17 Amazing Delaware State Parks Offering Fun Outdoor Experiences

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Delaware may be the second smallest state in the country, but it is home to an impressive array of natural treasures and outdoor wonders.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the entire Delaware State Parks system to inspire you with what to do there and to help you plan your next outdoor adventure.

With parks right on the coast, you can kick back and relax by the Atlantic Ocean.

Then there are spots tucked away inland, with forests, winding rivers, peaceful ponds, and stories from the past that’ll make history buffs swoon.

So, whether you’re a local Delawarean scouting out your next adventure or a visitor itching to soak up the state’s natural beauty, these state parks are your ticket to an exciting experience in the First State.

For statewide recommendations of stuff to do, check out our Delaware bucket list.

If you want something seasonal, read our guides on things to do in DE in the fall or winter.

State Parks in Delaware

To help you plan your itinerary, the following list of DE state parks will start in the southern part of the state and then head up north.

It’s important to note that a Delaware State Parks pass may be essential to enter many of the destinations mentioned below; for more information check this site to plan accordingly. 

Fenwick Island State Park

If you love the sea and are looking for state parks in Delaware on the beach, head to Fenwick Island State Park.

Delaware’s southernmost state park mostly functions as a long public beach for the resort communities of the area.

Since the park is on a barrier island with the ocean on the east side and the bay on the west side, you can take advantage of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets on Fenwick Island.

Due to the park’s popularity in the summertime, sunrise and sunset will also almost certainly be the quietest times on the beach.

Since beaches are very pet-restrictive, the park also capitalizes on that by allowing visitors to bring their dogs on the beach year-round.

Paddlers can also stop by the independent kayak rental location in the park to paddle on the bay side of the island.

You might also like our guide to the best beaches in Delaware for plenty of other sandy stretches of fun!

Fenwick Island Sunrise Delaware Beaches

Holts Landing State Park

A quiet destination on Indian River Bay, Holts Landing State Park mainly serves as a place to participate in water recreation activities.

Paddlers can paddle along the shore of the bay, while the park’s double boat ramp allows people with larger watercraft to launch out into the water.

Shore fishing can also be experienced from the park’s 250-foot-long fishing pier that extends into the bay.

In addition to these marine activities, a short walking trail system is laid out on the park’s flat lawns and grasslands.

Birdwatching enthusiasts enjoy the Seahawk Trail for the many different types of birds that can be seen, most of which rely on the bay as a food source.

Delaware Seashore State Park

South of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Seashore State Park offers camping amenities for those staying in the coastal community.

Fishing and paddling are popular on the bay side of the park, with calm estuaries and wetlands providing the perfect environment for those activities.

Relaxing at the beach is what the park prides itself in, and any size party is sure to find a quiet spot on the five-mile stretch of sand.

For hikers, Burton Island has a short, flat trail system that connects to the barrier island via a causeway.

If you’re in the mood for kayaking in this Delaware state park, kayak rental places and bait & tackle stores can be found within the park to supplement those activities.

Abstract beach structure, on the Atlantic Ocean in the Delaware Seashore State Park, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Cape Henlopen State Park

One of Delaware’s largest, Cape Henlopen State Park is a whopping 5,200 acres with seven miles of beach on the water where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Dunes, scrub, and wetlands make up this park’s landscapes, and hikers enjoy all three throughout the park’s 10 miles of trails.

Bikers can also enjoy the park using nearly all of these trails plus the park roads.

A large campground sits in the center of the park, offering overnight amenities to campers and a great location to access all of the park’s fun activity options.

In addition to being located in Lewes, this is also one of the state parks near Rehoboth Beach, just 30 minutes away.

You may also like our guides to things to do in Lewes, DE, and Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Sunset over ocean at Cape Henlopen State Park, Lewes Delaware.

Trap Pond State Park

Home to the northernmost cypress swamp, Trap Pond State Park is an inland park in southern Delaware that is popular with paddlers.

Five campground loops make up a large campground for visitors to use, while also providing picnic areas for day-trippers.

