Now onto the second half of our Girl’s Trip to Delaware’s Quaint Villages. In case you missed it, you can check out Part One- here. In the next part of our trip we wandered out of Dover to the villages of Smyrna and Milford. The last day of our visit we even had the opportunity to go inside a retired Air Force One plane at the Air Mobility Command Museum which is an experience I will remember forever. Keep reading to complete your perfect itinerary for a quick trip to Delaware’s Quaint Villages!
Enjoy Local Masterpieces at Biggs Museum of American Art
In the heart of Dover just steps from “The Green“, you can find the Biggs Museum of American Art. Even if art is not your thing, you will appreciate this museum. The Biggs Museum of American Art has 5 galleries filled with artwork and sculptures all by Delawarean artists.
The galleries are often changed, so make sure you check back each time you visit for new pieces to enjoy.
Don’t miss the photo-op of the flying birds sculpture outside of the museum!
Poke Your Head Inside the Old State House
Another quick building to visit in Delaware’s Quaint Villages is the Old State House, located right on the boarder of “The Green“. The Old State House acted as Delaware’s capital building from 1791 to 1933. The first floor was used as a large courtroom and up the large split staircases, were separate senate and house legislative chambers. I just loved all of the desks lined up in rows with the quill pens!
Learn About the Evolution of Music Players at the Johnson Victrola Museum
I had no idea what to expect when visiting the Johnson Victrola Museum. I mean a whole museum dedicated to a specific brand of record players?! How interesting can it be? Very interesting actually. Sara and I were captivated the entire time with this place. We loved learning from our tour guide, Jackie, about the life of Eldridge Reeves Johnson, the creator of the Victor Talking Machine (type of phonograph); and seeing how the machines influenced culture in the early 1900’s.
Volume buttons did not exist for a while on the first phonographs, so to dual the sound people would put a pair of rolled up socks inside the horn of the players. This is where we get the term for put a sock in it! Another fun saying derived from talking machines was ‘cut a rug.’ Prior to the talking machine, music was mainly enjoyed live during shows or public dances; now everyone could listen to whatever songs they had in their collection, whenever they wanted in the comfort of their own homes. Rugs are not generally present in public places you would normally hear music, so the term cut a rug was formed to express dancing in your own home listening to music, something that was rarely done before!
The crowned jewel of the Johnson Victrola Museum is located on the second level and displays a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) collection of everything Victrola which was donated by a sole collector. My favorite items were the elaborate, antique music horns that are hung from the ceiling in a unique display!
Dinner at The Lemon Leaf Cafe
After relaxing back at your room for a bit, head to Delaware’s Quaint Village of Smyrna, here you will find the adorable Lemon Leaf Cafe. Do not let the name fool you, The Lemon Leaf serves way more than sandwiches and salads at your typical cafe. The restaurant has an old historic feel with small, more intimate rooms perfect for group gatherings or romantic dates.
To start off, we ordered the C-Town Crab Dip (Classic Eastern shore crab dip topped with cheddar cheese and served with house made crostini) and it was easily the top 5 crab dips I have ever had. Amazing!
Sara ordered a Lemon Leaf Cafe classic of Chicken & Dumplings (slow roasted chicken, slippery dumplings and fresh vegetables in broth served with side salad) and said it rivaled that of her Grandmother’s recipe.
I went with the Grilled North Pacific Salmon topped with lemon caper buerre blanc and served with sautéed spinach and potato du jour. I am finicky about how my salmon is cooked and Lemon Leaf Cafe broiled it to perfection.
Chill at Blue Earl Brewery
After dinner at Lemon Leaf Cafe you need to head on over to Blue Earl Brewing Company, also located in Smyrna. This brewery looked like it was the place to be on Saturday nights. Blue Earl had a live band (Betty & the Bullet) playing and a food truck parked out front which we would have taken advantage of if we had not just had dinner. There was a large beer selection to choose from and included just about all the styles of beer you could think of. Sara and I both had a flight of various kinds and came to the conclusion that the ‘Born to Be Wild- Farmhouse IPA’, ‘Black Betty-Blackberry Wit’and ‘Ain’t Superstitious- Imperial Pumpkin Ale’ were our favorite Blue Earl Brews.
