12 Things To Do in Smyrna, Delaware

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled along the banks of the beautiful Delaware River, Smyrna is a quaint town in Kent County, Delaware that offers visitors a surprisingly diverse array of attractions and activities. From exploring historic downtown and its many boutique shops to taking in the scenic natural splendor at parks and wildlife areas, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Smyrna.

This article will highlight 12 of the top things to do in Smyrna, covering major attractions like the Smyrna Museum and the Little Creek Wildlife Area as well as some hidden gems that even locals might not know about. We’ll also provide tips to help you make the most out of your visit to this charming Delaware town. Whether you’re planning a day trip or weekend getaway, be sure to reference this list to construct an itinerary packed with fun and unique experiences.

Discover History at the Smyrna Museum

As one of the top attractions in Smyrna, the Smyrna Museum is a must-visit, especially for history buffs. Located in a historic 1830s farmhouse, the museum houses rotating exhibits that explore different aspects of Smyrna’s local history and culture.

Some of the museum’s permanent exhibits provide an overview of the town’s origins as a shipping hub along the Delaware River. You can view artifacts from Smyrna’s agricultural past like traditional farming tools. There is also an exhibit dedicated to artifacts from the U.S. Army Air Forces Base that operated in Smyrna during World War II.

In addition to exhibits, the museum also hosts special events and programs like lectures, children’s activities, and seasonal festivities for the community. So before leaving, be sure to check their calendar to see if any events overlap with your visit.

Stroll Down South Main Street

After exploring the Smyrna Museum, take a short walk to historic South Main Street located just across from the museum. This section of downtown Smyrna exudes small-town charm with red-brick sidewalks, decorative lamp posts, and colorful storefronts.

As you amble down South Main Street, you’ll discover over a dozen boutique shops and eateries to pop into.

Browse through the trendy fashions and accessory collections at P.A. & Company. Or pick up a rare, antique find at Main Street Antiques. If you need a pick-me-up, stop into The Daily Grind coffee shop or Heavenly Scoops ice cream parlor for a sweet treat.

You can also pay a visit to the Smyrna Opera House, a historic live performance venue that still hosts musical acts and productions today.

Relax at Woodland Beach Wildlife Area

Nestled along the coast of the Delaware River just minutes from downtown Smyrna, the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area offers a scenic natural escape from the town.

Encompassing over 600 acres of protected coastal wetlands and woodlands, the wildlife area has four miles of trails open to the public for hiking and bird watching. As you meander down the trails surrounded by marshy wetlands, keep your eyes peeled to spot native wildlife like blue herons, snowy egrets, turtle, frogs, and more.

In addition to hiking trails, the wildlife area also boasts nearly a mile of riverfront access with a sandy beach area along the Delaware River. Visitors often flock to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

With picnic tables scattered throughout the property, it’s also a popular spot for enjoying a riverside lunch or snack away from the downtown crowds.

Learn About Glassmaking History

Dating back to the early 19th century, Smyrna has a long and storied history of glass production. Pay homage to this integral aspect of the town’s past with a visit to the Smyrna Museum’s Glass Museum annex, located right next to the main museum.

This annex features displays and demonstrations showcasing how glass was manufactured by the wood-fired furnaces that put Smyrna on the map centuries ago. Visitors can watch glassblowing demonstrations by a professional glassblower and peruse exhibits with various glass samples and antique glassmaking tools.

Some of the glass samples on display were collected from the former site of the Smyrna Glass Works factory, which operated in town for over 100 years until closing in the 1930s.

Go Golfing

No visit to Smyrna is complete without reserving some time to hit the lush greens at one of the town’s scenic public golf courses. Golfers have two excellent options to choose from – the Four Seasons Golf Course and the Jonathan’s Landing Golf Course.

Designed by renowned golf course architects, the Four Seasons Golf Course is an 18-hole course set across gently rolling hills dotted with scenic ponds. Its diverse layout features a mix of openings and tightly-wooded areas to challenge golfers at every skill level.

Meanwhile, situated along the marshes of the Delaware River, Jonathan’s Landing Golf Course charms players with captivating natural scenery. This 18-hole course features elevated greens and bunkers integrated into the natural landscape of tidal marshes and mature trees.

Both courses offer fully-stocked pro shops, rental equipment, casual dining options, and immaculately maintained greens at affordable rates.

Tour the Air Mobility Command Museum

Aviation enthusiasts visiting Smyrna will not want to miss a stop at the Air Mobility Command Museum located adjacent to the Dover Air Force Base.

As the only museum in the world dedicated to airlift and refueling aircraft, it houses an impressive collection of over 30 planes from World War II to today – many of which you can even go inside. Some highlights include a massive C-5A Galaxy cargo plane, a C-47 Skytrain, and the “Miss Piggy” rescue plane from the Iran hostage crisis.

In addition to the aircraft collection, the museum also features thousands of artifacts related to aerial refueling, air rescue missions, and air mobility. Visitors can even view historic crew uniforms, equipment for aerial delivery, and models of various aircraft.

Along with fascinating exhibits and aircraft, the museum also hosts regular event programming like lectures, family days, and an annual air show.

Explore Abbott’s Mill Nature Center

For an outdoor experience closer to downtown Smyrna, pay a visit to the lush forests and meadows of Abbott’s Mill Nature Center located along Spring Meadow Road northeast of the town center.