Ten miles of trails cross the flat woods in the park, and an additional two miles of water trails connect Trap Pond with Raccoon Pond to its southeast.

Nearly all of these trails are multi-use between hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

During autumn, the trees in the park are a popular place to see colorful fall foliage, and looping the pond is usually enjoyed by visitors during this season.

Check out our guide to Delaware in fall for more seasonal tips and suggestions.

The park is also equipped with a boat launch so visitors can tour the pond with their own vessels and watercraft.

But for those who are planning to rent, you can get more information about Delaware State Park boat rentals on the official site.

Trap Pond State Park Delaware

Killens Pond State Park

Similar to Trap Pond, Killens Pond is a man-made pond in central Delaware, and the park is centered around paddling.

The most unique thing about Killens Pond is the waterpark located in the state park.

This waterpark has five waterslides and three swimming pools for various ages and skill levels, so it’s a perfect DE state park for families.

There are also seven species of fish that inhabit Killens Pond, and anglers can fish from shore or launch a boat from the east end of the lake.

Killens Pond offers low-key, family-friendly activities, all the way up to moderate and fast-paced pastimes to try out.

If you’re looking for state parks near Dover, Delaware, this is just less than 30 minutes away.

First State Heritage Park 

First State Heritage Park is a unique and significant historic urban park located in the heart of Dover, Delaware, the state’s capital. 

This park is distinct in that it doesn’t have traditional boundaries; instead, it encompasses a collection of historic sites and cultural attractions throughout the downtown area of Dover.

Visitors can explore several important historical areas, including The Green which has been a focal point for events and gatherings since the 18th century. 

It is surrounded by historic buildings and serves as a symbol of Delaware’s history and culture, like the Old State House (25 The Green) and John Bell House (43 The Green).

Visitors can also head to Delaware Legislative Hall (411 Legislative Ave) which hosts Delaware’s General Assembly.

Or explore the Johnson Victrola Museum (375 S New St), dedicated to Eldridge R. Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Company, and features an impressive collection of phonographs and related artifacts.

Blue skies and Delaware Capital Building in Dover

Lums Pond State Park

Continuing with the ponds, Lums Pond State Park lies just north of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and is centered around a large man-made reservoir with amenities for fishing, paddling, swimming, and hiking.

A 7-mile trail loops the pond and is a favorite of frequent visitors to the park.

An additional 9 miles of trails work their way through the woods to create a trail experience that shows a hiker the full park.

A model airplane field, campground with camp store, boat launch, and zipline course complete the park, all offering different-paced activities to visitors.

A man ziplining across a river in the summer near Lums Pond State Park, Delaware

Fort DuPont State Park

As a small park with much history, Fort DuPont State Park on the Delaware River is home to historic buildings and plenty of information about them.

A boat ramp provides access to the Delaware River to fishermen and boaters.

A short trail winds through the grassy lawns and trees of the park showcasing the most prominent parts of the fort.

Fort DuPont is little known but is well-loved by those who do use it.

Fort Delaware State Park

On the other side of the Delaware City Canal from Fort DuPont lies Fort Delaware State Park.

Equally small as DuPont, only a tiny portion of the park sits on the mainland.

Most of this park is composed of Pea Patch Island, where the old prison camp sits.

A seasonal ferry takes visitors from the mainland to the island, and then, if desired, on toward Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey.

A short hiking trail on the island leads visitors to an isolated beach on the north side, but other than that, the island is mainly centered around history and not geography.

Fox Point State Park

A narrow strip of land on the Delaware River makes up Fox Point State Park.

Just east of Wilmington, the park is in an easily accessible place for most of Delaware’s population, leading to a well-known park.

A few paved walking paths are good for exercising and looking for Bald Eagles, which is a popular activity at Fox Point.

Completing the park, a playground and volleyball court lie in the center, as well as a few picnic shelters for get-togethers with family and friends.

Wilmington State Parks

One of the unique aspects of Wilmington State Parks is its composite nature. 

