Vacation agendas are about long days at the beach and inhaling dripping chocolate double-scoops, right? Even so, you won’t want to miss a great chance to slip in some learning on your kids by visiting Fort Delaware, a Union Civil War Prison. The huge fortress was originally created to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia, but as the war got underway, it became a prison for Confederate soldiers.
In a strange turn of events, Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was one of the guys who helped secure funding for Fort Delaware when its construction went over budget.
The interpreters, dedicated Civil War aficionados costumed in Civil War era garb and playing real people from the war, embrace the stories behind this extremely sad, but absorbing time in our nation’s history. And these volunteers live to share the information and details with you and your kids.
See the names and dates carved into the walls by soldiers. Hear an actual Civil War cannon fired. But first board the ferry in the small City of Delaware (a quaint town with restaurants near the ferry). The ferry ride takes about twenty minutes to get to Pea Patch Island, where Fort Delaware sits. My best tip is that once you’re at the Fort, put on your assertive hat. My only complaint about a visit to Fort Delaware is even though the interpreters are absolutely wonderful, it’s easy to spend thirty minutes with one and thirty minutes with another and use up all of the time you’d planned for the visit. We spent way too much time in the prison courtyard listening to fascinating interpreters, only to learn that the real tour was just getting underway. So essentially you’re in charge of your time at Fort Delaware. But schedule three hours to ferry in and out and hear the many great stories. Highly recommended for kids ten and over. Kids under 10 might be too excited about the upcoming beach visit to focus on this Civil War treasure.