Coastal Cuisine

The Fresh and Flavorful Tastes of the Delaware Beaches

By Julie Matthews

Did you know “Culinary Coast” has been trademarked by the Southern Delaware Tourism for the Delaware Beaches area? This name fits. Over the past couple of decades this region’s increasingly growing culinary scene, with award-winning restaurants and top-shelf chefs, has truly become exceptional. The small town, beach vibe may feel laid-back, but the dining scene here is elevated. 

After experiencing a few meals, guests will quickly realize that the diverse, creative menu offerings here far exceed standard coastal cuisine with seafood platter variations. Not to worry, you will still find the more traditional coastal menu staples such as crab cakes and other shellfish and fish along with the common sides that often accompany them like corn-on-the-cob and coleslaw. What makes the dining scene in the Delaware Beaches so heightened is the abundance of fresh flavors diners will experience. 

Having both the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay at its front step, and the Chesapeake Bay not far away, ensures that the region has some of the freshest seafood available. While it is best known for its blue crabs and clams, there is no shortage of other fresh catches, including fish, oysters, mussels, clams and more. Not just fried or heavily seasoned, the fresh seafood is often paired with local ingredients, giving it a whole next level of flavor. From reimagined traditional seafood dishes to sushi, the Delaware Beaches will impress food lovers with the highest expectations. 

The Delaware Beaches is not only bordered by water but also farmland. Agriculture makes up a significant part of Delaware’s economy, including Sussex County’s, so restaurants in the area have access to the freshest ingredients for preparing food. Restaurant chefs incorporate local, seasonal produce—including corn, soybeans, lima beans and watermelon—into their dishes and diners enjoy flavorful meals with the highest quality ingredients. 

The state’s poultry industry enhances its strong culinary community, so the availability of fresh chicken further widens the assortment of fresh food options that its restaurants offer diners. The area’s collection of farmers, fisherman, culinary experts and other local food specialists has established a well-connected, culinary network, all of which contribute to the high-quality food produced here.

Phenomenal seafood with matched quality in a variety of other menu choices, including vegetarian, is just one part of what makes for good coastal cuisine. Almost as important as what you eat is where you eat. Outdoor dining by the water is another key factor when it comes to coastal dining. Enjoying an excellent meal while viewing the waves breaking in the ocean or eating on a deck overlooking the scenic bay and watching a beautiful sunset—this is coastal dining at its best. As a complement to your meal, add a local libation from one of the more than a dozen craft breweries, wineries and distilleries in the area, or a fruity mixed drink if that’s more your style. 

However, it’s not all about gourmet in the Delaware Beaches, as comfort food definitely has its place here as well. Boardwalk specialties from pizza and burgers to hot dogs and sandwiches are popular beach eats, as are beach treats such as Boardwalk fries doused with vinegar, flavored popcorn and ice cream. All of these foods can be hard to resist, especially when they have close ties to childhood memories of visiting the beach. 

Did you know that peach pie is Delaware’s official state dessert? While in town don’t forget to grab a slice, especially if it’s made with peaches from a local orchard.

As with so much in life, the food scene in Delaware Beaches is about balance. In this case the balance of meals created from high-quality ingredients but still delivering the feel-good, comfort factor. Delaware Beaches are a refreshing mesh of small town charm meets relaxed beach living meets big city culture. There’s always something new to try or to try in a different way.

Main Events of the Delaware Beaches

Photo above by PortraitsInTheSand.com

Delaware Beaches offer much more than summer fun. Whether you are looking to listen to live music, buy eclectic artwork for your home, participate in holiday festivities or just take a break from the beach, guaranteed something entertaining is happening here. 

Throughout the year the area hosts events and activities of all sizes for people of all ages and interests. And while this area has a cozy, small town charm, it knows how to throw major celebrations. In fact, a number of the Delaware Beaches’ annual festivals are widely recognized and attract visitors from around the country and world. While there are many events going on year-round to choose from, consider checking out these popular (and editor’s picks!) annual events planned for 2022-2023. 

