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New book chronicles 100 must-do things in Delaware

A visit to the state's tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, is on this First State bucket list
A visit to the state’s tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, is on this First State bucket list. Photo by Kalmar Nyckel


For people who wonder why Delaware is called the “Diamond State,” Dan Shortridge and Rachel Kipp’s new book, “100 Things to Do in Delaware Before You Die” is here to help.

Although the original reference came from Thomas Jefferson describing what a jewel Delaware was for its strategic location on the coast, the book helps families discover many of the hidden facets in our First State gem.

The book was written to be a handbook for discovering Delaware by everyone from newcomers to those whose families have been here for centuries. With suggestions running from the warm ocean beaches to bucolic farm country, historic landmarks to quirky entertainment stops, the book is full of family-friendly listings and must-do itineraries. It even includes itineraries that detail where to go and what to eat, from the best beach popcorn to that unique regional creation, scrapple.

It was a lot of fun,” said Kipp. She and her husband/co-author – journalists who have lived in all three counties – checked out each site. “It was a nice excuse to do some things.”

The two had been meaning to check out the Wilmington and Western Railroad, a scenic railroad in New Castle County, for years, and finally got to it for the book. Listings in their book include many “inside scoop” details – like where to go to kayak around a primeval forest, or where to get the best vegan sandwiches on the Wilmington Riverfront.

It really highlighted homegrown businesses in Delaware,” said Kipp.

'100 Things to Do in Delaware Before You Die,' by Dan Shortridge and Rachel Kipp

They came up with the idea to write the book after one of Kipp’s friends wrote a similar book about Indianapolis, and they couldn’t find something like that for Delaware.

The most they could find was a few paragraphs in other books.

Delaware deserves more than a few pages,” Shortridge said.

They began making a database of Delaware delights and found selecting just 100 items was difficult.

For example, they were amazed at how many stops are available for maritime history all over the state. Making decisions in the food category was pretty painful, said Shortridge.

All their research and the first draft were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Delaware. They were pleased to see that many of their entries still held up, even when sheltering in place.

The Delaware Children’s Museum, for instance, is open online, and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth was doing curbside pick-up.

There are at least seven long-distance bicycle rides mapped out in Delaware, said Shortridge. He and Kipp also used the book during lockdown to help them choose takeout food.

They added a tips tab on 100thingsinde to list the top five places for social distancing.

I like the way the book unfolds as a love letter to Delaware,” said Kipp.

“There’s no place quite like Delaware,” the book description says. “Where else can you drive the length of the state in three hours, bump into a US senator at the grocery store, and see the preserved hull of a 1798 shipwreck – all in the same day? It may be one of the smallest states in the Union, but Delaware has countless hidden gems to offer visitors and residents alike.”

The details: The $19.95 Reedy Press book is available on 100thingsinde, Amazon or at local bookstores.

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