Delaware's charming capital city was founded way back in 1683 by William Penn. Its leafy streets, historic Green, and endless centuries-old timber buildings give Dover a timeless feel that is truly enchanting.
But it's not all about genteel history in Dover. Outside the center, the Dover International Speedway hosts two NASCAR weekends, while there's harness racing at Dover Downs (and a casino resort as well). Beaches like Rehoboth and Dewey are family friendly, with a touch of wildness about them, and the Amish countryside offers wonderful hiking and cycling opportunities too.
Small, but perfectly formed, Dover is a base to explore Delaware, a surprising sporting hub, and a family beach resort, all rolled into one. It's no wonder so many people leave with happy memories of their Dover vacations.
As you would expect from a city founded in 1683, history and heritage are a major draw in Dover. You can tour the elegant 18th-century Delaware Legislative Hall, see the home of Patriot leader John Dickinson, and visit the Old State House, while the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village provides a fascinating window on farm life in the 19th century.
After the sedate pleasures of the city center, Dover International Speedway offers a completely different appeal. Every year the arena hosts two NASCAR weekends, but budding Dale Earnhardts can go further thanks to the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience, which allows you to drive the track like your heroes.
Dover is just a few miles away from the Delaware coast. Strangely overlooked by many, Delaware has some of the East Coast's best beaches, including lively Rehoboth, more tranquil Bethany and Dewey Beach, which is more of a party venue.
Delaware is also a great place for food and drink fans. If craft beer or wine are your passions, hit the Beer, Wine and Spirits Trail with local guides. You'll adore craft breweries like 3rd Wave and Dogfish Head, or wineries like Harvest Ridge.
For a small town, Dover has a big artistic footprint. Not only can you see 12,000 masterpieces at the Delaware Art Museum (including a fabulous collection of British Pre-Raphaelite paintings), but the Biggs Museum of American Art showcases local artists and smaller galleries like Parke Green and Beyond Dimensions are scattered all over town.
Dover comes into its own as spring turns into summer (although it's also a wonderful spring destination for hikers and cyclists). When the weather becomes warm enough to swim, the Green fills with strollers and picnickers, and the countryside comes alive, it's a superb place to be. So visit between May and September.
If you are flying into Dover from other parts of the United States, the best option is to fly into Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). From there, the best transportation option is to rent a car from outlets like Hertz or Thrifty and drive. There are also shuttle operators like Delaware Express, as well as taxi companies at the arrivals terminal. Expect to pay $100 for the taxi to Dover, and around $40 for a shuttle.
Driving is the most popular way to reach Dover, and the city is easily accessible from all parts of the USA. If you are coming from New York or Philadelphia, take I-95, then Route 1 at Wilmington. From Baltimore, the best route is to take Route 50 across Chesapeake Bay, Route 301 northbound, then 300 across country to Dover.
Dover is served by Greyhound, who provide intercity connections all over the USA. The Greyhound stop is in the north of the city next to Silver Lake, around 870 yards from the center of town, so a short taxi ride may be needed to reach your hotel.
Dover's city center has the luxury accommodation options you would expect from a state capital. If you are looking for a casino, racing, and spa experience, Dover Downs Hotel and Casino is the place to book. For a more laid-back option, check out the Fairfield Inn and Suites, the Days Inn Dover Downtown, or the Holiday Inn Dover-Downtown, all of which are just north of the city center and offer reliable, comfortable lodgings.
Downtown Dover - Dover's downtown neighborhood is clustered around the Old State House, the State Capitol, and Loockerman Street, the city's commercial hub. All of the major museums and galleries are downtown, as are great places to grab a snack like Tiffanee & Co. Bakery, and plenty of lively craft ale bars.
Rising Sun-Lebanon - located in southeast Dover, Rising Sun-Lebanon has plenty going for it. The major attraction is obvious though - the huge Dover Air Force Base, which hosts the Air Mobility Command Museum. For a change of pace, the home of Patriot leader John Dickinson is right next door, making an interesting assemblage of historical attractions.
Dover State University - DSU gives its name to a neighborhood in northern Dover that is hard to miss, mainly thanks to the presence of Dover International Speedway. Aside from NASCAR, the area also hosts the Firefly Music Festival every June - one of the country's biggest rock and pop events.
DART provides a limited bus service in the Dover area, which may be handy for getting to the Air Force Base or the Speedway. Fares need to be paid in exact change, and come to $2 for a single ride, and $4.20 for day passes.
Taxis are a good way to hop between Dover Downs, the Speedway and Downtown Dover, but they aren't that cheap, with a meter drop of around $3.25 and a charge of $3 per mile after that. Uber also offers a cut-price alternative to regular city cabs.
Renting a car makes a lot of sense in Dover. Not only does it make it easy to transfer to and from the airport, but you can get to the race track, casino, NASCAR, Air Force Base, and beaches with ease as well. Downtown rental branches include Enterprise and Hertz, and expect rates of as little as $18 per day.
Dover's downtown streets are an excellent place to shop for souvenirs, clothes, craft ale, wine, foodstuffs, and art. Loockerman Street is the standout street, with boutiques like Bel Boutique, souvenir stores like Forney's Too, and plenty of restaurants to break up your shopping. The Dover Mall on N Dupont Highway is another great option, with major brands like JC Penney and Macy's represented.
When it comes to grocery shopping, Dover offers a wide range of options. There are smaller downtown stores like Grocery Basket as well as chains like Safeway, Food Lion, and Supervalu. Prices will be around the national average, with a gallon of milk coming to around $4.43 and 12 eggs $2.50.
Dover's best restaurants are masters at turning Delaware's fresh produce and seafood into gourmet delights, and there are plenty to choose from. Highlights include 33 West Ale House and Grill, which blends craft beer and great value gastro-pub food. Flavor of India is a great Indian option, Doc Magrogan's Oyster House is the place to go for Chesapeake shellfish, while Franco's Pizza and Pasta is an excellent Italian joint in the southern part of town. Meals won't cost the earth in Dover; expect to pay between $10 and $20 for entrees at mid-range places.