When we heard about an unruly plane passenger being duct taped to his seat shortly after a Southwest Flight attendant lost two teeth, we opted to make our annual fall getaway a calming drive-to destination. These days, the friendly skies just don’t feel very friendly anymore.
We replaced packed airports and the risk of air rage with an off-season trip to Rehoboth Beach. Cruising across the scenic Bay Bridge and moseying down Route 404 through farmlands dotted with fruit and vegetable stands made getting there simply nirvana.
The idea of an off-season Delaware beach vacation may seem a little odd but the perks outweigh the need for a sweatshirt. Beaches aren’t packed and temperatures are ideal for a memorable morning boardwalk stroll or bike ride along the coastline where you just might spot a dolphin frolicking in the Atlantic. Fewer tourists mean there aren’t queues at the best restaurants and thanks to off-peak rates there are savings at hotels. And, you can embrace your inner child sans long lines for popcorn at Dolly’s, saltwater taffy at Candy Kitchen or Thrasher’s French Fries.
For the uninitiated, Rehoboth Beach isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill honky tonk beach town. Of course it has its share of Tee shirt and henna tattoo shops, but this quirky mix of imaginative cottages, fine restaurants, bars, art galleries and specialty shops attracts an eclectic mix of families, couples, singles, gay and straight visitors who all seamlessly blend together in one beautiful square mile.
Just two blocks from the Atlantic, the five-star Bellmoor Inn and Spa exudes comfort. A bright sunroom adjacent to the lobby offers a serene space for endless contemplation and is a welcoming sight after a three-hour drive. Nearby, a massive fireplace in the game room and library is a cozy retreat après for exploring the town.
Awarded Best Designed Hotel in Delaware by House Beautiful, the plush property offers 78 recently reimagined rooms and suites with every detail addressed, including fine imported toiletries. A full complimentary breakfast with freshly baked pastries and made-to-order omelets is served each morning. A lobby bar ideal for lingering makes a beckoning place for an impromptu nightcap.
The well-equipped fitness center and full-service spa has enough indulgences to sway spa skeptics. Other niceties include complimentary charging stations for electric autos and an indoor hot tub ideal for a chilly fall night.
It would be a shame to visit Rehoboth and not have breakfast on the boardwalk at Victoria’s. Sit outside and lazily watch the ocean while reminiscing over morning coffee, or savor a glass of wine at dusk and listen to the roar of the mighty Atlantic. This spot offers the best people-watching perch in town.
Dining at Henlopen City Oyster House is worth the entire trip to Rehoboth. No kidding. The food is that good! With a philosophy that says, “We like to eat fresh food that fills you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes,” the menu offers imaginative combinations of locally grown fruits and vegetables, plus meats and seafood from regional markets.
While the restaurant has a casual vibe, the menu blends expertise and playfulness with choices ranging from
a delectable Lobster Mac and Cheese to exquisitely presented Florida grouper. When was the last time you saw beluga caviar with house-made potato chips on a beach town dinner menu?
No sales tax is another Delaware attraction. Pop into massive outdoor outlet shopping malls for bargains galore or stroll The Shops at Baltimore Avenue and Rehoboth Mews for fun boutiques with merchandise you won’t see
coming and going.
Home furnishing shoppers should head to J. Conn Scott and Hunt & Lane. For unusual women’s clothes, Boutique W may fit.
Boo! Experience spooky family fun in late October when hundreds of witches, monsters and zombies gather on Rehoboth Beach for the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers Festival. The two-date event includes a costume parade, a dog parade, best costume contests, magic shows, pony rides, a broom-tossing contest, a trick-or-treating trail and a Jolly Trolley Magical History Tour. Take a guided walk along the shore and hear tales of shipwrecks and pirates thanks to the Indian River Life-Saving Station.
When the weather cools down, the music scene heats up. The Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival brings national and international Grammy Award–winning artists to town with performances on four stages, in restaurants and at smaller venues. While the festival is local, the artists are global. This year’s artists include Blood Sweat and Tears and 2021 Artist of the Year Maysa.
Discover Flotation Therapy
Floating in a sensory deprivation tank or isolation tank is said to stimulate relaxation and eliminate aches and pains. The world becomes clearer. Creativity improves, and anxiety and depression decrease—and that’s just for starters. Some describe the experience as “weightless meditation.”
Guests can indulge in this therapy at Urban Float in Rehoboth Beach.
Floating has been around for more than 40 years with oodles of research to back up the benefits. Flotation therapy involves lying nude in shallow water saturated with 1,200 pounds of Epsom salts in your private pod—think of it as a large clam shell—where the salt keeps you buoyant. The water is denser than the Dead Sea.
Your mind and body enter into an amazingly deep relaxed state, and it is difficult to tell the difference between the air, the water and your body because they are all the same temperature as you suspend yourself in the solution.
Claustrophobic? Not to worry. People with claustrophobia report no problem since you are always in control. You can float with the pod open or closed, lights on or off.
Writer’s Note: I tried it. It was profoundly calming. The experience wasn’t so much a rebirth, but it felt like a return to the solace of the womb. I left with an unusual sense of peace. Essentially, this writer has difficulty putting the sensation into words except to say, “I can’t think of a better place for emptying the mind.”
Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival
Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers Festival
Urban Float Rehoboth Beach