Sea Witch® Festival

Fri., Oct. 28 through Sun., Oct. 30, 1 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

The 32nd annual festival, produced by the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, is a three-day Halloween party not to be missed. Join the thousands who attend this event each year in Rehoboth Beach. Costume parades, trick-or-treating, contests, monster art and so much more! Beach-Fun.com/Sea-Witch-Halloween-Fiddlers-Festival.html

Mid-Atlantic Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival 

Sat., June 4 and Sun., June 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m

In its 13th year, this festival will include dozens of sea glass and coastal artists and their works of art including sea glass, jewelry, paintings, photography, driftwood, ceramics and much more. Come purchase beautiful pieces of art and enjoy live music and great food. The festival will be held at Lewes Historical Society in Lewes. Admission is $5 per person each day and children 12 and under are free. HistoricLewes.org/Events/Mid-Atlantic-Sea-Glass-Coastal-Arts-Festival.html

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival

Thur., Oct. 13 through Sun., Oct. 16 

With a tagline “The Greatest Jazz Festival in the World!,” this is an event music lovers will definitely want on their calendars! Over 25 artists are lined up to play at this year’s music event to be held in multiple locations in Sussex County. Since 1990 top jazz and R&B musicians—including Al Jarreau, Peabo Bryson, Queen Latifah and more—have been performing at this annual event. RehobothJazz.com

Winter WonderFEST 

Sat., Nov. 19 through Sat., Dec. 31, open nightly

Take a one-mile drive or an open-air wagon ride through the “Fields of Christmas Dreams!” at Winter WonderFEST in Milton. With its 7th season happening in 2022, this event’s dazzling light display is a community tradition in Delaware Beaches. Presented by Festival of Cheer, Inc., Winter WonderFEST is not only full of family fun but the event raises money in support of community charities. WonderFestDE.org

Fire and Ice Festival

Fri., Jan. 27 through Sun., Jan. 29

Marking its 6th year in 2023, this event’s festivities will include ice sculpture tours and demonstrations, bonfires, fireworks, music and tastings. Bundle up and come celebrate the Delaware Beaches at this unique event. FireandIceDE.com

All dates and times are subject to change. Please call ahead or check online before attending.

Home Away from Home

Why Many are Calling Delaware Beaches Their Second Home

By Julie Matthews

Are you or somebody you know considering purchasing a second home in the Delaware beaches vicinity? What’s not to love here? Laid-back, relaxing, beautiful beaches and shorelines; high-quality cuisine; and boundless activities for everyone of all ages. Delaware’s beaches are a favorite beach resort more and more visitors are making their home.

These past couple of years have pushed people to re-evaluate the priorities in their lives. Certainly, the pandemic has influenced people’s decisions as far as how and where they work, vacation and retire.

Redefining Lifestyles 

The Delaware beaches—including Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Lewes and Fenwick Island in Sussex County—have become an increasingly popular destination for second-home buyers. A second home in this area allows homeowners to escape to the beach on the weekends and leave behind the hustle and bustle and everyday stresses they may experience living or working in the more congested, larger cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. For just a few hours on the road, they can get away to a whole different atmosphere, full of natural beauty, without having to travel too far.

Living at one of Delaware’s beaches is especially appealing for people in retirement or close to their retirement years. A second home allows them to test the waters, so to speak, for their new life in a different location. They may be seeking beach life; however, moving down south to the Carolinas or Florida may be too far or big of a change. They may not be quite ready to leave their “forever” home and community where they have laid down roots. Having a bonus home at the Delaware beaches, they can travel back and forth between their real lives and their retired lives. If they have family back home, they can still have the flexibility of attending important family events.

Practical Perks 

Delaware beaches offer their residents, whether primary or second-home residents, a high quality of life in a relaxed beach atmosphere. Delaware residents enjoy a number of desirable financial incentives, including tax-free shopping and low property taxes. Furthermore, here homebuyers often get more for their money compared to some other beach resort areas on the East Coast. As far as cost-of-living measures, Delaware is a comparably more affordable option when looking at some of its neighboring states. In addition, Delaware’s centralized location on the East Coast is convenient, and its smaller geographical size and population makes it fairly easy to navigate within.

The fact that a significant amount of new planned communities, including 55-plus communities, are cropping up in the area is definitely a major draw to this region. Neighborhoods are being built in previously rural areas just outside of the beach towns. These newer communities are full of amenities, such as clubhouses, pools and recreational activities for residents. The newer construction of these communities offer owners low maintenance living and convenience, which are important factors for those in retirement.

Endless Entertainment 

While its beaches are the main attraction, this area offers visitors and residents a wide array of activities that expand beyond the beach providing residents a well-rounded lifestyle. For recreational activities they can head to the water for some fishing, boating or kayaking. Or they can hit the trails at one of the nearby state parks for hiking and bicycling, or tee off at one of the many golf courses in the area. 

Shopping enthusiasts have a variety of shopping options from local beach stores to charming boutiques and antique stores to the Tanger Outlets. Of course, the area boasts an impressive dining scene with numerous fine dining options including award-winning restaurants with outstanding coastal cuisine to casual beach dining. A relaxing day at the spa can be easily arranged at one of the area’s spas, and for those wanting an exciting outing on the town there are numerous breweries and wineries—and even a casino a short distance away.

All of these great benefits make Delaware’s beaches an excellent choice for making it home. 

