Get to know the Gateways of Lewes

Gateways of Lewes

The “Gateways of Lewes” are six roads forming a continuous network of greenway leading into the town and out to the ocean. The Gateways also provide an active and enjoyable way to explore the more than three centuries of Lewes history. You’ll definitely want to make a day of traveling these trails by boat, car or bike, leaving plenty of time to take in the natural beauty and interesting stopping points.

The “Gateways from the Land”—Kings Highway, Savannah Road and New Road—run generally east to west, perpendicular to the coast, passing through numerous historically significant areas, including downtown Lewes. The “Gateways from the Sea”—Pilottown Road, Gills Neck Road and Cape Henlopen Drive—run approximately north to south, parallel to the coast. This route follows the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the beach.

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Canoeing at Trap Pond State Park near Lewes.

Among the interesting places you’ll find along the Gateways from the Land are the Lewes Presbyterian Church (est. 1692) and churchyard, the Zwaanendael Museum (built in 1932 to resemble the ancient City Hall in Hoorn, Holland) on Kings Highway, and Bethel Cemetery and the War of 1812 Memorial Park just north of the Canal Bridge on Savannah Road. Along the Gateways from the Sea are the Cannonball House (with a War of 1812 cannonball embedded in its foundation), historic Victorian homes of Delaware River and Delaware Bay pilots, the Lightship Overfalls (a floating lighthouse built in 1938), and Canalfront Park.

At the end of the Gateways from the Sea greenway is the 5,193-acre Cape Henlopen State Park. There, you can hike a three-mile paved loop trail, six miles of beach along the Atlantic Ocean, or the 1.6-mile crushed-gravel Walking Dunes Trail, which ends at the 80-foot-high Great Dune. They’re called “walking dunes” because they actually move slowly across the park.

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(Image source: Delaware State Parks)

In the park, you’ll discover a World War II observation tower that was part of Fort Miles and used to spot enemy battleships. It’s a shorter climb up one of the former military bunkers in the park, but the view is still impressive. Be sure to visit the Seaside Nature Center to check out the live Osprey Cam.

Visit www.delawaregreenways.org for more information.

Birdwatching

What To Bring To Birdwatch On The Ferry

Birdwatching

The Delaware Bay is a birdwatcher’s paradise because it is one of the greatest places in the country to see a large and diverse collection of birds. Thankfully, the Ferry can put you right in the middle of the beautiful bird wonderland! On the Ferry, we’ve seen egrets, laughing gulls, osprey, gannets, the occasional bald eagle, and much more, since the bay is always flapping with flying wildlife. Whether you’re an experienced birder, or just a traveler admiring the aviary display, here’s what you’ll need to birdwatch on the Ferry.

Beginner
If you’re a beginner birdwatcher, enjoying all the birds that the bay has to offer doesn’t take much at all. But, those summer days will leave you burnt without the proper sunscreen. This is always a necessity no matter what level birder you are! Check out our wildlife scorecard, available on deck, to keep track of all the marine life you see. Information includes what each species likes to snack on, what time of year is best to spot them and even a fun fact or two. Depending on the season, you’ll see a variety of birds. In the springtime, an osprey couple typically lays three eggs by our Lewes Terminal, making for a great attraction! By the time summer comes around, the babies are hatched and ready to take their first flight. To catch our live feed of the Osprey nest check out our website!

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Intermediate
If you’ve dabbled in bird watching, bringing a backpack is a great idea to keep your hands free for holding binoculars or a camera. In the Springtime, hundreds of thousands of migrating shore birds feast on new horseshoe crab eggs that line the Delaware Bay shoreline. You may be able to spot the Red Knot that breeds as far north as Canada. In order to spot some of these migrating birds we suggest that any intermediate birder to bring a field guide to spot the variety of species. We also advise birders to wear long pants and closed toes shoes when exploring any wetlands and marshes.

