12 Things To Do With Family In Dover, Delaware

Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Dover, the capital of Delaware, is a historic city with a small-town charm. Known for its rich history as one of the oldest settled areas in the country, Dover has plenty of family-friendly attractions centered around its heritage, culture, and natural landscapes that make it a delightful place to visit.

From museums and historical sites that bring the past to life to outdoor recreation taking advantage of the city’s scenic parks and trails, Dover offers an array of entertaining things for families to experience together. Read on for 12 of the top attractions and activities that should be on every family’s Dover bucket list!

Explore Dover’s Historical and Cultural Sites

As the capital of the country’s “First State”, Dover has no shortage of historical attractions that provide glimpses into important eras and events in America’s past.

These sites engage visitors of all ages through interactive and hands-on exhibits while telling the captivating stories that have shaped Dover and Delaware over the centuries.

Get Immersed in History at The Old State House

Built in 1791, The Old State House is one of Dover’s most iconic landmarks. The red brick building previously served as Delaware’s state capitol until 1933 and continues to function as an operating courthouse. Families can join a free guided tour to view the historic Supreme Court and Chancery Court rooms which look nearly identical to their 18th-century origins with Victorian-style furniture and eye-catching chandeliers.

The State House is also home to the Delaware Public Archives, displaying documents with some dating back to the 1600s. Outside, don’t miss getting a photo beside the establishment’s stately columned exterior and the Old State House Marker declaring Dover as the capital.

Marvel at Artifacts at the Johnson Victrola Museum

The Johnson Victrola Museum pays homage to Dover’s status as the birthplace of the victrola in the early 1900s. Victor Talking Machine Company founder Eldridge Johnson pioneered the victrola to play records and revolutionize music listening.

The museum collection holds over 4,000 phonographs, records, memorabilia and rare artifacts that tell the story of the musical recording industry in Dover.

Families will be amazed browsing the extensive galleries showcasing these one-of-a-kind items. The museum also shows an introductory film and provides a hands-on experience allowing visitors to crank a 1903 Berliner Gramophone to hear it play.

Appreciate Local Culture at The Biggs Museum of American Art

As Delaware’s leading fine arts museum, The Biggs Museum holds an impressive collection representing American art and history. Located in a resplendent 19th-century farmhouse mansion, the museum’s galleries feature early American impressionist landscapes, still life paintings from the Brandywine School, and significant Delawarean works.

Families can marvel over permanent exhibits highlighting military uniforms through the ages, presidential memorabilia, and Victorian-era furnishings while also viewing rotating displays.

The museum complex includes historic barns, porches, and gardens available for self-guided exploration. Seasonal programs like carriage rides and campfires on the grounds further immerse visitors in 19th-century life.

Learn through Interactive Play at Dover Children’s Museum

For a truly engaging and entertaining way to enrich kids with Dover’s culture and heritage, the Children’s Museum stimulates young minds through interactive play. Family members of all ages can role play in the museum’s one-of-a-kind exhibit spaces like a kid-sized farmer’s market, garage complete with tools benches, and grocery store stocked with pretend food.

Other museum highlights include reading in the local history-themed library, building towers with Imagination Playground blocks, and expressing creativity in the music and arts studios. Annual members can enjoy exclusive exhibits like the dinosaur-themed Dino Zone.

Discover Dover’s Picturesque Natural Landscapes

In addition to the city’s historical attractions, Dover’s natural beauty provides plenty of ways for families to get active and make memories outdoors. The city of Dover and surrounding Kent County feature vast parks and preserves with scenic trails, abundant wildlife and water views. These peaceful natural areas offer both relaxing and adventurous diversions in pristine landscapes.

Take Flight at Brecknock County Park

For sweeping views of Dover’s countryside from above, visit Brecknock County Park. Families can climb aboard Go Ape, an elevated adventure course that leads across rope ladders, bridges, and ziplines traversing over the park.

Reaching heights up to 45 feet, the thrilling 2-3 hour treetop adventure course accommodates ages 10 and up. For more play time enjoying Brecknock’s scenic backdrop without leaving the ground, the park also has picnic pavilions, playgrounds, and a disc golf course.

Paddle Through Scenery at Silver Lake Park

Nestled just outside Dover city limits, Silver Lake Park provides picturesque scenery and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities perfect for families. Groups can paddle across the park’s serene waterways by renting rowboats, pedal boats, kayaks and canoes available on-site.

While on the lake, keep eyes peeled for resident wildlife like vibrant migratory birds that inhabit the habitats surrounding the water. Back on land, family members of all ages will enjoy hiking and biking on the park’s peaceful trails weaving through wetland marshlands and wildflower meadows.

