Delaware on the Menu: Welcome to the Delaware Coast

By Bob Yesbek

Welcome to the Delaware coast! Affectionately known as the Nation’s Summer Capital, the Rehoboth Beach area receives multiple kudos from such luminaries as the James Beard Foundation, the Michelin Guide, Zagat, the National Restaurant Association and Wine Spectator Magazine, just to name a few.

I am fortunate to have the honor of describing, reviewing and photographing good food here in the Cape Region. Historic Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany beaches are connected by U.S. Rt. 1, and multiple restaurants have sprung up along this busy thoroughfare. No matter what your budget, great eating is never more than a walk or short drive away.

Restaurants in Rehoboth Beach

In downtown Rehoboth Beach you’ll find everything from gourmet Chinese dishes to wood-fired pizzas; from genuine Italian to Indian and Turkish specialties. Lewes dishes up everything from short rib sliders to lobster rolls, from Belgian delights to top-notch steaks and fresh baked goods – all just steps from one another in the First Town in the First State.

The very first fine-dining restaurant in Rehoboth Beach celebrates its 46th season in 2020, and neighboring spots are not far behind. A few allow you to select your own tasting menu from a list of chef-driven creations. Rehoboth Avenue, Wilmington Avenue, Baltimore Avenue, Coastal Highway and Lewes are not without a classy touch.

Click here to read more about restaurants in Rehoboth Beach.

Do you crave a great breakfast at the beach? There are well over 25 breakfast and brunch spots in the immediate area, from casual storefronts to lavish buffets. Local brewers, distillers and wineries helped pave the way for in-restaurant breweries, and currently there are well over 10 local brewpubs!

As a guide for the EatingRehoboth.com restaurant tours, I have the singular pleasure of introducing visitors and locals to new restaurant experiences and upscale gourmet shops. These three-hour walks invariably end with guests telling me how they would never have tried this or that place without having experienced our tours. And now, armed with the information here in the Delaware Beaches Visitors Guide, you can embark on your own tour of everything food and drink here on the Culinary Coast. You’re at the beach: Enjoy! And bon appétit.

Bob Yesbek, aka The Rehoboth Foodie, publishes the restaurant news & reviews website RehobothFoodie.com. His columns appear regularly in the Cape Gazette, Beach Paper and Coastal Style Magazine. Sip & Bite with the Rehoboth Foodie can be heard every Saturday from 3-5 p.m. on Delaware 105.9 FM.

Historic Lewes

The First Town in the First State

Step onto the streets of Historic Lewes and it won’t take long for you to sense the town’s maritime heritage and the roots that run deep into history.

Lewes History

Nearly 400 years old, Lewes continues to preserve its seafaring charm to honor its heritage as the first town in the first state. As with many colonial seaports, Lewes was also at the mercy of pirates for much of its history. During the late 1600s, pirates relentlessly raided the town, which caused a law to be passed requiring that Lewes’ citizens own a musket and ammunition for protection against the raiders. While today’s citizens will not be bearing muskets, Lewes’ enchanting history is waiting to be discovered around every corner. 

Things To Do in Lewes

Alive with people year-round, visitors often enjoy the gorgeous architecture, beautifully preserved homes, museums, scenic streets and downtown area, which is ideal for pedestrians. While most of these preserved homes date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, one from the 17th century is the oldest standing building in the state. You’ll find the alluring historic district filled to the brim with more than 40 unique shops, fine restaurants, inns, B&Bs and more. 

Water Activities in Lewes

Nearby, bay and ocean beaches offer limitless recreational activities amidst beautiful unspoiled nature. Anglers will enjoy an afternoon casting at the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, while the bay and ocean areas allow for plenty of swimming. There are thousands of acres of preserved lands in Cape Henlopen State Park. The park provides lifeguard patrols between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, so you and your children can enjoy the beach safely.

Cape May-Lewes Ferry

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Delaware Bay is aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Enjoy an 80-minute cruise as a passenger, or travel with your car. You can even explore another great coastal town at the other end of the journey—Cape May, New Jersey. 

Whether you spend the day learning about Lewes’ history, enjoying the beach and beautiful maritime nature, finding unique treasures to bring home or all three, you’re bound to come to one realization—one day in Lewes simply isn’t enough.