Expert
If you’re an expert birdwatcher, chances are you don’t need us to tell you what to bring along! You may already have one or more field guides and own a pair of binoculars. If you’re bringing a camera, we also recommend a tripod for stability when the boat is rocking.

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No matter your skill level, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry provides 360-degree views of Delaware Bay wildlife like you’ve them never seen before. Stop on either side to experience the natural habitat of Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware or Cape May Point State Park in New Jersey. The biodiversity on the a Delaware Bay attracts visitors from all over to explore our wetlands, beaches and woodlands.

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Five Best Sunsets and Sunrises on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry

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The Delaware Bay is known for its amazing sunsets and sunrises. What better way to see and experience these moments than on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry! Riding on the vessels, you are able to experience that magic. We wanted to share a few of our favorite sunsets and sunrises. 

Bright yellows, mellow oranges, and splashes of blue light up the sky for this stunning sunset. Where else could you see something so beautiful?

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Check out this beautiful sunset captured by our very own, Officer Clayton! Incredibly peaceful and calm.

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A ride on the ferry can be truly breathtaking.

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As the saying goes, red sky at night, sailor’s delight, and this is definitely a delight.red sky sunset

Last but not least, this incredible sunrise really brings out the Ferry’s beauty.

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Want to see all of these amazing sunsets for yourself? Take a ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and capture a beautiful sunset as you sail across the Delaware Bay.

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Delaware Bay Wildlife: Mammal Edition

The diversity of wildlife in the Delaware Bay is amazing, and on board the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, you can experience a 360-degree view of much of the marine life it has to offer! It isn’t unusual to see dolphins, so be sure to keep your eyes on the water, and pay attention to the loudspeaker as the captain will typically announce where to see them in the water.

Seals

There are three different types of seals in the Delaware Bay: Gray Seals, Harp Seals, and Harbor Seals. The Delaware Bay remains a popular site for seals tomblog1.jpg migrate during the winter. The most popular time to see seals along the Delaware Bay is during the colder months. Seals usually come out of the water to rest after they have eaten. If you catch sight of one of these amazing mammals, contact Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation at 302-228-5029. 

Gray Seals: These seals can grow to be up to 10 feet long and 800 pounds! They are gray in color, although pups have white fur for the first three weeks of their lives.

Harp Seals: Adults range between 5 to 6 feet and can weigh up to 300 pounds. They eat small fish and migrate towards the arctic during the summer months.

Harbor Seals: Adults are about 6 feet and weigh over 200 pounds. They are blue-grey in color. These seals love to be on land, and will typically give birth to baby seals during the spring and summer months.

For more information, visit the MERR Institute.

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The most popular times to see dolphins are during the spring and summer months. They are gray in color and easy to spot from the deck. There are 43 species of dolphins that are recognized. In the Delaware Bay, we typically see 8 species of dolphins including the Atlantic Bottlenose, Striped, and Atlantic White-Sided. 

For pictures and more information on each species click here.

Dolphins are incredibly friendly, intelligent and can live as long as 60 years! When dolphins sleep, half of their brain stays awake to keep them breathing so they don’t drown? Their diet usually consists of fish, squid, and crustaceans. Generally, mating season is in the spring and result in mothers giving birth to one calf. Each calf stays with their mother for the first three years of its life.

Fun Fact: Dolphins tend to leap out of the water to glance at their surroundings and even follow ships! So be on the lookout next time you’re aboard! 

Whales

There she blows! The Cape May Lewes-Ferry captains have been keeping their eyes peeled for whales in the Delaware Bay. Whales have a very large appetite and prefer smaller fish and krill for their meals and tend to swallow their prey whole. They tend to eat 4% of their body weight, with the smallest species of whales weighing 3,000 pounds that’s a lot of food! 

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For more wildlife fun on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, be sure to check out our wildlife page before you plan your trip!

