Lewes : Delaware


What It Is Like to Retire in Lewes

Lewes, Delaware is a small town of about 3,100 people on the southern coast of Delaware, just above Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, and Fenwick Island. Originally a whaling town, the area was the first town in Delaware be settled, in this case by the Dutch. It is considered an ocean resort.  The area is the fastest growing region of Delaware.

The main street (Second St.)  has many shops, restaurants, and historical attractions. Fisherman's Wharf is a dock that stretches along the Rehoboth Canal.  It features multiple restaurants and the dock is a great place to inspect hundreds of boats in season. Cape Henlopen State Park is nearby and offers great birding among other attractions. A recent visitor to Lewes described it this way: "It was very quaint and a much more calm, civilized alternative to the other Delaware beaches like Dewey and Rehoboth, which are pretty trashy and big party towns". Picture of Zwaanendael Club in Lewes Delaware, built in 1898 as a bank, used as a Women's Club starting 1930, and now a museum, and picture of The Lewes terminal of Cape May-Lewes Ferry courtesy of Wikipedia and Smallbones (public domain); photo of Lewes Beach on the Delaware Bay courtesy of Wikipedia and Dough4872 (public domain). .

Watch this short Youtube video prepared by historiclewes:


Where to Retire in Lewes and Home Prices

A great many active adult communities are in the region, both in Lewes and surrounding communities like Rehoboth Beach  (Look for Active Communities using link at top left).
The median home value was $350,000 in mid-2021, according to Realtor.com, although there are many homes selling for much more in the region.


What Is Special about Lewes

This is a top tourist area because of its beaches, proximity to Cape Henlopen State Park, and the shopping malls of Rehoboth Beach. Lewes is one of the oldest towns in America and dates back to 1631.The Ryves-Holt House, built in 1665, is the oldest house in Delaware. The 1926 Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse stands presides over Lewes Harbor. The Cannonball House is another attraction.  Lewes is a very walkable community.


What Is Not Special about Lewes

Some people might not like Lewes living because it is so far from any city - it is like living in a resort. It is also on the expensive side.

Who Will Like Retirement in Lewes

The people who like living in Lewes tend to be those who want to live near the ocean or who want to be far from suburbia and an urban environment. The average age is quite high, about 56.

Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism and retirees are 2 of the bigger industries in Lewes.

Climate and Physical Environment

Lewes is on the southern Delaware coast just above Rohoboth Beach near the terminus of the Delmarva Peninsula.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Lewes is proud of its Zwaanendael Museum, which features exhibits about the history of Delaware. There are a lot of tourist oriented things to do in Lewes, including dining out.


The crime rate is about half the national average.

Medical Facilities

Beebe Medical Center is the primary hospital located in Lewes. Nanticoke Hospital, also in Sussex county, is located in Seaford, DE, about 30 miles west of Lewes.



The town is the terminus of the Lewes-Cape May (NJ) ferry. Salisbury-Ocean City Airport is about 40 miles. The Delaware Transit Authority (DART) operates buses on fixed schedules in Sussex county. DART also operates free buses to/from a park and ride and the beaches, the boardwalk and the shopping outlets. 


Valuable Links

Guide to Delaware retirement
City Guide to Lewes


What people are saying about Lewes

This is a late response to your question - but I have looked at the two mentioned above and also Spring Arbor. Spring Arbor is a small community but very very nice. Close to shopping and already has a clubhouse built. Homes are lovely. I am planning a second trip to that development in March.
Posted by kmoyer on February 21, 2013
Just went on the Del Webb website and didn't see anything about a new community coming into Lewes. Would love information on that. The tax structure for retirees in DE is nice. I saw Independence and Heritage Shores a few weeks ago. Independence is pretty expensive but very nice. Heritage Shores if further from shopping, etc. Anyone else know of any other developments in DE that they have seen?
Posted by ktmoyer on May 29, 2012

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