11 Great Things To Do on the Delmarva Peninsula

categories: USA Travel

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:

wild horses Assateague

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.

Snow Geese

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.

wild pony Chincoteague

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.



Where the heck is Delmarva? (and 11 great things to do there) 11 Great Things To Do on the Delmarva Peninsula #travel #virginia #maryland #delaware #Assateague #Chincoteague

 

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

20 Responses to “11 Great Things To Do on the Delmarva Peninsula”

Jim Rapp

Says:

Chris – thanks for telling our story! I think your readers will find that Delmarva (now that they know where we are) is an incredibly rich destination for the nature & heritage traveler. We have worked hard to conserve our open spaces, waterways & heritage sites. As conservation and historic preservation gets tougher & tougher, we need low-impact travelers to spend time with us (and a little $) to help us convince our elected leaders that sustainable tourism IS an economic generator, and we don’t squander our natural & historical treasures in the name of short-term profit.

Please visit us when you are East Coast U.S.!

Steve Atkinson

Says:

The peninsula has a long history with early settlements by the Dutch, the Swedes as well as the English. It’s even possible that the Spanish may have had a small settlement on the peninsula in the 16th Century.

The name Delmarva is fairly new. It was first used in the early 20th Century by a couple of business out of the Southern Eastern Shore of Maryland that also did business north in Delaware and south to Virginia. From what I have been able to discover prior to this it was called the Chesapeake Peninsula.

It’s a great place to visit and a better place to live.

Sandra Johnson

Says:

The Eastern Shore of Virginia peninsula has great history and quaint towns with all kinds of speciality shops. Our history dates back to the 1600’s. The shore is outlined with beaches, barrier islands, marshes and great restaurant. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Come visit our shores.

Cindy Byrd

Says:

A wonderful list of some of the area’s best offerings! As a relative newcomer, I discover more amazing things to do all the time. The people are warm, the food is delicious, the views are breathtaking, and there are many local traditions that have kept their original flavor. If I didn’t already live and work here, I’d enter this contest myself!

Jonathan Bess

Says:

And when you venture down to the VA part of DELMARVA you can also visit our nationally recognized wineries producing a host of varietal wines guaranteed to please any palate!

Bernd Ringwald

Says:

We’ve been planning to vacation on Assateague Island and when I looked at the map of the area, my first thought was that the area you call Delmarva, looks like a turtle. I started calling it Turtle Island and thinking it would be nice to spend some time in all three states.
I then began thinking of it as the “Turtle Island Empire”, which kinda “ties” the area together.

Tom

Says:

Chris, were you a chief petty officer in the Navy, specifically the USS Eisenhower? Journalist?

chris2x

Says:

No, never been in the navy

Jody

Says:

Don’t forget a trip to Tangier Island. Get a taste of the culture before it’s gone.

chris2x

Says:

Because it is losing its culture?

Pat

Says:

Where and when are the best times to do serious bird watching. Any kind of birds. I am a photographer by hobby.

John Trout

Says:

In the middle of The Delmarva Peninsula (it’s widest part), you’ll find the town of Delmar. So named because half the town is in Delaware and the other half is in Maryland. The peninsula’s oldest Barber Shop is in Delmar. After 75 years there’s barley much change here. We are still doing hot towel shaves and honoring the heritage of classic barbering. Stop in get a Coke out of the machine and sit back for a conversation with a local. After your barbering service we boast that “If we can’t make you look good, nobody can”.

Chris Christensen

Says:

Good to know John 🙂

Rudy

Says:

Can you tell me what beaches in the Virginia part of the peninsula have lifeguards

Harriet Lotz

Says:

I disagree with you Chris, I think Delmarva is a great name. It ties all 3 states together, and once you know what it means, you’ll never forget it’s name or location. ?

David Stanley Jones

Says:

I actually had to google Delmarva, and learned it is in THREE states. Correction: Three states are in DELMARVA.

Mallory McGuire

Says:

I was wondering about the settlers? My ancestry is from the Delmarva Peninsula Settlers. Who where they?

Chris Christensen

Says:

Originally the Dutch and the Swedes.

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