Museums: So Much to See and Learn

Are you fascinated by Native American history? Is Americana your thing? Military history? Shipbuilding? Railroads? Maritime history? Shipwrecks? Aviation? Dolls? You’ll find all of that and lots more waiting for you in our fabulous museums!

Sussex County has an exciting and varied history dating from well before European colonization that has been carefully preserved throughout the county in numerous local museums.

To aid in your discovery of Southern Delaware’s museums, we've created three itineraries (East, Central, and West) to help you navigate them in a way that makes geographic sense; however, feel free to throw caution and your map to the wind and create an itinerary that allows you to explore our rich history based on your specific interests.

You could easily spend a two or three-day getaway exploring any one of these itineraries - or you could mix things up and combine a Museum Itinerary with one of our Antiquing Itineraries that follows the same geographic path.

Round out your getaway with some great culinary experiences and a comfy place to rest between treks. Visit RehobothFoodie to learn about all of the amazing dining options on our Culinary Coast and take a peek at our accommodations page!

The following listings contain map links with locations, contact information, and website addresses. While many museums are open year round and most are free or low cost, hours vary by season at many locations. We suggest you call locations ahead to confirm hours of operation and fees.

Eastern Sussex Itinerary

  • Lightship Overfalls, Lewes: The Overfalls is one of only 17 remaining lightships out of a total of 179 built from 1820 to 1952. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011, it is one of seven lightships in this country still open to the public.

  • Lewes Historical Society Complex, Lewes: Explore Lewes' historic district property by property! Lewes' Historic Complex contains architectural examples from c. 1665 through 50 years ago. From colonial saltboxes to Victorian grandeur, Lewes' architectural heritage spans centuries. The Lewes Historical Society offers a variety of tours. Visit their website for details.

  • Cannonball House Museum, Lewes: Cannonball House is the home of The Lewes Historical Society's maritime museum. Nationally important pieces of maritime art and memorabilia are displayed in the house, including the Fresnel Lens of Fourteen Foot Bank Light. There is a cannonball from the War of 1812 bombardment by the British embedded in its foundation.

  • Zwaanendael Museum, Lewes: The museum is a showcase for Lewes-area maritime, military, and social history. Modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands, the museum commemorates the founding of Delaware's first European settlement by the Dutch in 1631.

  • Fort Miles Historic Site, Lewes: Fort Miles, located in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park, was a key piece in the nation's coastal defense during WWII. Take a tour of the Fort, enjoy an interpretive program, dance to a swing band, and celebrate the "greatest generation" in our nation's history. On the National Register of Historic Places. Watch a Pentagon Channel program about the fort here.)

  • Rehoboth Beach Museum, Rehoboth Beach: The Society preserves and displays showcase artifacts that illustrate the development of the community. The exhibits range from vintage postcards and bathing suits to original Civil War era maps and train schedules as well as temporary exhibits such as photography and needlework exhibits, etc.

  • Anna Hazzard Museum, Rehoboth Beach: This museum boasts a Camp Meeting Era "Tent" structure, which houses a collection of artifacts and memorabilia pertaining to the early days of Rehoboth Beach as a religious retreat.

  • Indian River Lifesaving Station, Delaware Seashore State Park: Learn the history of the U. S. Life-Saving Service, the precursor to today's U. S. Coast Guard, by visiting the original Indian River Life-Saving Station. Be swept back to a time where night-time beach patrols and perilous high seas rescues were the only way to save shipwreck victims along the coasts of the United States. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Bethany Beach Museum, Bethany Beach: Located in the foyer of the Town Hall, the exhibits contain memorabilia and photographs from the Bethany Beach area.

  • DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, Fenwick Island: DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum is an ever-changing exhibit that expands and diversifies with the acquisitions of new artifacts as they are recovered. The collection of shipwreck and recovered artifacts is one of the largest in the Mid-Atlantic and contains shipwreck artifacts both regional and worldwide.

  • Fenwick Island Lighthouse, Fenwick Island: The lighthouse is owned by the state of Delaware and maintained by the private, non-profit New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. The "isolated" lighthouse now stands surrounded by a neighborhood of houses and businesses. Visitors can enter the base to view a small museum and gift shop.

