10 Perfect Outdoorsy Fall Dates in Southern Delaware!
October 7, 2020
By: Leah Rizzo
Crisp air, warm socks and sweaters, and of course those fiery red and yellow leaves all mean one thing; it’s Fall. If a socially distant summer had you and your significant other struggling to find ways to spend time with each other outside of the house, then let cozy season treat you and yours to some great date ideas; and they’re all outside and at least 6 to 8 feet away from other couples. These are 10 outdoorsy date ideas to celebrate the Autumn Equinox.
APPLE AND/OR PUMPKIN PICKING
It’s hard to think fall and not conjure up images of apples, cider donuts, and pumpkin patches, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Fifer Orchards. Though you’ll find plenty of delicious treats at Fifer’s Farm Market Café in Dewey, the real treat is going to the actual orchards in Camden Wyoming. This year, apple picking and the corn maze are both by appointment only, and reservations are to be made online. If you’re making a family date out of this, it is worth noting that the “Fun Park Area” will not be open this year. No reservation is needed to enjoy shopping around the farm store for tasty snacks and fresh apple cider, and no reservation is needed to pick that perfect pumpkin. Mr. Pepper’s Pumpkin Patch in Laurel is also open this year, and has a corn maze to add to your insta-worthy fall fun.
Nicole and Craig enjoy a pumpkin picking date at Fifer Orchards. photo provided with permission from Nicole Viscount.
This one is a classic, and it's budget friendly! Pack a blanket, pack some sandwiches, and hit the road. From the beaches to the state parks, there’s many different places to throw your blanket down and enjoy each other’s company. With no parking meters in effect after September 20 in downtown Rehoboth, the beach itself is basically completely free. And if packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich doesn’t excite you, many of the restaurants downtown remain open through the end of October with safe To-Go options so you can still keep your distance. There is no alcohol permitted on the beach, so if you’re looking for a more booze-friendly option the state parks do allow alcohol (no glass bottles.) The state parks do charge an entrance fee, Inland parks are $4.00 for Delaware tags and $8.00 for out of state while at the ocean parks it’s $5.00 for Delaware tags and $10.00 for out of state.
HIKING/LOOKING AT LEAVES
If the two of you are looking to take in some great scenery all while getting in your Fitbit steps taking a hike through the forest is another great option, especially toward the end of October when the leaves really start to change color. Trap Pond State Park has long, clear, clean walking trails that are spacious enough for you and your lover to walk side by side the entire way. The state parks do tend to be a little more popular than some of the other trails so you may be sharing the trail with other people and cyclists who are also enjoying the crisp autumn air. The state parks are also pretty well marked so getting lost shouldn’t be a problem. There are several trails to choose from, but almost all of them give you at least some sort of view of the incredible cypress swamp, the only one Delaware. In the Fall the colors of the leaves reflected in the water are simply stunning. You can combine this date with a picnic if you’re so inclined, there are many picnic areas available.
Abbott’s Mill in Milford is another great trail in October. It is free to park, though it is run by Delaware Nature Society a non-profit so donations are encouraged. The trails are well maintained and usually less crowded, but beautiful trees to see the leaves change colors. The nature center is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19 concerns but the bathrooms and the trails are open. There is a boardwalk trail that takes you right by the still standing mill for which the place is named, and its wheelchair accessible. Depending on the time of day you go, you might even see some beavers in the pond or at least some beaver activity like gnawed trees or beaver dams.
Fall Leaves at Trap Pond State Park photo provided by Leah Rizzo
If you’re a more adventurous couple up for a bit of a workout, there are lots of places to hit the water for a little kayaking or canoeing. Delaware, and especially Sussex county has lots of great places to paddle. Near the beaches you have Cape Henlopen State Park which is perfect for those who don’t actually own any canoes or kayaks but still like to hit the water. When paddling where the bay meets the ocean you have the safety of gentler water than the ocean, but with the possibility of still seeing more sea life like dolphins or horseshoe crabs. You can paddle around the cypress swamp at Trap Pond State Park, the pond is large and even has a few more secluded trails to paddle down that are fairly scenic and quiet, and may remind you of Jurassic Park. For those of you that already own kayaks and are looking for something a little less populated and free, there are water trails at Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge, some beautiful paddling at Assawoman Wildlife Refuge near Bethany, James Barn Preserve in Bethany, and in Milford you can paddle around Abbott’s Mill and the Mispillion River.
