With its mile-long boardwalk and wide stretch of sand, the town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, has many charms, including shingled cottages shaded by towering pines, colorful Victorian houses, good restaurants, and lots of shopping. No wonder the population of about 1,500 swells to as much as 80,000 on summer weekends.
Rehoboth’s relaxed and welcoming spirit is one of the main reasons so many visitors make it a summer tradition.
Boardwalk Plaza Hotel
Olive Ave. and the Boardwalk; 800-332-3224
The Victorian decor of the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel stands out in a sea of generic beachfront hotels. There’s a live parrot in the lobby, a swim-in/swim-out spa pool, a 19th-century-inspired pub, antiques and lace, and traditional afternoon tea. Room rates start at $254.
Bellmoor Inn & Spa
6 Christian St.; 800-425-2355
The Bellmoor Inn & Spa, a few blocks from the beach, has a peaceful garden, a spa, and two swimming pools—one reserved for adults. Some rooms have hydrotherapy tubs and private decks or balconies. Rates start at $279 during the summer.
44 Delaware Ave.; 800-246-5244
The Delaware Inn is a grown-up bed-and-breakfast. Its eight renovated rooms have comfortable reading chairs and lush linens. Amenities include the Washington Post delivered daily in summer and a free afternoon yoga class. Rooms start at $360 for two nights.
24 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-1044
Grab a takeout lunch steps from the beach at Go Fish!, a fish-and-chips shop. Its signature dish is tasty, and it serves an addictive sticky toffee pudding. Look for the Union Jack out front.
Back Porch Cafe
59 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-227-3674
The Back Porch Café is a Rehoboth institution mostly because it offers one of the best desserts at the beach, a Meyer-lemon-and-olive-oil cake with brown-sugar ice cream. A lunch favorite is soft-shell crab with mango. Rambling rooms and outdoor decks add to its charm.
Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats
320 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-2739
Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats, the creative brewery behind Raison D’Etre, an ale made with raisins and beet sugar, has a restaurant with a wood-fired oven that turns out good pizza, including the Chesapeake, made with lump crabmeat, asparagus, and tomatoes.
19730 Coastal Hwy.; 302-226-2037
For a gourmet meal, head to the Rehoboth sister of DC’s Nage. Locally sourced food is served in innovative ways, such as clams-casino flatbread. The bartenders make their own infusions, so cocktails taste very fresh.
36470 Seaside Outlet Dr.; 302-226-9223
No matter what the weather, most visitors to Rehoboth head to Tanger Outlets, a trio of outlet centers with such stores as J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Coach. A free trolley runs among the centers.
7 S. First St.; 302-260-9264
Caught during a fast-moving storm? Dash from the beach to Cake Break, Rehoboth’s newest bakery. Adults will like the beer-flavored cupcakes, and kids swarm the decorating station, where they can choose from an assortment of toppings.
6 Delaware Ave. at the Boardwalk; 302-227-1921
No family visit to Rehoboth is complete without a stop at Funland, an old-fashioned amusement park on the boardwalk. Arcades, a shooting gallery, and 18 rides provide cheap thrills, with ticket prices starting at 30 cents.
36944 Country Club Rd.; 302-227-8444
Older kids love Jungle Jim’s, a water park with slides, raft rides, a wave pool, and bumper boats as well as go-carts, mini-golf, rock climbing, and batting cages. All-day passes for adults run $32; kids less than 42 inches tall are $20.
WHERE TO SHOP:
The town of Rehoboth has more than 200 shops. While beach shops selling saltwater taffy, T-shirts, and bikinis line the boardwalk, lots of independent boutiques can be found along Rehoboth Avenue, the main drag.
139 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-9650
Fashionistas flock to Azura Clothing for a fresh and funky inventory—from argyle leggings to über-flared stretch pants.
133 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-2665
Browseabout Books has a big selection—from Pulitzer Prize winners to cookbooks. The kids’ section is rounded out with games and toys.
A collective of ten galleries with a variety of work, including oil painting, sculpture, and glasswork, has published a helpful map of galleries. Visit RehobothMosaic.com for a downloadable version.
Free evening concerts at the Bandstand, a classic beachfront venue, are a draw for both locals and visitors Thursday through Sunday in the summer. For an event lineup, call 302-644-2288 or see rehobothbandstand.com.
Ice Cream Store
6 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-227-4609
The Ice Cream Store dishes out fabulous and sometimes wacky flavors including bacon and a blue-colored orange-pineapple treat called Looks Like Viagra. Yes, it has vanilla, too.
Need more tips? Rehoboth in My Pocket, an app available on iTunes for $3.99, is a helpful guide that includes things to do, places to visit, maps, and photos.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
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