In 1631 the Dutch gave this whaling settlement the pretty name of Zwaanendael, or Valley of the Swans, before promptly getting massacred by local Nanticokes. The name was changed to Lewes (loo-iss) when William Penn gained control of the area. Today it's an attractive seaside gem with a mix of English and Dutch architecture.
Rehoboth Beach & Dewey Beach
As the closest stretch of sand to Washington, DC (121 miles), Rehoboth Beach is often dubbed 'the Nation's Summer Capital.' It is both a family-friendly and gay-friendly destination. To escape the chaos of busy Rehoboth Ave (and the heavily built-up outskirts), wander into the side streets downtown.
As cute as a colonial kitten, New Castle is a web of cobblestoned streets and beautifully preserved 18th-century buildings lying near a riverfront (that said, however, the surrounding area is unfortunately a bit of an urban wasteland). Sights include the Old Court House, the arsenal on the Green, churches and cemeteries dating back to the 17th century, and historic houses.
Bethany Beach & Fenwick Island
Want to get away from it all? The seaside towns of Bethany and Fenwick, about halfway between Rehoboth and Ocean City, are known as 'the Quiet Resorts.' They share a tranquil, almost boring, family-friendly scene. There are only a few restaurants and even fewer hotels here; most visitors stay in rented apartments and beach houses.
Cape Henlopen State Park
One mile east of Lewes, more than 4000 acres of dune bluffs, pine forests and wetlands are preserved at this lovely state park that's popular with bird-watchers, beachgoers and campers. You can see clear to Cape May from the observation tower. North Shores beach draws many gay and lesbian couples.