When I first wrote a blog post about what was going on in Delmarva the first question I had was “Where the heck is Delmarva?”
Where is Delmarva?
Delmarva is not in any one state but in three. The peninsula to the east of the Chesapeake Bay which is part of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia apparently is “Delmarva”. I got in touch with Jim Rapp from the organization Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE) to learn more about this region. Jim told me:
Delmarva has been in use locally and regionally for years. Off the Peninsula, the name means little. We wish we had a better, more exotic regional term – something along the lines of “Denali” or “Serengeti” or “Everglades”. We do have great names for our natural areas – Chesapeake, Chincoteague, Blackwater – but “Delmarva” doesn’t really grab you.
As a region and Peninsula, we are odd in that we are carved up so many ways – 3 states, 14 counties. This dates back to early colonial claims.
Today, each of our states & counties promote themselves, and they don’t do much together. Yet – for the nature & heritage traveler – we are just hours from millions (NYC, Philly, Balt/Wash are all within 2-4 hour drive), and LOADED with miles of scenic (& flat!) rural roads for the cyclist, miles of coastline & rivers on both sides for the kayaker, hundreds of migratory birds for the birder, and great local produce & seafood for the culinary explorer. Add in superb beaches, remote barrier islands, and some great history (John Smith explored the region in 1607-1608, birthplace of both Harriet Tubman & Frederick Douglass). You get the idea.
Here is Jim’s list of some of the best things in or about Delmarva:
1 – Beach
Assateague Island National Seashore has white Atlantic sands and wild horses on the beach.
2 – Beer
Dogfish Head – Sam Calagione is the king of the craft brew, based in Milton, DE. They have a killer brewery tour. If you know a beer lover, odds are they know about Dogfish Head as this brewery has influenced a lot of craft beer brewers.
3 – Kayak Tour
SouthEast Expeditions – Dave Burden & crew are master guides through the tidal creeks behind Virginia’s barrier islands. You can take a tour over to see the Wild Chincoteague Ponies or a two hour tour of the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge.
4 – Best-kept Secret Restaurant
Drum Point Market – in Tylerton, Smith Island this Mom & Pop store has the best crab cake in the world. It is also home to Maryland’s official state dessert, Smith Island cake, which is a decadent, buttery cake with up to 15 layers). The only way to get there is on the ferry from Crisfield, Maryland.
5 – Harriet Tubman
Harriet Ross Tubman – the Moses of Her People was born in Bucktown, Maryland. Follow her historic route by bike along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway. The byway is a self-guided driving tour that runs 125 miles in length with 36 sites significant to the underground railroad.
6 – Spring Shorebird Migration
Horseshoe crab spawning/shorebird migration – Delaware Bay has been host to this spring spectacle for centuries. The best time to see them is after full moon in May at Slaughter Beach. See more information at the Dupont Nature Center in Milford, Delaware.
7 – Winter Waterfowl Migration
Snow geese – Hundreds of thousands of snow geese winter at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Dover, Delaware . Some days they block out the sun.
8 – Fall Raptor Migration
Thousands of peregrine falcons, Cooper’s hawks, sharp-shinned hawks and more can be seen at the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory in Kiptopeke State Park near Cape Charles, Virgina. Banders catch and release birds for migration research, but you can take awesome photographs up-close before they fly south.
9 – Pony Penning
Pony Penning at Chincoteague – On the fourth Wednesday in July, thousands gather to watch Saltwater Cowboys round up the young from the wild herds on Assateague Island – the ponies swim the channel, and are auctioned off at the carnival grounds.
10 – Cross Island Bike Trail
Cross Island Trail – Start on Kent Island, but continue on throughout the entire Peninsula. Thousands of miles of scenic, flat rural roads connect cyclists to bay-side villages and small farm towns.
11 – Waterfowl carving Tradition
Waterfowl carving – This has been a waterfowl-hunting tradition for years, but was elevated to international art form by Lem and Steve Ward from Crisfield, MD. To learn more visit the Ward Museum.
Now seriously… isn’t that offer of living at Delmarva for the Summer sounding a little more intriguing?
Where to Stay
There are a couple of options for where to stay. You can get a nice place by the shore or get something more centrally located such as around Seaford, Delaware.