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Sunday, May 4, 2014

9 Things to Know About Delaware


Yes, it's the nation's first state. But do you know why Delaware is so dubbed? The answer, and eight other surprising facts about the country's second smallest state, below.

1. Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It happened on December 7, 1987 in Dover.

2. Up until last year, Delaware was the only state in the union not to have a National Park Service unit. It still doesn't have a national park, but it now has the NPS First State National Monument (thank you, Joe Biden?) It consists of several historic sites, including the Dover Green, the New Castle Courthouse and parts of the Brandywine Valley.

3. There's no sales tax in Delaware, which makes it a shopping mecca.
The best deals can be found at the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth.

4. The foodie scene in Rehoboth is surprisingly robust. Maybe all of those Washington weekenders have unleashed a demand for fine food that can no longer be tamed. Savor a taste of the best the beach town has to offer by taking a sampling and strolling tour with www.eatingrehoboth.com.

5. Speaking of food, the Second Annual Mid-Atlantic Food and Wine Festival takes place between May 14 and 18 in venues throughout Delaware. The only statewide food and wine festival in the country will feature epicurean experiences presented by 90 chefs and 20 winemakers from six continents. 

 6. Punkin' Chunkin' in Bridgeville. Need we say more?

7. Birdwatchers go loony over Delaware. The small state (clocking in at less than 2,000 square miles) has several prime spots for checking out the flying flocks. The best is Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a 16,000+ tidal salt marsh located along the Delaware Bay. Spring features migrating songbirds and shorebirds, while summer provides a peek at tall wading birds who hang in the marshland with deer, red fox and beaver. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is another top spot for migratory birds.
8. As the northernmost slave state (albeit in the Union), Delaware played an integral role in the Underground Railroad, which led southern African-Americans to freedom. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway connects key historic landscapes, homes, and places of cultural significance throughout Delaware to tell the story of the struggle for freedom and the individuals who helped make that dream a reality. 

9. More history is showcased in northern Delaware at the famous DuPont mansions.  The Hagley Museum and Library is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E.I. du Pont in 1802. The example of early American industrial history includes restored mills, a workers community, and the ancestral home of the du Pont family. Winterthur, the home of Henry Francis DuPont, is now a premier museum of American decorative art. Meantime, a stroll through Nemours, the home of Alfred I. DuPont, will leave you feeling as if you are wandering through a French chateau. 

For more information on the First State, go to www.visitdelaware.com.

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