Kayaking out to the lighthouse at Cape Henlopen State Park photo provided by Leah Rizzo
FUN ON THE FARM
If you’re looking to stay on dry land and you can’t find a babysitter, take the kids and your significant other to the farm for a family date. Near Bethany, Parsons Farms has cows, hungry goats, and the shaggy haired highland cows that often win everyone’s attention. They’re all fun to feed for kids and parents alike. There’s a great produce market where you will find all sorts of unique jams and locally grown produce.
Another great spot with lots of family fun is Loblolly Acres in Woodside. Call ahead to see what their schedule looks like, as their socially distant activities change daily. Typically, you’ll find activities such as hayrides, the petting zoo, pumpkin picking, homemade chili and local treats at the café, and the adorable gift shop. If you’re looking for a less traditional date but are all about a date on the farm, you and your partner can check out some horseback riding lessons. There are so many stables from which to choose from, but Sweet Meadow Stables near the beaches was the first of its kind near the beach area to offer natural equine based programs for children and adults.
There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, bundled up in sleeping bags and blankets in the chilly air, while the song of the great outdoors lulls you to sleep. Seeing as the wilderness in Delaware isn’t necessarily vast, you’re also pretty safe and close to society no matter where you decide to pitch your tent or park your RV.
There are many different types of campgrounds, many offering cabin rentals, RV spots, or tent camping. If you’re looking to spend very little money, but still be close to civilization, there’s always the Seashore State Park South Campground. If you plan on roughing it in the State Forests, please check their website regularly. Currently, camping at the state forests is closed as they change their payment system online so check frequently to keep updated.
The State Parks are open to campers, masks are required in public spaces, but tent, cabin, and RV campers are still welcome. They also come equipped with amenities like bath houses, a camp store, and usually flushing toilets. There are plenty of other campgrounds to choose from like Holly Lake, Big Oaks, Massey's Landing and more.
If you and your partner love seeing what are feathery friends are up to this time of year, October is still a great time for birdwatching as many birds from up north start migrating to our area to rest. Delaware has plenty of salt marshes where herons, egrets, and bald eagles all like to enjoy a meal. In Sussex County, Gordons Pond State Park is great for spotting blue herons, egrets, green herons, bald eagles and more. The trail is easy, and pet friendly. The trail is only about three miles (6 if you include the way back to the parking lot) and includes a lookout point. If you’re up for a longer walk, and one that takes you through more wooded areas the trail meets up with Cape Henlopen State Park where the occasional Turkey can be spotted.
Prime Hook and Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuges are also both great spots for bird watching, and spotting other animals like foxes and white-tailed deer, and are generally less crowded than the state parks.
Juvenile Blue Heron at Gordons Pond State Park photo provided by Leah Rizzo
BACKYARD BEER TASTING
This one is pretty easy, fun, and friendly on your wallet. Delaware has tons of local breweries like Dogfish, Big Oyster, Mispillion River Brewery, and more, and many of them have their own take on the infamous pumpkin flavor. Many of them are also sold at your local liquor store. Pick up some of your favorite local beers, pumpkin or otherwise, and setup a beer tasting for you and your significant other right in your backyard. This way, you keep your distance from everyone else, and you can choose everything from the music to the food to make it the perfect stay-home date.
The key to stargazing is to find a spot with as little light pollution as possible, so you want to avoid areas near any highways or lively social scenes. Grab some pillows and some blankets, your favorite person and head to places like Cape Henlopen State Park, Port Mahon, or really any dark place you can find. Warm cider (spiked or not) hot chocolate, or any other of your favorite snacks and beverages will surely make stargazing an unforgettable date. You can use apps like SkyView to figure out which constellations or planets you may be observing.
Snuggle up to a cozy bonfire at one of the state parks or on the beach in Dewey Beach. Photo provided by Pexels.com
Nothing says snuggle in like the cozy warmth, gentle glow, and smoky smell of a bonfire. Bonfires are a great date in the fall because the cooler temperatures and no bugs to worry about. This is a date that works for just you and your partner, or a bunch of friends and couples. It is a relatively low maintenance date, depending on where you set up, and it can also be combined with a stargazing and or beer tasting date depending on how much light pollution is nearby and if you set up in the backyard or state park. If you don’t have a firepit and the woods aren’t really your thing, you can have a bonfire on the beach in Dewey. You do need to acquire a permit, which is $50 for non-Dewey residents, and there is also a $100 site payment which is refundable upon cleaning up your site. Blankets, warm cider, your favorite beer and snacks, and of course your favorite people, make the Bonfire one of the best Outdoor dates for fall.
Check out more things to See & Do at the Delaware Beaches! Visit our See & Do section!