Cape Henlopen is one of our favorite state parks in Delaware (and we’ve been to them all!) It charges March through November, $5 for an in-state vehicle and $10 for out-of-state. The cost is well worth it, as there is a lot to do and it’s beautiful in any season.
Cape Henlopen has a great little nature center, and in the winter this offers a nice respite from the wind and cold. There’s a little touch tank with horseshoe and hermit crabs, fish and sometimes small skates and other wildlife. There is information and a tank for each of the habitats supported by the park – Coastal Ocean, Delaware Bay, Rock Structures, Wooden Pilings, and Tidal Marsh Creeks. There’s also an introductory video that tells you about the park and is a good place to start a visit and help you decide where to go. Plus there’s a great little gift shop if you’d like a souvenir.
There are several points where you can go to look out over the beautiful sand dunes and sea – these include Hawk Watch, Herring Point and the Point Overlook, which is where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. These give lots of pretty views, a strong possibility of seeing dolphins, and an easy walk on the sand down to the sea. There is swimming allowed in two guarded areas in season, and the northern area has a bathhouse with showers, and a concessions stand.
You can even find some history here at Fort Miles, where you can learn about how the area functioned during World War II. If you are familiar with Delaware beaches, you may know that there are towers throughout the region that were used to keep a lookout during the war, and one at Cape Henlopen has been equipped with stairs (they used to use ladders) so visitors can take in the breathtaking view of the maritime forest, wetlands, and dunes all the way out to the ocean.
There is a playground and hiking trails that are definitely kid-friendly, or if your crew is older, you can borrow a bike (for free!) and bike around the loop trail to see the different ecosystems within the park. You will almost certainly see a variety of birds, and deer and ghost crabs are also fairly common. If you’re lucky, you may see red fox and seal in the winter as well. There is also a fishing pier if you’d like to try your luck. If camping is your thing, they have that too.
With so much to do, Cape Henlopen State Park is a great place for a family visit and comes highly recommended by ours!