The Iconic Kalmar Nyckel

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The Kalmar Nyckel is a sailing piece of history – 1600’s history to be exact. Built by the Dutch and sold to the Swedish, the original vessel was once called the “Mayflower of the Delaware Valley.” The ship sailed from Gothenburg, Sweden in 1637, and its travelers established their first settlement on the site of what is now Wilmington, Delaware. The Kalmar Nyckel was eventually sold to Dutch merchants and sunk off the coast of Scotland in 1652.

To commemorate the voyages of the original vessel, a replica of the ship was launched in Wilmington, DE in 1997. This recreation of the Kalmar Nyckel took about a decade to complete before it set sail on the Christina River. Today, the Kalmar Nyckel offers a once in a lifetime experience to visitors as they are able to climb aboard and soak in the history for themselves. The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives visitors along the east coast a unique glance at history. The current model is operated by a volunteer staff who are passionate about educating the public about the history maritime and colonial life.

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The Kalmar Nyckel has plenty of educational opportunities for visitors of all ages! They offer field trips for classrooms to explore the majesty of the vessel with interactive information stations. Guests are encouraged to dress up in sailor and pirate gear similar to the crews! In Lewes, they offer deck tours where crew members will transport you back to 1638. Kids can even ring the ship’s bell!

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Interested in joining the crew? There are 300 volunteers that help support the Kalmar Nyckel annually that come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. They offer training classes all year long in Wilmington, DE for those willing to volunteer. While this training requires some time commitment, it is absolutely worth the experience.

The Kalmar Nyckel will dock at our Lewes Terminal from August 13th – September 5th. And, BOY, are we excited! Tours and sails will be available. Booking is through the Kalmar Nyckel website. Even if you’re not going for a sail, the sight is absolutely something to behold.Stop by and grab a bite to eat or drink at our dockside grill, On The Rocks – Lewes (ranked #1 Waterfront Eatery in the 2016 Best of Delaware Competition) and marvel in this piece of history. 

 If you’re traveling from the New Jersey area be sure to book your Cape May-Lewes Ferry tickets in advance! 

Keep up with the Kalmar Nyckel on their website: www.KalmarNyckel.org 

5 Must See Lighthouses on the Delaware Bay

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How much do you know about Delaware Bay’s “traffic lights of the sea”?. The five lighthouses in this article are just a handful of navigational aids scattered about the Delaware Bay. All lighthouses in the United States are operated by the United States Coast Guard. The Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation is now actively working to preserve the Delaware Lighthouses. While traveling across the bay, enjoy the majesty of the sea and the visible history of these lighthouses. Don’t forget to have your cameras ready!

Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse

This lighthouse is at the southernmost tip of Cape May. It was the last Delaware Bay lighthouse to have a keeper on-site! The foundation of this structure changed three times, beginning with a wood pile, moving to a screw pile, and finally to cast-iron concrete. As a woodpile structure, it lasted barely a year before heavy seas tore it down. When it moved to a screw pile in 1850, it was the first of it’s kind in the United States. The screw pile was unable to sustain the moving ice and was fitted with a third-order Fresnel Lens in 1851. The third light was completed in 1914 and was constructed atop a “concrete superstructure” (concrete and wooden piles).

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Image source: Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse Friends

 

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This lighthouse was built in 1885 as a refuge for rough seas. It is located just inside Cape Henlopen on the southern side of the bay. The construction required over 835,000 tons of stone and cost a little over 2 million to complete. The Delaware Breakwater was soon put to the test not long after it’s construction with the great blizzard of 1888. Luckily the structure remained intact, although there was a constant theme of stress placed on this lighthouse as regular dense fog from Cape Henlopen forced the fog signal to remain constantly blaring. The most recorded hours of operation for the Breakwaters fog light was during the year 1905 with 645 hours. The red outer shell of the structure is easily identifiable from the ferry. In 2004, the Delaware River and Bay Authority partnered with the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouses Foundation to preserve this historic landmark.

