Growing up in New Jersey, I thought we owned the market on great beaches. Except for an excuse to ride the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, or driving through on my way to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I never considered Delaware as a vacation destination. But now, as a resident of Rhode Island, I’ve learned that little states shouldn’t be overlooked.
Last summer I had a chance to take a mother-daughter trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and I wasn’t just surprised, I was impressed. I expected Rehoboth Beach to be similar to Ocean City, Maryland – but it is not, not by a long shot. Instead of tacky t-shirt shops and cheap motels, Rehoboth offers cute boutiques, delicious dining options, stunning beach homes and a beautiful stretch of beach. Now I understand why this is such a popular vacation spot for families in the DC Metro area and beyond.
There are five main towns that make up the Delaware beaches: Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick Island. Lewes features historic Victorian homes and a quaint downtown. From Lewes, you can kayak, paddle board, or take a sunset cruise to see the East End Lighthouse.
Rehoboth is an upscale beach town adjacent to Cape Henlopen State Park Beach, which is perfect for biking, swimming, walking, or off-roading. You can even climb a WWII observation tower and check out the bunkers built into the dunes. Of course, you can also find a boardwalk and some great food (see more about where to eat in Rehoboth Beach.)
Dewey Beach wasn’t my favorite, as this is where you’ll find more of the bars and surf shops, but Delaware Seashore State Park just south of town is simply gorgeous. Wide, flat stretches of soft sand that goes for miles. Near Delaware Seashore State Park you will also find Indian River Lifesaving Station, which was built by the United States Life-saving Service, a pre-cursor to today’s Coast Guard. The Station offers family-friendly offerings such as beach bonfires, sandcastle building demonstrations, summer concerts, sea creature talks, and other naturalist programs.
Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island are known as the “quiet resorts.” The furthest south, I guess they don’t get quite as many visitors as the others, but more should discover these gems! Bethany is small but cute and without the hustle and bustle of Rehoboth or the bar scene of Dewey. If you go, be sure to get some seafood or amazing fried chicken at Blue Crab! Also, plan to stop into the Nature Center, where you may spy ospreys, heron, or eagles on their nature paths.
Another fun aspect of vacationing in Rehoboth is its proximity to some of Delaware’s craft breweries and wineries. (Did you know that Delaware has the same terroir as Bordeaux in France? Dogfish Head Brewery is definitely one of the leaders, but you can find plenty of smaller microbreweries too like 16 Mile Brewery and Crooked Hammock Brewery (which is an awesome hangout restaurant for families too!) Even if you don’t have time for a tour a Dogfish, stop into their fun tasting room to sample selections you will never find in stores at home.
So the Delaware Beaches legitimately wowed this Jersey girl. It is easy to see why families make this an annual vacation destination. We will be back!
Thanks to Tamara of we3travel.com for this post.