What to do in Fort Delaware State Park

Fort Delaware is one of Delaware's first state parks, created in 1951. On the National Register of Historic Places, the Union fortress dates back to 1859, and once served as a prison during the Civil War. It was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. The State of Delaware acquired the Fort from the Federal Government in 1947.

From the parking area in Delaware City, visitors take a half-mile ferry ride to Pea Patch Island aboard a fee-based ferry. A jitney provides transport from the island dock to the granite and brick fortress. Here, authentically clad historic interpreters begin your journey back to the summer of 1863.

Your day will be filled with hands-on history, which might include helping the blacksmith hammer out new parts for a cannon or working with the laundress. Watch the 8-inch Columbiad gun fire a live gunpowder charge! The orientation room contains a diorama of Pea Patch Island as it appeared in 1864, and nearby exhibits feature artifacts from the Island's past.

A food concession is available on the island providing sandwiches, snacks, soft drinks and water. If you like, you can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the picnic area, which has tables and grills.

Your regular admission fee allows you to travel on to Fort Mott State Park on the New Jersey side as well. Near there is Finn's Point National Cemetery, the final resting-place for 2,400 Confederate prisoners who died at Fort Delaware. Consult the park office for a ferry schedule and a listing of special events and programs.

Pea Patch Island also features many natural treasures. The island is a summer home to nine different species of herons, egrets, and ibis. The remote marshes provide an outstanding habitat for one of the largest wading bird nesting areas on the East Coast. A hiking trail and its observation platform provide opportunities for photography and nature study.

Please note that no pets are allowed on Pea Patch Island and there are no private docking facilities.

Recreation
While touring the island and it's fabulous historic fort, visitors will be pleased to know that the state park provides restrooms, a concession, and picnic area. A nature trail and observation tower invites bird watchers.

Location
Delaware City, departure point for Fort Delaware State Park, is located on the north side of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal off Route 9. The Delafort departs from the dock adjacent to the park office at the end of Clinton Street in Delaware City.

Ferry Schedule: Last weekend in April to last weekend in September, 10 AM to 6 PM; Mid-June to Labor Day, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM. $6.50 Adults, $4 Children

Climate
The Chesapeake and Delaware Bays moderate Delaware's climate. The state experiences four distinct seasons. Winter can be bitterly cold. Highs during this season average near freezing with low temperatures near 0 degrees F. Spring comes to this region in mid to late March. This is a pleasant time to visit with moderate temperatures and low humidity. Summer brings temperatures ranging from 80 to 90 degrees F. Humidity is highest inland with ocean breezes cooling the shoreline. Fall brings cooler temperatures and low humidity. The forested regions of the state often have brilliant foliage displays.

Address
P.O. Box 170
Delware City, DE 19706

Phone: 302-834-7941

  • Fort Delaware State Park Travel Q&A

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