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse

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This lighthouse is located on the southeast end of the outer breakwater (directly outside Lewes, DE). The first tower was built in 1908 but was destroyed by a terrible storm not too long after. As of 1926, a new tower (which is still a navigational aid today) was constructed to take its place. The Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation was granted a 20-year lease from the US Coast Guard in 2002 for restoration and this structure.

Miah Maull Shoal Lighthouse

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Image source Lighthouse Friends

 

This lighthouse was named in honor of an 18th century sailor who drowned in a shipwreck. The goal of this light was to replace the Cross Ledge Light which was so far away from the shipping channel. It was constructed using cast iron. Originally, the structure was painted brown. It wasn’t until 1940 that Miah Maull was repainted to the red it still remains. It received an even bigger face lift in the 1980s when the United States Coast Guard removed the metal canopy covering the walkway. The original light that shown inside the tower was a fourth order Fresnel lens. It currently sits with a 500mm lens. Although faded, this light is still visible on the north side of the shipping channel on the Delaware Bay.

 

 

 

Cape May Lighthouse

This lighthouse is owned by the state of New Jersey and is located at the tip of Cape May (Cape May Point).Standing 165 feet above sea level on a foundation of surface rock, the lighthouse is visible for passengers aboard the Cape May Lewes Ferry. The State of New Jersey leases the structure and grounds to the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC).

Want to see it for yourself? Take a relaxing tour through Cape May and visit the lighthouse with one of our MAC tours! For more New Jersey Lighthouse fun, don’t miss the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge October 15 &16th! Visitors are able to visit select museums and lighthouses in the area while raising money to help preserve local landmarks.

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Climb aboard the Cape May Lewes Ferry today and witness the history of the Delaware Bay yourself!  Interested in learning more or want to explore them all? Visit Delaware Bay Lighthouse Keepers & Friends Association.

Free Activities in Cape May

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Traveling to Cape May for a vacation or just a day trip? Don’t miss out on these fun FREE activities that you and the rest of the family can enjoy!

Cape May County Park & Zoo

Everyone has their cape may county zoofavorite zoo animal and what better way than getting to see them for free?! The Cape May County Park & Zoo is known for its endangered species and wildlife. It is a great place for all ages to enjoy the day and see all the wildlife that the zoo has to offer! Although the zoo is free, donations are recommended to help take care of all your favorite animals.

Cape May Point State Park

Cape May point lighthouseEnjoy the scenic view from the top of the 157-foot tall Cape May lighthouse.* The view from the top is something that you would never have seen before! Besides the lighthouse, there are three trails on the property for hikers to enjoy and see all the different habitats, birds, wetland marsh, and other wildlife along the shore. Each trail is a different distance. The Red Trail is .5 miles long and is wheelchair accessible. The Yellow Trail is 1.5 miles long and the Blue Trail is 2.0 miles long. Each trail offers different unique sightings for all to enjoy! For more information regarding the lighthouse or trails, visit their website.

*Admission to the lighthouse is $8 for adults, $5 for ages 3-12 and children under 3 are free.

 

Washington Street Mall

Enjoy the wonderful shops and restaurants Cape May has to offer at the Washington Street Mall! The historic strip mall brings the city of Cape May all together in one place. There are plenty of shops to look around and find unique antiques. If you aren’t in the mood for shopping, enjoy some delicious foods from homemade fudge to the best restaurants around!

Sunset Beach

uss-atlantusThe name of this beach is self-explanatory; you can view the best sunsets around here with a twist. As you’re enjoying the beautiful view you can see the historic Atlantus, which was a concrete ship built during WWI. The ship was purchased and brought to Cape May for further plans but during a storm, the ship sunk. You are able to see the tip of the ship that is sticking out above water. On the beach, you can explore and find many “Cape May Diamonds” in the sand! Besides exploring the beach there is a gift shop and grill for all to enjoy.

Take a trip over on the Cape May- Lewes Ferry and check out these activities while on your visit to the beautiful Cape May!