Photograph by Astrid Riecken
Bethany Beach has a family-friendly feel. The Delaware town has terrific fireworks on the Fourth of July, music on its boardwalk bandstand almost every night, and a Labor Day “jazz funeral” to mark the official end of summer.
And if you go west on Route 26, beyond the main drag of souvenir shops and beach food, you’d find some hidden treasures.
99 Ocean View Parkway; 800-418-6764
The grand Victorian Addy Sea, which is filled with antiques, has a right-on-the-beach location that’s unbeatable. Rooms 6, 7, and 10 have ocean views. Rates start at $225 in the summer.
The beach in front of the Addy Sea is slightly quieter than others. Or drive to Delaware Seashore State Park, just north of Bethany on Route 1.
Off the Hook
769 Garfield Pkwy.; 302-829-1424
Hidden near a laundromat and a frozen-yogurt shop on Route 26 is Off the Hook. Chef/owner Steve Hagen cooks up ocean- and farm-to-table dishes such as shrimp and grits with chorizo and garlic pesto.
NorthEast Seafood Kitchen
29-F Atlantic Ave.; 302-537-1785
Farther west on Route 26, also known as Atlantic Avenue, in the nearby town of Ocean View is NorthEast Seafood Kitchen, best known for its lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese, and lobster BLTs. On a hot summer night, try the white-wine sangría on the patio.
River Life-Saving Station
Delaware Seashore State Park. 25039 Coastal Hwy.;302-227-6991
Up Route 1 toward Dewey Beach is the Indian River Life-Saving Station. Before the Coast Guard, stations along the shore rescued sailors from shipwrecks. This one is now a museum that recreates the building as it would have looked in 1905, with clothing, artifacts, photos of the seamen, and more. A cell-phone audio tour is offered. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for ages 62 and over, $2 for ages 6 through 12; free for ages 5 and under.
More Beach Guides:
32 Atlantic Ave.; 302-537-5055
Ocean View, west of Bethany, is a good destination for arts and crafts. Gallery One is home to local painters, fiber artists, potters, and other artisans. The work is first-rate, the prices below those in galleries closer to the sand
42 Central Ave.; 302-539-6702
Lovers of old marine maps, prints, and magazine illustrations could spend hours browsing in Antique Prints.
30446 Cedar Neck Rd.; 302-539-8167
Visit Heirloom Trunks to search through hundreds of refurbished antique wooden trunks that double as storage, coffee tables, or jewelry boxes. Some date to the 1850s.