Beach Bonanza!

Maryland-Delaware resorts rev up cheap family fun this summer.

Marty LeGrand - May 2009

Beach Bonanza!

Maryland-Delaware resorts rev up cheap family fun this summer.

Marty LeGrand - May 2009


With budgets pinched to the penny, "staycationers" are clicking their flip-flops and murmuring, "There's no place like close to home." Three hours away, Ocean City and Delaware's gold coast—from Fenwick Island through Bethany, Dewey, and Rehoboth beaches to Lewes—offer a collective 30 miles of seaside escapism that you can't afford not to pursue.

So stop cringing over the state of your portfolio and take a gander at all the beach has to offer this summer, including what's new, what to do, where to eat meals, and where to find deals.

OCEAN CITY

A long pearly strand of beach; miles of ocean in which to fish, splash, and play; a power grid of boundless beachgoer energy that could light the entire boardwalk—Ocean City is Maryland's original destination for summer distraction.

Little wonder then that "O.C." has become the Big Cheese of Maryland and Delaware beaches, offering more beachfront (10 miles), boardwalk (three miles), and capacity for vacationers (including about 25,000 condo units and 10,000 hotel rooms) than any one of its neighbors. Add to that figure nearly 100 more rooms when the four-story Courtyard by Marriott Ocean City (boardwalk at 15th St., 410-289-5008) and Hotel Monte Carlo's new luxury efficiency suites (at the hotel's second location, 11th St. and Baltimore Ave.) open this summer.

"A lot of hotels are holding the line on prices this year," says Donna Abbott, public relations director for the Ocean City Convention and Visitors Bureau. That's welcome news for one of O.C.'s most loyal and budget-conscious constituencies—families. Think there's no way two adults plus two kids times one day "downyocean" costs less than $250? Way, claims AOL Travel, which named Ocean City one of the top 10 family vacation values on the East Coast last year (the only beachy place on the list).What enables such fiscal restraint? One factor is the town's numerous opportunities for entertainment on the house: complimentary concerts Sundays and Wednesdays, free flicks on the beach Mondays and Fridays, freebie Olympics for all ages on Tuesdays, and bonfire programs on Thursdays. (See ococean.com for a schedule.) By Saturday, you can afford to dust off your wallet and spring for a night at a mini-golf course or a movie megaplex.

And don't forget the distractions lining O.C.'s back side, the mix of refined dining and rollicking bars, fishing piers and water parks, crab houses and charter-boat docks that line Assawoman and Isle of Wight bays—not to mention the shopping, dining, and recreation waiting just over the Route 50 bridge in West Ocean City.

Diversions
You can thrill to rides even wilder than the Dow Jones's undulations at Trimper's Rides and Amusements (boardwalk between S. Division and S. 1st streets), an O.C. fixture for more than a century. A spin on the Inverter, the Tidal Wave, the Freakout, or one of 40 other rides can be as hair-raising as today's headlines. (But this screaming is pleasurable.)
Prefer to get your kicks on the ocean? Hop aboard a speedboat for a thrilling ride along the coastline. Dolphins often cavort alongside these excursion boats' turbo-charged engines. The Sea Rocket leaves from Bahama Mama's pier (Isle of Wight Bay at Wicomico St., 410-289-3499) and OC Rocket from Talbot Street Pier (Isle of Wight Bay at Talbot St., 410-289-3500).
GPS on your golf cart? The entire fleet at Ocean City's seaside municipal course, Eagle's Landing (12367 Eagles Nest Rd., 410-213-7277), was outfitted with the gizmos last fall.
You've seen the T-shirts, now imbibe at the saloon that started it all. Dusk is the ideal time to visit the gazebo at M.R. Ducks Bar & Grille (Talbot St. Pier on the bay, 410-289-3503). Order a Chug-a-Duck (light beer and an Amaretto shot in a duck decoy-shaped drinking vessel).

