The Delaware Beaches Beckon

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The mellow beach at Bethany has its appeal. Photo by Katherine Schwartz.

This summer, take a two-and-a-half-hour road trip east for a Delaware beach getaway. The popular beach towns of Rehoboth, Bethany and Dewey offer something for everyone — families, couples and solo travelers alike.

Similar to its clientele, the restaurant scene in Rehoboth is a colorful mix of fancy and casual. The boardwalk provides classic beach food, an ocean view, amusement rides, arcade games and endless people-watching. Classic must-trys include Kohr Bros.’ frozen custard, Dolle’s caramel corn, Thrasher’s beach fries and fried chicken from Gus & Gus. 

For a more high-end, old Rehoboth feel, dine at the Back Porch Café, a quaint and classic old-liner spot on Rehoboth Avenue. Or check out the Blue Moon for its upscale American fare, live music or infamous karaoke nights. 

As for pizza, experience the unspoken but long-standing rivalry between the beloved Nicola Pizza and Grotto’s, Rehoboth Avenue staples. Head to Nicola’s for the famous “Nic-o-Boli” or grab a late-night slice from Grotto’s at the boardwalk location, open past midnight. Grotto’s is also available in Bethany and Dewey.

For day activities, rent a bike from Bob’s Bikes, a trusted, yellow-awning establishment since 1934. Be sure to cruise through Henlopen Acres, one of the oldest neighborhoods, for shingled cottages, blissfully shaded streets and peaceful marina views. The public beaches that line the boardwalk are within blocks of the neighborhood. 

Lifeguard at Rehoboth Beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy City of Rehoboth Beach.

Whether you’re headed to the beach, the boardwalk or the Rehoboth Avenue shops (there’s no sales tax in Delaware), nearly everything is walkable. Stay at Hotel Rehoboth or the Bellmoor for Rehoboth’s most luxurious, boutique-style lodging.

Head to Bethany Beach, 25 minutes outside Rehoboth, if you’re seeking a slightly quieter night scene or more real estate around your beach towel. While you’re there, check out Heidaway Restaurant for trendy, locally-sourced dishes and cocktails. Heidaway has a takeout window open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. if you’re looking to enjoy your tacos on the go. 

Good ol’ Americana fits in perfectly with your beach outings. Photo by Katherine Schwartz.

Although most restaurants at the Delaware beaches are inherently casual, stop by Sedona if you’re looking for a bit fancier fare. The new restaurant has already garnered buzz for both its “American fine dining” and tapas offerings.

Venture to Dewey, about 10 minutes from Rehoboth and 15 from Bethany, if you’re looking to experience a more buzz-y night scene — think Spring Break in Daytona Beach — or the laid-back “Dewey way of life.” For a fun (and noisy) night out, check out the Starboard, one of Dewey’s most storied bars. Or go to Northbeach, “home of the Dewey devil,” for live music and dancing day or night. Expect scenic sunsets on the water and a crowd. 

Also be sure to try Sunset Restaurant, home to “the best club sandwiches in Delaware.” You can pick up their subs to go to enjoy on the beach, or stay for a no-frills — but all the more delicious — diner-style breakfast. Then, for dinner, check out Sirveza, an authentically informal Mexican restaurant serving pizza-sized quesadillas and nachos almost the width of the table.

Finally, if you’re feeling active or looking to work off those sunset cocktails, take the Junction & Breakwater bike trail, stretching about 16 miles, from Rehoboth to Lewes. End your trip exploring the old-timey, quiet and historic beach town, about a half-hour from Rehoboth by car.

The bus is the answer for those hoping to travel hands-free, catch up on some sleep and avoid navigating the Bay Bridge. You can ride BestBus directly from Dupont Circle to Rehoboth Avenue or from Union Station to Dewey for $40. 

With towns and summer residents of diverse personalities, the Delaware beaches offer a range of experiences for visitors. Whatever you choose, a true American beach town experience and a change of scene from D.C. are guaranteed.

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