Things to See & Do

Delaware Beaches Offers Activities for All

While the Delaware Beaches is absolutely one of the most relaxing coastal vacation destinations around, it can also be one of the most exhilarating. There are so many exciting, family-friendly ways to spend your time in the region.

Spend a Day on the Water

Fishing

Fishing opportunities are a cinch in the Delaware Beaches. Go on a headboat to one of the state parks or do some surf fishing. You’ll be excited to know that flounder, sea bass, tautog, yellowfin tuna and marlin are several fish in Delaware’s local waters.

Kayak

Take a ride down Delaware’s watery nature trails. Peaceful and equally pleasurable, make sure you take advantage of the many miles of bayfront coastline aboard a kayak. There’s nothing quite like enjoying the cool breezes from your own waterfront view.

Parasailing

Soar above the Atlantic and see the best views of the beautiful Delaware shoreline from the air. One of the most popular beach activities, parasailing can be done without even getting your feet wet. Watch dolphins and other wildlife and take in beautiful views of the inland bays and quaint seaside towns. 

Surfing

Since the waves here are simply perfect year-round, why not use your vacation as the perfect opportunity to learn how to surf? There are plenty of shops where you can rent a surfboard and get private lessons from a local pro. From first-timers to the casual surfer looking to learn new tricks, surf instructors work with people of all ages and skill levels.

Boat Rentals

Plot your course for fun on a pontoon or other watercraft available at local boat rental locations. A great way to get that adrenaline pumping is on the water. Or you can kick back and enjoy a family excursion on a pontoon boat.

Jet Ski

Perhaps you’d rather ride solo. Explore the water on a personal watercraft. Your heart will be racing as you zoom along at high speeds, or you can simply go at your own pace. Double and triple jet skis are also available at some locations.

Stand-Up Paddleboard

More serene, yet with extra strength required, learn the popular pastime of stand-up paddleboarding. All you need is a board and paddle, and you’re set to go. You’ll enjoy incredible views of the horizon and possibly even catch glimpses of dolphins.

Indoor Activities

Arcades and Game Rooms

How about brushing up on your gaming skills? Battle with your teens (in a good way) at a local arcade. Or work on your tactical skills with some laser tag. It’s the perfect time to try something new together, like a puzzling escape room. Work together as a team and beat the clock.

Mini Golf

Mini golf is a popular summertime activity that’s perfect for all ages. With locations both indoors and outdoors, your family will love wandering through a jungle safari or hitting the high seas with pirates.

Bowling

Get ready to knock down some pins with a few rounds of bowling. Bowling is a classic game for young and old, and these stylish local lanes elevate the traditional experience. Between sets, enjoy some tasty snacks and drinks, including some adult beverages, for a full-service experience.

Visit a Local Museum

Feed your appetite for knowledge with something new this vacation by exploring a nearby museum. Check out event schedules to see what programs and exhibits are on display.

Tax-Free Shopping

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. What makes Delaware shopping so special is that it is tax-free, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Antiques & Repurposing Shops

Those with a flair for antiques or repurposed furniture will love exploring these scenic, rural towns for one-of-a-kind furniture and goods. There are actually more than 500 antique dealers in southern Delaware in the form of antique shops, flea markets and auctions. 

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.

Outlets

Browse through well-known shops, as well as stores only found in Delaware, as you discover apparel for all ages, along with 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.

Welcome to the Delaware Beaches

Where Simple Pleasures Meet Endless Opportunities for Fun

by Arielle Patterson

From the southeastern-most tip of Fenwick Island to the point of Cape Henlopen State Park, welcome to the Delaware Beaches. The main attraction is, of course, our beautiful beaches, but as you venture inland, you will find so much more. Experience our museums, cultural events and festivals throughout the year, plus exciting outdoor adventures—by land or sea.

From the sophisticated shops and mouthwatering  restaurants in Rehoboth Beach and lively Dewey to the laid-back Bethany Beach boardwalk, the Delaware Beaches offer something for everyone of all ages. Head to one of the nearby state parks for hiking and biking, paddle along the inland bays or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of this waterfront destination.

Off the water, explore the area’s charming coastal communities. One of the most popular activities here is shopping, which has the distinction of being sales tax free. The region is also rich in art galleries, symphony orchestras and theaters. There is a wealth of exciting attractions, entertainment and nightlife, all with the gorgeous beaches serving as the backdrop. The eclectic restaurant scene is full of intimate eateries and gourmet restaurants, as well as beach bites that will fuel your day.

We invite you to take in all this region has to offer, from the sun-soaked beaches to the bustling sidewalks. On the next few pages, you’ll find all the best places to eat, play, stay and shop in the Delaware Beaches.