Originally the Dover Opera House, the Schwartz Center is an impressive old building that houses the city's local theater and Symphony. The center recently finished interior renovations and now holds more events throughout the year.
Dance troupes, plays and musicals and the Symphony show here throughout the year. Check the site for shows if you're visiting the area. This is a really nice venue and you get the feel for old American theater inside.
The Schwartz Center is fairly small, only seating about 600 people. This makes for more intimate performances and an enjoyable atmosphere.
State Street, just south of the intersection with Loockerman, is one of the most charming areas of town in terms of architecture. For about 3 blocks, the street is made of cobblestones, the buildings are all brick, and there are various historic landmarks such as the Green, the Supreme Court, the Golden Fleece Tavern site (sorry no beer is sold here these days), Christ Episcopal Church (Dover's oldest house of worship circa 1734), and the Schwartz Center for the Arts. Unfortunately, these days almost every building houses a lawyer's office (and there are dozens), the only tavern on this section of street is closed, and the areas is deserted most hours of day, particularly in the evening. This part of Dover could be great if they could find a way to get people to come here (start by getting rid of the lawyers)...
Dover's Victorian-style houses were built from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. According to visitdover.com, Dover's wealthy families at the time made their fortune on peaches. Many of Dover's finest historic homes are on State Street, between Division Street and Governor's Ave. The entire historic area is roughly bounded by Silver Lake, St. Jones River, North Street and Queen Street and it contains 482 buildings on 1790 acres. This map shows all of the historic buildings and areas in the vicinity of the city of Dover.
The Victorian Dover Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The John Dickinson Plantation, south of Dover AFB is a well-preserved example of Dover's architecture from the 1700s.
This is the nicest park in the city of Dover. Silver Lake sits between downtown Dover and the Du Pont Highway "strip" of shopping centers and chain restaurants. Despite its central location, it is a nice quite respite from the city. Silver Lake Park covers 182 acres with a small sandy beach with a seasonal lifeguard, picnic pavilions & barbecue grills, walking paths, boat ramp, and several fishing spots. You may also see people boating and water skiing in the lake. There is also a playground for the kids.
The park has entrances from both King's Highway on the east of the St Jones River and Washington Street to the west. There is plenty of public parking on both sides and there are a few pedestrian bridges allowing visitors to easily cross the small river. The boat ramp is at the eat side of the park and the beach on the west side.
One warning: avoid the area at night... not only is the park closed after dark, but it is also a favorite hangout of the local homeless population.
Just watching the huge C-5 cargo planes take off is a thrill in itself. The base is not open to the public, but you can see the planes take off from South Little Creek Road, Rout 1, and Route 9. My favorite spot was always South Little Creek Road where you are less than a mile from the end of the runway and the massive aircraft roar directly overhead. On Rt 1 and Rt 9 south of the base, the runway is just 1/3 of a mile off the road, so you will get a closer view, but there is no place safely or legally to pull off either road to watch!
Dover has about 25 C-5 Galaxy aircraft and is scheduled to get a squadron of C-17 aircraft over the next few years. Due to these massive cargo aircraft, Dover is one of the Air Force's busiest ports in the world. Dover is also the Department of Defense's only Port Mortuary, where all of the fallen soldiers return with dignity to American soil.
Dover AFB employs about 7,000 military and civilians and is the largest employer in the state of Delaware.
The base also hosts the Air Mobility Command museum, which is open to all.
This beautifully renovated pub has taken on the name of the original historical pub on State Street. The new Golden Fleece is on Loockerman across from Irish Mikes. My new favorite place-it has a outdoor patio and a very upscale professional atmosphere. Fridays and Saturdays there is usually live music (classic rock mostly). They have happy hour and darts. And lastly, although this may seem odd to say... they have the cleanest bathrooms I have ever seen in a bar in my life!
Dover's Amish community follows many of the same customs as Amish throughout the country. The wear mostly black, do not drive cars, and have no electricity. They on farms and in small "working communities." They are generally friendly people, but not accustomed to tourists like the Amish in Lancaster, PA. There are several stores in the area that are run by Amish or cater to Amish such as Spence's Bazaar and Byler's Country Store.
