Smyrna is full of charming dining options and enjoyable visual and performing arts opportunities. It’s also home to the Historic Belmont Hall, a Georgian mansion originally constructed in 1773. This colonial estate offers tours of the interior and is surrounded by lovely landscaped gardens, even in the winter — bundle up and enjoy these grounds in the snow! The Smyrna Museum also exhibits artifacts chronicling the history of the First State — with historic paintings, furnishings, antiques and more, this museum gives a glimpse of the past and is a charming way to spend an afternoon.
The capital of the First State, Dover has no shortage of historic sites and artifacts. Some of the most popular attractions include: The Woodburn (the official residence of the governor), the Delaware Public Archives (with exhibits, digital ancestry services and more), the Delaware State Police Museum (preserving the proud history of the Delaware State Police), the Air Mobility Command Museum (step into aircraft, enjoy flight simulators and more!), the Biggs Museum of American Art (featuring fine collections of American and decorative art) and the Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village (with over 4,000 artifacts and a variety of exhibits). This list just scratches the surface — explore Dover to uncover all the history it has to share!
Located along Delaware’s wetlands and the Murderkill River, Frederica is known for its gorgeous nature views. It’s also the famed birthplace of the American Methodist movement. You can visit Barratt’s Chapel & Museum, the chapel built in 1780 where pioneers Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury established the American Methodist Church as an independent denomination. It’s the oldest surviving church building in the United States built by and for Methodists and is known as “the cradle of Methodism.”
Milford brims with creative spirit — and overflows with rich history! The Milford Museum is located in the town’s original post office building in downtown Milford. Exhibits feature local historical events from the 1700s to the present, including exhibits on shipbuilding and local businesses. This riverside town is also home to many historical mansions, including the Parson Thorne Mansion and the Historic Sunnybrae Mansion. The Parson Thorne Mansion is located on a sprawling 1,750-acre property and was home to the Reverend Sydenham Thorne, who was instrumental in Milford’s development. Sunnybrae Mansion sits behind a tree-lined driveway and features ornate rooms and grounds to explore.
Full of horse races, casinos, and the Delaware State Fair, Harrington also offers moments to enjoy at your own pace in its many museums. Visit the Messick Agriculture Museum to see antique farming equipment and machinery, including original John Deere tractors and more. The Greater Harrington Historical Society operates several of Harrington’s historic sites, including the Harrington Railroad Museum, a capsule of the town’s past that features dioramas of railroad tracks, a railroad tower and a watchman’s hut.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway
As you visit these historical sites, be sure to stop along the various locations of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Delaware’s Quaint Villages. From Willow Grove to the Camden Friends Meeting House to the Old State House in Dover to Blackbird State Forest, the Underground Railroad traverses Kent County. Visit these sites for a glimpse of where this history happened and where abolitionists sheltered and guided runaway slaves as they journeyed to freedom.
This round-up is just a few of the many museums and historical sites that Delaware’s Quaint Villages has to offer — be sure to check out our website to see more! Please be sure to confirm hours of operation for all museums and attractions to ensure they’re open before you head out. Some operate within limited hours and by appointment only.