15 Best Things to Do in Delaware, OH

 Delaware, OH skyline
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Several major US highways converge in the heart of Delaware, making this city a shoo-in for many folks planning a trip to Ohio.

A visit to the city’s areas listed on the National Register of Historic Places is at once appealing.

Delaware boasts a rich history, a product of more than 200 years since the founding of the city in 1808.

Serving as the seat of its namesake Delaware County, this city also has a charming water feature—a stretch of the Olentangy River running through it.

The city’s natural attractions, parks, shops, and entertainment centers are also among the points of interest that you can include in a Delaware travel itinerary.

Flesh out some more the city’s delights that await you in these top things to do in Delaware.

Admire the Art Pieces at OWU

A chapel inside Ohio Wesleyan University
Phillip M Kukelhan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is home to the Richard M. Ross Art Museum on Sandusky Street corner Spring Street.

The museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 2,500 artworks by masters like Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, and Alfred Stieglitz.

These OWU art objects are regularly displayed in the museum's Sallie Thompson Humphreys Gallery.

Student observatory inside Ohio Wesleyan University
Christopher L. Riley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every spring, the Ross Museum also hosts the OWU students’ juried Senior Show.

Besides the gallery on the main Ross building, the university also runs Gallery 2001 inside the L.A. Beeghly Library.

Also accessible in this library are the Beeghly Café, the OWU Media Center, an Information Commons, the Archives of Ohio United Methodism, a Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Artifacts collection, and the OWU Historical Collection.

Exterior of Elliott hall in Ohio Wesleyan University
Christopher L. Riley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Historic Downtown Delaware

Downtown Delaware, designated a Preserve America Community by the White House, is an inviting first stop in a visit to this city.

Likewise named Best Hometown by Ohio Magazine, the historic downtown Delaware has also earned the distinction of being a Main Street locality.

Drop by first in the welcome center of the nonprofit Main Street Inc. on East William Street

This volunteer-run organization’s welcome center serves as the “front porch” for the city, where you can check on downtown merchants and their offerings.

These city attractions are at their best during the first Fridays of each month when the downtown holds themed dining and shopping activities.

Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings from May to October are also red-letter days in the downtown, as this is the schedule for its farmers’ markets.

Enjoy the Delaware County Fair

Plan a trip to Delaware around the last weeks of September, the traditional schedule for the Delaware County Fair.

The epicenter of this event is the Delaware County Fairgrounds Racetrack off Pennsylvania Avenue, where the premier harness-racing triple-crown "Little Brown Jug" is held.

In the days leading to the fair, the city holds its All-Horse Parade, another crowd-drawer in the Delaware downtown.

A demolition derby, trailer race, and truck pull are also on the calendar of the Delaware County Fair.

During this annual event, there is also an exciting obstacle race, with competitors tackling a three-story water slide, trampolines, and a fire jump amidst the blare of DJ music.

At the same time, interactive games are also in progress, such as mechanical bulls, dance-offs, barrel racing, and pie-eating, plus beer and tasty food that keeps everybody going.

Toast to Downtown’s Great Craft Beers

The Historic Delaware Downtown is home to two microbreweries offering a wide selection of craft brews on tap.

These beer lovers’ destinations are on North Sandusky Street, with Restoration Brew Worx as one of these pics.

All its beers are brewed in-house, and one of its offerings is the all Ohio malt and hops Cahootz that’s superb.

This beer pairs best with the brewpub’s cooked-to-order Rodeo Burger with house-made beer-battered onion straws, BBQ sauce, thick honey-cured bacon, and pepper-jack.

For even more beer varieties, proceed to Barley Hopsters, which has an inventory of more than 750 beers and ciders.

At its pub-style seating, you can likewise select from 100 different local and international wines.

Peek at Delaware County’s Early Days

Visit a ward of the Delaware County Historical Society, which maintains the vintage Barn at Stratford.

This barn on Stratford Road, which is now a popular wedding venue, is the centerpiece of one of Delaware’s pioneer homesteads.

The historical society also operates the Cryder Historical Center on the corner of East William corner Little Street.

The center is comprised of the Nash House Museum and the Research Library.

The interesting artifacts here include a collection of Presidential Easter Eggs said to be the country’s largest.

The center’s grounds also hold the preserved Nash House, a seven-room brick Italianate home built in 1878.

It is furnished with period accessories and pieces donated by Delaware County families to the Historical Society.

These antiques make the Nash House a Victorian period showcase.

Experience the Olentangy Indian Caverns

Dig deeper still into Delaware’s history with a tour of the Olentangy Indian Caverns located at Home Road

These caverns are a series of caves occupying three different levels, forming rooms and natural passages.

An underground river flow that cut through the limestone rock created these natural structures millions of years ago.

Eventually, the Wyandotte Indians used the caverns as a refuge from the weather and their rival tribe, the Delaware Indians.

A museum on the site now houses the artifacts found in the caverns.

Visitors of this Delaware attraction can also enjoy its treasure maze, mock gem mine, petting zoo, mini-golf, covered rental picnic area, and gift shop.

Get Your Kids Inspired at Boardman Arts Park

Bring your kids to the Boardman Arts Park on West William Street, where there are interactive pieces that children will appreciate.

One of the park’s features is a garden maze laid out across tall grasses and wildflowers.

Boardman Arts Park also delights visiting kids with its Interactive Bucket Head and Muffler People sculptures made of discarded auto mufflers.

The park also features a musical waterfall and a unicorn art piece in its lush green space.

Watch a Movie at the Strand Theatre

This movie theater, established in 1916, is of the 10 longest-operating movie houses in the country.

