WHY GO: Sand, Sea, Boardwalk, Food: the quartet of traditional summer resort delights. And yet – those are not the only things to do in Rehoboth Beach DE.
Americans have always needed places to cool off and frolic, even before bathing wear technology caught up with comfort. Because of this, Rehoboth Beach DE has attracted couples and families from Philly and the DC area since Victorian times.
New Yorkers and New Englanders will also find this growing foodie destination a nice alternative to the wild Jersey Shore.
Though Rehoboth is a summer resort, the Mavens encourage you to visit “pre or post season” – just after Memorial Day but prior to “school’s out” mid-June when the crowds get impossible.
Or after Labor Day when days are hot and the Atlantic Ocean is still warm – and you can cuddle with your sweetheart on the beach without getting trounced on by toddlers.
Everything is open, but hotel rates are a fraction of those in high season, and there’s still a chance you’ll find a seat at the most popular and delectable restaurants. FYI – Rehoboth Beach is a family destination for every kind of family; read, LGBT friendly.
Things to do in Rehoboth Beach DE
ROAM: The Boardwalk
Thrasher’s Fries, Kohr’s Frozen Custard, smells of suntan oil, beach umbrellas, sticky fingers (in the best ice-cream-and-candy sense); the mile long Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk is Atlantic City’s demure and wholesome cousin.
Funland – Amusement Park Rides
What’s a summer resort boardwalk without amusement park rides. I’d name most on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk “Toss Your Cookies,” but there are some family friendly rides. Certainly Bumper Cars.
Rehoboth Beach Bandstand
Every summer, on Friday-Sunday nights at 8pm, a live music band strikes up on the lovely, open-air Rehoboth Beach Bandstand.
Snuggle With Your Bae on the Beach At Sunset
What better time to relax with your best friend than at sunset, when all the little kids have left the beach.
GO: Jungle Jim’s Water Park
If your inner-child loves mega water slides and wave-pools, Jungle Jim’s Water Park delivers. When you tire of hot sand and ocean-water, head a couple of miles away from the beach and boardwalk to this popular, and yes, clean, park, where you’ll also find a nicely shaded mini-golf course, and an entirely lazy Lazy River.
SHOP: Sea Bags (next door to Drift Seafood)
So, yeah, this company is based in Maine. But it fits every shoreline town on the Eastern Seabord – actually any seaboard – with totes, purses, and bags of every shape and size, made from old recycled sails. If you’re looking for the perfect Yacht-warming gift, try a Sea Bag stiched to hold ice (with a little gromet at the base for water drainage), and then pair it with a bottle of your favorite bubbly (or cans of local Dogfish Head Beer).
VISIT: Rehoboth Beach Museum
The Rehoboth Beach Museum is just a quick stop just as you cross the canal into Rehoboth Beach. There, discover the Methodist Camp Meeting history of the area (which, like Martha’s Vineyard, evolved into a resort), some information on shipwrecks, and a revolving exhibit gallery long on nostalgia.
To this lover of the offbeat, the best display features samples of woolen bathing suits and a cement-filled bucket. Pick up the 30 lb. bucket to experience what one of these suits feels like wet. Makes you wonder how anyone back then ever wanted to take a dip.
Best Restaurants in Rehoboth Beach
EAT: Drift Seafood and Raw Bar
The headline for this hot new restaurant in Rehoboth DE could read: Local Culinary Genius, Chef Tom Wiswell, Drifts Back Home and Makes A Splash.
In season, it’s tough enough on week-nights to get a reservation at Drift Seafood and Raw Bar. But – it’s nearly impossible on weekends. (Takeaway – book weeks in advance).
The place is small, which contributes to its “tough table” mystique. There are only 8 tables inside and nine on a pretty patio out back. But the flavors are big – even if you’re vegan, which is very surprising for a spot known for its raw bar.
Drift features daily oysters many ways. A Seafood Tower for two ($75, $120 depending on size) is chock full of these bivalves, as well as Tuna Tartar and other fresh from the sea food.
Chef does decadent takes on standard comfort food. So, we get Crab Hushpuppies, Maine Lobster French Toast, Virginia Fluke Schnitzel, and more. The space is pleasing, the service, excellent, and the satisfied vibe what you’d expect when everyone around you is enjoying their meal to the max.
EAT: Blue Moon Restaurant
The Mason Jar Vodka Blackberry Peach Lemonade has been refreshing patrons of the iconic Blue Moon Restaurant in Rehoboth for years. Owners, Tim Ragan and Randy Haney, were on the cutting edge of the towns culinary renaissance when it opened decades ago. Obviously, its tailored, yet carefree ambiance – plus great food and Wine Spectator Awarded wine list two years running – keeps this place going.
The entertainment in the next room – the “Atrium Cabaret” – might also have something to do with it.
After dinner, hit the cabaret up for some of the finest and funnest entertainment in town (the kind of entertainment that is now illegal in Tennessee!). Check event listings – a show here is the perfect aperitif to dinner at Blue Moon.
EAT: Semra’s Mediterranean Grill
Semra‘s hardly ever makes the best of lists, because it’s been here, in perhaps not so plain sight, for decades. With a gyro stall right on the Rehoboth Ave sidewalk, directions to the back dining room often gets lost in the extreme signage and honky-tonk of the street. But if you yearn for a healthy, home-cooked alternative to all the boardwalk junk food, do make it a point to find Semra’s for the best authentic Turkish dining.
EAT: Locals Recommend
Rehoboth Beach is a foodie town, no doubt about it. There are dozens of restaurants in this category. But most mentioned are The Pines for good food in a festive atmosphere (owned by the same group that just opened Drift), Shorebreak Lodge for great cocktails and seafood, Salt Air Kitchen for New American, and stalwart Henlopen City Oyster House, for, well, you know.
Best Places to Stay in Rehoboth Beach
STAY/VICTORIAN: Boardwalk Plaza
This Victorian themed Boardwalk Plaza Hotel opened in 1991 as the only “upscale” hotel in Rehoboth. Things have changed, but not the lobby, stuffed with plants, a real RCA Victrola and two extravagant birdcages.
One is home to an African Grey named Peanut (as old as the hotel itself) and the 2nd the domain of an affectionate parakeet named Emro, who will be happy to pop up on your shoulder and nibble your earrings.
Boardwalk Plaza made it on the Getaway Mavens Best Romantic Hotels in Delaware list.
STAY: The Bellmoor Inn and Spa
The Bellmoor is very unassuming from the outside. Two blocks from the beach, the bright, whitewashed wood-paneled atmosphere speaks to a refined clientele.
STAY/FAMILY: Sands Hotel
Right on the boardwalk, in the midst of the action, Atlantic Sands Hotel has the only oceanfront saltwater pool in town.
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