Historic Lewes

The First Town in the First State

Step onto the streets of Historic Lewes and it won’t take long for you to sense the town’s maritime heritage and the roots that run deep into history. Nearly 400 years old, Lewes continues to preserve its seafaring charm to honor its heritage as the first town in the first state. As with many colonial seaports, Lewes was also at the mercy of pirates for much of its history. During the late 1600s, pirates relentlessly raided the town, which caused a law to be passed requiring that Lewes’ citizens own a musket and ammunition for protection against the raiders. While today’s citizens will not be bearing muskets, Lewes’ enchanting history is waiting to be discovered around every corner.

Alive with people year-round, visitors often enjoy the gorgeous architecture, beautifully preserved homes, museums, scenic streets and downtown area, which is ideal for pedestrians. While most of these preserved homes date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, one from the 17th century is the oldest standing building in the state. You’ll find the alluring historic district filled to the brim with more than 40 unique shops, fine restaurants, inns, B&Bs and more. 

Nearby, bay and ocean beaches offer limitless recreational activities amidst beautiful unspoiled nature. Anglers will enjoy an afternoon casting at the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, while the bay and ocean areas allow for plenty of swimming. There are thousands of acres of preserved lands in Cape Henlopen State Park. The park provides lifeguard patrols between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, so you and your children can enjoy the beach safely. 

Complementing Lewes’ bayside charm and history are the assortment of modern-day attractions and activities. Head to one of the nearby breweries for a beach-inspired brew. Or, wet your whistle with something a little stronger from a local distillery or winery.

Lower your handicap or hit the driving range at a Lewes golf course. Perfect for the whole family, go bowling at Lefty’s in Lewes. This entertainment center also features arcade games, axe throwing and laser tag for a full day of fun.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Delaware Bay is aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Enjoy an 80-minute cruise as a passenger, or travel with your car. You can even explore another great coastal town at the other end of the journey—Cape May, New Jersey. 

Whether you spend the day learning about Lewes’ history, enjoying the beach and beautiful maritime nature, finding unique treasures to bring home or all three, you’re bound to come to one realization—one day in Lewes simply isn’t enough.