Central Sussex Itinerary

  • The Milford Museum, Milford: Permanent exhibits include local historic events from the 1700s to the present, shipbuilding, and local businesses. Other exhibits include an historic doll collection, Victorian silverware, Delaware ladybugs, and early Milford baseball.

  • Treasures of the Sea Museum, Delaware Technical Community College, Georgetown: Betze Library building. The exhibit is a beautiful collection of spanish treasures from a 17th century ship, the Nuestra Seniora de Atocha. The library is also home to the Elsie Williams Doll Collection. Currently the collection of over 600 dolls is housed in more than one dozen glass cases and is continuing to grow.

  • Marvel Carriage Museum, Georgetown: There are many historic buildings on the museum grounds such as the Ellis School, a one room school house built in 1833. There are two large barns on the grounds that house carriages from Mr. Nutter Marvel's collection. Among these carriages are the Queen's carriage, the Disney carriage, a peddlers wagon and an 1800's era horse drawn hearse carriage. There are many treasures to be seen here such as the beautiful collection of victrolas, ephemera, photographs, telephones, furniture and many more items related to Georgetown history.

  • Delaware Aviation Museum, Georgetown: The museum features many WWII aviation artifacts, memorabilia and displays. Also home of the Jeffrey L. Ethell Memorial Aviation Library of over 3,000 aviation related books. The largest aviation library in the east. Several aircraft are also on display surrounding the museum.

  • Lydia Black Cannon Museum, Milton: The museum’s exhibit includes original art, sailors’ decorative folk art, photographs, ship building tools, sailing implements, and ships’ logs. Self-guided audio tour of the town of Milton is available at http://www.historicmilton.org/discover/

  • Nanticoke Indian Museum, Millsboro: Displays include thousands of arrowheads, pottery, axe hammers and other objects, all of which are homemade. Visitors are educated and receive insight of the work that goes into creating Native arts and leave with a new understanding of Nanticoke culture. Display also features an example of our village to show how our elders lived in the old days and lots of artwork from tribal members and others.

Western Sussex Itinerary

  • Bridgeville Historical Society Museum, Bridgeville: The Society’s collection includes a wealth of artifacts, documents, photographs, and books from local businesses, families, and community organizations.

  • Seaford Museum, Seaford: Extensive collections and exhibits highlight local area history following a timeline from Native Americans to present day. Museum contains a library of historical materials, changing exhibit gallery, interactive displays and more.

  • Seaford Fire Museum, Seaford: Displays fire memorabilia related to the history of the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department Inc.

  • Governor Ross Mansion & Plantation, Seaford: Explore a complete Victorian Italianate mansion with slave quarters, barns, sheds and spacious grounds. Learn what life was like before the Civil War, why a popular Delaware governor was smuggled to England with a Federal warrant out for his arrest and how the “War of Northern Aggression” changed life forever.

  • Days Gone By Museum, Woodland: Woodland Ferry history, restored antique tractors, carpenter's tools and other artifacts. Tours by appointment only.

  • Bethel Heritage Museum, Bethel: Explore the history of this quaint shipbuilding village.

  • Cook House Museum, Laurel: The Cook House contains the offices of the Laurel Historical Society, as well as a large number of photos and artifacts that help to tell the story of Laurel and the residents who call it home. 

  • Laurel Heritage Museum, Laurel: Showcasing an extensive collection of historical documents and objects displayed in our restored Train Station. The Key element of the Museum is the one-of-a kind Waller Photograph Collectionrecognized as the premier period historical collection by both the State of Delaware Archives and the University of Delaware.

  • Delmar Railroad Museum, Delmar: Delmar, known for its railroading history, is home to a unique highball signal listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby, a 1929 caboose serves as museum for railroad artifacts. The highball signal and caboose are located in a small park on Route 54 at the railroad tracks. The caboose has no regular hours, so call ahead. A railroad history display is also available at the Delmar Public Library, 101 N. Bi.State Blvd. and the Delmarva Model Railroad Club posts holiday open house events for model train enthusiasts.