For those who enjoy boardwalk frivolity and beach serenity in equal measure, Rehoboth Beach, even as its commercial appeal rapidly expands, remains a reliable vacation choice.
Some visitors may choose to spend their days reading on the beach and evenings playing Scrabble on the screened porch of a rental home. Others may bob in an ocean of retail possibilities by day and haunt the amusements of Funland by night. Or they may opt to kayak beyond the breakers, brave Dewey Beach's youthful nightlife and meander through nearby historic Lewes.
Rain or shine, Delaware beach communities present an ever-growing melange of activities for all ages and sensibilities, while preserving their amiable, small-town personalities.
Ranging from luxurious to cozy to basic, Delaware beach accommodations serve wedding parties, business travelers and families.Hotel Rehoboth, 247 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-4300. Opened in March with 51 guest rooms and one executive suite, the hotel has a high-end vibe. Rates: $159-$399.
Delaware Inn Bed & Breakfast, 55 Delaware Ave., 302-227-6031. Free morning yoga, hot breakfast and an easy stroll to the beach. Rates: Two-night minimum stay costs $360-$460.
Bellmoor Inn, 6 Christian St., 302-227-5800. Elegant lodging close to the beach with spa service, a terrace, gardens and pool. Garden room rates: $155-$435
Beach lovers cannot live on pizza, french fries and frozen custard alone. Here's a selection of new and coming places in which to chow down, from white-tablecloth formal to ultra-casual. And note a new wave of Hawaiian-themed destinations.
Spiaggia Cucina Italiano, 247 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-2240. This upscale restaurant scheduled to open in early summer below Hotel Rehoboth promises seaside butternut squash ceviche and mashed balsamic chick peas. Entrees: $16-$22.
Nalu Hawaiian Surf Bar & Grille, 1308 Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach, 302-227-1449; nalusurfbar.com. Just opened in late spring, Nalu promises dishes such as coconut shrimp and guava-glazed ribs. Entrees: $11-$23.
Ponos, 1306 Coastal Highway, Dewey Beach, 302-227-3119. Ponos, a "Hawaiian fine dining" experience, is another new Dewey hot spot. Entrees: $19-$34.
Fisher Bay Gourmet Foods, 3323 E. Chesapeake St., Lewes, 302-644-4747. Featuring lots of fancy sandwiches ($7-$10), salads and a recommended chili.
Dewey Beach Club, 1205 Highway One, Dewey Beach, 302-227-0669. Specializes in burgers, ribs and fresh seafood. Participate in a Thursday night trivia contest. Entrees: $6.95-$24.95.
For those who come to life later in the day, the Delaware shore offers an abundance of nightlife and entertainment.
Arena's Deli and Bar, Village by the Sea Shoppes, 302-227-1272. A place with plenty of local ambience, sandwiches and nachos galore and a continuing roster of live acts.
Purple Parrot, 134 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-1139. Karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday night drag shows.
Frogg Pond, 3 S. First St., 302-227-2234. Friday night jazz, other live music and dance parties Saturdays.
Rainy days, sunburns and beach fatigue are not a problem. More information at beach-fun.com.
Outdoors Jungle Jim's Waterpark, 8 Country Club Road, 302-227-8444. Besides featuring the usual bumper boats, go-karts and putt-putt courses, expansion plans this year call for a 10,000-square-foot "sprayground" for kids.
With the proliferation of shops and boutiques, it's easy to forget that Rehoboth has an ocean.
Pineapple Princess Swim and Resort Wear, 301 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-8705. Swimwear and accessories for men and women. Alterations offered on premises.
Cleo's Boutique, 247 Rehoboth Ave., 302-270-3641. A swank women's clothing, accessories and jewelry shop that just opened.
Mod Cottage, 247 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-7277. Modern home accessories.
July BETHANY BEACH 4TH OF JULY PARADE -- Garfield Parkway and North Pennsylvania Avenue, Bethany Beach / 302-539-8011. Noon-2 p.m. July 4. The theme of the event is "Pride Tradition and Dedication," to honor the Bethany Beach Patrol. Horseshoe and pie-eating contests begin after the parade. Fireworks at dusk. Free.
August 30th ANNUAL SANDCASTLE CONTEST -- Fisherman's Beach, Rehoboth Beach / 800-441-1329, ext. 12. 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 2. Compete in sandcastle, freeform and animal categories. Free.
Delaware Seashore State Park 130 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach Pass required: $8 for a daily admission pass for out-of-state vehicles, $54 for an annual pass. Pets allowed: Leashed dogs are allowed on surf-fishing section year-round. Lifeguard hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Rentals: Umbrellas, chairs and rafts. Public Restrooms: Yes. Showers: Yes. Concession stands: Snack foods are available at the bathhouses. Parking: Lot. Cost included in admission fee. Fishing allowed: Yes. Camping: Yes, but because of construction, some areas will be closed. Worth noting: Cottage rentals are available.
Cape Henlopen State Park 42 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes Pass required: $8 for a daily admission pass for out-of-state vehicles, $54 for an annual pass. Pets allowed: Leashed dogs allowed on surf-fishing beach. Lifeguard hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Rentals: Umbrellas, chairs, rafts, boogie boards and surf mats. Public Restrooms: Yes. Showers: Yes. Concession stands: Yes. Parking: Lot. Cost included in admission fee. Fishing allowed: Yes. Camping: Yes. Worth noting: If the parking lot is full (weekends during peak season), admission will be denied until spots free up.
Fenwick Island State Park Del. 1, 3 1/2 miles south of Bethany Beach Pass required: $8 for a daily admission pass for out-of-state vehicles, $54 for an annual pass. Pets allowed: Leashed dogs allowed on surf-fishing beach. Lifeguard hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. Rentals: Umbrellas, chairs, boogie boards, kayaks, windsurfers and catamarans. Public Restrooms: Yes. Showers: Yes. Concession stands: Yes. Parking: Lot. Cost included in admission. Fishing allowed: Yes. Camping: No. Worth noting: Designated surfing area.
Rehoboth Beach Pass required: No. Pets allowed: Dogs are prohibited from the beach and boardwalk April 1-Oct. 31. Lifeguard hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays Rentals: Umbrellas and chairs are available at beach shacks on every other block. Public Restrooms: Yes, at Delaware, Rehoboth and Baltimore avenues at the boardwalk. Showers: Outdoor rinse-off showers along the boardwalk in Rehoboth. Concession stands: No, but the boardwalk is right there. Parking: Meters, unless you have a permit. Fishing allowed: Yes, on north end of the boardwalk. Camping: No. Worth noting: Beat the traffic by using the Park & Ride Lot on Shuttle Road off of Del. 1., north of Rehoboth Avenue.