Rather than being a single, contiguous park, it is composed of a group of smaller parks that are all administratively managed as a single unit. 

It comprises four smaller parks, including Brandywine Park, Rockford Park, H. Fletcher Brown Park, and the Hobbs Tract in Greenville.

The park covers a total land area of about 345 acres, providing ample space for various outdoor activities.

Visitors can enjoy picnicking, walking, and leisure activities in the well-maintained green spaces.

If you’re into history, the Brandywine Park features the iconic Sugar Bowl, which hosted many of America’s most famous speakers and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Historical landmarks like the Rockford Tower found in Rockford Park can also be visited.

You may also read our list of things to do in Wilmington, Delaware.

The view of beautiful fall foliage along Brandywine River near Wilmington, Delaware

Bellevue State Park

The grounds of a former estate in Wilmington are the site of Bellevue State Park, which takes advantage of the abundant green space surrounding the residence.

Picnic shelters, paved and grass walking paths, and a pond all exist in Bellevue, allowing Wilmington residents a nearby place to get outside.

The DuPont family most recently owned the land that the park sits on; scheduled tours of their mansion, Bellevue Hall, can be coordinated with the park.

Surrounding the mansion, the arboretum may be of interest to phenology and tree experts or enthusiasts.

Beautiful green trees along the hiking trail near Bellevue Park, Wilmington, Delaware

Alapocas Run State Park

On the north side of Brandywine Creek, cliffs rise over 100 feet above the valley, making for views not often found in Delaware.

Alapocas Run State Park sits just north of downtown Wilmington and is heavily wooded throughout.

The rocky creek with multiple dams provides a more traditional outdoor hiking experience for visitors and residents of the area.

The Northern Delaware Greenway Trail runs through the park, which is a biking favorite.

By far the park’s most unique feature though is the only natural rock climbing wall in Delaware on one of the granite cliffs.

Park staff can provide visitors with equipment and pointers, but visitors are also welcome to explore the wall by themselves after they have obtained a permit to use it.

Brandywine Creek State Park

Further north on Brandywine Creek is a 933-acre piece of land known as Brandywine Creek State Park.

Split in half, the park fosters both meadow and forest landscapes, with the west side of the park being home to sunny meadow trails and a disc golf course, while the eastern side of the park is heavily wooded with hiking trails through ravines and along the creek.

Fishermen can fish for a number of species in Brandywine Creek, including trout in Wilson’s Run, a tributary that runs through the south side of the park.

All marked trails west of the creek are hiking only, while on the east side of the creek, bikers and equestrians are welcome to try out the dirt trails.

A number of unmarked trails also exist on the east side of the park for more adventurous hikers.

Auburn Valley State Park

On the border with Pennsylvania, Auburn Valley State Park is a small park centered around historic sites.

The Marshall Estate is where most of the historic sites lie in this park, including the paper mill, Auburn Heights Mansion, and the carriage house.

Visitors can even ride in a steam-powered car at this park, as most of the museum in the carriage house is dedicated to helping visitors understand the experiments of steam-powered cars that happened here.

In addition to these things, a one-mile paved trail runs through the lawns on the west side of the park and comes within 45 feet of the Pennsylvania border.

White Clay Creek State Park

As far as large outdoor forested spaces go in Delaware, this is it.

White Clay Creek State Park encompasses over 3,600 acres and contains 37 miles of hiking and biking trails that climb and descend the moderately sloped valleys along White Clay Creek and Middle Run.

Fishing is incredibly popular in the creek, as it is the most well-stocked water in the state; Smith Mill Pond also offers docks for fishing.

Playing disc golf could also be on a list of activities to check off at this park, with an 18-hole disc golf course not far from the picnic area.

While hiking, you can spot historic bridges and small dams.

Due to the park’s size, wildlife finds it appealing as a home, and visitors often spot deer in the late afternoon to dusk.

Fall leaves on ground at White Clay Creek State Park

Final Thoughts

Did you enjoy navigating our Delaware state parks list?

Let us know in the comments and share which one you are looking forward to exploring in your next trip.

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