Road Trip in Delaware

So you've come looking for America—and there's certainly a lot to see. Each area of the country is brimming with unique features and landscapes both cultural and environmental.

But, even while celebrating how large and diverse the country has become, it's good to remember where it all began: Delaware, the First State.

Driving in Delaware

Delaware is not only the first state in the nation, it's the second smallest (just beating out Rhode Island).

Despite its size, Delaware's location within the megalopolis that stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C. guarantees that its tiny borders still contain a lot of fellow drivers—as do the major roadways carrying them.

Major DE Roadways

Getting around Delaware doesn't take long, but there are several main roads you'll likely drive on to do it.

  • Route 13—The state's longest major highway, Route 13 stretches from the Pennsylvania state border at Claymont in the north down to the Maryland state border at Delmar in the south. Taking it not only transports you from one end of DE to the other, but leads you to the state capital of Dover.
  • Interstate 95—It only runs through a small portion of the state, essentially cutting across DE's northern tip, but it's Delaware's only interstate. Following it takes you past the major DE cities of Wilmington and Newark—home of the University of Delaware—or north toward Philadelphia or south to Washington, D.C.
  • Route 1—The famous highway also runs nearly the entire length of Delaware, starting at the Maryland border beach town of Fenwick Island in the south and ending in the north where it merges with I-95. Route 1 takes a more eastern approach than Route 13 and can bring you to several beach towns, including Rehoboth Beach.

Delaware Driving Laws

As is true with every state, Delaware's roads come with their own unique set of laws. To have the best driving experience you can while in the First State, it might be helpful to keep these rules in mind.

Delaware Speed Limits

While speed limits will vary depending on where you are in the state, in general, Delaware roads will go by the following speeds:

  • 20 MPH in school zones.
  • 25 MPH in business and residential districts.
  • 50 MPH on roads with 2 lanes.
  • 55 MPH on divided roads or roads with 4 lanes or more.
  • 55 MPH on turnpikes and expressways.
  • 65 MPH on Interstate 495 and Route 1.

Car Seats & Seat Belts

In Delaware, you and everyone present in your car—including passengers in the back seat—must wear a seatbelt. Should anyone fail to do so, the driver will be hit with an $83.50 ticket.

The state also requires all children up to 8 years old or 65 lbs.—whichever of these comes first—to sit in a federally-approved child safety seat appropriate for the child's weight, age, and height.

Children under 12 years old or shorter than 65 inches are required to sit in the back seat of the car if there are active airbags in the front passenger seat.

Cell Phones on DE Roads

It is illegal to text while driving in Delaware or use a hand-held electronic communication device while behind the wheel, unless in an emergency situation.

These include:

  • Cell phones.
  • Pagers.
  • PDAs.
  • BlackBerrys
  • Laptops.
  • Game consoles.
  • Any other similar devices.

Hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, is permitted.

DE Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycle riders in Delaware must have approved eye protection and an approved helmet in their possession. However, you are only required to wear a motorcycle helmet if you are:

  • Driving with a learner's permit.
  • Under 19 years old.

DE School Buses

If a school bus is stopped and flashing red lights, it is illegal to pass it. You must wait until both the lights stop flashing and the retractable stop sign is pulled back into the bus to legally proceed.

You may only pass a stopped school bus if you are on the opposite side of a highway with 4 lanes or more.

Delaware Destinations

Despite Delaware's diminutive dimensions, the state has plenty for tourists to do.

Hit the Beach in DE

With coastline making up a large portion of the state, Delaware is locally famous for its beaches.

Each coastal getaway has a different atmosphere, but all showcase the sand and waves that keep summertime visitors coming back. Some of the state's most famous beach areas include:

  • Rehoboth Beach—A family-friendly hangout along the shore.
  • Dewey Beach—The perfect beach town for college students.
  • Bethany Beach—A sleepy beach community for those ready to kick back and relax.

The Land of Tax-Free Shopping

An aspect so important to Delaware that it's written on the state welcome sign, the tax-free shopping experience is what brings many visitors across the DE border.

Grab a handful of clothes, food, or anything else, then watch as the total rung up at the cash register is an exact match for the numbers on the price tag.

Other Delaware Adventures

  • Dover Downs—A hotel and casino nestled snuggly in the state capital, and the perfect place for those who like moving fast: the complex not only features a horse racing track, but it's located next to Dover International Speedway.
  • DuPont Mansions—Perfect for history buffs and those who love the finer things. The group of gorgeous houses once belonged to the famous family who lent them their name. Visitors can tour many of the homes and grounds, which include an impressive collection of gardens and antiques.
  • Delaware Outdoor Trail—For the outdoor adventurers who love to be in nature, this trail is actually comprised of a number of different locations perfect for a number of activities, from biking and hiking to wildlife viewing. Follow the trail across the state to see the best Delaware has to offer.