Booking a Rehoboth Beach Vacation Rental

5 Tips for Booking a Vacation Rental in Rehoboth Beach

When you plan a trip to Rehoboth Beach, there are many things to take into account, including where you will stay. There are a number of fantastic hotels, motels and resorts in Rehoboth Beach, but renting a vacation property is the only way to truly enjoy the comforts of home while on vacation.

There are countless of vacation rental properties in Rehoboth Beach to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a romantic cottage-style home or something big enough for family and friends, there are plenty of options. It can be daunting with so many options. Before you book your Rehoboth Beach rental property, keep these tips in mind.

Click here to read more about Rehoboth Beach rental properties.

Booking a Rehoboth Beach Vacation Rental

Here are five tips for booking a vacation rental in Rehoboth Beach.

  1. Look for Properties with Multiple Reviews

A rental property may have spectacular photos that instantly capture your attention, however, pay attention to customer reviews. The best insight into how a rental property is comes from former renters. Reviews allow former renters to share their unfiltered experience at a property. They’ll also give you the inside scoop on the amenities, area and more.

  1. Avoid Scams by Booking through Reputable Sources

There are many sources for booking a rental property in Rehoboth Beach. While AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway and more are popular vacation rental websites, they often leave room for potential scammers. Rehoboth Beach has many rental companies to choose from, each offering different types of properties all across the city. These companies and their realtors are experts in Rehoboth Beach that will help find the perfect accommodation for your visit.

  1. Read the Fine Print

In life, we typically skim over the fine print of a contract. Before you sign anything and pay any money, be sure to read all of the fine print on the rental agreement. This includes cancellation policy, house rules, hidden fees and more. It’s important to know exactly what your stay in the rental entails before you submit your payment.

  1. Do a Damage Check

Once you arrive to your rental property, do a walk through to check for any damage. If you can’t do this walkthrough with the property owner or a realtor, take pictures to show to the owner or agency immediately. Best case is that the owner or agency already knows about any issues, but it’s better to be safe and protect your security deposit. You’ll also want to check that all of the utilities and appliances, including water, air conditioning units, lights and other electrical outlets, are working.

  1. Ask the Property Owner for Tips on the Area

After you book or once you arrive to your Rehoboth Beach vacation rental, don’t be afraid to ask the realtor or property owner for some advice and/or suggestions. They can be your local guides who give you tips on the area, things to do nearby, parking and more. Or, just pick up a Delaware Beaches Visitors Guide or visit DelawareBeaches.guide to find attractions, activities, restaurants, coupons and so much more.

A Brief History of the Delaware Beaches

The Delaware Beaches along the Delaware coast is a very popular vacation destination. But you may wonder how these beach communities developed. Here’s a little bit of the history behind the Rehoboth, Bethany, and Dewey Beaches in Delaware.  

Rehoboth Beach: From Church Camp to Resort Town

When the first European settlers arrived in the area, it is said that this area was one of the main Mid-Atlantic fishing villages for Native Americans. However, modern developments have wiped away any evidence that such a village may have existed.

The city was first founded as a church camp association. When the church group disbanded, it was incorporated as Henlopen City. Later it was renamed Rehoboth Beach which was the name originally given to the city by the church group. Interestingly, Rehoboth is a location named in the Old Testament, which means “broad spaces” in Hebrew.

Bethany Beach: A Quiet Community Withstands Multiple Disasters

You may recognize Bethany as another Biblical name (from the New Testament this time). This city was also founded by a minister. Prior to 1950, this was a quiet little community. But growth began not long after the end of the second World War. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge made the beach community easily accessible to the residents of the nation’s capital, causing a population boom.

A devastating storm brought ruin in 1962. But development was resumed starting with a new post office and bank. Several hurricanes and nor’easters have damaged the area. But the residents were not deterred, and development continued, even until today. In 2011, Bethany Beach imposed a smoking, including nearly all of the boardwalk and beach areas.

Dewey Beach: A Way of Life

This is the most popular beach in Delaware, although you wouldn’t know it from the town’s population; 300-or-so residents. At peak season, 30,000 people descend on Dewey Beach and it’s many eateries. Only recently incorporated in 1981, Dewey beach is a popular family vacation spot and has adopted the motto: “Dewey Beach, a way of life.”