Dining
When it comes to food, there's nothing more comforting than tradition. And in Ocean City, tried and true is trendy once more.
The Captain's Table closed its doors about five years ago. Now, the casual restaurant, popular for its macadamia-encrusted halibut and stuffed shrimp, returns this summer as part of the new Courtyard by Marriott Ocean City (boardwalk at 15th St., 410-289-5008).
Liquid Assets Wine & Martini Bar (9301 Coastal Hwy., 410-524-7037) has added an $8 lunch combo to its menu that will appeal to the budget-and-portion-conscious. The restaurant will also offer free beer/liquor/wine tastings regularly (check la94.com for a schedule).
The times they are a-changin' at Crab Bag (13005 Coastal Hwy., 410-250-3337), the bayside crabhouse that has been serving blue crabs and Natty Bohs since the '70s. The restaurant has expanded and greatly broadened its menu, while the crabhouse (now called Back of the Bag) has moved to the rear of the building and expects to add a tiki deck this summer. There's also a new produce/seafood/carryout market and a raw bar, where co-owner Albert Levy suggests you try the oysters shucked and char grilled in-house.
You can't get more classic than a Smith Island cake, a six-to-12-layer yellow cake chinked with chocolate-fudge icing. Sample a slice—or take home an entire cake—at the Original Smith Island Cake Company, a new bakery and dessert cafe in the Ocean City Factory Outlets (12741 Ocean Gtwy., West Ocean City, 410-213-2253).
West Ocean City is getting another Chesapeake favorite on Route 50—Boog Powell's World-Famous Pit Beef Ball Park Bar-B-Q. The eponymous eatery of the O's beloved first bagger joins Boog's first O.C. location at 401 S. Atlantic Avenue.

Deals
Restaurant Week (May 31-June 7) returns for its third year—at 2007 prices. Graze the gourmet offerings of such establishments as Galaxy 66 Bar & Grille (66th St. and Coastal Hwy., 410-723-6762) and Marlin Moon Grille (12806 Ocean Gtwy., 866-213-DINE) at hold-the-line fixed fees: $30 for three courses, $20 for two. Some chefs offer wine pairings for a modest additional charge.

Information
Ocean City Convention and Visitors Bureau and Department of Tourism, ococean.com, 800-OC-OCEAN (800-626-2326).

FENWICK ISLAND

The southernmost of Delaware's resort beaches, demure Fenwick Island does seem, in many ways, an entire state removed from its high-profile southern neighbor, Ocean City. True, it possesses O.C.-like amenities: a clean, patrolled beach; an amusement and water park; a variety of restaurants and tiki bars; a maritime museum; and modern marinas, water sports, and eco-tours.

But it's quieter here, more relaxed. There's an appealing innocence about Fenwick that brings childhood vacation memories rushing back. Maybe that's because it's graced with endangered species: a cavernous family-owned-and-operated seafood house, a general store stocked with candies and cheeses and Christmas ornaments; and an architecturally significant Dairy Queen—unlike numerous old cottages here—has survived for half a century.

All the more reason, believes Winnie Lewis, chairwoman of the town's Cultural and Historic Preservation Subcommittee, to keep those memories alive for residents and beachgoers alike. So Lewis and her committee are soliciting old photos to be digitally preserved and planning the first Old Fenwick Island Days to ensure that future generations won't forget Fenwick's timeless charms.

Diversions
Immerse yourself in southern Delaware's stormy past by visiting the Fenwick Island Lighthouse (143rd St., 302-436-8100), whose beacon alerted mariners to the barrier island's treacherous shoals for more than a century. The landmark lighthouse is celebrating its 150th anniversary this summer. Although visitors aren't permitted to climb inside the structure, volunteers (some, like Lewis, descendants of former keepers) share light-keeping lore.
Couple your lighthouse visit with a tour of the nearby DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum (708 Coastal Hwy., above Sea Shell City, 302-539-9336), and you'll appreciate the beacon's raison d'etre. The museum's collection of salvaged shipwreck booty speaks volumes about the hazards of pre-lighthouse navigation.
With water, water everywhere, you'll find recreation options aplenty. The twisting "black hole body slide" at Viking Golf Amusements' Thunder Lagoon Waterpark (Rte. 1 at Rte. 54, 302-539-4027) looks like something Dr. Seuss conceived, and nothing's more refreshing on a sizzling summer day than a volley of water shot from the park's hard-to-miss water feature, a teeter-tottering Viking ship.
Rent the watercraft of your choice: kayaks and sailboats at Coastal Kayak (Rte. 1, Fenwick Island State Park, 302-539-7999), which also offers lessons and guided kayak tours; waverunners and pontoon boats at Action Watercraft Rentals (142nd St. Marina, 302-537-6500); and kayaks, waverunners, and fishing boats at Sharks Cove Watersports (Sharks Cove Marina, Rte. 54, 302-436-8500).

