer, so tip #2 is to spend a little time making certain you're safe and healthy. Depending on where you're going and what you're doing, make a checklist of what you need in your travel kit to prevent sunburn, seasickness and dehydration, and to avoid ticks, mosquitoes and poison ivy.
Once you've spent some time online, it's time to put together your plans. Here's Delmarva travel tip #3: get off Routes 1, 50, 13 and 113, and really explore the Shore. There are hundreds of miles to travel on our country roads and scenic waterways, all connected by small towns with food, fuel and friendly people. Eat local, drink local, shop local, and stay local whenever and wherever you can.
Summer memories are best made through a variety of experiences, so here's tip #4: mix it up! Here are some suggestions for what to do on a fine Delmarva summer day from before sunrise to after sunset.
At least once this summer, get up early and go to the beach for an amazing Delmarva sunrise. Check the weather and try to pick a day without too many clouds. The subdued colors that appear in the sky before the sun rises and change every 10 minutes up until the moment when that hot-orange ball of fire first breaks the Atlantic horizon must be experienced first-hand. Instagram photos just don't do it justice.
After sunrise, spend a little time with the birds. Hearing the waking birdsongs of the forest, cypress swamp and marsh is so magical and worthwhile, there's a Swedish word for it -- Gökotta -- that means "to wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing." What a great word!
After the morning birds, add some fresh Delmarva produce to your breakfast.
Throughout the summer, you'll find seasonal berries, melons, and peaches at roadside produce stands. Some of these stands are true Mom & Pop operations, with the food grown right in the field behind the cart. Other produce and farm stands are destinations all by themselves, with so much variety you can plan breakfast, lunch and dinner with locally-sourced fruit, veggies and meat. For the carnivores, try some of our locally made sausage and scrapple. If you don't know what scrapple is, don't Google it -- just buy it and fry it. This Delmarva breakfast tradition goes great with fried eggs, and is as delicious as it is, umm, different.
Burn off the breakfast calories with some morning exercise before the summer sun gets too high in the sky. Most of Delmarva's scenic roads are flat, so runners and cyclists can put some miles under their feet without struggling with hills. You can also get a really good workout paddling a kayak or stand-up paddleboard on our bays and rivers. If you don't have your own boat or board, don't worry -- we have dozens of outstanding outfitters who can rent you a kayak or SUP for the morning.
For lunch, head into one of our small towns for a meal on Main Street. Many of our towns have become foodie destinations, so you'll have your choice of sandwich shop, café, bakery, or pub.
After lunch, stroll down Main Street to visit the art galleries, studios, and boutiques. If you're not into shopping, explore Delmarva's heritage and history in one of our small museums. Many of our historic sites and homes are only open during the summer, and each tells a tale unique to this Peninsula. You can also take a road trip along a scenic byway or water trail, and explore the paths previously taken by such important historic figures as Captain John Smith, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass.
If you're close, go to the beach for an hour or two for a late afternoon dip in the Atlantic, or spend some time under an umbrella with a good book. If you plan to go out for some resort nightlife, a nap may be a good idea, too.
With the salt and sunscreen still on your skin, leave the beach and head to a local brewery or winery. You're guaranteed to find great craft beer or local wine, and good conversation, too. If beer and wine aren't you're thing, hit a local ice cream stand for a refreshing treat made with milk from Delmarva cows.
Delmarva's restaurant scene is phenomenal in the summer. Crab houses are open for all-you-can-eat feasts featuring steamed blue crabs, sweet corn, and every possible type of fried goodie. Bonus tip: don't fill up on the hush puppies and french fries at the crab house -- save it for the crustaceans! If you don't know how to pick crabs, ask for a lesson, or just watch what the locals do. It takes a little time to get full on steamed crabs, but that's part of the fun. If your appetite requires more immediate attention, choose an establishment that serves Delmarva home cooking, get a fresh fish sandwich at a dockside bar, or clean up for an evening of gourmet dining and international cuisine. We've got it all in the summertime.
Try to plan your dinner before the sun goes down so that you can head to the bayside for sunset. If you still have some energy left, save some time at the very end of the day for a beach bonfire or stargazing away from the bright lights of the resorts and towns.
Tip #5: Get a good night sleep and repeat. Labor Day will be here before you know it.
Here are some online resources to help you get started:
Dover - Kent County
Sussex County - Southern Delaware
Kent County, Maryland
Queen Anne's County
Accomack & Northampton Counties
And don't forget our underwriters whose website can help you discover Delmarva's cultural scene: eatdrinkbuyart.com
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