What Is Lewes, Delaware Known For?
We’ll admit it. We’re a little biased towards our small town of Lewes here in Delaware. Anyone who lives in the region knows what a special area it is, not only because of the friendly people, independent businesses, and beautiful scenery, but also because of the rich history.
There is plenty to see and do in Lewes that will bring the culture and stories of the past to life, but if you’ve never visited us, you may not know this history. Allow us, then, to introduce you to our quick guide on the things Lewes, DE, is known for, its place in history, its famous residents, and some of the locations you can go to make your stay even more enriching.
And remember, if you want to immerse yourself in history and the beauty of Lewes, you can reserve a room here at The Beacon Inn today – we’re ideally placed to explore this historic town.
The History Of Lewes, Delaware
We have to go all the way back to 1631 for the first Dutch settlers who made the area a trading post. Named Zwaanendael – meaning Swan Valley – it changed hands regularly after this, mainly between the Dutch and the English. People often refer to Lewes as ‘the first town in the first state’ thanks to the area being one of the first places settlers landed and thanks to Delaware being the first state to ratify the constitution.
The town got its current name back in 1682 when William Penn was given the area by King Charles II. Penn named the region Lewes due to connections with locations back in England.
Lewes became an important location for so many reasons; from “safe houses” for those fleeing slavery via the border state of Delaware, using the Underground Railroad, to nautical and naval importance, including during the American Revolutionary War to World War II. Although the area saw no real action in the latter war, you can still find remnants of this past dotted around, including Fort Miles over in Cape Henlopen State Park.
Places to visit
Lewes is perhaps known best for its nautical past, with stories scattered across centuries, and you can find out a lot more and get closer to this vibrant, seafaring region’s past by visiting a variety of museums and other historically significant attractions. Here are just a few to add to your list for your next visit to Lewes:
- Fort Miles Historic Area & Museum
- The Lewes Maritime Museum at Cannonball House
- Zwaanendael Museum
- Ryves Holt House
- The Lewes Historical Society Campus
You can find some of these attractions in the Lewes Historic District, which forms a mini village, allowing you a glimpse into a bygone era. Don’t forget to visit the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse, too, along with Cape Henlopen State Park and Lewes Beach if you want a relaxing way to enjoy Lewes in the outdoors.
Famous people from Lewes, DE
A short drive away, Rehoboth Beach plays home to President Biden, but Lewes has had its share of notable residents over the years, too. Here are just a few people who you may (or may not!) have heard of:
- Otto Wolgast – an early Dutch settler who later served as justice of the peace
- Sarah Fisher Ames – an American sculptor in the 19th century
- Mary Beth Ellis – long-distance triathlete active from 2006-2016
- Theodore Freeman – a NASA astronaut who died tragically in 1964 in a T-38 jet
- Tom Mandel – a famous poet now residing in Lewes
- John Morris – a pitcher for Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants in MLB from 1966 until 1974
- Holly Shimizu – a writer and horticulturalist who featured on PBS show The Victory Garden
Events & Festivals
You can find all sorts of events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything that is great about Lewes, both past and present.
From walking tours with the Lewes Historical Society to boat trips out to the East End Lighthouse, there are so many ways to celebrate the region and learn more. If you need inspiration or information for events and festivals when you arrive, why not have a chat with our friendly team at the front desk? We’re always happy to give you recommendations on the best way to spend your time here for an unforgettable and intriguing vacation!
There are so many ways to enjoy this wonderful, historic town and all that the region has to offer, but the one place to stay is at The Beacon Inn. We have a variety of rooms available to book for your next vacation; whether that’s a quick weekend away or a longer visit, reserve your room today to avoid missing out. If you have any questions before or during your stay, don’t hesitate to ask our friendly team.