Dining
The island fare at newcomer Jammin Jon's Island BBQ (38015 Fenwick Shoals Blvd., West Fenwick, 302-436-7427) is Caribbean-influenced (think jerk seasonings and coconut conch chowder), but you can order native foods, too. Try Fenwick clam fritters or the Crab Daddy Burger, the eatery's signature crabmeat-stuffed hamburger served with a tropical, avocado-mango cream condiment.
Old Eastern Shore meets boomer retro chic at Catch 54 (Rte. 54, 302-436-8600), a casual seafood restaurant overlooking Little Assawoman Bay. Chill to bay breezes and Beach Boys' melodies while you enjoy traditional Delmarva dishes with a twist such as fried oysters and chicken salad, broiled crab cakes, and fresh-caught fish.
The folksy Fenwick Crab House Restaurant (100 Coastal Hwy., 302-539-2500) earns kudos for its steamed crabs and hefty backfin crab cakes.

Deals
The Freeman Foundation's Summer Stage Series brings city-caliber performing arts to Fenwick's bayside community. Best of all, the concerts, musicals, plays, and operas are free. Call the Summer Stage Hotline at 302-436-3015 for a schedule.

Information: Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, bethany-fenwick.org, 800-962-SURF, 302-539-2100.

BETHANY BEACH

Bethany is the tapas bar of Delmarva beaches, offering vacationers just enough of everything they ask of the shore without the risk of overindulging. More a neighborhood than a town, convivial Bethany and its fellow "Quiet Resorts" (including South Bethany, Ocean View, and Fenwick Island) form the serene center of the vortex that swirls around Ocean City and the Rehoboth and Dewey beaches every summer. The families and laid-back souls who vacation here year after year may enjoy their easy access to more high-powered fun, but they prefer to stay at a slower place.

Marked by the red-cedar totem pole that towers over its entrance, Bethany's downtown business district is small and strollable, measuring maybe two-by-two—blocks, that is. This means you won't have to walk far to find what you need within a four-block radius. Gourmet markets, day spas, shopping plazas, and several state parks and nature preserves are a short drive away.

Even on cloudy days, you may want to wear shades as you stroll Bethany's boardwalk, a compact one-half-mile long. The town's shingle-style bandstand and information center are kept so spic and span they virtually gleam.

Between them, Bethany and South Bethany offer seven miles of white sandy beach, which typically becomes a colorful jumble of umbrellas, bathing suits, and beach towels on summer weekends.

Diversions
Whether you prefer your golf small, medium, or supersized, the Quiet Resorts have links to your liking. Young and old can enjoy Captain Jack's Pirate Golf (21 N. Pennsylvania Ave., 302-539-1122), the only miniature golf course in Bethany Beach. "A course you can play without devoting the day!" proclaims Salt Pond Golf Club (400 Bethany Loop, 302-539-7525) of its 18-hole, par 3 and par 4 course targeted to beginning and intermediate players. Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club (7 Clubhouse Dr., Ocean View, 1-877-BEARTRAP) offers 27 challenging holes, many of which incorporate natural sand dunes.
Got surf? Bethany Surf Shop (99 Garfield Pkwy., 302-539-6400) will make sure your wave time isn't wasted. They offer surfing lessons and surfboard, bodyboard, and skimboard rentals.
There's more to the shore than the ocean. The shallow, protected waters of Bethany's "back bay," Indian River Bay, are ideally suited for kayaking, sailing, fishing, windsurfing, and exploring. Take a leisurely sunset cruise with Back Bay Tours (Harbour View Marina, Ocean View, 302-388-1915), whose crew also offers scenic daytime cruises, flounder-fishing trips, and sandbar exploration tours.
Here's a way to save money: Supply your own seafood. Visit Holts Landing State Park, a 200-acre facility in Millville on the shores of Indian River Bay, to try your luck at the crabbing pier, dig clams from the muddy shoreline, or fish for flounder, bluefish, sea trout, and other species by boat or from shore.

