The lands within Cape Henlopen State Park are some of the very first public lands in the United States, recognized by William Penn in 1682. The lands went on to play important roles in the nation’s history, both in manufacturing and shipping, as well as military.
The Cape Henlopen beaches attract thousands each year, to enjoy a variety of activities, including swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, paddle-boarding, clamming, and wind-surfing. Beyond the waterfront, hiking and biking are available on beautiful trails. One designated swimming beach provides lifeguard patrols during the summer, Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Other facilities include camping and cabins, the Fort Miles Museum and Historical Area, Plum Island Nature Preserve (a publicly owned wild beach) and the Seaside Nature Center. There’s also a borrow-a-bike program for visitors who want to take advantage of a free bike. The beach also hosts various events throughout the year, so you’ll want to check their website and Facebook page for upcoming activities.
Pets are allowed in the park and on the pet-friendly portion of the beach all day, every day. Dogs must be kept on a leash. However, dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk, swimming beach, and designated swimming areas during the summer months, May 1–Sept. 30.
Note that you do have to carry your trash out with you at this beach, so bring lots of bags. There is no place to dispose of your trash on the beach or in the park. The walk to the dog-friendly beaches is a bit long, so keep this in mind and plan ahead. Plenty of signage will tell you where you can and cannot go.
Amenities include some acceptable toilet facilities and small spots to rinse your feet. Occasionally, stands are open offering umbrellas, chairs, drinks and limited snacks. The beach fee is $10.