The beach towels are draped on the deck. There’s a damp ring of sand
in the shower. Evening has fallen, and while the sunlight may be
finished until tomorrow, you’re still radiant and ready to conquer the
“coolest” part of the day—the beach after dark.
A seaside vacation is not all about sun and surf. It’s cocktails at
sunset. Bonfires by the ocean. The boardwalk in all its bright, kinetic
glory. We’ve found 30 fun and engaging ways to spend your evenings at
the Maryland and Delaware beaches this summer.
The sun has delivered the ta-dah!
moment nightlifers crave—sunset. Time to flip-flop to the bayfront,
where tropically themed restaurants and beach bars embrace unique
twilight traditions. The best known is Fager’s Island (201 60th St.,
410-524-5500), where the staff cranks up Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,”
timed to coincide with the sun’s swoon—even on cloudy days. At Macky’s
Bayside Bar & Grill (54th St., 410-723-5565), sunset signals a Kate
Smith sing-along. Order a frozen Mango Macky and join the chorus
crooning Kate’s rousing “God Bless America.” Or view the day’s dying
rays aboard a yacht. The sleek 75-foot “Judith M,” whose daytime gig is
hauling anglers in style, departs daily at 7:30 p.m. for sunset cruises
in the Atlantic (at Bahia Marina, 22nd St. and the bay, 410-251-5859).
Save The Sawbucks
You’ve depleted your wallet on
gasoline and Guitar Hero Arcade. Now what? Fortunately, O.C. is the
Sand of the Free, where four nights a week the beach becomes a no-cost
family entertainment center. Watch free movies on a big inflatable
screen Mondays and Fridays. Run, flex, and play in the sand at the Beach
Olympics on Tuesdays. Boogie on the Beach to live music on Wednesdays.
(Times, locations, and more family freebies at www.ococean.com.)
Play a family miniature golf marathon at one (or all) of Old Pro Golf’s
four O.C. locations, pictured. Kids three years and younger play for
free, and $4 extra per person buys unlimited rounds on the colorful
outdoor and indoor courses (1-888-OLD-PRO1, 410-524-2645).
Munch A Bunch
No one visits the beach to diet.
Embrace gastric destiny by gorging your way from one end of the boards
to the other on our own Boardwalk 3.6K Evening Classic. Working north
from the inlet, hit these fuel stops (with nearest cross street): The
Dough Roller (S. Division St.) for fresh pizza, Thrasher’s (Wicomico
St.) for indigenous fries, Dumser’s (Dorchester St.) for a chocolate
shake (neutralizes the vinegary fries), Fisher’s (Talbot St.) for
classic caramel popcorn, Polock Johnny’s (Talbot St.) for a corn
dog—now, pop some Tums until reaching . . . the Alaska Stand (8th St.)
for a juicy burger, then burn calories through the lengthy hotel
district (a no-fry zone), and collapse at Candy Kitchen (28th St. and
Philadelphia Ave.) for celebratory chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Practice Your Moves
Remember the “laser dance”
in Ocean’s Twelve? Channel your inner master thief as you slither under,
over, and around a web of laser beams in Ripley’s Impossible LaseRace, a
cat-burglaresque interactive attraction the Believe It or Not! folks
debuted last summer on the Boardwalk (Pier Building, 401 S. Atlantic
Ave., 410-289-5600). Break a light beam and you forfeit points and time.
Bon chance. (Open until midnight or 1 a.m., depending on the number of
Play An Adults Arcade
Love ’em or loathe ’em,
one-armed bandits are the new game in town. Join the thousands who’ve
trekked to the Casino at Ocean Downs (10218 Racetrack Rd., Berlin,
410-641-0600), which boasts 750 “video lottery terminals” (i.e., slot
machines) ready to reward winners with something more spendable than
cuddly stuffed giraffes. In addition to push-button slots, Maryland’s
newest casino offers electronic roulette and blackjack daily until 2
Stripers and croakers and blues, oh my!
Anglers can wet a line after dark at: Oceanic Fishing Pier (710 S.
Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-2602) and the Route 50 Bridge.
Celebrate weekend eve with
thrifty Thursday deals. The Shark on the Harbor (12924 Sunset Ave., West
O.C., 410-213-0924) goes crazy over crustaceans with Lobster Lunacy
dinner specials—provided local fishermen are “catching, not just
fishing.” Plan a girls’ night out at Galaxy 66 (6601 Coastal Hwy.,
410-723-6762), whose rooftop Skye Bar offers discounts on certain
cocktails, or Macky’s (54th Street, bayside, 723-5565), which celebrates
“Little Black Dress Night” with half-price drinks.