Dining
Begin—or end—your day with a Baltimore omelet (jumbo lump crabmeat, tomato, and Swiss cheese) or a syrup-slathered stack of Penguin cakes (buttermilk or buckwheat) at The Penguin Diner (105 Garfield Pkwy., 302-541-8017), a cheery breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in downtown Bethany.
Curbside 'cue? In downtown Bethany, parking can be a problem at the height of summer, so Bethany Blues BBQ Pit (6 N. Pennsylvania Ave., 302-537-1500) offers curbside pickup for most carryout orders. You can also get drive-up 'cue at Bootsie's Bar-B-Q(95 Atlantic Ave., Ocean View, 302-539-9529), a carryout stand on Route 26.
Diners familiar with the former Magnolia's restaurant in Ocean View likely won't recognize its casual fine-dining successor. Its reincarnation, Magnolia's Seafood Bar & Grill (30415 Cedar Neck Rd., Ocean View, 302-539-5671), serves steaks and seafood in some pretty stylish digs. The upstairs dining room is bright and airy, though fairly traditional in décor. It's the club-like downstairs lounge, with its oyster bar, plasma TVs, and tropical fish tanks that's causing the big buzz.
Other than beach cam, there's no better vantage point from which to survey Bethany's beachfront than Mango's (Garfield Pkwy. and the boardwalk, 302-537-6621). Go topside to the deck, order a Mangorita (that's a margarita plus mango juice), and let the steel drum music carry you away.

Deals
The staff at Delaware Seashore State Park and Indian River Life-Saving Station (Rte. 1, 302-227-6991) have brainstormed oodles of inexpensive programs to educate and entertain: stargazing on the beach, surf fishing classes (tackle and bait provided), marine science boat tours, and even squid dissection.
Pack a lunch, take your camera, and head west off Route 1 to explore a pair of little-known back bay preserves open to the public at no charge. Pick up a map at Assawoman Wildlife Area (37604 Mulberry Landing Rd., Frankford, 302-539-3160) to follow a self-guided auto tour of this sanctuary located three miles southwest of Bethany Beach.

Information: Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, bethany-fenwick.org,800-962-SURF, 302-539-2100.

DEWEY BEACH

Surf in the Atlantic. Sailboard in Rehoboth Bay. Meet in the middle to party. Dewey Beach, Rehoboth's youthful southern neighbor, is only about a mile long and a couple blocks wide, but all the better to pack the most into a summer getaway.
If you are what you drink, then the under-thirtysomethings who flock to Dewey Beach can be neatly profiled by the Bullshark. It's a favorite libation at The Starboard (2009 Highway One, 302-227-4600), a popular restaurant/bar celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer. A mixture of vodka, champagne, two kinds of fruit juice, and Red Bull, the cocktail captures Dewey's fun-loving, high-energy, endless summer lifestyle.
Dewey's wide, recently replenished beach is a magnet for sunbathers and surf anglers, not to mention skim and surfboarders. (Don't look for a boardwalk, there is none.) On the other side of town, the bay is just right for parasailing, sailboarding, and kayaking. In between lies Route 1 (Coastal Highway) and its festivity-sustaining collection of beach bars, music venues, eateries, and sports shops.
Much to the relief of local folk, Dewey's "party central" reputation is slowly changing. The resort town offers a greater range of dining options now and has targeted more activities for families. One plan would convert a large rental hall at Ruddertowne, the dining-drinking-shopping complex in the heart of Dewey, into a kid-friendly "fun center."

