Great Picnic Spot: Fort Delaware State Park

Pea Patch Island, 1/2 mile offshore from Delaware City, Delaware Accessible only by ferry, this distinctive state park—one of Delaware’s

Fort Delaware State Park, Delaware
The sally port of the granite pentagon-shaped fort, completed on Pea Patch Island in 1859, glows in the setting sun.

Pea Patch Island, 1/2 mile offshore from Delaware City, Delaware

Accessible only by ferry, this distinctive state park—one of Delaware’s oldest—offers a journey back in time. The park’s impressive Union fortress dates back to 1859. Inside the massive granite-and-brick structure, visitors will discover an authentic military city, going about the business of everyday life in 1864.

Hands-on demonstrations and interactive programs abound. Highlights include a crash course in the blacksmith trade, an eye-opening look at the workload of a laundress, a stop at the officers kitchen for a whiff of delicious, freshly baked bread, and a lesson in the lost art of loading and firing a giant seacoast cannon. In addition, kids can get in line for an infantry drill, and the whole family can sign on for a personal tour of the fortress.

Conducted by tradesmen, craftswomen, business proprietors, socialites, activists, and generals of the day, tours include a boxed lunch and souvenir Civil War paperwork. When the sun goes down, fearless history buffs can cap off their visit with a ghost tour.

Beyond the fortress, Pea Patch Island offers many national treasures. Marked by remote marshes, it is the largest Atlantic Coast nesting ground north of Florida for wading birds and is the summer home to nine different species of herons, egrets, and ibises. A hiking trail and observation tower offer opportunities to see these beautiful birds in flight. Visitors can bring lunch to enjoy on the spacious, grassy picnic area. Tables and grills are provided, and water and snacks are available from the fortress.

Open Sat.– Sun. and holidays late Apr.– late Sept.; Wed.– Fri. mid-June– Aug. Confirm in advance. Admission charged.

www.destateparks.com

(302) 834-7941

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest