Kids can frolic in the waves either at the beach or at one of the two water parks. Adults can dine in fine-dining establishments or grab casual fare before heading to a bar for live music. And the whole family can take a bike ride on the Junction and Breakwater Trail.
We’ve all read a name of a place and wondered, what does that mean? Where does it come from? Sometimes it is a nod to the area’s history or founding father. Other times it may be a randomly chosen word. For Rehoboth it is a moniker that has led to a mindset for its residents. Rehoboth is a Hebrew word that means open space, and residents of Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach point this out, saying it is the definition of the community atmosphere. “Rehoboth welcomes all,” says Justin Healy, managing broker of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International. And Amy Warick, sales manager at The Debbie Reed Team Re/Max Realty Group, is quick to point out the correlation as well.
Both have been residents of the area for more than a decade and say the small-town beach community has retained its hometown charm even though it has grown from a seasonal beach town into a year-round locale.
Rehoboth Beach is a place everyone can enjoy. Kids can frolic in the waves either at the beach or at one of the two water parks then grab a treat at the downtown boardwalk, home to Dolle’s Salt Water Taffy and The Ice Cream Store. Adults can dine in fine-dining establishments or grab casual fare before heading to a bar for some imbibing and live music. And the whole family can take a bike ride on the Junction and Breakwater Trail that lies between Lewes and Rehoboth beaches on the western edge of Cape Henlopen State Park, charter a boat for fishing, take a lesson in kiteboarding or spend a day golfing at the many courses nearby.
The people are nice, and the pace is laid-back,” says Healy, a father of three young children, of the draw toward Rehoboth over the other beaches along the Delmarva Peninsula. “There is still a strong sense of community in the off-season but still thriving in the summertime, too.”
Healy also points out that “taxes are ridiculously low when compared to other areas; you could live in a house on the ocean.” The area also has great tax-free shopping, and Rehoboth is a smoke-free beach.
“The charm has retained,” explains Warick of what she feels Rehoboth has over the other surrounding beaches. “Streetscape, paver sidewalks, no overhead telephone poles—[Rehoboth] has a small-town feel [in the] center part of town, a bandstand and great walkability.”
What To do
Jungle Jim’s is Delaware’s largest water park, complete with a wave pool, lazy river, activity pool, kiddie pool, rope climb and several giant water slides. There are also bumper boats, batting cages, mini golf, shops and a cafe so you can make an entire day of it.
An entire museum is dedicated to what lies under the sea, at least the pieces that have survived shipwrecks. DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum has one of the largest collections of shipwreck and recovered artifacts in the Mid-Atlantic, with regional and worldwide items.
Set your sights on sea creatures during a cruise out of Fisherman’s Wharf. From mid-June through Labor Day, four-hour cruises take you out to sea in the hopes of spotting dolphins and whales. The Wharf also hosts a morning dolphin cruise that includes a free continental breakfast.
Named one of the nation’s 10 greatest coastal boardwalks by Coastal Living magazine, America’s Best Boardwalk by American Profile magazine and among the Top U.S. Boardwalks by National Geographic magazine, Rehoboth’s Boardwalk is a place the family can stroll and entertain themselves day or night.
Golfing is a popular pastime that can be had at any of the nearby courses like Baywood Greens, Heritage Inn & Golf Club, Kings Creek Country Club, Old Landing Golf Course and Rehoboth Beach Country Club.
Many people head to Rehoboth to take advantage of the tax-free shopping, either by stopping in one of the boutiques that line the main street of the city or in the popular Tangier Outlets that reside along Route 1 just west of the coastline. (Read more about shops to visit below.)
Since 1963 the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand has been the main music venue for summer concerts, where 50 bands perform in the open-air space all season long. There are also movie screenings and performances from local, regional and national acts.
Kiteboarding, an adventure water sport that combines the aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, paragliding and more, is a popular sport in the Rehoboth area. While you use a large kite to steer, a board pulls you along the water and allows for all types of acrobatics.
Take in the local art scene at the Rehoboth Art League, where there is a roster of artisans displaying their work and a multitude of art education opportunities from workshops and classes to special events held at The Homestead and Corkran, Tubbs & Ventures Galleries, both on the Henlopen Acre Campus.
To bring the performing arts to the area, a group of full-time, part-time and volunteer staff, artists and educators opened Clear Space Theatre Company in 2004 as a space for the in-house professional acting company that performs dozens of shows a year, the art institute that offers educational programming and a tour company that spreads the artists’ craft throughout southern Delaware.
Culture & Entertainment
Rehoboth is more than a beach town. As it has come into its own as a year-round community, the area boasts plenty of cultural and entertainment opportunities to go along with the big draws of the area: tax-free shopping, the boardwalk, amusements and more.
Boat rides for all members of the family can be found through the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Excursions include trips to the Cape May County Zoo, where more than 250 species of animals, birds and reptiles live; an opportunity take to the trees at Tree to Tree, an aerial adventure park at the zoo; or a ride to the Cape May Lighthouse to discover the local wildlife while learning about the area’s history. A catered box lunch is provided. There is also a trip for architecture-lovers as you stroll the Physick Estate and the Carroll Gallery Exhibit, with time for shopping the Washington Street Mall. You can also take a quick jaunt to Atlantic City. You’ll even get $25 in free slot play through their Lucky 7’s package.