Diversions
Whether you want to catch a wave or the wind, Dewey is the place to do it.
Get a lift from Dewey Beach Parasail (113 Dickinson St., 302-227-9507) for a gull's eye view of the shore. It's the ultimate spectator sport. Or harness the wind and waves on a kiteboard. East of Maui (104 Saint Louis St., 302-227-4703) and H2air Kiteboarding(1701 Coastal Hwy., 302-227-1105) will outfit you and refer you to qualified instructors for lessons (a must for newbies).
Pretend you're a 19th century surfman (or woman) scanning the sea for stranded ships as you take a nighttime kerosene lantern tour at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum (Rte. 1 in Delaware Seashore State Park, 302-227-6991). The costumed interpreters who lead the way tell shipwreck stories taken straight from the station's logbooks and guaranteed to shiver your timbers.
No Dewey Beach vacation would be complete without sampling the nightlife. Join the crowds at Bottle & Cork (1807 Highway One, 302-227-7272), the classic club that has booked such live shows as the Dave Matthews Band, Matchbox 20, Ziggy Marley, Buddy Guy, and Blondie. Founded in 1936, the Cork even predates rock 'n' roll.

Dining
Dig into fried chicken and a mess of home fries at Jimmy's Grille, a new diner-style restaurant slated to open in late May on Route 1 at Bellevue Street (next to Bottle & Cork). Name sound familiar? The eatery is a cousin to the Bridgeville "Jimmy's" that has enticed beachgoers off Route 13 for years with its homemade pies, cakes, and other comfort foods.
Take in a bay sunset with housemade guacamole, a plate of molé-drenched chicken enchiladas, or maybe just a glass of aged tequila at Que Pasa (124 Dickinson St. at the bay, 302-226-1820), the Mexican restaurant that debuted last summer at Ruddertowne. Diners have their pick of indoor or outdoor cantina seating.
Whatever the weather, you can dine beneath the stars at Ponos (1306 Coastal Hwy., 302-227-3119), a Hawaiian-themed, fine-dining restaurant whose ceiling sparkles celestially with fiber-optic lights. Sample Kona coffee-braised short ribs and surf entrees such as macadamia-encrusted opaka while "Tiny Bubbles" drifts from the sound system. In this, its sophomore summer, the restaurant is adding Hawaiian sushi to the menu. Rationing your meal money? Nalu Hawaiian Surf Bar and Grille (302-227-1449), Ponos's tiki bar-like sister, serves lighter fare at lower prices in an equally enticing but more outdoorsy setting.

Deals
Bonfires and beanbag toss for the kids, lacrosse and volleyball for teens. Dewey offers a range of free or low-cost evening beach activities. The town's budget squeeze may affect some programs, so check websites for up-to-date information. deweybeachpatrol.comand beach-fun.com.

REHOBOTH BEACH

Cottages painted in tropical fruit hues. Riders swooshing by on vintage bicycles and Vespas. Diners sampling seafood in twinkly lighted courtyards. As seaside destinations go, downtown Rehoboth Beach reminds us of a small, resort-like Caribbean island.
This one-time Methodist camp colony exudes affluence, free-spiritedness, and genteel family festivity. Its groomed and lifeguarded beach lures as many as 80,000 visitors on summer weekends. Its mile-long boardwalk is flanked on one side by a traditional array of beach lodging, food, amusement, and shopping options, and on the other by reversible benches from which to watch the scenery on "the boards" or the sands.
But explore its one-square-mile downtown, and you'll note Rehoboth's other persona, reflected in the urbane appeal of businesses such as the new, boutique Hotel Rehoboth (247 Rehoboth Ave., 877-247-7346, 302-227-4300) and Cultured Pearl restaurant (301 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-8493), transplanted to a downtown rooftop complete with koi pond, waterfalls, and lots of bamboo. Rehoboth boasts day spas and nightclubs, shabby chic bungalows, and B&Bs lining pine-shaded side streets; an emphasis on fine dining over fried foods; and a tolerant mix of straight and same-sex couples.
We know you didn't come to the beach specifically to shop, but should you succumb, the number and variety of purveyors in downtown Rehoboth make it an enticing prospect. So does Delaware's lack of sales tax.
And if that's not enough rainy day distraction, the Route 1 corridor offers movie theaters at Midway Shopping Center (29 Midway Shopping Center, 302-645-0200) and factory stores galore at Tanger Outlets (three Coastal Highway locations, 302-226-9223).

Diversions
At least once, while you're here, arise before the sun, stumble eastward, and head for the beach. There, you'll share an eye-opening ocean sunrise with the handful of joggers, dog-walkers, street cleaners, and canoodling couples awake (more or less) at this hour. Best of all, it's free.
Meander Rehoboth's trio of browse-worthy boulevards—Rehoboth, Baltimore, and Wilmington avenues—and the pedestrian alleys linking them. Shop for home swag like Simon Pearce glassware and Vurv designer doggie bowls at Mod Cottage (247A Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-7277), tie-dye skirts and hemp jewelry at Sunshine Octopus(149 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-8674), or French-milled spa soaps and retro ice bags (think hangover relief) at Lotions & Potions (46 Baltimore Ave., 302-227-1511). Among the newcomers to Rehoboth's main drag are The Shops at the Pearl (301 Rehoboth Ave.), several retailers offering a range of merchandise from fine wines (Bin 66, 302-227-6966) to resort wear (Pineapple Princess, 302-227-8705) to, yup, venti cinnamon dolce Frappuccinos (Starbucks, 302-227-3682).
Cycling is big in Rehoboth. If you didn't bring bikes, rent them and peddle north to the three-to-six mile Junction & Breakwater Trail at the southwestern edge of Cape Henlopen State Park.
Hit the boardwalk for cheap thrills and chills at Funland (boardwalk at Delaware Ave., 302-227-1921), a favorite of vacationers since the 1930s.

Dining
The shore's culinary hotspot, Rehoboth never lacks for pedigreed chefs and excellent restaurants. Last year proved a particularly good vintage, introducing such keepers as Matthew Haley's Lupo di Mare (247 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-2240), the Hotel Rehoboth's 73-seat restaurant serving classic coastal Italian cuisine and showing vintage movies on the flat-screen TV (new this summer: Italian Sunday brunches); Jay Caputo'sPorcini House (210 Second St., 302-227-6494), a comfy bistro with a flair for truffles that inhabits Chez La Mer's former cottage (don't miss its très cool Treetop Lounge); and Sean McNeice's Stingray (59 Lake Ave., 302-227-MISO), the vibrant sushi bar and Asian-Latino grill, whose fusion appetizers include grouper ceviche served with crispy wontons and fish tacos spiked with chipotle sour cream and sriracha chile sauce.
But the number of "upscale" options may have crested for now in Rehoboth with frugal diners trying to downsize the cost of eating out. This summer's newcomers emphasize small plates or big values. The glitziest addition is Saketumi (18814 Coastal Hwy., 302-645-2818), a sleek sushi lounge and Asian restaurant on Route 1, whose name dares diners to sample appetizers like torched tuna (with jalapeños, red tobiko, chives, and spicy ponzu sauce).
Downtown, the new Rehoboth Ale House (15 Wilmington Ave., 302-227-2337) will price its seafood, steak, and pasta dinners between $10 and $22, says owner Hugo Mazzalupi, adding that the menu "will not cater to the gourmet crowd." The restaurant, although not a brew pub, will dispense 14 beers on tap and almost 100 different domestics, imports, and microbrews in bottles—a lure, Mazzalupi hopes, for the "happy-hour crowd coming off the beach."
In pub news, the owners of Pig + Fish, a well-known downtown eatery, have plans to open the Pickled Pig, a British-style "gastropub" at 18756 Coastal Highway. AndDogfish Head Brewings & Eats (320 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-BREW) is importing yet another Brit tradition: cask ale. Every Thursday, this brew pub—noted for its wood-grilled pizzas—taps a cask of naturally carbonated beer and keeps pouring cool (not cold) ones until the cask is kicked.

Deals
Get your tunes for free Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand, Rehoboth Avenue and the boardwalk. (rehobothbandstand.com for schedule).

Information: Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, beach-fun.com, 800-441-1329.

