20 Towns And Cities in Delaware

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Despite being one of the smallest and least populated states in the United States, Delaware is as historic and cultured a state as any on the East Coast, featuring urban metros and charming coastal towns all squeezed into one compact Mid-Atlantic state.

It’s nicknamed the “First State” because it was one of the first settled by European immigrants and became the first state to rectify the US Constitution, making Delaware the Union’s first official state. Today, Delaware is connected to the nearby cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore by just a few miles. It is filled with dozens of must-see cities and unmissable towns to make your stay in Delaware as unforgettable as possible. Here are the best towns and cities in Delaware to visit. 

Towns And Cities In Delaware

Cities in Delaware

1- Wilmington

Wilmington Scavenger Hunt: Welcoming Wilmington
Wilmington tops the list of larger cities in Delaware to visit.

The largest city in the state of Delaware and its main economic and cultural hub, Wilmington is a cosmopolitan city with a population of about 70,000 residents that is situated just 32 miles (51 km) southwest of downtown Philadelphia.

Wilmington forms part of the broader Delaware Valley Metropolitan Area, including cities such as Philadelphia and Reading, and was named by William Penn after his friend Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington.

Delaware’s biggest and most influential city is no stranger to world-class attractions and events, with the city treating travellers to venues such as the Hagley Museum, Daniel S Frawley Stadium and the Delaware Art Museum.

Recommended: Wilmington Scavenger Hunt: Welcoming Wilmington

2- Dover

Private Crime Solving Detective Experience in Dover
The capital city of Delaware is Dover.

Although it may not be Delaware’s largest or most economically active city, Dover is the First State’s official state capital, making it one of the most influential cities in Delaware, as well as one of the nation’s most historic.

Dover began as little more than a court town in 1683 for the newly established Kent County and was first settled by William Penn, becoming Delaware’s state capital in 1777 due to the city’s central location.

Named after the Kentish town of Dover in southeast England, this former state capital’s historic significance is it’s where Delaware became the first state to ratify the US Constitution in 1787, effectively becoming the first US state to be admitted to the Union.

Due to its rich history and small-town feel, Dover is a popular destination in Delaware, with attractions like the Air Mobility Command Museum and the Dover Motor Speedway. 

Recommended: Private Crime Solving Detective Experience in Dover

3- Rehoboth Beach

Guided Kayak Excursion Rehoboth Back Bay
Looking for cities in Delaware to explore? There are a few to check out and lots of towns too.

The popular seaside vacation city of Rehoboth Beach in southeast Delaware is known for its iconic boardwalk, great restaurants and sublime coastal views.

Rehoboth Beach was dubbed the “Nation’s Summer Capital” due to its popularity among summertime vacationers arriving from Washington D.C. and its five-star water quality rating by the NRDC.

Rehoboth Beach’s most popular attractions include the Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market, the Delaware Seashore State Park, the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and Funland amusement park.


4- Newark

Newark is a modestly sized city 16 miles (25 km) from downtown Wilmington, featuring a charming downtown district and a busy Main Street filled with shops, cafes and bars.

Newark was first settled by European arrivals in 1694.

It’s home to the main campus of the University of Delaware, which provides Newark with a vibrant energy and general youthfulness.

The city is within 57 miles (91 km) of Baltimore and treats visitors to many attractions, such as the White Clay Creek State Park and the Bob Carpenter Center.

5- New Castle

In northern Delaware’s populous New Castle County, New Castle is a quaint riverfront destination known for its historic architecture, scenic nature trails and museums.

New Castle lies just 6 miles (9 km) outside downtown Wilmington and was founded by the Peter Stuyvesant-led Dutch West India Company in 1651, making it one of the oldest cities in the First State.

Some of New Castle’s most visited attractions include the New Castle Court House Museum, the New Castle Battery Park and the Amstel House Museum.

6- Lewes

2 Hour Paddleboard Rental in Rehoboth Bay
Here are some cities in Delaware to tick off your list.

The coastal city of Lewes is seven miles (11 km) north of Rehoboth Beach.