Encompassing 120 acres of preserved natural parkland, this nature center has over five miles of hiking trails weaving through meadows, streams, and woodland areas bustling with native plants and wildlife. As one of the top birding spots in the state, it’s a great place to spot songbirds like the brilliant blue indigo bunting or the red-eyed vireo with its intricate trilling song.

In addition to bird watching opportunities, the nature center also features educational exhibits in the visitor center focused on the natural history of Delaware’s ecosystem. So you can brush up on your knowledge of the First State’s geology, plant life, and wildlife before or after a hike. They also host special seasonal events like flower walks and children’s programs.

Sunbathe at Bay View Beach

Craving some seaside fun while visiting Smyrna? Make your way over to Bay View Beach, a beloved local public beach situated where the Delaware River meets the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to the main swimming area with lifeguards on duty, Bay View Beach also has a “quiet” section popular for sunbathing.

You can pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the many tables or outdoor grills as you take in lovely views overlooking the bay. There’s also a snack bar and restaurant if you’d rather buy food on-site. After refueling, unwind with some beach reads on the sand or set up a volleyball net for a friendly game. Popular water sports at Bay View Beach include stand-up paddleboarding, jet skiing, sailing, and boating.

With plenty of parking and convenient location just 15 minutes from Smyrna’s downtown, Bay View Beach is arguably the top spot to soak up the summer sun during your visit.

See Racing History at Dover International Speedway

Even if your trip doesn’t overlap with one of its major NASCAR races, the iconic Dover International Speedway is still well worth a visit to absorb its fascinating racing history.

Offering open tours year-round, the speedway – also nicknamed “The Monster Mile” – gives visitors an insider’s look into a world-class racing stadium that’s hosted legends like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

On the tour, you’ll get to step out onto the track surface itself and gaze out over the staggering seats wrapping around the mile-long concrete track. Many are surprised by how steeply banked this track is, with angles reaching nine degrees in parts!

In addition to seeing the track, you’ll also tour the press rooms, driving simulator labs, victory lane, and even get a peek behind the scenes in the race garages. To cap off the tour, guests can pose for photos at the Miles the Monster statue overlooking the track!

Shop and Dine Downtown

From hidden gem antique stores to cafes serving up award-winning crab cakes, Smyrna’s historic downtown district delights visitors with its mix of boutique shops and restaurants.

For one-of-a-kind home goods and décor, Duck Creek Antiques is a must with its eclectic collection of furniture, lighting, art, and accessories spanning styles from modern to Victorian. You can also browse artisan crafts by local Delaware makers at The Delaware Gift Company gallery boutique.

When hunger strikes, savor fresh regional seafood straight from the Chesapeake Bay at The Brick Hotel Restaurant. Or sample seasonal flavors at Painted Stave Distilling, a craft distillery with an onsite farm-to-table restaurant overlooking their copper stills.

No downtown Smyrna dining tour is complete without trying a buttercrumb-topped crab cake from Woody’s on the Canal, winner of Best Crab Cakes in Delaware for over 15 years running!

Pedal Along the Smyrna Bicycle Route

Work off all those crab cakes and craft spirits by renting a bike and embarking on the Smyrna Bicycle Route for a scenic ride through the area surrounding downtown.

This 6.2-mile loop route winds through charming residential neighborhoods, along portions of the Smyrna River Walk hiking trail, and past landmarks like the Little Creek Wildlife Area. Colorful murals and decorated bike racks integrated along the route add whimsy while also indicating you’re on the right path!

The route provides a family-friendly cycling experience suitable for all ages while showcasing Smyrna’s community parks, nature preserves, as well as hidden corners you might otherwise miss. Look for the bike route’s emblem – featuring Smyrna’s mascot, Sammy the Duck – painted onto streets and sidewalks for guidance as you pedal.

You can rent bicycles by the hour or day from Toucan Cycle & Outfitters located right along the route next to the River Walk trailhead.

Marvel at Winter Waterfowl at Augustine Wildlife Area

While the summer months lend themselves to water sports and beaching at Smyrna, the town and surrounding landscapes transform in the winter as thousands of ducks, geese, and swans flock inland to escape their northern homes’ frozen waters.

Birders from around the country flock to the Augustine Wildlife Area come winter to witness astonishing numbers of stunning waterfowl species congregating in the area wetlands and along the slow-moving Appoquinimink River.

Encompassing over 10,000 acres of protected coastal wetlands just minutes outside Smyrna, Augustine offers prime habitat for overwintering birds like snow geese, northern pintails, green-winged teals, and more.

The area features walking trails with bird blinds, allowing visitors to observe thousands of birds without disturbing them. So bring some binoculars and your camera to capture a truly magnificent winter sight during your Smyrna visit!

Conclusion

From rich history and culture to outdoor recreation surrounded by natural splendor, Smyrna captivates visitors with its small-town charm and diversity of attractions. Families, couples, and solo travelers alike will find plenty to fill their itineraries – whether through a day trip or extended weekend visiting this scenic Delaware town.

Use this list of top things to do in Smyrna as a launch pad while crafting your own experience to match your interests. And keep an eye out for lesser-known local gems and events where you can mingle with Smyrna residents who proudly call this riverside town home.

No matter how you choose to spend your time visiting Smyrna, the town’s small size makes it easy to navigate to any destination or last-minute detours your adventures might bring! So what are you waiting for? Come uncover Smyrna’s history, natural landscapes, cuisine, and small-town hospitality for yourself today!

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