Travel & Outdoors

Beach Bargains

Have fun at the beach on the cheap!

Sandcastles and flip-flops. Orange Crushes and Dewey Devils. The
Hurricane and the Tidal Wave. Soon, summer’s abiding pleasures will be
yours. As the countdown begins, we’ve found more than 50 ways to stretch
your beach bucks a little further this summer.

Ocean City & Assateague Island

There’s plenty to do at the resort town and the national wildlife refuge.

Deals Under $10

Grab a phaser and join your comrades for a game of laser tag at Lasertron
(33rd Street). The objective is to score as many points as possible by
trying to deactivate other players with your laser light. Cost: $9.

Try summer ice-skating at the Carousel Oceanfront Hotel’s indoor rink (118th Street). Five bucks buys you an hour of ice time. Add $3 if you need to rent skates.

Sip summer’s favorite elixir, an Orange Crush, at the cocktail’s reputed birthplace, Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City. The refreshing blend of vodka, Triple Sec, fresh-squeezed OJ, and 7Up fetches $5.50 at happy hour.

Get spooked at an all-star boardwalk attraction, Trimper’s Haunted House.
Designed by a master of macabre amusements, this “dark ride” features
zombies, torture chambers, and spine-chilling stunts for The
Munsters-era prices—$4 per ride.

Ride the Beach Bus all day for $3. Hop its Park
& Ride shuttle to West Ocean City to shop the new Under Armour and
Crocs stores at the Tanger Outlets. In Ocean City, the Coastal Highway
route is a steal: 24 hours of unlimited-stop downtown service.

A Priceless Souvenir

Buy Ocean City, Maryland: A Pictorial History, perfect for beach
nostalgists; $19.98 at Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum gift shop
(813 S. Atlantic Ave.).

Watch For. . .

The release of Ping Pong Summer.Mt. Airy native
Michael Tully’s coming-of-age-in-Ocean City comedy starring Susan
Sarandon, Amy Sedaris, O.C.’s own Emmi Shockley, and the resort’s
rebuilt boardwalk.

Thrifty Day Trips

Assateague Island is a must visit. Go beachcombing, swimming, surf
fishing, clamming, and searching for all sorts of wildlife, including
the famed feral horses. Just $15 per vehicle for seven days’ access to
Assateague Island National Seashore and $4 each (Maryland residents’
rate) for daily entry to Assateague State Park. Admission is free if on
foot or bicycle.
Designate a driver and hit the Delmarva Wine and Ale Trail. Burley Oak
Brewing Company in Berlin offers free tours of its
barrel-factory-turned-brewery on Saturdays, Sundays, and rainy days. The
Maryland Wine Bar in Berlin is a one-stop winery tour, serving $1
tastings ($10 flights) of more than three dozen Maryland wines.

Cheap Dates

Romantic romps don’t have to cost a lot.

1. Alaska Stand burgers, Thrasher’s French fries, a
Dumser’s Dairyland milkshake with two straws: What’s more romantic than
sharing a boardwalk meal? Escaping afterwards to a secret beach. Anglers
like Homer Gudelsky Park aka “Stinky Beach” (an outdated description,
BTW) in West O.C., but it’s also an uncrowded option for watching
Tuesday night fireworks.

2. Go stylin’ at Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill
(54th Street). Tailor your attire for Tuesday night’s wacky themed
parties—anything from hippies to rednecks to nerds—to get discounted
drinks and prizes as you kick back at this open-air beach bar.

3. On Thursdays, take an afternoon bus to West Ocean
City ($4 for two, round trip) and browse Ocean City Fishing Center’s
Arts on the Docks, showcasing local artists’ works. Return pre-dusk and
head for O.C.’s answer to Mallory Square, Sunset Park, where sunset
worshippers enjoy weekly free concerts and spectacular solar descents.

Family Freebies

Bring blankets and munchies (don’t forget the kids’ glow sticks) and
enjoy the city’s nearly nightly entertainment: movies, concerts,
fireworks, laser light shows, and family athletic competitions. Various
beach locations and invariably free.

Learn about Ocean City B.C. (before condos), the finer points of
tying half hitches, and other cool stuff at the Life-Saving Station
Museum’s free boardwalk educational programs, which begin July 4.
Offered daily except Sunday. Kids adore shark-seminar Thursdays and
aquarium-feeding Saturdays.

Spend a day at Northside Park (125th Street), the city’s largest,
most lavishly equipped recreation area. Play softball or soccer. Walk or
jog the extensive paths. Enjoy awesome crabbing in Assawoman Bay. On
Sundays, pack a picnic and stay for Sundaes in the Park, a sweet deal
featuring free evening entertainment and inexpensive ice cream.