Imbibe history and mystery in
nearby Berlin. Wednesday evenings from July 6 to September 7, hunt
“orbs” and other paranormal activity on Spirits of Berlin guided tours.
The 90-minute walks will chill you with tales of the Witch of Assateague
Island and the ghost of Stephen Decatur, the 19th-century naval hero
who was born near here. (Reservations, 410-920-7200.) Afterward, quaff
an EVO Primal Pale Ale at The Globe (12 Broad St., 410-641-0784), a
neighborhood pub housed in a handsomely restored movie theater.
Surrender Your Keys
Driving’s a drag, especially
at night. Try these convenient conveyances instead: For bayside
bar-hopping, hail Buzz Boat water taxi (561-512-2727; service ’til
midnight); for shopping, hop the Boardwalk Tram (410-289-5311; service
’til midnight) and Coastal Highway buses (410-524-7716; 24-hour service
during the summer, plus a new $3 ride-all-day fare); for late-night
snacking, Just Deliveries fetches food from any local restaurant until
9-10 p.m., depending on the day (877-958-2828), and Fat Daddy’s delivers
its pizzas and subs until 4 a.m. (midtown, 410-524-8228; downtown,
College students and the highly
energized flock to Seacrets (117 49th St., 410-524-4900) for its
Jamaican vibe, potent libations, and dancing in the sand. The popular
Party Block (17th St. and Coastal Hwy., 410-289-6331) packs three
nightclubs (cover bands, ’90s/2000s hits, techno/hip-hop) under one
roof, with a pool bar outdoors. Its kid sibling, the under-21 dance club
H2O (14 Worcester St., 410-289-7102), spins hip-hop. If you get your
kicks singing karaoke, The Sandbar (3303 Coastal Hwy., 410-289-1558),
pictured, stages a lively show with special effects. Outgrown bikini
contests and foam pits? The Ocean Club at the Clarion Resort
Fontainebleau (10100 Coastal Hwy., 1-800-638-2100) offers Top 40 bands
with no cover, and Teaser’s, the tiki bar at Sunset Grille (12933 Sunset
Ave., West Ocean City, 410-213-8110), rocks the harbor with live music
As good times roll into the wee hours,
many restaurants keep pace. Satisfy midnight crab-cake cravings at BJ’s
on the Water (115 75th St., 410-524-7575), which serves surf and turf
until 1:30 a.m. daily and offers late-night happy hours Sun.-Thurs.
Enjoy entrees or grownup snacks like artisanal cheeses paired with fine
wine at Liquid Assets (9301 Coastal Hwy., 410-524-7037), pictured, an
uptown bistro and spirits shop that serves a full menu until midnight.
Nibble boardwalk fries served Dublin-style at Shenanigan’s Irish Pub and
Grille (Boardwalk and 4th St., 410-289-7181), offering fries drenched
in Guinness gravy and other Emerald Isle fare until 10 p.m.
Fenwick & the Bethany Beaches
Savor The Silence
Among them, the “Quiet
Resorts” have just one abbreviated, lightly commercialized boardwalk
(Bethany Beach’s). That means visitors can easily enjoy a low-decibel
evening if they wish. Unlike the seaside parks, which close at sunset,
the municipal beaches remain open until at least midnight. So sink your
toes into cool sand and listen to the waves’ ceaseless rhythm. Do beachy
things either forbidden during daylight (like surf fishing) or simply
difficult (like stargazing). For the former, Fenwick Tackle (Route 1 and
Maryland Ave., 302-539-7766) fills anglers’ needs with licenses, bait,
tackle, and tips.
Hunt For Treasure
Shipwrecks litter the Delaware
coast, and there’s no better place to learn about them than DiscoverSea
Shipwreck Museum (708 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 302-539-9366; open
’til 8 p.m. daily). The owner, a compulsive wreck-diver, has recovered a
gazillion artifacts (precious jewelry, bits of pottery, scary medical
implements), many of which inhabit this maritime mausoleum. Since local
beaches still yield wreckabilia, try hunting for buried booty yourself.
Invest in a metal detector at Sea Shell City (downstairs from the
museum) or rent one from Gale Force Rentals of Bethany Beach
(302-539-6244 or 800-321-1592). You might discover a gold coin—or a
hotel guest’s Rolex entombed since 1972.
