Scouting for some cheap things to do in Delaware? Never fear; you’ll never run out of inexpensive travel destinations at The First State. Delaware is home to lots of affordable museums, gardens, estates, and fun activities that’ll truly make a lasting impression on you and your family!
Dive right into our list of 10 pocket-friendly getaway destinations in Delaware and start planning your next unique budget-friendly trip!
Art, Adventure & Nature at your disposal – Check out the below slides for top budget activities around Delaware:
Air Mobility Command Museum
Location: Dover Airforce Base, Dover
First on our list of cheap things to do in Delaware is a visit to the Air Mobility Command Museum. This place is a must-see for airplane enthusiasts, history buffs, and curious adventure seekers alike!
Air Mobility Command Museum is home to different kinds of military transport aircraft used in airlift activities and air refueling. Join guided tours around the museum to see more than 30 different planes, each one having served roles in humanitarian services and military work.
Also, explore exhibits that showcase the military’s efforts during wartimes and humanitarian aid missions. These include Operation Vittles, Dover AFB Control Tower, Airlift During the Vietnam War, and more!
Kids 10 and up can enter the free Flight Simulators to give them a close-to-hands-on experience on flying a plane! Also, watch out for special events such as the Open Cockpit Day, Veterans Days, Summer Camp, Air Shows, and many more. Check the calendar on their site to see available dates and events.
Air Mobility Command Museum is open Thursday to Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. Admission and parking are free!
Hagley Museum and Library
Location: Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington
Hagley Museum and Library is a beautiful estate that spans 235 acres of land along the Brandywine River. It’s composed of picturesque French-style gardens, lovely walking trails, restored original powder mills, a worker’s community, and the affluent du Pont family’s ancestral home.
Join a guided tour to discover how the du Pont family manufactured gunpowder and see the restored mills in operation. Other noteworthy demos and exhibitions to check out include the Patent Models Display, Powder Yard, Worker’s Hill Community, and the actual du Pont Home and Garden.
Check their site’s calendar to view dates for various special events such as Science Saturday, Summer Saturday, Cannon Firings, Bike & Hike & Brews, and many more!
Hagley Museum and Library is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm (mid-March to early November) and from 10 am to 4 pm (early November to mid-March). Buy tickets in person at Hagley – they cost $7 for adults and $5 for kids 6 years and up. Purchase tickets through their website for discounts!
Bellevue State Park
Location: Carr Road, Wilmington
Explore Delaware’s natural wonders by visiting the lovely Bellevue State Park! This is a stunning nature reserve at the heart of the busy city of Wilmington. The park features 328 acres of land filled with colorful trees, running tracks, unpaved trails, a fish pond, and a tennis court.
Originally a du Pont family estate, Bellevue State Park provides visitors a calming escape from the busy city life with its picturesque surroundings and relaxing atmosphere. Lots of activities are in store for you at Bellevue State Park:
- Go on a guided tour to the Bellevue Hall, a former du Pont family mansion.
- Visit the arboretum for a close encounter with native and exotic plant species.
- Head over to the pond for some fishing.
- Hike the Bellevue Woods and explore its meadows, flowing creek, and wildlife along the way.
- Exercise and run on the 1 ⅛ mile-Oval Track.
- Enjoy live concerts during the Summer Concert Series every Thursday and Sunday evenings (June to August). Lunchtime concerts are also staged during Wednesdays.
Bellevue State Park charges non-resident tourists an entrance fee of $8. Special events may have varying fees.
The Delaware Contemporary
Location: South Madison Street, Wilmington
On with our list of cheap things to do in Delaware – a museum visit to The Delaware Contemporary!
This art space in Wilmington features contemporary art presented in compelling exhibitions. The museum currently presents more than 24 art exhibitions from acclaimed artists at the regional, national, and international levels.
The Delaware Contemporary is also a gathering place for people and students passionate in the fields of art, design, and technology. The museum offers guided tours, art classes (both for artists and non-artists), school partnerships, and youth summer camps. Special events also abound, such as The Art Cart, Body of Art: Open Figure Drawing, and 100 Million Gallons Project.
Admission is free at The Delaware Contemporary! Note, however, that special events and guided tours may have a minimal fee.
First State National Historical Park
Location: New Castle
Head over to the First State National Historical Park for a fun natural and historical adventure! There are seven places to visit at the First State National Historical Park, each with their own welcome centers (there’s no main visitor center yet):
- Brandywine Valley – Offers you 1,100 acres of pure natural bliss. Run, hike, and go horseback-riding as you please! Brandywine Creek is also available for fishing.
- New Castle Court Museum – Tour the museum to learn fascinating facts about the country’s founding fathers and earliest settlers. Head to The Arsenal for a short video about the town’s history as well!
- Fort Christina – Explore the site, go fishing near the wharf of rocks, and have a lovely picnic on the grass after your tours!
- Old Swedes Church – Explore the oldest American church, tour the surrounding burial site, and attend public events like the Holiday Celebrations and Festival at the Fort!
- The Dover Green – Enjoy picnics at The Green and explore the historical buildings through self-guided tours or guided walking activities through downtown Dover.
- Ryves Holt House – You can take a tour of this historic house and museum, then go on trolley tours around the Lewes town.
- John Dickinson Plantation – Tour John Dickinson’s Mansion and learn about his works that earned him the title “Penman of the Revolution”. Discover different reconstructed outbuildings and attend fun activities like Dover Days celebrations or craft workshops!
It’s free to enter First State National Historical Park! Individual sites or activities may be charged small fees along the way, though.
Delaware Seashore State Park
Location: Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach
Delaware Seashore State Park is our next destination in our fun yet cheap things to do in Delaware list. This is a calming oasis that’s perfect for beach lovers and families! The beautiful 2,825-acre park is bound by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Indian River Bay and Rehoboth Bay to the west.