Shopping at the Delaware Beaches

Diverse shopping excursions await even the most assiduous buyer. Find repurposed treasures at local antique stores or funky and fun finds at eclectic, locally owned boutiques. Visitors flock from all over to meander the sidewalks of our quaint towns, stopping to browse for furniture, designer clothes, unique gifts, one-of-a-kind art and local items from our historic markets. The region may seem small but the Delaware Beaches are packed with huge selection of trends and deals.

Antiques & Repurposing Shops

Those with a flair for antiques or repurposed furniture will love exploring our scenic, rural towns for one-of-a-kind furniture and goods. There are actually more than 500 antique dealers in the southern Delaware area in the form of antique shops, flea markets and auctions. Treasure hunters will adore the unique finds throughout the entire area, whether it’s antique furniture, jewelry, books or another, rare and extraordinary item to add to your collection.

Repurposing shops are alive in well throughout the Delaware Beaches. Fenwick Island is home to vintage and reclaimed furniture shops, where you can purchase their pieces or bring in your own piece for a custom application. If you’re looking for vintage furniture with modern elements, then head to Lewes for the latest new furniture collections.

Locally-Owned Markets

For 50 years, the Seaside Country store has been a Fenwick Island landmark for Delmarva locals and visitors. The history, tradition and charm have earned the Seaside Country store its reputation as “the most unusual store on the shore.”

With one step inside Seaside Country store, the delicious aroma of homemade fudge wafts through the air. Combined with the friendly staff and the variety of items, it’s no longer a simple shopping trip; instead, it’s an experience. From sensuous lotions and body washes and unique home décor items to women’s clothing and collectibles, the store offers shoppers an old-town feel with a modern and unique flair.

And how could the experience be anything but exciting and fun? Since the store is open from March to November, the staff completely restocks before the start of the new season. By doing so, the Vickers and their staff provide customers with a new, fresh and unique inventory. No matter what you are looking for, you will find it at Seaside.

For a beach bonfire or fine dining at home check out G&E/Hocker’s in Bethany Beach, a unique and family-owned supermarket where customers can enjoy fresh, top-choice steaks, which are hand-cut to your liking, in-house seasoned and smoked high-quality pulled pork, all-beef hotdogs, sausage, ribs, turkey and more—all served from an authentic butcher shop for over 50 years.

Outlet Shopping

An incredibly popular place to shop is at the outlet malls on Delaware’s Route 1. Who doesn’t love finding delicious deals on high-end products? In fact, the Rehoboth outlets have become so popular that The Washington Post has published shopping tips and travel articles on the outlet malls alone!

Browse through well-known shops as well as stores only found in Delaware as you discover apparel for all ages, accessories, entertainment stores, dining and more all in one area. You will find yourself walking out of one store and quickly spotting your next stop to continue shopping for jaw-dropping deals and tax-free items. With all the trendiest brands the outlets have to offer, you will have no choice but to treat yourself!

Click here to read about shopping at Tanger Outlets Rehoboth.

Beach Rentals

The rental shops throughout Delaware Beaches provide everything you will need to have a perfect beach vacation. Biking is a popular beach hobby, and there are enough bike shops for you to find that stylish beach cruiser you’ve been dreaming of. You will find water sport rental shops offering rentals for stand-up paddleboards, pontoon and jet boats, jet skis and more. There are also places to rent beach items, such as lounge chairs and towels, so if you’ve left something at home, there’s no need to worry—we’ve got you covered like a beach umbrella in the warm sun.

Click here to read about shopping in Fenwick Island.


Tax-Free Shopping Year-Round

From the quaint antique shops in Lewes to the eclectic boutiques in downtown Rehoboth, shopping takes on many forms in the Delaware Beaches. People come from all over to roam the streets of our charming towns, stopping to window shop or browse for unique gifts, original artwork, designer clothing and more. What makes Delaware shopping so special is that it is tax-free seven days a week, 365 days a year!

Delaware does not impose a state or local sales tax, making the state a shopper’s paradise.

Purchase everything from name-brand clothing and designer accessories to new tech gadgets—all tax free!

After your shopping excursion, you’ve probably worked up an appetite. Your tax-free day continues with a delicious meal at one of the local restaurants.

Stop into a local brewery or distillery and pick up something to take home—all available for tax-free purchase.