LEWES

Founded by Dutch seafarers in 1631, Delaware's oldest town remains more port town than resort town. Don't get us wrong. Vacationers enjoy sunning and swimming along the wild, windswept seashore at adjacent Cape Henlopen State Park, but the heart of Lewes (pronounced Loo-iss) still belongs to Delaware Bay and the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal.
No more than six blocks square, downtown Lewes is Delmarva's own Nantucket, filled with cedar-shingle houses, art galleries, antiques stores, friendly cafes, wine bars, gourmet shops, and practicing preservationists, who have saved an impressive number of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century buildings.

Diversions

You can launch an adventure a day here. Board a sightseeing boat at Fisherman's Wharf (next to Lighthouse Restaurant, Lewes & Rehoboth Canal drawbridge, 302-645-8862) and watch for dolphins and whales along the coast. Charter a deep-sea fishing trip at Anglers Fishing Center (Anglers Marina, 213 Anglers Rd., 302-644-4533). Book a ride with the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation to tour Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater East End lighthouses (Lewes Ferry Terminal finger pier, 302-644-7046). Lighthouse tours offered monthly: June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, and Sept. 12.
For a taste of Lewes lore—ordinary and extraordinary—visit the properties operated by the Lewes Historical Society (110 Shipcarpenter St., 302-645-7670), including the Cannonball House & Marine Museum (118 Front St.), struck by a British projectile in 1813.

Dining
And Kindle makes three. The Milton fine-dining restaurant is relocating from the Shops at Paynter's Mill to 111 Bank Street, replacing Books by the Bay Café. It plans to retain its contemporary-American dinner menu and add lunches.
Bethany Blues BBQ Pit (18385 Coastal Hwy., 302-644-2500) brings its signature wood-smoked St. Louis ribs and other slow-cooked favorites to a new Route 1 location in Lewes. And back for its second season, Hopkins Farm Creamery (18186 Dairy Farm Rd., 302-645-7163) serves ice cream the way you remember it.

Deals
It's worth a few guilders alone to see the interior of the intriguing Zwaanendael Museum (102 Kings Hwy., 302-645-1148), the highly ornamental replica of a Dutch town hall that houses a museum dedicated to Lewes and Sussex County history. But admission is free (donations accepted) to view the town, lighthouse, and shipwreck. Enjoy owl prowls, night hikes, WWII gun battery tours, seining trips, and other nature and history adventures at Cape Henlopen State Park—all for $5 or less per person. (See Henlopen's summer program schedule at destateparks.com).

Information: Lewes Chamber of Commerce, 877-465-3937, leweschamber.com.



THE BEACH BUCKET LIST

Twenty things you just have to do at the shore this summer!

  1. Kayak the "back bays" at sunset.
  2. Parasail at Ocean City or Dewey Beach.
  3. Ride the giant Ferris wheel in Ocean City on a moonlit night.
  4. Take the car ferry from Lewes to Cape May, NJ.
  5. Drink Orange Crushes at the Lighthouse's "taco toss," Friday nights in Dewey Beach.
  6. Play mixologist at the Starboard's Bloody Mary smorgasbord in Dewey Beach.
  7. Sip and bob on the floating chairs at Seacrets in Ocean City.
  8. Toast sunsets to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at Fager's Island, Ocean City.
  9. Get 1950s nostalgic with a milkshake from Dumser's in Ocean City.
  10. Nosh on Thrasher's french fries on the boardwalk.
  11. Munch on Cottage Café's "dune fries" in Bethany Beach.
  12. Test the eternal pizza challenge in Rehoboth Beach: Grotto vs. Nicola.
  13. Feast on Fenwick Crab House's all-you-can-eat crabs.
  14. Reel in a big fish aboard a charter boat out of Ocean City, Indian River, or Lewes.
  15. Surf fish in the seashore state parks.
  16. Toast marshmallows over bonfires on the beach.
  17. Experience karaoke night at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach.
  18. Make the music scene at Ruddertowne or the Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach.
  19. Practice your spirals at the Carousel Hotel's indoor ice rink, Ocean City.
  20. Stand astride Maryland and Delaware along the Transpeninsular Line at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse.




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