1. The main food groups are seafood, candy and beer. Though Rehoboth Beach is justifiably well known for its seafood restaurants, homemade fudge and taffy, and the excellent ales at the Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats, the culinary scene offers much more. In recent years, several restaurants with a farm-to-table focus have opened, and more are on the way. Ethnic food is also gaining popularity. For example, the Cultured Pearl Restaurant and Sushi Bar (www.culturedpearl.us/) serves Asian food, Dos Locos (doslocos.com) satisfies cravings for Mexican fare, the Irish Eyes Pub and Restaurant (irisheyespub.com/rehoboth) serves, you guessed it, Irish food, and Lily Thai Cuisine brings the complex flavors of pad Thai and larb gai to the beach.
2. For tax-free shopping, it's all about the outlets. For most people, a trip to Rehoboth isn't complete without a day of discounts at the sprawling Tanger Outlet Centers. While there's nothing wrong with scoring a $4.99 button-down at The Gap, Rehoboth also offers a wealth of locally owned shopping options. A few to try: Odysea (odyseabeach.com), which sells fun and unusual clothes, accessories, housewares and other items; the Rehoboth Toy & Kite Company (rehobothkite.com), selling colorful kites, flags, wind socks, windmills, mailbox covers and more; Quiet Storm (quietstormsurf.com), selling equipment and clothing for surfboarding and skating; and the Candy Kitchen Shoppes (candykitchen.com), selling house-made fudge and taffy, as well as retro candy and chocolate, gifts and toys.
3. Rehoboth is only worth visiting in the summertime. "People come all year long," said Carol Everhart, CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center, adding that fall is one of the more popular times because the ocean is still warm. About 60 percent of Rehoboth Beach businesses stay open year-round, though the ones on the mile-long boardwalk are more likely to close in the harshest weather because they are most exposed to the elements, said Everhart. Visiting Rehoboth Beach in the off-season means fewer crowds and better deals on lodging. Another enticement is annual events such as a sidewalk sale every May and the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler's Festival at the end of October .
4. For the optimal beach experience, plan on arriving at 10 and leaving at 4. "The locals can tell you that 4 to 7 at the beach is the best time," said Everhart. The light is beautiful, the sun is less powerful, and "you're going to have a really open beach to walk," she said.
5. Parking is a hassle. The parking meters in Rehoboth's downtown take only quarters. That means carrying quarters or getting change, and keeping track of the time left on the meter — not always a priority when enjoying a meal and a few drinks. Visitors will welcome Parkmobile, a mobile service that is already being used in Boston, Washington and other cities. It allows users to pay by smartphone, and even to create text alerts to indicate when the meter is about to expire. The system works when users download a free application to create an account. The service charges the same rate of $1.50 per hour for parking. Drivers who don't want to use the system can still feed the meters with quarters, Everhart said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun