- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Getting there: Busloads of people come from Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to shop in Delaware. That's because there is no sales tax, and the several outlet malls feature brands such as L.L. Bean, Bass, Ann Taylor, Waterford, Williams Sonoma, Dockers, J. Crew, Pottery Barn and Nautica.
Attractions: The list of what to see and do in tiny Delaware is surprisingly long. Historical sites are nearly everywhere. Lewes has a number of 18th- and 19th-century structures, some arranged in a tidy park. There is also the Zwaanendael museum, built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first Dutch settlers in Lewes. For information, contact the museum at 302/645-1148 and the Historical Complex at 302/645-7670.
Places such as New Castle are virtual living-history villages. Along this city's pretty little park named the Green, and for a couple of blocks on both sides of it, are homes that date to 1700. Some are museums, which charge a fee for admission. For information, go to www.newcastlecity.org or contact the New Castle Visitors Bureau for a handy Heritage Trail map and brochure at PO Box 465, New Castle, Del. 19720, or call toll-free 800/758-1550.
Dover, the state capital, has its own 18th-century structures to tour and also offers a couple of small but fun museums and the chance to eat foods made and served by members of the local Amish community. It takes no more than a half-hour to visit either the Museum of Small Town Life, a cozy arrangement of 19th- and early-20th-century items, and, one block away, the Johnson Victrola Museum. The latter tells the fascinating story of how Delaware native Eldridge Johnson was hired in 1896 for 50 cents to create a motor that would provide uniform turntable speed to the new gramophone record-playing machine. Johnson would ultimately win a court battle for the rights to produce his version of the machine and use as its trademark the picture of a small dog with its ear cocked to the famed "morning glory" amplifying horn and the slogan: "His Master's Voice." Johnson named his company Victor, for his court victory, and built 15 factories on four continents. In 1926, Johnson sold the company to Radio Corp. of America for a staggering $29 million plus stock options. The museum is filled with models of the machines that made his fortune.
It's about a five-minute walk from these two museums to Spence's Bazaar and Auction, held Tuesdays and Fridays. The bazaar's flea market goods don't impress, but in a crowded hall next door, Amish women serve and sell portions of freshly made dairy and meat products and salads. Some shoppers buy the food to take home, but most buy one of the overstuffed sandwiches or containers of salad and chow down at the indoor picnic tables. For information on the museums, call the Delaware State Visitor Center at 302/739-4266. Spence's Bazaar information is at 302/734-3441.
Other big draws in the capital are Dover Downs Entertainment, which features NASCAR races, harness races, 2,000 slot machines and live entertainment (302/674-4600, www.doverdowns.com) and the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base, which displays both vintage planes and the largest cargo planes in the world (302/677-5938, www.amcmuseum.org ).
For information about touring the Nanticoke Homes factory, one mile north of Greenwood, call toll-free 800/777-4561. Contact the Canis Lupus Wolf Foundation at 3002 Rosetree Lane, Newark, Del. 19702, or call 302/453-8618. The Web site is www.tonka.wxs.org.
Wilmington: The state's largest city displays enough wealth in public and residential buildings to convince visitors it is a corporate city, though there are blighted areas and middle-class row houses close to the skyscrapers. The city is also quite near the Brandywine Valley, named for a river flowing south from Pennsylvania. The valley is closely identified with that fabled family of American painters, the Wyeths. You don't need to cross the state line to view impressive displays of the three generations: Works are exhibited in the Delaware Art Museum (302/571-9590) in Wilmington's downtown library (18 original oils by N.C. Wyeth done for an edition of "Robinson Crusoe") and in the Wilmington Saving Fund Society headquarters (N.C. Wyeth's huge mural, "Apotheosis of the Family").
Wilmington's gentrified industrial waterfront downtown, the Riverwalk along the Christina River, has outlet shops, a couple of large restaurants and bars, and pleasant green spaces. There is also a park named for onetime slave Harriet Tubman and a white merchant, Thomas Garrett, both of whom were dedicated to helping slaves use the Underground Railroad here in the 19th century.
For a brief history of the city, hop aboard the Christina River Boat Co.'s water taxi, which offers narrated, 30-minute trips with several stops.
If you are in town during baseball season, buy a ticket to see the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals farm club, playing in a handsome stadium.
Contact the Hagley Museum via its Web site at www.hagley.org or call 302/658-2400. For information on Nemours Mansion and Gardens, call 302/651-6912. Both of these du Pont estates charge admission.

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