Lewes's past is colorful, unique and proud. The Lewes Historical Society offers multiple tour options to the public: Lewes Museum Tour, Maritime Tour, Architectural Tour, Historic Lewes Trolley Tour, a new Maritime Trolley Tour, Kayak History Tour, Cemetery Tour and Sussex Heritage Tours.
Unless otherwise noted, all tours depart from the Ryves Holt House Museum Gift Shop at the corner of Mulberry and Second streets in Lewes. Tickets for tours can also be purchased there.
Lewes Museum Tour
This tour features The Lewes Historical Society Complex in the block facing Shipcarpenter Street and edged by West Third Street on the northern edge of Lewes. The grounds hold nine historic buildings dating from 1700 to 1898 and clearly illustrate the impact of the sea on the community. With the exception of the Hiram Rodney Burton House, which is in its original location, all the buildings have been moved from other locations in Lewes or surrounding communities.
Through Sept. 15, tours will take place at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and at 1:30 p.m., Saturdays. The cost is $10. LHS members, children and students are free.
Lewes Maritime Tour
This is a guided journey through the salty history of Lewes’s past beginning at the Ryves Holt House and traveling down residential Second Street. The tour will make a stop at the Lewes Life-Saving Station (c.1884) to learn about the history of the Life-Saving Service. The tour ends at the Cannonball House - Lewes Maritime Museum. The museum is self-guided and contains part of the society’s collection of maritime artifacts. This tour is about 3/4 of a mile and takes an hour and 30 minutes, not including museum time.
Through Sept. 15, tours will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., Mondays and Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Thursdays and 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., Fridays. The cost is $10. Members, children and students are free.
Architectural Tour of Lewes
This will introduce visitors to the various styles of Lewes architecture and illustrate them with existing houses, including the oldest house in Delaware and the oldest house in the state still being lived in. Tour duration is about 1 3/4 hours. Distance covered is a bit more than a mile.
The Architectural Tour takes place through Sept. 4; for a complete schedule of tours go to www.historiclewes.org/visit/tours. The cost is $10. Reservations are preferred. Preregister at 302-645-7670, Ext.12. Group maximum is 12 people.
Historic Lewes Trolley Tour
The one-hour tour will acquaint participants with the Lewes of yesterday and today as they ride 5 1/2 miles around Lewes. The Historic Lewes Trolley Tour runs through Sept. 12 at 11:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students and children over 2 years. Children 2 and younger are free unless their parents want to guarantee a seat; then the price is $3 per child. Tours leave from the Trolley Stop at the corner of Second and Market streets in historic Lewes, beside St. Peter's cemetery. Tickets can be purchased at the Ryves Holt House Museum Gift Shop, but reservations are preferred; call 302-645-7670, Ext.12.
Maritime Trolley Tour
The Maritime Trolley Tour highlights the history of Lewes and the Cape Region from the early 17th through the 20th century. Visitors will travel through Cape Henlopen State Park and hear about early explorers to Delaware Bay, lighthouses, breakwaters, quarantine station, Fort Miles and efforts to secure the area in times of war. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry, menhaden fishing industry, Delaware River and Bay pilots, Lewes shipbuilding industry, Lewes Lifesaving Station, Lightship Overfalls and other topics of maritime interest will be discussed.
The Maritime Trolley Tour takes place July 1 through Aug. 26 at 11 a.m., Mondays. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. The 45-minute guided tour begins at the Lewes Ferry Terminal, where tickets are available one-half hour before the tour or in advance at the Ryves Holt House Museum Gift Shop. To make reservations, call 302-645-7670, Ext.12.
Historic Lewes Kayak Tour
The Lewes Historical Society executive director will offer a kayak tour of the Lewes Harbor and Delaware Breakwater Harbor to tell about shipwrecks, pirates, lighthouses and more.
The guided trip includes the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and Delaware Bay; occasionally, due to tides, the trip may include a quick jaunt along the Atlantic shore. Kayaking experience is not necessary and a short paddling tutorial is given prior to each trip. Tours generally last three hours, weather permitting.
The Historic Lewes Kayak Tour takes place July 11 through Sept. 26 at 9 a.m., Thursdays. The cost is $65 per person. Reservations are required through Quest Kayak, 302-644-7020.
Lewes Cemetery Tour
With the exception of a few scattered family burial grounds, all of Lewes’ cemeteries are associated with churches, and they all tell the story of the history of Lewes over the last 300 years.
Cemetery tours are held by special request only for groups of eight or more people. The cost is $10 per person. Preregistration is required at the Museum Gift Shop, or call 302-645-7670, Ext.12. Group maximum is 20 people.
Sussex County Heritage Tour Series
Participants can learn about the natural and cultural heritage of Sussex County during a series of Saturday bus tours. For a complete listing of dates and topics, go to www.historiclewes.org/visit/tours/sussex-heritage-tour-series.
Tickets are $40 and one meal is included for each tour. Reservations are required. Purchase in advance by calling 302-645-7670, Ext. 10. Limited spaces are available. This series is sponsored by The Lewes Historical Society in coordination with Southern Delaware Tourism and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.
Field trips and group tours
Field trips and interactive educational group walking tours of historic Lewes can also be arranged to show the highlights of Lewes in a meaningful context. Custom tours can last from 45 minutes to daylong excursions and can be experienced in a variety of ways including walking, biking, driving and even kayaking. All tours are led by well-trained staff and volunteers.
The Lewes Historical Society needs at least 30 days advance notification of group tours. To make reservations for a field trip or group tour, go to www.HistoricLewes.org or call 302-645-7670.