From the frozen custard to the boardwalk fries, Rehoboth Beach has all the classic characteristics of a coastal destination. So much so that Family Vacation Critic, a website, named it one of the top 10 beaches in the nation for families. (Criteria included cleanliness, safe water for swimming and activities close to the beach.) The city also has an abundance of activities for couples enjoying a three-day weekend, or those traveling solo for business or pleasure.
Here are a few examples of the diverse offerings you will find while discovering Rehoboth Beach…
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EXPLORE THE PAST
The Rehoboth Beach area dates back to 1873 when the Rev. Robert W. Todd started the Rehoboth Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The religious gatherings, held in summer, were common in the late 19th century. Although the association discontinued the meetings by 1881, visitors were hooked by the beach. In 1891, the area became a municipality known as Cape Henlopen City. (It’s the inspiration for the Henlopen City Oyster House’s name.) The city became Rehoboth Beach in 1893.
Memorabilia amassed by the Rehoboth Beach Bicentennial Collection seeded the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society, which was founded in 1975. For decades, the society displayed a portion of the collection in the Anna Hazzard Tent House, a wooden structure built in 1895 for camp meeting attendees. (The home was donated to the city in 1975 for the society’s use.)
The property, however, is too tiny to hold a significant portion of the society’s artifacts. In 2007, the Rehoboth Beach Museum opened in an old icehouse. The renovated facility, which is now adding a second floor, organizes seasonal exhibitions that have included memorabilia from restaurants of the past, vintage bathing suits and postcards. This summer, the museum will focus on shipwrecks.
If you’re visiting on a Tuesday, walk over to nearby Grove Park for the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market, which runs from 12 noon to 3 p.m., May through October.Many vendors also serve grab-and-go lunch items.
ENGAGE IN ART
The past is also present at the Rehoboth Art League in Henlopen Acres, a separate municipality that adjoins Rehoboth Beach. The property was once the home of Col. Wilbur Sherman Corkran and his wife, Louise Chambers Corkran. Their home, The Homestead, dates back to 1743, when it was a Colonial-era plantation. It’s now in the National Register of Historic Places.
The colonel developed Henlopen Acres, while his wife helped found the Rehoboth Art League in 1938. She didn’t look far for members. Prominent artists often spent summers in Rehoboth. Today, the RAL is an art gallery and membership-based organization that promotes artists and art education. In addition to offering classes, the RAL sponsors several annual events.
Gallery 50 on Wilmington Avenue opened in 2007 to offer art from recognized, emerging and established artists. The artwork covers a wider range. You’ll find jewelry, glass and ceramics. There’s also an onsite frame shop.
WALK THE BOARDS
The boardwalk has been a mainstay in Rehoboth Beach since 1873, the year the camp meetings began. Sepia images show Horn’s Pavilion, a 150-foot music pier built in the 1880s. Horn’s and much of the boardwalk were destroyed in a storm in 1914. It’s not the only storm that prompted repairs. The savage nor’easter in 1962 took out huge chunks of the promenade. But again, it rebounded.
Staples here include Funland, which the Fasnacht family has owned since 1962. Generations of beach-goers have enjoyed the amusement rides, arcade and haunted house.
Take a break and sit on one of the white benches with reversible backs. While you watch the crowds or the sea, savor a box of caramel corn from Dolle’s Candyland, whose landmark sign has provided countless visitors with a background for photos.
HIT THE LINKS
In coastal Delaware, the golf courses are as scenic as the beaches. Both the Rookery and Baywood Greens are open to the public.
The Rookery in Milton includes The Rookery North, which has an 18-hole golf course, grill and bar, locker room and tennis courts. The Rookery South, which opened in 2000, was designed by Senior British Open Champion Pete Oakley and Chris Adkins, the golf course superintendent. Both are challenging but fun for all skill levels.
Baywood Greens in Long Neck is one of the most lushly landscaped courses in the state. The course meanders over bridges and past 200,000 flowers, shrubs and trees and 27 acres of lakes. Located in a community, the course has a public clubhouse with a dining room, bar and more gorgeous views.
TAKE TO TWO WHEELS
Riding a bicycle is an easy way to get around Rehoboth, whether you’re peddling to lunch or biking the Junction and Breakwater Trail or the Gordons Pond Trail. Find the right two-wheeler at Atlantic Cycles, which has locations at One Virginia Avenue on the boardwalk and Wilmington Avenue. Atlantic also rents surreys and tandem bikes. The store provides complimentary child seat, helmets and trail maps.
302-226-1099 (Virginia Avenue)
302-226-2543 (Wilmington Avenue)
Get your body beach-ready or soothe tired muscles at Avenue Apothecary and Spa, whose services include massage, facials, manicures, waxing and makeup. It’s the perfect way to start and end your vacation. If you’re in town for a romantic weekend, consider a couples’ massage.
TAKE IN A SHOW
Clear Space Theatre Company, a professional group founded in 2004, is conveniently located near the boardwalk on Baltimore Avenue. Many of the performances are musicals and star top talent.
On Route 1, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society’s new Cinema Art Theater books independent films and movies that aren’t in wide release. You can reserve tickets online. The nonprofit group’s fall film festival is now in its 20th year.
This is easy to do in downtown Rehoboth. Block after block contains a mix of independently owned boutiques and popular retailers.
In the same building as Avenue Inn, you’ll find Hunt & Lane, which sells handmade teak furniture, hand-woven textiles and authentic décor inspired by the owners’ trips to Bali and Java.
Find distinctive clothing, household items and personal accessories at Odysea, which offers custom designs created just for the store. You won’t find them anywhere else.
For women’s fashions and children’s clothing, including Trina Turk designs, LNA, Blue Life, Rails, AG jeans, DVF, and many more, pop into Sole Boutique and Sole Kids. Many customers love the selection of unique finds for women’s and children.
Scandinavian Occasion’s name tells it like it is. The store sells glassware, gifts and home décor from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. You’ll also find amber from the Baltic Sea. Although the items might come from countries known for their snowy landscapes, the cobalt blue and grass green glassware would look perfect in any beach themed home.