You may be surprised to hear me say this, but it’s a fact that summer is the worst season. It’s hot and humid. Sports are mostly limited to baseball. Kids are off school. The beach is f$&king crowded as hell. And the season starts off with an extremely subtle punch in the face which you won’t even feel for at least a month…..the summer solstice.
Here’s the thing that I can’t help thinking about on the summer solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year. At exactly 11:54am that day, the earth will be at the point in its revolution around the sun that gives maximum daylight to the Northern Hemisphere. Every minute after that, daylight will inexorably grow shorter; and if you’re like me, you begin to consciously notice this by late July. And maybe like me, you’ll be a little sad about that.
But you can be happy about the superb things to do in and around Delaware in the coming months. I’m going to give you a few ideas. And because summer usually comes with a bit of extra leisure time, enabling you to drive/ride/walk a little longer, I am expanding the area of interest slightly beyond Northern Delaware.
Fort Delaware - My father would take Dan and I here every summer. The trip would usually be saved for the hottest days of summer because there was a nice boat ride and plenty of damp underground rooms to hang out in to escape the blazing sun (it should also be mentioned that we did not have the luxury of AC at our childhood home). History + dungeons + cannons + boat ride = summer fun.
Reedy Point (on the Delaware River) - This is truly a “locals only” spot. You’ll have to do a bit of exploration to find it, but I definitely give you permission to explore it. Kid(s) and fishing pole recommended but not required. There is a nice rock-hopping walk out to the very end of the jetty. Bring a picnic lunch and watch the ships go by.
Take a walk in Blackbird State Forest - I camped here often in my scouting days. The forest is deeply shaded (pitch black at night = scary) which makes it ideal for a summer stroll with the family and dog(s). If you look carefully, you may notice shallow depressions littered about in the forest - these are sometimes referred to as Delmarva whale wallows. One theory for their existence is when global sea levels were falling thousands of years ago, whales were stranded in the shallow water covering the Delmarva peninsula and they created these depressions. As a young scout, I often looked for whale bones there, but never found any….maybe you will :)
Cecil County Fair - Please treat yourself to Demolition Derby...you will not regret it. There are lots of other cool events there (stunt dogs, cows, goats, chainsaws, funnel cake, and carnival rides, etc.), but nothing tops cars crashing into each other and sometimes catching fire. The last time I went, a car caught on fire, the driver got out, then the firefighters put it out, and then she got back in and won the whole thing! Classic Cecil County entertainment.
Longwood Gardens - This place is one of the true gems of our area. Go for one of the illuminated fountain shows - they are truly spectacular. Get there early to hang out in the awesome beer garden and then take a stroll over to the extreme western side of the gardens where you will be inspired (or shamed) by their incredible vegetable garden.
George and Sons - If the fish counter at the grocery store intimidates you, skip it and go to George and Sons in Hockessin. They have a super friendly and knowledgeable staff who can tell you exactly which fish to put in your tacos. This will also give you an opportunity to get outside and use your f&$%ing grill like a man (or lady). And before you walk out the door with fish in hand, I recommend giving the raw oysters a try. You’ll either love it or hate it, but I hope you’ll stop by Autumn Arch and tell me about it.
Broadkill Beach - This is one of the more underrated beaches in Delaware. Because it's on the bay side, it doesn’t get the traffic that saturates Rehoboth and Dewey. The waves are tiny, but the beachcombing is superb. If you don’t plan on body surfing, Broadkill yields a very chill day on the water. Also, the single road heading to Broadkill is close to Milford, so stop by Mispillion Brewing on your way home.
Hill’s Auction - I’m adding something on this list that I have never done, but I really want to. Go to an auction, bid on something, and win! A list of auction dates and items is here. Maybe you’ll find an awesome tool or an intriguing antique. They take cash and check (seriously, check? It’s a bit crazy in 2019, but that’s what they do). Good luck!
July 4th FireWorks in Newark - The city of Newark puts on a pretty spectacular fireworks show. Park at the UD sports complex along Rt 896 and Rt 4, and enjoy the food and live music. Starts at 6pm on July 4. Bring lawn chairs and a smile; also be prepared to chill for an hour after the fire works show is over….there’s no sense in subjecting yourself to the massive traffic jam that occurs afterwards.
Invite your neighbors over for BBQ and beers - Seriously. Americans are generally awesome at most things, but we’re kinda terrible at this (myself included). I guarantee if you do this, it will be one of the highlights of your summer. And if it goes terribly, at least you were prudent enough to bring good beer.
Jimmy and Dan
Ps. I would be remiss not to mention the one amazing and redeeming quality of summer; it gives way to the best of all seasons - Autumn.