Each Delaware beach seems to have its own vibe and target audience, but Rehoboth Beach manages to magically please all of the people all of the time. It’s awesome for families—even those with young children, since there are tons of boardwalk diversions for those times when the waves get too rough for swimming. It’s LGBTQ-friendly, and all ages love the natural beauty brought about by gorgeous sunsets that might include a few dolphins playing offshore.
This beach is mercifully only about two-and-a-half hours from D.C., if you manage to avoid the typical Saturday-morning rush to get into one of the many rental houses. Once you figure out all your favorite spots, you can even do Rehoboth as a day trip. My family has packed up the car by 8 a.m. and had our toes in the sand by 10:30 a.m., leaving plenty of time for miniature golf, fun and games at Funland, treats from Candy Kitchen, Kohr Brothers frozen custard and boardwalk fries from Thrasher’s.
Here are the essential details you need to know about this popular D.C. destination.
Where to stay
Schlepping beach gear is kind of the worst, especially with kids in tow, because you know you’ll forget 47 essential items and need to go back to the room to retrieve them. For that reason, it’s best to resist the urge to save money by renting a house or room far from the beach and instead splurge on something near the main drag (Rehoboth Avenue) or the boardwalk. If you’re only staying a few nights, Hotel Rehoboth is a fairly new boutique hotel on Rehoboth Avenue only about four blocks from the beach. Rooms include breakfast, plus a beach shuttle, towels and chairs. The Avenue Inn and Spa is pretty luxe and located a block from the beach. The gym, spa and small indoor pool can totally save the day if it’s rainy. Crosswinds Motel, which sits three blocks from the beach, offers a cool vintage atmosphere at reasonable prices. You can save money on hotels if your timing is flexible; but if a beachside hotel is still too rich for your blood, go with the good ole Millennial standby, Airbnb.
Things to do
We have three words for you: Funland, Funland and Funland! You don’t need to be a parent of wee ones to appreciate the groovy retro rides or a rousing game of Whac-A-Mole or Skee-Ball. But in case you require something other than beach time and an arcade, there’s also rooftop mini golf, outlet shopping, people-watching on the boardwalk, bike rentals and a few breweries to check out. Dogfish Head operates a brewpub on Rehoboth Avenue, plus a tasting room and distillery in nearby Milton. We'd also recommend Revelation Craft Brewing and a few more down the road in Lewes.
Where to eat
People who grew up going to Rehoboth Beach have some sort of Sharks/Jets rivalry over whether lunch must be eaten at Nicola or Grotto pizza. I have no such allegiance, so I prefer the awesome Italian subs at Frank & Louie’s Italian Specialties. For dinner, try the ever popular Henlopen City Oyster House, the experimental a(muse.) or ocean-to-table comfort foods at Salt Air. If you’re staying the night, you must eat at least one breakfast at The Royal Treat, a breakfast and brunch spot plus ice cream parlor operating out of what looks like an old-timey beach house.
Our analysis: We think this beach is best for families with young kids, multi-generational vacations and LGBTQ-friendly travel