This past weekend, Daniel and I had the opportunity to visit Kent County, Delaware to kick off our Summer and we had such a wonderful time. I'm so excited to share all of our adventures in Delaware's Quaint Villages with all of you!
8:30 am | Morning Coffee Run at Dolce Bakery
Dan and I arrived to Milford, DE on Friday night and stayed at their local Hampton Inn Milford (100 Lighthouse Estates Drive, Milford) so that we could wake up early to kick start our day without needing to worry about travel. In the morning, we needed a local favorite to grab a coffee and a light breakfast - Dolce Bakery was recommended.
The smell of fresh baked pastries hit us as soon as we stepped into Dolce Bakery (36 N. Walnut Street). I ordered a Chai Latte and a Strawberry Danish while Dan got an OJ and Blueberry Muffin - we were both super impressed. Not joking, the Chai Latte was one of the best I'd ever ordered. To top it off, the staff was friendly and made us feel welcome, not like the tourists that we were. Right away, we recognized that the folks here make all of their guests feel this special, and it was fun to see locals walking in and the team behind the counter greeting them by name. There's a friendliness in Milford and sense of community that I've never seen anywhere else, and I loved being a part of it, even for a weekend.
9:00 am | Bug & Bud Festival
One of the primary reasons that we were in Milford was to experience their annual Bug & Bud Festival, held in celebration of Arbor Day. Today, the festival serves as one of Central Delaware's premiere events.
Strolling the streets of Milford, we encountered local artisans, shop owners and community outreach initiative representatives and it was wonderful to connect with all of them and to get a taste of what the town is all about.
One of the artisans that we connected with was Brian, who is a local photographer who prints his artwork (and custom logos, brands, etc.) onto kiln-fired ceramics. I loved his images, and thought that the idea of customizing ceramic backsplash, coasters, etc. was so fun for gift ideas or to personalize your home!
As we continued strolling, we found the sweet members of the Milford Garden Club who told us a bit of the local history and goings on, and who also informed us about all of the projects that they work on in the community. We were impressed with their work outside of the Riverfront Theatre and Memorial Bridge.
After popping into the Mispillion Art League (5 Walnut Street, Milford) to check out some of the local pieces, we ventured towards the paddle boats, games and food. We were just in time to catch the local school band lead the parade followed by an adorable cub scout troop and the Grand Marshal (who we were later able to get a photo with). On our way out, we made sure to stop at the Milford Museum's booth and purchased a couple of vintage-print postcards (we're big on collecting post cards from our travels and saving them ... we got one at most of the stops on our trip this weekend!).
12:00 pm | Lunch at JP's Wharf
Post-festival, we were definitely hungry so we ventured towards Bowers' Beach (a fishing industry hot spot) for lunch. We arrived a few minutes before they opened, and so we walked up the street to the beach itself to sit on the dock, soak up some sun and watch the boats go by. What a peaceful spot!
JP's Wharf (201 Hubbard Ave, Frederica) is the embodiment of a summer eatery for me, and I loved every second of our time there. It's the sort of establishment where the food hits the spot, and so does the setting. Waterfront, JP's is the kind of place where you order a beer (or one of their tasty looking cocktails), take a deep breath and relax with good company.
Being from out of town, we were excited to hear that JP's takes advantage of their waterfront position along the Delaware Bay... they catch their own Rockfish and oysters (no really, the boat is tied up on the dock). The seafood doesn't get more fresh than that!
I don't like seafood much and even I really enjoyed their oysters (that cheese on top was magic). Dan ordered the Fish & Chips and was really impressed with the portion size and how much meat was actually inside of the breading, and I got the Cheese Burger. Can't go wrong with a classic!
When a local makes a recommendation, you order it and we did just that with the Strawberry Pie. It's not at all what we expected, but it was better than we could have imagined.
2:00 pm | John Dickinson Plantation
After lunch, we ventured over to the John Dickinson Mansion and Plantation (340 Kitts Hummock Rd., Dover). I was especially excited to see a bit of local history because my background is historical archaeology and anthropology and this colonial plantation was right up my alley. This plantation served as the home for John Dickinson, a lawyer and landowner who served as President of both Delaware and Pennsylvania and was a delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787.
We started in the Visitor's Center where we connected with Chris, one of the tour guides. He allowed us to watch a quick film to gauge a bit of background on the grounds and the former property owner and then we headed over to the Mansion.
It was a lot of fun walking through the home with Chris, who was able to point out things throughout the home such as the carvings of initials on the wooden beams leading down to the basement, the green color of the dining room representing a sign of wealth and the relation of the home and it's owner to the agricultural world.