Visit the Ocean City Branch of the Worcester County Library (100th
Street). Programs like story time will enthrall youngsters while you
chill out with the latest Grisham thriller or check e-mail on the
library’s public computers. Library cards are free to Maryland residents
with an ID.

Bethany Beach & Fenwick Island

The Delaware towns are known as “the quiet resorts.”

Deals for $10 or less

Bike lanes make pedaling around Bethany Beach a pleasure. Rent wheels
from Fenwick Islander Bicycle Shop ($10 up to three hours, $25 for 24
hours) and tour the town. Count how many historic camp-meeting cottages
you see.

Save time and euros: Order an authentic Italian dinner to go from
“Best of Delaware” Italian food winner DiFebo’s (789 Garfield Pkwy.,
Bethany Beach). Pasta with meatballs, baked rigatoni, and other
family-portioned entrees run $7-10 per person.

Pick a lucky-color ball and go miniature golfing. Captain Jack’s
Pirate Golf in downtown Bethany charges $8 each per round all day. At
Viking Golf in Fenwick, $8 buys unlimited daytime play and one round
after 5 p.m.;

Pay pauper’s prices to see a king’s ransom in precious shipwreck
artifacts (gold bars, silver coins, pirate booty) at DiscoverSea
Shipwreck Museum (708 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island). Admission is free;
donations accepted.

Skip Bethany Beach’s parking and traffic headaches and take the
town’s sea-blue shuttle buses (“Jolly Trolleys”) instead. The one-way
fare is $2.50.

A $150-Million-Dollar View

Admire ocean and bay vistas from the new Indian River Inlet Bridge, a
futuristic cable-stayed span connecting Bethany Beach and Rehoboth
Beach. Carrying busy Route 1, the bridge is toll-free and safer now for
pedestrians and cyclists, thanks to an extra-wide sidewalk.

Watch For. . .

Restaurateur Matt Haley’s newest comfort-food emporium, Papa Grande’s
Coastal Taqueria, opening next to the chef’s Catch 54 on the Route 54
bridge in Fenwick Island.

Cultural Values

Enjoy music, dance, and theater at one of Delaware’s cultural gems,
Freeman Stage at Bayside, in Selbyville. Most performances at the
open-air venue are free; others cost as little as $10-20. Big-name acts
(like Lyle Lovett, pictured above, Sheryl Crow, and Pat Benatar this
summer) fetch somewhat more. BYOC (Bring Your Own Chairs). Believe your eyes: There’s trickery afoot in tiny
Millville near Bethany Beach. Watch top-rate magicians at Dickens
Parlour Theatre, an intimate setting straight out of Victorian England.
Tickets $20-36.

Frugal Field Trips

Save money and soak up culture and nature.

1. Learn the history of Fenwick Island Lighthouse,
built in 1858, including the fight to get the decommissioned beacon
relighted 30 years ago. Admission is free, though donations are
appreciated. Visiting dates and hours vary.

2. Organize an ocean and bay family day. Take a
kayak class ($25 for families; $50-100 for others) or guided paddle
(from $50-100 per person) from Coastal Kayak, located on Little
Assawoman Bay across from Fenwick Island State Park. Then relax on the
park’s powdery white ocean beaches (admission $4).

3. Go bird-watching, admire a wildflower garden, and
learn about Delaware flora and fauna while hiking through woods and
wetlands at James Farm Ecological Preserve on Indian River Bay (Cedar
Neck Rd., Ocean View). Admission is free.

Family Freebies

Forget stadium seating; gather the gang in beach chairs on starlit
Garfield Parkway Beach for Bethany Beach’s Monday night movies. The
flicks are G or PG and no fee.

Arrive early to snag seats for the most popular show in Bethany
Beach: free weekend performances at the boardwalk bandstand. Most are
concerts (rock, country, jazz, tribute bands, military brass), but other
acts include dancers and children’s shows.

Take the kids to a school they’ll love: Saturday morning nature
programs at Bethany Beach Nature Center (807 Garfield Pkwy.). After
story time, they’ll enjoy hands-on lessons at the center’s outdoor
classroom, a pristine marshland.

Fly a kite on the beach. Fenwick Island’s and South Bethany’s beaches
permit such aerial acrobatics (but always obey the lifeguards). Kite
flying is restricted on Bethany’s public beach to before 9:30 a.m. (10
a.m. on weekends) and after 5:30 p.m. (5 p.m. on weekends).

Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach & Lewes

The shore communities offer vacationers an array of activities.

Deals Under $10

Energize for a day downy ocean with breakfast at JD’s Filling
Station, a motoring-themed diner in downtown Lewes. We dare you to spend
more than 10 bucks. The Early Riser Special (two eggs, toast, bacon)
costs less than half that.

By now you know: Parking equals $$, so public transit makes “cents.”
For $2.50 one-way, Jolly Trolley shuttles you between Rehoboth Beach and
Dewey Beach with stops in both. Or take the bus to nearby beach towns
or the outlets. Use Reho- both’s Park & Ride Lot ($7 fee) and
everyone in your vehicle rides free that day on all buses.;

Get value and great vistas at Ryan’s rooftop mini golf, overlooking
the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach. Perched above Ryan’s Beach Store, the
19-hole course forgoes bells and whistles for family rates, $4 per
person. One-putt the 19th and win a free game. 302-227-2667.

Everyone knows about Friday night Taco Toss at The Lighthouse, part
of Lighthouse Cove Dewey Beach (Ruddertowne). At Mug Night Mondays,
drinks are discounted for those who bring/buy reusable Lighthouse mugs

Awesome Apps

Customize Tanger Outlets’ free location-based app to its Rehoboth
Beach mega-outlet and receive app-only deals on your smartphone while
you shop. Programmable to any Tanger location, but only Rehoboth Beach
offers tax-free shopping.

Bartender too busy to bring your bill? The Starboard in Dewey Beach
is trying an app for that. Like pay-by-cell parking, Tabbedout, pictured
left, lets you manage your tab and—get this—settle anytime without
barkeep assistance.

Watch For. . .

The brand-new Hyatt Place Dewey Beach, scheduled to open in the
revamped restaurant/night life complex formerly known as Ruddertowne.
Also, 10 percent savings at retail stores participating in Rehoboth
Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce’s new Sand Dollar Savings program.
Pick up free, QR-coded savings cards at the Rehoboth Beach Visitors

Frugal Family Trips

See wildly beautiful Cape Henlopen State Park, pictured above, by
bicycle. Its Seaside Nature Center staff will orient you and provide
free bikes if you need them. $4 per vehicle daily admission for Delaware
residents; $8 for out-of-state vehicles. Some
superheroes wear oilskins not capes. Relive the days of the U.S.
Lifesaving Service at the Indian River Life-Saving Station museum in
Delaware National Seashore State Park. Self-guided tours: $4 adults, $2
kids six-12; guided lantern tours and lifesaving-equipment
demonstrations $5-10.

Inexpensive Indulgences

1. Visit Rehoboth Beach’s new cupcakery Cake Break
(7 S. First St.) to sample gourmet goodies like the I-rish I Had Another
(Guinness beer cake, Jameson Irish Whiskey filling, Bailey’s Irish
Cream frosting) for $3 each (12 or more, $2.50 each). Kids get free
sprinkles to decorate their cupcakes.

2. Attention curd nerds: You’ll worship the
delicacies at Morgan and Gower Cheesemongers, the hip fromagerie now
occupying a former Rehoboth Beach church (20 Baltimore Ave.). If it’s
available, try the Pick & Mix sampler: $2 per piece or six varieties
for $10. And check out the grilled-cheese “sammich” bar. Find them on

3. Bypass the crowd waiting to dine at Rehoboth
Beach’s wildly popular Henlopen City Oyster House (50 Wilmington Ave.).
Instead, visit off hours to slurp super-fresh oysters ($2.25 each, $12
for six) at their raw bar.

Family Freebies

Take in some tunes. Rehoboth Beach Bandstand hosts numerous summer
concerts: R&B, oldies, country, jazz, swing, choral, military, and
something called “yacht rock” (think “The Piña Colada Song”).
Thursday-Sunday nights.

Bring the family and a blanket to free Monday night movies on the
beach at Dagsworthy Street in Dewey Beach. The beach also hosts
Wednesday night bonfires suitable for s’more-making. BYO marshmallows.

Come to Canalfront Park in Lewes for free entertainment, including
Cinema by the Canal on select Wednesdays and concerts one Friday night
per month.

Ride the wave and learn skimboarding at Alley-Oop’s free Saturday
morning clinics in Dewey Beach, home of the East Coast Skimboarding
Championship, located at New Orleans Street beach.

Learn how little Lewes bravely withstood British bombardment in 1813
at “Delaware and the War of 1812,” an exhibit at the intriguing
Zwaanendael Museum (102 Kings Hwy.). Free admission.