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Part of Delaware's Beach Resort Region, Lewes is Quaint, Touristy and Steeped in History
Lewes (pronounced "Lewis") is a quaint, historic seaside town (population 3,100) on Delaware's southern shore where the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay meet at Cape Henlopen. Founded as a Dutch whaling village in 1631, it is Delaware's oldest town ("the first town in the first state") and one of several communities that make up the state's beach resort area.
Although Lewes is often filled with vacationers, it is not as overrun in the summer as some of Delaware's other resorts that are farther south, including Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach. This is one of the reasons it is popular with retirees (especially with people from New Jersey and the Washington, D.C. area). In fact, 65% of the population is age 45 or better.
Politics lean to the right, and racial diversity is minimal. The crime rate is below the national average, and the cost of living is 17% above the national average. Forty-five percent of residents have at least a four year college degree. Lewes has grown by 5% within the last decade.
The median home price is $360,000. Restored Victorians and waterfront Cape Cods mingle with master planned developments that market to baby boomers, including 55+ Villages at Red Mill Pond (homes from the low-$300,000s) and 55+ Bay Crossing (homes from the mid-$300,000s).
Lewes is a walkable town. In fact, most of it can be seen in an hour by foot. History is around nearly every corner. The Ryves-Holt House, the oldest house in the state (built in 1665), is here, and the 1926 Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse stands guard over Lewes Harbor. The Cannonball House, built in 1797 and so named because it was struck by a cannonball during the War of 1812, is home to the Marine Museum. The wonderful Zwaanendael Museum chronicles much of Lewes' history.
When it comes to beaches, residents enjoy clean, unassuming strips of sand on Delaware Bay and around the corner at Cape Henlopen State Park on the Atlantic Ocean. The Park is also a great place for birding and camping. Fisherman's Wharf is a dock that stretches along the pretty Lewes and Rehoboth Canal and is home to tackle shops, restaurants and hundreds of boats.
Lewes' downtown is small, touristy and charming, making shopping for antiques, collectibles and gifts great fun. Making the shopping experience even better is the fact that Delaware has no sales tax.
The small public library has public computers and internet access. Dining options are better than would be expected in a town this size. Residents enjoy several golf courses in and around town.
Limited in-town bus service is provided by DART, and a bus travels between it and the more southern beach towns. A ferry also runs across the bay to Cape May, New Jersey, a great place for more beaches and some world-class birding opportunities. Dozens of churches are in the Lewes-Rehoboth Beach area.
The Lewes Senior Center is open to people age 60+ and is in a small white building. It provides trips, classes, congregate meals and transportation to the bank, post office, grocery, et cetera (small fuel donation requested). Lewes-Rehoboth Meals on Wheels is also active.
Beebe Medical Center is a 210-bed, non-profit community hospital, and it is accredited by the Joint Commission. It is award-winning for clinical excellence, pulmonary care, women's health care, coronary intervention and orthopedic surgery. Medicare patients are accepted. Three more hospitals are within 30 miles.
On average, the area receives 45 inches of rain and 10 inches of snow per year. Summer temperatures reach the low-90s, and winter temperatures are generally in the 20s, 30s and 40s.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Delaware Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
Far enough south along the Delaware coast to be in the state's beach resort area but far enough north that it avoids a lot of the tourist crowds, Lewes boasts a rich heritage, an attractive downtown, a low crime rate, clean beaches, adequate senior programs and a good medical facility, making it a great spot to consider for retirement.
Delaware sits in the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the Atlantic Ocean and is the second smallest state geographically. When it comes to population, it is the sixth least populous state but the sixth most densely populated.
The state was one of the original Thirteen Colonies and in 1787 become the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. As a result, Delaware's nickname is "The First State." Colonial blue and buff are its official state colors, and the lady bug is its official state bug.
Delaware is the only state without any national parks system. Hence, it has no national parks, seashores, historic sites, battlefields, memorials or monuments.
The largest population center is the town of Townsend in New Castle County, one of the state's three counties (Kent and Sussex are the other two). In 2013, the state had the ninth highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States.
Population - 961,068
Persons 65 years old and over - 18%
High school graduates, age 25+ - 88%
Bachelor's degree or higher, age 25+ - 30%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 9%
White persons, not Hispanic - 69%
Median household income - $61,076
Median home value - $233,100
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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