Gems of the Shore: Take a Day-cation to Lewes, DE

Feature_22

On the coast of Delaware sits the picturesque town of Lewes. It’s a place where substantial history meets cosmopolitan flair, against the quaint backdrop of a seaport village. It’s quintessential charm draws visitors from all major east coast cities, many of whom have second homes in the area. For those who live on the Eastern Shore, a day trip to Lewes is a welcome respite from the bustle of daily life; a short day-cation meshing the shore’s vibrant past with current sophisticated creature comforts, all combining to make the visitor thankful such a place exists only a short drive away. Take a little pictorial journey with Shorebread below, and see what delights await you in Lewes, DE.

Lewes was founded in 1631 by a group of Dutch settlers, who named their colony in the new land Zwaanendael, intending it to be a whaling colony and trading post. That settlement was destroyed by an Indian tribe, and later rebuilt. As a result, Lewes is known as “the first town in the first state.”
Built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the settlement of Zwaanendael, the museum houses a collection of Delaware’s maritime history. The architecture of the building is modeled to an exacting point after City Hall in Hoorn, Holland.
Artifacts abound in the Zwaanendael Museum. In this image, a ship’s model can be seen in the glass enclosure, as well as a life-size figure of a man who once worked on a ship. Numerous seafaring vessels met their demise off Delaware’s coast. Through the years, many artifacts have been uncovered and are now on display at the museum. From the early years in the late 1600’s, to the War of 1812, and later Cape Henlopen’s role as a line of defense (built and staffed, but thankfully not needed), in WWII, Lewes, DE has a rich seafaring history.
The Zwaanendael Merman is an example of folk/sailor’s art, conceived in a time when those who worked at sea travelled to the far unseen corners of the earth, returning with oddities such as the merman to spread tall tales of things they had seen. This creature is thought to be made of a monkey’s shrunken head, a fish’s tail, and lizard arms, among other materials. A local Lewes family who received it from an old sea captain in the 1850’s gifted it to the museum. Creatures created like this one are also known as “Fiji Mermaid,” and “Devil Fish.”
Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church is one of the oldest congregations in the state of Delaware, serving as a place of worship since 1681.
The present church, built in 1858, and its graveyard full of bright white stones are quite majestic. Four of Delaware’s governors call this graveyard their final resting place. The oldest stone belongs to Margaret Huling, who was born in 1631.
Lewes’s residential side streets are filled with picturesque details, like this historic vehicle—making one feel as if they’d stepped onto a movie set, instead of a small town where people live and work.
Quaint shops like this one are to be found around nearly every corner, not just in the town’s commercial heart of Second Street.
This is Preservation Forge, a working blacksmith’s shop and museum. The exterior of the building is impressive, although the shop itself wasn’t open when Shorebread visited.
What trip to a small town would be complete without a trip to old-fashioned ice cream parlor? This is the interior of Kings on Second Street.
Within this antique shop are walls of art, maritime treasures, one-of-a-kind chandeliers, and even more unique pieces—like this figure who cautions visitors not to touch his aged appendages.
Every shop is dressed to impress.  Ambiance is everywhere; shopping, or browsing is a real treat. This is Biblion: Used Books and Rare Finds. They also have an impressive selection of cards not carried elsewhere.
Lewes’ commercial heart is Second Street. Housed within historic structures are cosmopolitan shops filled with the latest styles as well as quaint beach treats. Popular restaurants are situated here, like Agave—which one local seated on a bench just outside the restaurant raved about, saying, “I can’t say enough great things about the place—everything they serve is delicious.” Shopping and dining are very convenient; everything is located within a half-mile stretch.
Just a stone’s throw away from Second Street is Lewes’ waterfront, visible here through the beautiful canopy of blossoming spring trees.
The Canalfront Park and Marina border the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal. This is the view from the docks.
Historic architecture is evident all over town. A stroll through any of the town’s residential streets offer beautiful examples of restored homes.
Aside from the man-made structures and rich historical significance, Lewes, DE offers plenty of natural beauty. Shorebread visited during the Tulip festival, celebrating a nod to the town’s Dutch heritage. Take a day trip to Lewes, and see what you uncover.

Find more information about Lewes,click here.