Play With The Kids
Summer is made for tilting at
tiny windmills and making a big splash in a little lagoon. At Captain
Jack’s Pirate Golf (21 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Bethany Beach,
302-539-1122), you needn’t wear a cocked hat to go mini-golfing, but
where’s the harm, mate? The props—a giant pirate ship and skeletal
sailors—will make ye feel at home. Frolic with other infamous high-seas
marauders—the Vikings—at Thunder Lagoon Water Park (38960 Island St.,
Fenwick Island, 302-539-4027). Cool off with a languid river ride or
brave the “black hole” built-for-two body slide as the amusement park’s
iconic Viking vessel dumps boatloads of water into the splash pool.
You’ll be enthralled as top magicians
perform at a charming new magic theater honoring Charles Dickens, who
used to dabble in parlor trickery. Dickens Parlour Theatre (35715
Atlantic Ave., Millville, 302-829-1071) hosts “an evening of magic for
the entire family” daily in a cozy theater-cum-Victorian salon west of
Bethany. Its owner, resident magic man Rich Bloch, developed innovations
used (aptly enough) by David Copperfield, among others. Guests get to
chat with performers following the evening shows and rainy-day matinees
and can also opt for a pre-show catered dinner.
While you’re in a Dickensian mood,
begin your holiday gift shopping at Fenwick Island’s all-purpose
emporium, the Seaside Country Store (1208 Coastal Hwy., 302-539-6110,
open ’til 10 p.m.). Famous for its fresh fudge and kicky cheese spread,
the store packs an entire mall’s worth of goodies and gifts into two
floors, including a Christmas shop upstairs.
Strut Your Smarts
Round up your wiseacre friends
for Team Trivia nights on Tuesdays at Smitty McGee’s Raw Bar &
Restaurant (Route 54, West Fenwick Island, 302-436-4716). Discounted
“Yuengs” and wings will help you (or not) with the brain challenges.
Keep It Sweet
From longtime favorites like
Dickey’s Frozen Custard (97 Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach) to newcomer
The Blue Scoop (Bayside Village Town Center, West Fenwick Island,
302-436-1166), your cone may runneth over this summer. Have Dickey’s
coat your twisty soft-serve in a layer of chocolate or order one of Blue
Scoop’s sundaes smothered in locally grown peaches. If you’re craving
snowballs, Bonkey’s (35849 Atlantic Ave., Millville, 302-260-2471) has
scores of flavors. Or order one “stuffed” atop a scoop of ice cream. On
Indian River Bay, Serendipity (32580 River Rd., Oak Orchard,
302-945-3600) is known for its gourmet caramel-coated apples.
Dine On Deck
Surrounded by the sea and Little
Assawoman Bay, Fenwick Island is one of our favorite outdoor dining
spots at sunset. Order a drink to match the horizon’s hue and a platter
o’ fresh seafood at Harpoon Hanna’s (Route 54 and the bay,
302-539-3095), pictured, where tropical oasis meets modern sports bar.
Catch 54 (Route 54 and Madison Ave., 302-436-8600) has a split-level
personality: a fine-dining lounge upstairs, shabby-chic fish house
below. Both have great views, but you’ll find us below decks inhaling
fish tacos with spicy mayo.
Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach & Lewes
When the sun sinks over Rehoboth Bay,
it’s party time in Dewey Beach. Most nightclubs attract a young (or
forever young), energetic crowd, fueled by liquids frozen and potent. A
quickie guide to dancing hotspots and what you’ll enjoy and imbibe: The
Lighthouse (Ruddertowne, 124 Dickinson St., 302-227-4333): a raw bar and
Orange Crushes; Northbeach (125 McKinley St., 302-226-8673): dancing
and a drink concoction called a Dewey Devil; Ponos (1306 Highway One,
302-227-3119): a light show and martinis; Rusty Rudder (113 Dickinson
St., 302-227-3888): deck parties and Sunset Sippers; The Starboard (2009
Highway One, 302-227-4600), pictured: a collegiate vibe and Grapefruit
Paddle At Sunset
Here’s a hot new way to watch
the sun cool down: Hawaiian-style by leisurely paddling on an extra-wide
(31 inches), stand-on-top surfboard (aka paddle board). DelMarVa Board
Sport Adventures offers guided Stand Up Paddling (SUP) excursions
nightly from Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes (and other locales).
Leave 90 minutes before sunset, paddle along calm waters, and then
return as the moon rises. Dolphin sightings are common. Trips cater to
beginners. Reservations required, 301-651-0542, delmarvaboardsports.com.