Located on East Winter Street, Strand Theater screens first-run movies and is one of the few US movie houses left operating as an independent outfit.

A nonprofit that the Ohio Wesleyan University helped form, the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association operates this movie house.

Strand Theater, over the years, has been transformed from a single-screen movie house to a theater with six screens and digital movie projectors.

This theater also hosts community events and thematic monthly screenings, e.g., women-produced films to mark March as women’s month.

Have a Short Round at the Hidden Valley Golf Club

This public golf course on West William Street offers a quick round on its par 28, 1,647-yard layout.

The winding Delaware Run creek and the mature trees that it nourishes add to the challenge of the Hidden Valley Golf Club’s course.s

A pond and sand traps further create an interesting play in this course for beginners and advanced golfers.

The course has affordable green fees and is open, weather permitting, from April to November.

Enjoy Camping at the Alum Creek State Park

Blue skies and blue waters at Alum Creek State Park
Tara Ballard / Shutterstock.com

This park was developed in 1970 on the southwestern edge of a 3,300-acre lake reservoir that offers plenty of water-based recreational activities.

Alum Creek State Park provides a main campground with 286 sites, each having a water and power supply.

Wi-Fi is available, as well as bathrooms and hot showers in centrally located bathhouses.

Trail of Alum Creek State Park
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The park offers a primitive campground just off of Howard Road for those who like to rough it out.

Alum Creek Park features a 3,000-foot beach for water access of swimmers, and there are also plenty of spots to fish ashore.

A boat launch is also available for campers.

All kinds of boats and water skiing are allowed on the southern section of the lake reservoir, while its northern section is restricted to paddlers.

Sunset at Alum Creek State Park
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Frolic on the Waters of Florence Pool in Mingo Park

There are more than a dozen parks within the city limits of Delaware, with Mingo Park on East Lincoln Avenue as one of the visitors’ favorites.

One of this park’s features is the daily-fee-based Jack Florence Pool, with 28-foot-tall water slides flaunting interactive water toys.

It also has a zero-depth entry pool and offers the biggest playing pool in Delaware County.

Besides this pool, Mingo Park’s amenities also include baseball/softball diamonds, tennis courts, and a skate park.

It also provides multiple play toys, shelter houses, indoor gathering spaces, multi-use fields, and a canoe and kayak launch.

For the water delights of a splash pad, shift to Veterans Park on South Honk Road, which offers other fun facilities as well, like a fishing pond, multi-use fields, and nature trail.

Go for a Full Tour at Oakhaven Golf Club

Located on US Highway 23, Oakhaven Golf Club is an 18-hole public golf course established in 1960.

It has a par 72 championship layout, featuring 6,683 yards of play from its longest tees.

Oakhaven Golf Club boasts having one of the premier practice facilities in Central Ohio.

Golfers can sharpen their shots at the club’s 50-acre lighted driving range, featuring 33 heated covered tees plus 60 grass tees.

They can also access the club’s 5,000-square-foot putting green, two practice chipping greens complete with a bunker, and an indoor putting facility.

Oakhaven Golf Club provides an on-site bar where golfers can relax after a round.

Go Star-Gazing at Perkins Observatory

This observatory of the Ohio Wesleyan University offers public programs day and night for enthusiasts of astronomy.

A history tour is also an interesting activity at the Perkins Observatory on Columbus Pike, just west of the Delaware Golf Club.

This observatory traces back to 1923, and by 1931, it boasts the world’s third-largest telescope—a 69-inch aperture telescope named after the observatory’s founder Hiram Perkins.

The Hiram Telescope’s mirror at that time was the largest cast in the country and was made by the US National Bureau of Standards.

The Hiram Telescope was transferred in the 1960s to Arizona for a better viewing environment.

Nonetheless, the Perkins Observatory remained a hub of astronomy in the Delaware region.

Stay in Shape at Smith Park

This park on Troy Boulevard will let you remain in good physical shape while on a pleasure trip to Delaware.

The 50-acre Smith Park provides outdoor exercise equipment, plus a 1.1-mile multi-use paved trail where you can maintain your running or walking regimen.

This park also offers multi-use fields, baseball/softball diamonds, tennis/pickleball courts, and basketball courts.

Visitors of Smith Park also enjoy its two playgrounds, shelter houses, and a fishing pond.

East of the park, they can also easily access the Shelbourne Forest Path, a shaded nature trail.

You can also break a sweat exploring the paths along the creek Delaware Run in the

Blue Limestone Park on King Avenue off East William Street.

Besides creek exploration, visitors of this park have access to its basketball courts, pickleball courts, playground, picnic shelters, and pond fishing.

Adjacent west of this park, fun activities with physical exercise can be had at the Hidden Valley Golf Club.

Farm at the Stratford Ecological Center

Located on Liberty Road, this non-profit ecological center welcomes visitors to its 236-acre educational organic farm and nature preserve.

The 236-acre Stratford Ecological Center offers visitors a demonstration farm and nature preserve where educational experiences await all ages.

Parents and their kids can join the Farm Pre-School & Kindergarten for ages 4–5 or the one-day Farm School.

In these activities, the participants can learn about beekeeping, maple sugaring, harvesting produce, and raising newborn farm animals.

Visitors are also welcome to explore the center’s land blending agriculture and ecology.

They can hike 4 miles of nature trails, tour the gardens, visit the livestock and greenhouses, and explore the creek and pond of the ecology center.

Final Thoughts

The city of Delaware offers a compelling mix of destinations that appeal to all types of leisure travelers.

Even just staying on the city’s downtown during a major holiday or a local festival should be more than enough to create a memorable experience in Delaware.