Take a regular cruise, sightseeing cruise or a sunset cruise from Fisherman’s Wharf, or go on a dolphin/whale watch. No matter what type of seafaring joyride you are in the mood for, Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to scope out for water-loving cruising, and the three generations of Parsons who’ve run the business know the best places to go for fishing, cruising and dolphin-watching.
This year the Delaware Seashore turns 50, and the state park has many events planned. But no matter the year there’s always the 6-mile shoreline, either oceanside or bayside; 2,825 acres of parkland; and options for swimming, sunbathing, fishing and boating. The park also has Mobi-Mat equipment, allowing those in wheelchairs and power chairs to enjoy the beach as well.
Not all entertainment needs to be on the sea. Delmarva Discovery Tours take you through all the land has to offer with a Beer, Wine & Spirit Tour; an Antiques Trail Tour; a Family Farm Tour; a Maritime History Tour; or a Wine and Garden Tour. They even allow for some maneuvering with Build Your Own Tour options. All tours take an average of three to four hours and include three stops on the trip.
At a lot of beaches you can find lighthouses but not many lightships. The Lightship Overfalls is one of only seven lightships in the country that are open for tours and one of just 17 lightships built from 1820 to 1952 that are still in existence today. At Lightship Overfalls you can tour Delaware’s only Maritime National Historic landmark and take a guided tour above and below the decks of the restored ship.
After a day of jumping the waves, the nighttime calls for some speedy fun. At Midway Speedway all members of the family can rev their engines with 10 styles of some of the fastest go-karts on the Delmarva Peninsula. Or you can take in a round of mini golf, bump around in bumper cars, brave a climbing wall or, for daytime fun, head to the White Water Mountain Water Park with waterslides, activity pool, lazy river and Olympic-sized pool.
Family entertainment is a sure thing at this venue, where just two actors take on the entire performance of children’s classics like Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows and Jack and the Beanstalk during this year’s schedule.
Each November Rehoboth turns into a quasi-film festival as features, documentaries and short films are showcased. And throughout the year the Cinema Art Theater offers programming, education and more to the community.
When at the beach, dress in a relaxed yet stylish way. All you need to do is stop in Bella Luna, where you can pick up sea-inspired and of-the-moment accessories, casual frocks, scarves and more.
Books are a must for any vacation, and Browseabout Books stocks the latest best-sellers and hosts author series.
Looking for something unique to add to your wardrobe? You must stop in Downtown Cowgirl, where Jennifer White and Erin Kesselring curate fashion and home accessory pieces that can’t be found anywhere else.
A Lilly Pulitzer signature store, The Pink Crab focuses on bringing the classic preppy look right to the shoreside.
Look no further for unique gifts described by social media fans as “Etsy-like” than M Squared, a gift shop that carries gifts, home accessories and popular phrase art.
This open-air mall is not only a historic gem, it is also home to a plethora of shops like Sea Finds, Gifts of Serenity, Fun For All Toys, Edgewater Men’s Shop, Jewel Star and more.
If you’re shopping with little ones (or big ones) or you just need some sand-time paraphernalia, Rehoboth Toy and Kite Company is stocked with all the crazy gadgets and beachy decor you’d expect.
What’s old is trending, and Gidget’s Gadgets carries vinyl, comic books, retro toys and a host of options for collectors like gamago, kidrobot and fredco.
Dining at this beach isn’t all fried food and pizza, though that can be found. Rehoboth’s dining scene is one that can rival almost any town as seen through its fine-dining options, like Victoria’s Restaurant in the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel. Overlook the beach and boardwalk as you dine on seared salmon, veal forestiere, filet au poivre or lobster Francaise. You can also partake in a traditional afternoon tea, breakfast, lunch or some pub fare.
Rehoboth’s Salt Air Restaurant and Bar goes the farm-to-fork route with fresh dishes that not only are displayed like an art form but also delight the taste buds with locally inspired dishes that evolve seasonally.
For seafood-lovers, there are oysters to be had at Henlopen City Oyster House and a raw bar spread and more at Fins Fish House & Raw Bar. There is also trending fare at what Zagat dubbed one of the 10 Hottest Restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, The Cultured Pearl Sushi & Fusion Restaurant. But the newest hot spot is Big Chill Beach Club, where you can truly enjoy the beach lifestyle by dining on a rooftop overlooking the ocean and munching on burgers, seafood sandwiches and more.
But seafood and small plates aren’t the only options in town. Mexican dishes get the royal treatment at Dos Locos and Mariachi Restaurant. And Northern Virginia residents get a taste of home at the place where Dogfish Head began.
And for sweet treats there’s a bounty of options from ice cream and frozen drinks at The Ice Cream Store or Kaisy’s Delights to chocolates, caramels and fudge at Kilwins or a steaming cup of java at The Coffee Mill.