7:00 pm | Dinner at Roma
After a much needed nap back at our hotel, we spiffed up a bit and hit the town for dinner at a local Italian Restaurant, Roma (3 President Drive, Dover). We're big fans of Italian food, so we were excited to give this local spot a try. They did not disappoint! After sharing a bruschetta appetizer, we tried the Italian Wedding Soup and then our entrees - Dan got the Lobster Ravioli and I ordered the evening's chicken special which was a combination of Chicken/Eggplant Parmesan. I also ordered a side of pasta, which was about the size of my entree (I couldn't fit anything else in, so this went back to the hotel with us!).
The friendliness we'd spotted in Milford earlier didn't stop there... the staff at this Dover restaurant were just as wonderful. Their staff varied in age, but all were sweet and professional.
9:00 pm | Tasting & Tour at Mispillion River Brewing
By this point in the day, Dan and I were hitting a wall but we'd heard that Mispillion River Brewing (255 Mullet Run St., Milford) wasn't to be missed and we were curious about the local nightlife. As I opened the front door, I was hit with the sound of a live musician singing and playing the guitar, neon signs flashing over the bar and an audience with folks of all ages and backgrounds.
Strolling over to the bar, a kind stranger (a pattern in Milford) pointed out two empty seats beside him and the bartender immediately asked us what we wanted to drink. Shortly after, the owner Eric and his wife, Megan found us and brought us to the back for a tour and a tasting. Not usually a fan of IPA's, I actually really enjoyed both that I tasted here because they weren't overwhelmingly hoppy or bitter. You guys have converted me!
10:30 am | Brunch at Governor's Cafe
After sleeping in a bit (much needed after our busy day on Saturday), we made our way to Dover for brunch at the Governor's Cafe (144 Kings Hwy SW #1, Dover) in the historic district. The morning was a bit windy, but the sun was peeking out and it was warm so we found ourselves a seat on the porch after ordering inside at the counter. Sticking to our favorites (a danish for me, a muffin for Dan), we also ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich which was the perfect way to kick off our morning.
It seemed that the Governor's Cafe was a local favorite, and quite a few folks from couples to families were gathering for their own meals. The cafe is actually registered on the National Historic Register as the "Leason House" and it sits across from the Governor's Mansion in Dover.
12:00 pm Air Mobility Museum
Post-brunch, we headed down the road to the Air Mobility Command Museum (1301 Heritage Rd., Dover) which is actually housed on a public section of the Dover Air Force Base. Mike, our tour guide, is about a month away from his Air Force retirement and was a wealth of information.
We started in the Dover AFB Control Tower, where we were able to learn a bit about traffic control on the base and the sorts of planes that are most frequently flown in and out (Dover is primarily works with cargo).
Outside, we had the chance to go inside quite a few of the planes, including the VC-9C which served as Air Force Two for Vice President's from 1975-2011, as well as First Ladies such as Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. Another highlight was going inside of the C-5A Galaxy which honestly blew my mind... I had no idea it was this big... it can fit full-sized trucks inside of it!
Inside of the museum, there were hands-on exhibits and simulators to enlighten visitors on the war efforts that aided the U.S. military and how it was done.
2:00 pm | First State Heritage Park Tour
One of our final stops of the weekend was the First State Heritage Park (121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, N. Dover) which also houses the Old State House and The Green within its historic blueprint. The Park itself is actually an urban "park without boundaries" that links historic and cultural sites together.
We started in the Welcome Center where we connected with Sarah, who showed us one of the in-house exhibits on local political history and pointed out the archives. Next, we headed outdoors where we walked over to the Old State House. Completed in 1791, the Old State House is the focal point of the historic Green and represents a landmark of history for the city of Dover, Delaware. Walking in, you're in the 18th-century style courtroom where historic interpreters lead you through the various rooms explaining their history and connection to American History overall. It was incredible to hear new information (to us) about the slave trade, and links that the town had to the Underground Railroad and even connections in history to Philadelphia and the backstory of how Delaware became the First State. Another fun tidbit was that one of the iron fireplaces in the building is actually from our own local Hopewell Furnace- they found the receipt from the 1700's in their archives and were able to have the iron forge recreate it for them.
Continuing on our tour, we were led to the John Bell House, the oldest surviving frame building in Dover. In this house, we were able to connect with a historic interpreter who represented the owner of The Golden Fleece Tavern across the street, Elizabeth Battel. The Golden Fleece, as it turns out, was an awfully hot location for important decision-making in Delaware; it was where Delaware legislators at the time voted to ratify the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which led to Delaware becoming the First State. The Green itself was a stunning square of historic homes and incredible stories come from this space (ask your guide to share with you the story of the mysterious chocolate candies!).
Our final stop of the tour was inside of the Delaware Store (325 State Street, Dover), which is actually the site of the original Golden Fleece Tavern. Here, we met local artist Taylor Collins, who is known for her folk art and beautiful depictions of the "First Flag". We also met Thomas Smith, who runs the Delaware Store and who was able to show us some of the more popular items that folks from the area enjoy. We even got a beautiful souvenir to take home with us!