Step Back In Time
Give the kids a history lesson
Xbox can’t offer: a lantern-lit tour of a real World War II artillery
battery. Several times a month, uniformed interpreters lead night
visitors through forsaken Fort Miles, once a heavily armed outpost that
defended the coastline 24/7. Part of Cape Henlopen State Park now, the
old bunkers, gun batteries, and barracks set among windswept dunes, form
a haunting backdrop for your foray. Tour cost, $5 per person;
awesomeness factor, priceless. Advance registration required,
302-645-6852; for tour dates, destateparks.com/attractions/fort-miles.
Organize a chocoholics’ pleasure
hunt for temptation in all its forms. Alcoholic: the Chocolate Cherry, a
grown-up ice cream float (chocolate and cherry vodkas, cherry juice,
chocolate syrup, and vanilla ice cream) at Irish Eyes Pub (213 Anglers
Rd., Lewes, 302-645-6888). Frozen: rich Dutch chocolate ice cream (dark
chocolate with dark chocolate chunks) at King’s Homemade Ice Cream (201
Second St., Lewes, 302-645-9425). Fruity: the Monster Apple, a juicy
Granny Smith wrapped in caramel, roasted pecans, and rich chocolate, at
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Tanger Outlets, Rehoboth Beach,
302-227-0422). Guiltless: Chocolate Zen, an award-winning European-style
dark chocolate gelato from Gelato Gal (20200 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth
Beach, 302-227-1001). Nostalgic: a “fancy-pants version” of the
childhood favorite Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes featuring PB mousse-filled
brown-butter pound cake with chocolate malt ganache at Salt Air Kitchen
(50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-2444).
Croon A Tune
Karaoke isn’t merely a once-a-week
special in Rehoboth Beach; it’s a campy culture. Check out these
hotspots: Frogg Pond Tavern (3 S. First St., 302-227-2234), Tuesday and
Thursday nights; the Purple Parrot (134 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-1139),
Friday and Saturday nights; and Rigby’s Bar & Grill (404 Rehoboth
Ave., 302-227-6080), Monday nights.
Marvelous seaside state parks
bookend Rehoboth and Dewey beaches: Delaware Seashore (Highway One,
Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-2800) to the south and Cape Henlopen (Cape
Henlopen Dr., Lewes, 302-645-8983) to the north. Although both beaches
close at sunset, they allow nature-lovers a peek at nocturnal goings-on
via programs guided by naturalists. Bring your flashlight and go
ghost-crab spotting or stretch out on the sand to enjoy a narrated look
at the night sky. Advance registration required (destateparks.com).
Tour The Collective
On the second Saturday of
the month, the Rehoboth Beach Gallery Collective (known as Mosaic) holds
Art Walks from 6 to 9 p.m. as member galleries host special exhibits
and receptions. View and buy paintings, jewelry, sculpture, glassworks,
furnishings, and photography—everything from nautical paintings to funky
furniture. Visit rehobothmosaic.com.
Drive Like Crazy
Not on Route One (it’s usually
gridlocked), but at one of the go-kart tracks along Route One in
Rehoboth Beach. Midway Speedway Park (18645 Coastal Hwy., 302-644-2042)
offers the most choices: five different tracks—including slick, banked,
and super-8 track—and 10-kart styles for speed demons of all ages.
Crocodile Mile, a track at Jungle Jim’s (36944 Country Club Rd.,
302-227-8444), is a nifty pint-sized version of the “Monster Mile,”
Dover International Speedway’s NASCAR track 40 miles up the road.
Catch Live Music
Try these music varieties
paired with the perfect potable: Bottle & Cork (1807 Highway One,
Dewey Beach, 302-227-7272): top-notch performers from the Avett Brothers
to Lifehouse with cold brews; Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats (320
Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-226-2739), pictured: blues, roots
rock, and offbeat (acoustic-surfer-folk-rock, anyone?) with house-brewed
IPAs; Zogg’s Raw Bar + Grill (1 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach,
302-227-7660): steel drum bands and Rum Runners. Or skip the alcohol and
find a seat at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand, pictured left, for free
concerts all summer long.
What’s New: Ocean City
Baltimore’s own skateboard Superman, Bucky Lasek, and his
extreme-sports colleagues will carve up the beach July 21-24 when the
Dew Tour stops in Ocean City for the first time. It’s also the first
oceanside venue for the nationally televised (NBC, MTV, and USA)
skateboard, BMX, and surf competition (www.allisports.com/dew-tour).