Golf with Waterfront Views at Jonathan’s Landing

For parents, combining time together as a family with playing a round of golf is a hole in one. Luckily at Jonathan’s Landing, kids can tag along while parents tee off at this course bringing impressive waterfront views. Its strategic layout incorporates the St. Jones River, wetlands, and rolling terrain into the 18 championship holes.

With divisions for senior, adult, and junior players, Jonathan’s Landing offers forward tees extending 1,800 yards to accommodate beginners. Families will relish competing together while admiring lush scenery dotted with water features at one of Delaware’s premier public access golf courses.

Fish from Shore at Killens Pond State Park

Families can enjoy a day spent fishing together without a boat at Killens Pond State Park. Thanks to a recently completed shoreline stabilization and habitat enhancement project, anglers now have even better access to cast lines from stopping points all around the 66-acre millpond.

The park offers equipment rentals making it easy for families to initiation young kids into fishing. Visitors may catch pickerel, catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, and more to later cook over a campfire or grill on-site. Killens Pond also features a water play area, swimming beach, and 2-mile jogging loop.

Get Moving on Family-Friendly Trails

Between state parks, wildlife areas, rail trails and preserved open spaces, Dover has an abundance of trails perfect for family hikes and bike rides. Meandering through pristine natural settings, these family-friendly trails offer bonding time surrounded by beautiful scenery and fresh air.

Bike Through Woodlands on Fork Branch Nature Preserve Trails

For a family bike ride surrounded entirely by nature just minutes from downtown Dover, Fork Branch Nature Preserve’s trail network spans nearly 400 acres of woodlands perfect for every skill level. Its 12-miles of main singletrack trails twist through quiet forests and cross gentle streams while 1.5-miles of accessible pathways cater to young riders still developing.

Families can spot wildlife in their natural habitats and admire wildflowers blooming alongside the lush forest floor. The preserved area also contains the remains of old homesteads, farm roads, and slag piles providing glimpses into how settlers shaped the land.

Hike Through History on the Caesar Rodney Trail

Opened in 2018, the Caesar Rodney Trail in Kent County is ideal for family hikes covering over 10 miles one-way. While journeying through farms, wetlands and woodlands, dozens of interpretive signs share insights about Delaware’s history and environment.

Kids will enjoy spotting wildlife like red fox, painted turtles, red-tailed hawks and rabbits amidst the peaceful preserved landscapes surrounding the trail. As one of Delaware’s first rail trails converted from 19th century railroad lines, the original railroad mile markers tracking distances remain intact reminding hikers of the corridor’s rich history.

Walk or Jog with Scenery at Killens Pond State Park

In addition to great fishing, Killens Pond State Park contains over 5 miles of trails enabling families to hike, walk or jog while surrounded by nature. Two loops around the millpond provide options for enjoying gorgeous views of the water from various vantage points.

Families can traverse over boardwalks, through mature forests, and around wetland areas. Interpretive signs share details about ecosystems, plant species and the park’s former use as a working gristmill. With mostly flat and wide trail surfaces, Killens Pond offers an easily navigable nature escape close to town.

Discover Local Culture Through Food & Drink

No family trip to Dover is complete without tasting the city’s distinctive food and drink. Beyond staple East Coast fare, Dover’s one-of-a-kind eateries utilize fresh regional ingredients to craft creative cuisine rooted in Delaware’s agricultural landscape and heritage. From cozy cafes to trendy gastro pubs, families will find delightful places to relax, dine, and sip local flavors together.

Feast on Farm-to-Table Dishes at The Counting House

Housed inside an 1830s bank turned historic landmark building in Downtown Dover, The Counting House crafts seasonal cuisine showcasing fresh ingredients sourced straight from Delmarva farms and waters.

Families can savor delectable dishes like buttermilk fried chicken with succotash, local flounder stuffed with crab imperial and Eastern Neck sweet corn risotto. The creative menu also features plenty of choices sure to please young palates like mac’n’cheese and flatbreads baked in the wood fire oven. Treating kids to the restaurant’s house-made ice creams and sorbets provides a sweet ending to the meal.

Conclusion


With this mix of museums, nature escapes, and culinary finds, Dover offers memorable adventures sure to delight every member of the family. By connecting through hands-on experiences that foster fun and learning, the prominent capital city provides a family-centric getaway celebrating local history, culture and landscapes.

Whether reliving America’s early days touring historic halls of power or admiring scenic beauty kayaking the freshwater lagoons, families will forge bonds exploring Dover’s many treasures together.

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