Enjoy 6 miles of ocean coastline and lovely dunes when you visit the eastern side of the park. This site is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, sunbathing, and chilling out in the sun!
Meanwhile, head over to the western portion for boating activities and water sports. Here, you can jet-ski, water-ski, paddleboard, kayak, and surf! The North Inlet Day Area beach is a particularly great spot for surfing, especially after sunrise.
Apart from water activities, you can also do other things in the park such as:
- Camping at either of the two campgrounds located at each side of the Indian River Inlet (be sure to bring citronella, lemongrass, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to repel sand fleas)
- Visiting the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum
- Go hiking through the Burton Island Nature Preserve
- Get a stunning view of the Delaware Seashore by walking to the top of the Indian River Inlet bridge
- Dining in at the Big Chill Beach Club oceanfront restaurant or the Hammerheads Dockside
Park vehicle entrance fees are $4 for Delaware-registered vehicles and $8 for out-of-state vehicles.
Ashland Nature Center
Location: Hockessin, New Castle County
Continue exploring Delaware’s natural wonders with a trip to the Ashland Nature Center! This destination is the official headquarters of the Delaware Nature’s Society and is a prime hub for natural resource conservation.
Ashland Nature Center features 130 acres of land filled with local woods, marshes, and meadows. There’s a seasonal butterfly garden, an overnight lodge, and a picnic area for all.
Local volunteers offer guided walks to explore the center during summer months. Don’t miss out on this especially if you want to go bird-watching!
You may also freely hike any of the four self-guided trails inside Ashland Nature Center. The most popular trail is the 1.2-mile Succession Trail, an easy-to-moderate walk that features a hill and the Red Clay Creek. This is an interesting trail to embark on since it shows the natural process of ecological succession.
Ashland Nature Center’s Visitor Center is open during weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Trails and grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk. Entrance fees are $5 for adults and $3 for children aged 2 years and up, making the park visit among the cheap things to do in Delaware.
Location: Rockland Road, Wilmington
Nemours Estate is a family-friendly destination that’ll take you back to the times of the du Pont family’s American aristocracy! This historic and picturesque estate was built by Alfred du Pont for Alicia, his second wife. Today, the area is owned and maintained by the Nemours Foundation.
The estate has been preserved in its characteristic late 18th-century French chateau-style! Tour around and inside the magnificent five-floor neoclassical mansion, Nemours Estate’s main building.
After your mansion tour, explore the impressive landscape of the French formal garden patterned after The Gardens of Versailles. Garden features to visit include:
- The Maze Garden
- The Sunken Gardens
- The Temple of Love
- The Boxwood Garden
- The Reflecting Pool
- The Colonnade
You’ll see lakes, statues of Greek and Roman gods, fountains, and different species of plants and flowers landscaped in a formal but charming way.
Nemours Estate is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. It’s truly among the cheap things to do in Delaware since admission fees are only $10 for adults and $5 for kids 6-16 years. Children under the age of 5 are admitted for free!
Meanwhile, Garden Pass costs $25 per person or $50 for a family of four. This gives you access to the wide landscaped gardens and all the different spots inside it, so that’s pretty much a good bang for your bucks!
Biggs Museum of American Art
Location: Federal Street, Dover
Delaware truly doesn’t fall short of interesting museums to discover! Visit the Biggs Museum of American Art to see impressive fine and decorative arts on display. Most rotating exhibitions center on both contemporary and historical themes.
Biggs Museum showcases artworks in intimate galleries for a truly immersive museum experience. The fascinating exhibits made by various local artists will surely stop you on your tracks and make you appreciate the arts all the more!
The museum also hosts special events, proceeds of which go to funding various public art education projects. Examples of special events include art lectures, Educator’s Open House, Architectural Photography Tour, and Biggs Kids Workshop for children. Most of the lectures and tours are now virtually available via Zoom as well!
Museum grounds are open Wednesday to Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. The entrance fee is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors 60 years and up. Kids 18 and below are admitted for free! Special events may have different rates separate from the admission fees.
Mt. Cuba Center
Location: Barley Mill Road, Hockessin
Mt. Cuba Center completes our list of unique and budget-friendly Delaware destinations! This lovely non-profit garden has recently been voted as the best botanical garden in North America by a USA Today poll. Indeed, Mt. Cuba Center deserves the accolade with its lush surroundings and picturesque sceneries!
Feast your eyes on the wondrous colors of different blooming flowers and diverse native plants inside the garden! Walk along the shaded paths and enjoy picturesque views of lush woodlands, serene ponds, a beautiful meadow, and formal gardens. The gardens come alive mostly during the summer months – best plan your visit around this time!
You may also take part in fun activities such as Family Yoga, Kids Create, and Story Time Sprouts for kids aged 5 years below! These events are free with a general admission ticket or a membership. Apart from that, the center offers online gardening classes, guided group tours, and live lectures as well.
Visit Mt. Cuba Center from Wednesdays to Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm. Admission tickets cost $15 for adults and $8 for youth aged 6-17 years old. Admission is free for kids under 6!
Budget-Friendly Lodging Near Cheap Things to Do in Delaware
A budget trip to Delaware won’t be complete without a cheap but beautiful vacation rental home! If you’ll stay in Delaware for a few days, you may visit Rental Trader for the cheapest yet quality rental homes near your Delaware destinations. If you’re a Delaware resident and would like to offer your property as a rental home, you may also list them free after signing up for a Rental Trader account!
So, that’s our lovely list of 10 unique yet cheap things to do in Delaware. Find your best destinations today and enjoy your trip to Delaware while keeping your wallet happy! Knowing that there are ample budget activities in Delaware, don’t forget to check out the best Delaware road trip destinations in our comprehensive itinerary.