Dover's Amish seem to be much more open to societal change than other Amish I have seen, as their buggies are often parked next to the big chain grocery stores in Dover such as the Superfresh on Rt 8. I have also heard rumors of local Amish teens who pimped out their buggies with chrome wheels and purple neon lights under the frame...I'm not sure how true this might be. I know for a fact that many local Amish leave the community when they are old enough and make a life as a modern American.
As you drive down route 1 through central Delaware, you can't miss Dover Downs Racetrack. The complex is a hotel, auto and equestrian racetrack and slot casino. While the attraction is busy all year long in the casino, the biggest draw for this spot are the 2 NASCAR races it hosts a year.
Throughout the year, various concerts and entertainment performances go on at the Downs. Local weddigns and proms fill up the ballrooms. The restaurants host holiday specials and the horses come to race from November through April.
The casino is limited to slots and there is off-track betting on the second level. The State of Delaware doesn't allow table games.
I stopped in at the visitor's center my first weekend living in Dover to see if there was any local info I could gather for things to do. There wasn't much of what I was looking for but a lot of history regarding the city. There was information about Caesar Rodney and the Constitutioanl Covnention. It was actually more interesting than I had thought.
The museum is quite small but the folks there are helpful and I was able to find some maps of Dover and the surrounding areas. There was also a little shop with some souvenirs from the area (pretty much everything has the phrase "The First state" on it). There is no charge to get in.
This site is not on many tourists' lists but if you are into history museums, garden centers, and cultural events then this is something you probably want to bookmark for your Delaware trip.
It is easy to find, right on US13 (Dupont Highway) just a bit south of the Speedway (I think that is called Dover Downs).
It looks like a big red steel building with a simple sign on it and a stone/gravel parking lot.
But its insides seem to be bigger than its outsides. They have buildings way out back that were moved there from other areas around Dover; there are agiculture sections featuring cow-milking, butter-making, honey-jarring, harvesting and harvester machinery; there are live performances by local hee-haw groups and harmonica players and clod-dancers; you can buy freshly made sandwiches which features vegetables grown on the farm; you can buy freshly made bread and biscuits and herbs and soap and etc.......
We are into all of that, so we spent a good 3-4 hours there, got fresh pocket sandwiches and homemade raspberry tea and lots of souveniers.
Price was right, $5, senior and children fare is less.
Home of the Delaware State government since 1777, the Old State House is the second oldest continually used state house in America. Though the day-to-day business of the government is carried out in nearby Legislative Hall, the Old State House still hosts ceremonial functions.
The Delaware State Capitol Building was built in 1933 and the government moved in 1934. It has a beautiful location facing the Dover green and the St Jones River. Its on the edge of downtown, but in a quiet, historic neighborhood.
At the other end of green stands the historic Old State House, built in 1792.
Admission is free, but you must be a least this tall to ride the roller coaster.
The Timothy Hanson House, next to Delaware's State Capitol Building, is the oldest building in Dover. Constructed around 1730, George Washington supposedly spent a night here. Unfortunately, the city has decided to demolish the building and replace it with a replica.
UPDATE: Winter 05/06...the Hanson House has been torn down and replaced with a big hole in the ground. Progress... I guess you could say that. Good news is the City of Dover had a $3.7 million surplus in 2006 partially due to the $60,000 they received from the selling the house before it was demolished.
Originally called Poplar Hall, this plantation south of Dover was constructed in 1740. John Dickinson, "The Penman of the Revolution" was raised here. He later attended the Constitutional Conventions in Philadelphia and helped work key compromises. John Dickinson signed the Constitution in 1787 as a delegate from Delaware.
The museum opened in 1956.
Open 10am to 3:30pm Tues-Sat, Sun 1:30 to 4:30pm. Free Admission
Loockerman Street (pronounced Lock-er-men) is the historic heart of the city of Dover. From the edge of the St. Jones River through Loockerman's intersection with Route 8 to the west, you will find several nice restaurants, a few cafes and a dozen or so small local stores. Be sure to try 33 West for a nice lunch. The Lobby house and WT Smithers (just around the corner on State St) have some of the better nightlife in Dover and Irish Mike's bar isn't too bad most of the time.
Finally after more than a decade vacant, the cornerstone building of downtown Dover will reopen as the "World Famous Loockerman Exchange." This establishment at the highly visible corner of Loockerman and State Streets will be home to a bar, restaurant and nightlife area with live music. It should be nice as the new owners are spending $700,000 for interior improvements alone.