It’s the oldest permanent European settlement in Delaware and is commonly called “The First Town in The First State”.

Lewes was established in 1631 by a band of Dutch settlers who initially called the city “Zwaanendael”, or ‘Swan Valley’ in English.

Because of its history and cultural significance, Lewes remains among the most visited cities in southern Delaware.

It is home to landmarks such as the Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes Beach and Cape Henlopen State Park to explore.

Towns In Delaware

7- Middletown

Straddling the Delaware-Maryland state border in the First State’s northeast region, Middletown is a former crossroads town and tavern stop across the border in Maryland.

Middletown was officially incorporated as an independent town in 1861 and was an important trade route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay.

Today, it’s home to more than 24,000 residents.

Some of Middletown’s popular places to hang out include the Charles E. Price Memorial Park, the Everett Theatre and the Dutch Country Farmer’s Market.

8- Smyrna

Spilling over into north-central Delaware’s New Castle and Kent counties, Smyrna was a once-vital shipping port between Wilmington and Lewes during the early 19th century.

Smyrna was initially settled and titled “Duck Creek Cross Roads” in 1755 before receiving its current name in 1806, however, it remains a mystery to this day exactly what or whom prompted Smyrna’s name change.

While the town’s importance as a shipping hub faded by the 1850s, Smyrna remains a popular tourist destination in Delaware, featuring attractions such as the Smyrna Opera House and the nearby Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

9- Bethany Beach

upmarket homes in bethany beach
Bethany Beach is one of the lovely towns in Delaware.

If you’re looking for that perfect seaside vacation destination in Delaware, look no further than the idyllic coastal town of Bethany Beach, for its wide strip of sandy beach and stunning Atlantic vistas.

Bethany Beach is more low-key than Rehoboth Beach.

It offers a more relaxed vacation experience without sacrificing amenities or attractions, making it the ideal destination for tranquillity rather than packed beaches and amusement parks.

Despite its small size, with only about 1,000 permanent residents, Bethany Beach treats visitors to various attractions, including the scenic Fenwick Island State Park and the Bethany Beach Boardwalk.

10- Bear

Although not technically a town, the census-designated place that is Bear in New Castle County is home to a thriving population of more than 23,000 residents, making it more populous than most independent cities in Delaware.

The ‘town’ was founded sometime during the late 1800s and experienced massive growth during the 1980s and 90s as the area became a popular choice for new housing developments.

Today, Bear is mostly a suburban town, however, this fairly large Delaware destination has some cool places to visit, with the most popular being Lums Pond State Park and the nearby Pencader Heritage Museum.

11- Brookside

Home to about 15,000 residents, the census-designated place of Brookside in Delaware’s bustling northern region balances rural Mid-Atlantic living and the city life of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

The town is within a stone’s throw from the Delaware-Maryland state border.

It is surrounded by scenic state parks and outdoor recreational areas, such as the 50-acre (20 ha) Rittenhouse Park.

There are also several historical and cultural landmarks to visit in and around Brookside, with the Cooch’s Bridge Historic Site, Iron Hill Science Center and Fred Rust Ice Arena all worthwhile destinations. 

12- Hockessin

Settled in 1688 and named after the Lenape word “hokes”, Hockessin is a fairly large town in northern Delaware conveniently situated just 41 miles (65 km) from downtown Philadelphia.

Hockessin is known for its state-of-the-art 130-acre (52 ha) Ashland Nature Center, which attracts nature enthusiasts from across the Mid-Atlantic region to this Delaware town with its scenic marshes, woodland and meadows.

There’s plenty more to Hockessin than just the Ashland Nature Center, with the Mt. Cuba Center, Auburn Valley State Park and the Delaware Museum of Nature & Science all excellent attractions.

13- Dewey Beach

Sitting atop a 1 mile (1.6 km) sliver of land between Rehoboth Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Dewey Beach is a Mid-Atlantic seaside town that explodes in popularity and population over the warm summer months.

