Family Activities:

Lightship Overfalls


Lightship Overfalls

219 Pilottown Road, Lewes, DE

The Lightship Overalls is one of only 17 remaining lightships out of the 179 that were built between 1820 and 1952 and is one of only seven lightships open to the public, so it is rare to have the opportunity to tour one. After years of extensive restoration to the Overfalls to bring it back from rust and abandonment, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 and now visitors can take a guided tour above and below deck.

A lightship was used as a floating lighthouse with a flashing light that sat atop the mast and aided in navigation. It also warned of fog with a fog horn that had a range of more than 5 miles. The U.S. Coast Guard vessel carried a crew of about 14, which worked on weekly rotating shifts, two weeks on, then one week off. The lightship stayed out at sea at the same station for two years at a time no matter how severe the weather, which could make it dangerous for the crew at times. The anchor, which weighs 7,000 pounds, kept the ship in place.

Kids will love to see the ship’s decks, where the crew slept and ate and the kitchen, along with the engine rooms. Tours last about 30 minutes, but can be tailored for each group. If there’s a large interest with lots of questions, the tours tend to be longer. But if you’re looking for a quick tour of the ship, that’s also an option.

Open seasonally from Memorial Day to Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The last tour is at 3:30 p.m. Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Call and inquire about tours during the off season.

$5, children 14 years old and younger are free.

A free parking lot is available.