Visitors have been making annual pilgrimages to Rehoboth Beach since the roads were first paved in 1925. Shortly thereafter, travelers drove their newfangled Fords to this seaside destination. But the funny thing about Rehoboth is how little it has changed since then. Sure, modern hotels have popped up along Route 1, and the Tanger Outlet Mall draws shoppers year-round. But overall, this coastal outpost in southern Delaware retains its vintage charm and many of its original landmarks, like the iconic Boardwalk and Funland, Rehoboth’s 60-year-old amusement park.
Anyone who spends time strolling Rehoboth Avenue will instantly fall in love with the family-friendly atmosphere along with the town’s natural assets—long stretches of fluffy white sand lapped by cresting waves. Arrive early to find that perfect spot on the beach, where you can partake in wave riding or settle into a beach chair under sunlit skies. Here, sunbathers are lulled by the rhythmic beat of the surf, while being serenaded by cawing seagulls in search of the errant Thrashers french fry.
Lots of folks rent beach houses sitting cheek-to-jowl along the town’s organized street grid. People, like the Biden family, who own a home here, sit on their screened-in porches, watching as beachgoers flip-flop their way to the shore. That evening, they’ll return for a slice of Grotto Pizza, Dolle’s caramel popcorn, or Kohr Brothers soft serve. Rehoboth arguably has the best beach food in the Mid-Atlantic.
Beyond the shoreline, there are options for getting wet (or not). Try zipping down a waterslide or floating along a lazy river at Jungle Jim’s. Challenge your friends to a rousing game of putt-putt on a rooftop overlooking the ocean at Ryan’s Mini Golf. Play Skee-Ball or Space Invaders at Zelky’s Beach Arcade, where everyone wins a prize.
Rehoboth has miles of bike-friendly streets, too. Rent a beach cruiser, tandem bike, or a four-person surrey with the fringe on top at Bob’s Bikes Rental. Take a ride through the bustling resort town or pedal to Gordons Pond Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park. The gravel pathway skirts beside sand dunes and a 900-acre saltwater lagoon.
Rehoboth’s nostalgic charm conjures memories of building sandcastles and eating saltwater taffy. That’s why generations of beachgoers have vacationed here for nearly a century.
NEW THIS YEAR
So what’s new under the sun here? Most beachgoers are unaware of the lantern-lit tours at Indian River Life-Saving Station, where heroic surfmen saved shipwreck victims before there was a U.S. Coast Guard. The station also hosts classes on sea-glass jewelry-making, beach driving, and nautical flags. Or take a tour of an oyster farm with Delaware Cultured Seafood. Find insider deals at SouthDelSidekick.com.
Among all that decadent beach food, sneak in a restaurant featuring scratch-made Mid-Atlantic cuisine. Bluecoast Seafood Grill & Raw Bar on Coastal Highway is a bright, sleek space with an enclosed patio that feels very New England. What counts is on the plate, and this locally owned restaurant will not disappoint. The seafood is the star, but there is plenty of comfort food to please every palate. Even the wine and beer list are cosmopolitan. Don’t miss the crab waffle fries with white cheddar fondue, grilled bone-in pork chop, or the seafood stew in a sultry tomato broth. The Almond Joy layer cake is big enough to share.
Hotels in Rehoboth vary in amenities. Some have ocean views, others overlook the boardwalk, and some provide a quick getaway on Route 1. But The Avenue Hotel & Spa has conveniences that stand out. The rooms are well-appointed and luxurious. There’s a saltwater pool, spa, and fitness center. Included: a daily hot breakfast and wine and cheese. When you’re ready to hit the beach, the hotel provides free golf-cart rides to and fro, along with towels and chairs. It’s only two blocks from the boardwalk and adjacent to Rehoboth Avenue’s shops and restaurants. It’s the whole package, plus considerate service and free parking.