I really liked this brewery and it was the perfect, chill place to unwind after our jam packed day.
A Quick Homemade Breakfast at US 13 Grill
Start off your final day in Delaware’s Quaint Villages with a quick homemade breakfast at US 13 Grill. This diner is located only a few minutes from the Home2 Suites by Hilton and will get you in and out in no time to allow plenty of time to explore. Their menu consists of classic breakfast items such as stacked waffles (you can choose from a variety of toppings), classic omelets (my choice) and biscuits and gravy!
Learn at the Air Mobility Command Museum
One of the hidden gems in Delaware’s Quaint Villages is located right on the Dover Air Force Base- The Air Mobility Command Museum. What is this you ask? It is a whole museum dedicated to military airlifting and air-refueling. It also acts as a retirement home of sorts for the best and most impressive military airplanes that are done with their service.
To start the tour our guide, Rick, took us up into a retired air traffic tower to get a panoramic view of the base and exterior of the AMC Museum. Man where there a lot of planes and do not get me started on how many switches and buttons were up in the tower!
Rick then took us into a retired Air Force One/Two plane that was used from 1975-2011. To me it seemed similar to the interior of commercial planes we are used to, just all with big comfy chairs and a meeting table and lounge area at the front. We learned that if a plane is carrying the Vice President it is called Air Force Two but if the President joins in it automatically becomes Air Force One. We also learned that there is always a plane that follows the President’s plane with a duplicate cabin crew in case the first plane is not able to fly the route back.
Next Rick took us inside of the Museum to check out some of the historical memorabilia and explained the evolution of aviation. It is hard for us today to think how challenging navigation must have been before GPS.
Another gem to the interior of the museum is the C-47A Skytrain which flew on D-Day on June 6, 1944. It is has been amazingly restored and still has its famous white stripes which were added to prevent Americans from shooting down their own planes (which had been a problem).
We finished off our tour with a visit to the inside of a cargo plane. This thing was huge and could hold over 74,000 pounds of cargo! We learned there is way more to packing full a cargo plan than meets the eye.
Get Local at the Milford Museum
Inside the old Milford town post office you will find the museum dedicated to all things Milford. The Milford Museum is fascinating and not just for locals! The displays are always changing but one of my favorites had to have been the military display gallery. The museum had real military uniforms and memorabilia worn by the past servicemen of Milford from various wars throughout history along with names and photos. Soon after the display was opened, people came out of the woodwork sharing the stories of their Milford Military family members and today you can see a whole binder packed full of photos and names.
We had two key takeaways from the Milford Museum. The first was that museums, especially small/local museums, need our help to preserve the past for future generations. We often think these awesome old artifacts we enjoy at museums just pop out of thin air when many are donated. Many historical items are lost forever when people are going through family members’ houses and just decide to throw items away. Make sure you are checking with your local historical society and museums before canning what you think are just old newspapers or photographs of people you do not know!
The second key take away we learned from our Milford Museum trip was that everyone comes from somewhere. We were amazed that Milford was home to some pretty important people and innovators such as the creator of the small wooden spoon that we all used to use when eating ice cream cups! The Milford Museum has inspired me to check out my own local museums to learn more about my hometown and how it fits in American history.
Enjoy Lunch at Abbott’s Grill
Less than a mile from the Milford Museum is Abbott’s Grill. Located in a strip mall, this place will pleasantly surprise you as soon as you walk in the door. We could not believe how big this place was.
The Abbott’s Grill menu consists of innovate American cuisine and tries to use as much locally sourced ingredients as possible. We started our meal with an American/Asian Fusion appetizer, brisket blue spring rolls with an Asian peach dipping sauce. For our main course, Sara went with the Crispy Catfish served with collards greens, stewed tomatoes and creamy grits. I kept things simple with a stacked high smoked turkey Reuben sandwich served with house made 1000 island dressing, Swiss cheese, apple- bacon sauerkraut, avocado and fries.
Finish with a Stroll Along Milford’s Riverwalk
***Thank you to Delaware’s Quaint Villages for sponsoring our stay. As always all opinions are my own.