As the capital and second-largest city in Delaware, Dover is located just 40 minutes away from Delaware’s beaches. For those looking for an affordable family vacation, discover plenty of free things to do in Dover, Delaware, from museums to festivals.
5 FREE Things to Do in Dover, Delaware
Located on St. Jones Creek about 40 miles south of Wilmington, Dover has a long Americana history. Founded in 1717, Dover has been the capital of Delaware since 1777, the second oldest state capitol building in the United States. Colonial buildings are its centerpiece on its tree-shaded square, known as The Green. Today, historic attractions, such as its museums, Amish Country, and NASCAR races at Dover International Speedway are popular with travelers, as well as its kid-friendly events and festivals.
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1. Air Mobility Command Museum
Located at Dover Air Force Base, the Air Mobility Command Museum is home to over 30 aircraft including cargo haulers, fighters, helicopters, a presidential aircraft, and even a bomber, including a beautifully restored B-17 sitting next to a C-47. Theater with free aircraft movies, flight simulators, and aviation history. Located on the Dover Air Force Base, this museum showcases the history of military aviation through exhibits and a sizeable collection of planes that have been used throughout history.
The museum is open Tuesdays-Sundays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Mondays and all Federal Holidays except Veterans Day. Free admission and parking
2. Delaware State House Museum
One of the country’s oldest state houses located on Dover’s historic The Green, the two-story brick Delaware State House Museum was built between 1787 and 1792 in a Middle Georgian style.
Enter the first floor with its 18th century-style courtroom. The second floor features the former chambers of the state legislature. These chambers display portraits including an excellent life-size portrait of George Washington painted and completed in 1802 by Denis A. Volozan. This portrait measures an astonishing seven feet by five feet, and worth the visit alone.
Museum hours are Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. & Sunday, 1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. The museum is open to the public and admission is free. Donations are appreciated.
3. Delaware State Police Museum
If you love antique cars, motorcycles and crime scenes, you’ll love the Delaware State Police Museum interpreting State Police history since its 1923 inception. Step inside this museum to first share a somber moment of those who have given their life.
Then continue on to patrol cars and motorcycles of the past. Sit at an actual 911 command and control console. Other interesting exhibits include everything from uniforms to cars (and a helicopter!), all documenting the nearly century of the history of Delaware’s state’s police force. Special exhibits also document more noteworthy criminal cases of the 20th century.
The museum is open Monday – Friday 9 AM – 3 PM except for State and Federal holidays, and the 1st Saturday of each month – 11 AM – 2:00 PM. Admission is free.
4. Old Dover Days
The annual Dover Days Festival, one of Delaware’s largest and longest-running free events, is entirely dedicated to promoting the state’s heritage and culture. Held in May each year, this three-day festival offers pet parade, re-enactors, over 150 craft & food vendors, early American artisans, carnival rides, house tours, and more including the traditional Maypole dancing.
5. Special Events in Dover, Delaware
Dover features several special events with free admissions such as an African American Festival and the July 4th Celebration.
What are your favorite things to do in Dover, Delaware? Share with us in the comments below.
Note: This post was originally written by Cindy Richards; edited and updated by Diana Rowe.