Salisbury: The Salisbury Rollergirls’ inaugural flat-track season
features home bouts June 19, July 17, and August 21 at Crown Skating
Center (28410 Crown Rd., Fruitland, 443-736-7652), about a 40-minutes’
drive from O.C. The ladies say it’s all about sisterhood, but with noms
de track like Bust’er Skull and Ida Crazy Momma, we wonder.
What’s New: Fenwick Island
Twining’s Lobster Shanty (37310 Lighthouse Rd., Selbyville,
302-436-2305), a laid-back seafood eatery with bay views; DelMarVa Board
Sport Adventures (39084 Harpoon Rd., 301-651-0542), windsurfing,
stand-up paddling, and—om!—paddle-board yoga lessons. Bethany Beach:
Matt’s Fish Camp—as in chef Matt Haley of Bluecoast, Catch 54, Lupo di
Mare, et al.—opening in North Bethany Beach by summer; Off the Hook (769
Garfield Pkwy., Bethany Beach, 302-829-1424), a local
dock-to-table/farm-to-table restaurant; Bethany’s first Thrasher’s
French Fries stand; sightseeing rides by C.V.C. Helicopter Service (www.cvchelicopterservice.com).
What’s New: Dewey Beach
Port-Dewey Beach (1205 Highway One, 302-227-0669), a seafood
restaurant that has Thai night every Thursday. Rehoboth Beach: Henlopen
City Oyster House (50 Wilmington Ave., 302-260-9193), a retro-rustic raw
bar/seafood house; JAM Bistro (20 Baltimore Ave., 302-226-JAMM), the
latest eatery from the Eden restaurant folks; a Hatley store with all
manner of nature-inspired apparel, (52 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-2951); new
stores in the Tanger Outlets, including Dooney & Bourke, and
C.L.A.D. (Current Love and Desire), a clothing/accessories shop is
opening at First Street Station, Rehoboth Avenue. Lewes: Cake Bar (115
Second St., 302-645-2253), a bakery/bistro by SugarBakers of
Catonsville, and Biblion (205 Second St., 302-644-2210), seller of
books, literary gifts, and art.
Dine On High
For an escapist meal, do as the song says: Climb way up to the top of the stairs. Check out these dinner-with-a-view options.
The Cultured Pearl (301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth
Beach, 302-227-8493) remains the ne plus ultra of “haute” cuisine with
its Japanesque rooftop boardwalk suspended over a man-made lagoon.
Burbling fountains, bamboo, and ultra-fresh sushi will whisk you Far
The Greene Turtle (101 S. Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach,
302-226-2000)—yes, that Greene Turtle—boasts a menu and location that’s
a cut above basic boardwalk eateries. Snag a table on the balcony,
which overhangs the boards, and enjoy sea views with your burger and
those fab pretzels con queso.
Okay, so Planet X Cafe (35 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth
Beach, 302-226-1928) doesn’t have rooftop or even balcony dining. But
this landmark’s purple porch perches above street level and is
invariably described with the “f” word—funky. (One Facebook fan likens
the place to “a psychedelic monastery.”) Achieve dietary peace with a
curry or tofu Zen Bowl.
Two Seas (1300 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach,
302-227-2610) has you covered for late-night nibbles and a killer view.
The best seats in the house are at the tippy-top on a deck, where you
can order appetizers and take in vistas of the ocean and Rehoboth Bay.
Find The O’s-Zone
Homesick for your Boys of Summer? Orioles fans can conjure Camden Yards “downy ocean” by:
- Enjoying deep-fried pickles, cold Natty Bohs, and the red-hot O’s at
Pickles Pub (706 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-4891), which packs ’em in
on game nights like its Ridgely’s Delight namesake.
- Visiting “the farm” in Salisbury, where the O’s Class-A affiliate
Delmarva Shorebirds play at the Arthur W. Perdue Stadium (6400 Hobbs
Rd., 410-219-3112). There are post-game fireworks Saturday nights and
low-ball ticket prices on “$2 Buck Mondays,” a new promotion honoring
the O’s skipper. Visit
- Hosting a game party at your beach pad. Order takeout at Boog’s
Bar-B-Q in West Ocean City (12842 Ocean Gateway, 410-213-7447) or
downtown (401 S. Atlantic Ave., 410-289-7771). Then, switch on MASN,
nosh the best pit beef and ribs this side of the Warehouse, and you’re