Dewey Beach wasn’t established until 1981, making it one of the youngest towns in Delaware.

Nevertheless, it has already cemented its reputation as a leading vacation destination in the First State, with excellent nightlife and dining options that hums during peak season.

The town has a breadth of interesting indoor and outdoor attractions, including the Delaware Seashore State Park, the Rehoboth Bay Marina and the popular Towers Beach.

14- Georgetown

Georgetown in southern Delaware’s Sussex County is famous for hosting the biennial Return Day Festival, a post-election day tradition from Delaware’s colonial days that attracts thousands of visitors. 

Georgetown was established in 1791 to become the new county seat of Sussex County and features “The Circle”, the town’s central square that is recognised on the National Register of Historic Places.

Steeped in Delaware’s history and culture, Georgetown is an exciting destination in the First State, treating visitors to attractions such as the Marvel Carriage Museum and the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation.

15- Laurel

Home to several historic buildings and structures on the National Register of Historic Places, the town of Laurel in Delaware’s storied Sussex County is a relatively small destination just seven miles (11 km) from the Maryland state border.

Laurel has a population of just under 4,000 residents, and the town can trace its roots back to the native Nanticoke people, who occupied a settlement in what is today Laurel for most of the 18th century.

Visit the Laurel Junction Flea Market, Trap Pond State Park and Phillips Landing Park & Monument. 

16- Millsboro

A popular outdoor destination thanks to its scenic location along the banks of the Indian River, Millsboro is a bustling town with a population of about 7,000 residents.

It’s ranked among the fastest-growing destinations in Delaware.

The town was initially settled by second-generation English immigrants migrating north from Virginia during the late 1600s before a larger wave of settlers arrived following the damming of the Indian River by Elisha Dickerson in 1792.

With a vibrant arts and culture scene, Millsboro attracts visitors to see attractions such as the Clayton Theatre, Nanticoke Indian Museum and the Millsboro Pond.

17- Milton

Perched along the head of the Broadkill River and first settled in 1672 by English arrivals, Milton is a popular summer destination thanks to the town’s proximity to beaches and attractions along Delaware Bay.

Milton has a laid-back and low-key feel and was an influential shipbuilding and timber hub during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Renamed in 1807 in honour of English poet John Milton, the town’s attractions include the Milton Theatre, Milton Memorial Park and the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

18- Ocean View

Yet another idyllic coastal town in Delaware’s Sussex County, Ocean View is a quiet Mid-Atlantic destination for most of the year.

It turns into a bustling vacation destination over the busy summer months though.

The town can trace its origins back to 1688 when 500 acres (200 ha) of present-day Ocean View was awarded to Matthew Scarborough, becoming its first official resident.

Many visitors choose to stay in Ocean View instead of the busier Rehoboth Beach during the summertime vacations. And it’s easy to see why.

Attractions include Gallery One and the Dickens Parlour Theatre.

19- Selbyville

Originally founded in 1778 as “Sandy Branch”, Selbyville in Delaware’s southeast corner town is under one mile (1.6 km) from the Delaware-Maryland state border, making it accessible to visitors from both Mid-Atlantic states.

The town has been a major agricultural hub on the Delaware coast since the early 20th century.

It is the home of Doyle’s Restaurant, which is Delaware’s oldest diner still in operational use.

Selbyville treats visitors to many interesting attractions and is an excellent base to explore more charming towns beyond the First State’s southern borders.

20- Townsend

Located in northern Delaware’s New Castle County, Townsend is within a stone’s throw from cities such as Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore.

Townsend was officially incorporated as an independent town in 1885 and was a once vital agricultural hub along the now-defunct Delaware Railroad.

The town was named after Delaware politician and tycoon Samuel John Townsend.

Even though the town might only boast a population of about 3,000 residents, it’s among the most centrally located destinations in the First State and is home to attractions such as the White Clay Creek State Park and the 3 Palms Zoo.

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Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.