As the winter season rages on and Mother Nature prevents us from enjoying the outdoor activities that coastal Delaware is known for, it’s time to once again explore some of the great offseason activities that are available at or near the beach.
This week, we focus on a few of the area’s great museums. There are an abundance of them, to be sure, but we will showcase five of them here in this week’s edition of the "Weekender Blog." These selections are meant to be a varied group, giving you many different options for visiting and exploring.
So get out there and have some fun exploring the wonders that are our local museums.
There are many others than the ones we’ve mentioned here and, as always, we encourage you to do your homework before you begin exploring the area. But here are a few of our favorites:
Zwaanendael Museum. We’ve always said that one way you can tell you live in coastal Delaware is if you can spell Zwaanendael without having to think about it too much. Located on the corner of King’s Highway and Savannah Road in Lewes, this striking museum tells the story of the town’s Dutch heritage via artifacts, displays and interactive exhibits. The building was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European settlement and is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, Holland. Hoorn was the hometown of David Pietersen de Vries, the leader of the expedition. Call 302-645-1148 or visit HERE for more information on the Zwaanendael Museum.
DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. Now here’s one you simply have to see to believe! One of the area’s best kept secrets, this incredible collection of shipwreck artifacts is located in Fenwick Island, above the Sea Shell City gift shop on Route 1. It may not look it from the outside, but inside there are gold bars, royal jewelry and many other examples of priceless artifacts from days gone by. There are even three photographs salvaged from the Titanic, a huge selection of 17th and 18th century spirits and some of owner Dale Clifton’s collection from the famed Atocha shipwreck. And there is no better storyteller in the area than Clifton, so try to make it on a day when he is there. Call 302-539-9366 or visit www.discoversea.com for more information on the Delaware Shipwreck Museum.
Nanticoke Indian Museum. If you want to learn about the native inhabitants of Sussex County, be sure to visit this fabulous museum located on Route 24 in Oak Orchard. A former schoolhouse for children of color during Delaware’s days of segregation, this museum tells the story of the Nanticoke tribe during the days before the “white man” came to this area. The museum is located near the tribe’s powwow site and offers a unique glimpse into the “people of the tidewater.” Hours are limited in the winter time, so be sure to call first, but it’s well worth the trip to Oak Orchard. Call 302-945-3400 or visit www.nanticokeindians.org for more information on the Nanticoke Indian Museum.
Rehoboth Beach Museum. Located in the former ice house, near the old train station and skirting the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal, this museum detailing the long history of Rehoboth Beach is a true gem in the “Nation’s Summer Capital.” One side of the museum features exhibits dating back to the city’s early days as a Methodist Church site, as well as relics from Funland, the Boardwalk and other sites throughout the city. The other side boasts a rotating exhibit that has featured such displays as “the history of the bikini” and “Rehoboth’s role during World War II.” The current display in the museum’s western wing highlights winning photographs from Delaware Beach Life magazine’s annual photography contest. Call 302-227-7310 or visit www.rehobothbeachmuseum.org for more information on the Rehoboth Beach Museum.
Nutter Marvel Carriage Museum. For a really unique experience, visit this fun museum located on South Bedford Street in Georgetown. While the museum features several outbuildings that Mr. Marvel himself collected throughout the years, including an old church, an old schoolhouse and a wonderful barrel barn, the highlight of the museum is the hotelier’s collection of old carriages. These carriages are featured in the town’s biennial Return Day celebration, held every other November, and include a postmaster’s carriage, complete with “onboard toilet,” the Queen’s carriage and many others. Unless open for a scheduled event, you can only view this collection via appointment, but we encourage you to call and schedule one as it’s a great way to spend the day. As a side note, the state’s only Civil War Memorial is also located on the grounds of the museum. Call 302-855-9660 or visit www.marvelmuseum.com for more information on the Nutter Marvel Carriage Museum.
So there’s a few of our choices for local museums, all of which provide fun and information on a variety of different subjects. Take advantage of the cold temperatures to visit these great local sites and learn about our area.
Next week here in our blog, we will feature a complete preview of the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics. So be sure to check back in a few days to read all about this fun and crazy coastal Delaware tradition.
Until then, have fun visiting some of our local historical sites and museums.
Have a great weekend everyone!