A Local’s Guide to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Rehoboth Beach is a special place. It’s been called the “Hamptons of DC” (by me, on occasion), and is probably the easiest beach escape from Washington – about a three-hour drive, due east. My partner David and I have a vacation home there. It’s usually rented during the high season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), but we love to go when we can. We’ve gotten lucky and have been able to spend some good blocks of time there this summer.
I want to share the things that I love about Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. This is my guide to living like a local – the shops, restaurants, beaches, and bars that make this special place feel like our home away from home.
A Little Background
Rehoboth was originally founded in the middle 1700s, after several attempts, as a summer church camp. The sea air was thought to be restorative. I tend to agree. (Discover more about the history of the founding of the town here.».) On the site of the original church camp now stands CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBTQ+ community center, and the hub of the queer community’s social life there. Every month, it publishes Letters, chock full of happenings, people, dining and the best of Rehoboth. There is a strong gay community in Rehoboth – but people of all kinds and colors, stripes, and walks will find themselves welcome and celebrated. Dog owners, I find, are particularly welcome.
My Perfect Day at the Beach
Rehoboth Beach is perfect for families. There is so all kind of entertainment for adults to little ones. It’s safe, clean, and the people are friendly and welcoming. The boardwalk is full of things to do. You should absolutely stop over at Dolle’s and try their homemade salt-water taffy. You can’t miss it – just look for the giant red sign in the middle of the Boardwalk.
When it’s time for lunch, the best joint by the water is called Go Fish. It’s a sensational British fish and chips eatery with a take-out window so you can order from the street, right there in your flip flops and bathing suit. The menu is large, but the best things, bar none, are the fried fish – either the Codfather, a fried fish sandwich, or just a piece of cod that’s perfectly crisp and sweet with fries on the side. Don’t forget the homemade tartar sauce! Find a bench on the boardwalk to munch while watching the waves and people pass by.
We like to go to Poodle Beach at the south end of the boardwalk, towards Dewey Beach. Once the boardwalk ends, there are far fewer families, and it’s a bit quieter. I like to have a little space to myself with unobstructed views of the water. This is where you can find that. Because it’s past the boardwalk, visitors swim at their own risk, but this also means that people can drink and bring their dogs. It’s geared more towards adults and is definitely fun.
If you’re there for Labor Day Weekend, check out the Drag Volleyball, it’s a Rehoboth tradition! Every year, magnificent drag queens come out, with the lashes and the wigs and the heels, honey, and play volleyball in the sand. It’s usually held on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend — definitely not to be missed.
Rehoboth Nightlife at a Glance
I could devote an entire guide to the nightlife in town. Until then, be sure to swing by the Blue Moon to see a show, sing karaoke at the Purple Parrot, or dance to a local band at The Pond Bar & Grill.
Places to Eat
Best for Dinner with Friends: Back Porch Café
Photo courtesy of the Back Porch Café mgmt
This marvelous gem is probably among the best, if not the best, food that there is to be found in Rehoboth. Back Porch Café is located on the very last block of Rehoboth Avenue, which runs right into the water, and is populated mostly by shops selling French fries, or sunscreen, t-shirts and boogie boards. It’s easy to miss – as we walk to it, we often find ourselves wondering if we’ve already passed it. It’s funny sometimes, to be heading to a nice dinner, surrounded by swarms of folks coming off the beach, tired and salty, and children sticky with cotton candy or salt water taffy.
Surprisingly spacious inside, there are two interior dining rooms. If you can manage, find a seat on either of the two levels of the back deck. It’s lovely with ancient arching trees and a feeling of privacy and intimacy that makes the maddening crowds seem miles away. The food is spectacular – everything is made in house, right down to the pickled lemon rind in the chutney.
After 40 seasons in Rehoboth, the Back Porch doesn’t advertise, which means that you can usually get a table (even if you have to sit inside), and the diners are locals, who know the staff and who love it here. You’ll fit right in.
Can’t Miss Dish: Coq au vin of guinea hen, lardon, pearl onion, mushroom, butternut pave.
59 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 | www.backporchcafe.com
Best for Date Nate: La Fable
La Fable is a new entry onto the Rehoboth beach dining scene. Tucked away on the garden level of Baltimore Avenue, this charming French-inspired establishment is already a hit, bursting full on the weekends during the high season. It’s highly recommended that you call ahead if you are interested in dining during the rush hour.
The restaurant is a French, new-world concept space, envisioned and executed flawlessly by Megan (tell her we sent you – she’s usually at the hostess stand). Every detail has been carefully considered, from the silverware to the stemware, and especially the menu.
Usually though, my hunny and I don’t worry too much about sitting in the dining room – it’s the little bar off to the right where all the action is. There’s wrap-around seating and a full menu, along with interesting and innovative cocktails and, most importantly, a piano. Sing along and enjoy – we love making new friends in the comfortable atmosphere, flattering lighting while old favorites are played and sung.
Can’t Miss Dish: The duck confit salad followed by the bouillabaisse, or, if you get in early enough, whatever they happen to have on special. You won’t regret it.
26 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 | www.bonjourfable.com
Rehoboth Beach is a wonderful champion for small business – there are a few major chains, like White House Black Market, and yes, there is a Starbucks (blessedly removed from the main shopping area). But by and large, the shops are locally owned. This is part of what makes Rehoboth feel unique and different.
Best for Handmade Soaps: Little Egg Harbor Soap Company
When you pass this shop, you’ll notice a heavenly scent. Little Egg Harbor (or “LEH” as the locals say) makes all-vegan soaps, right in theirNew Jersey factory. Although it was a staple of the Jersey Shoreline for years, an LEH store recently found a home in Rehoboth and expanded its size and collection. You can stop to smell the Roses (soap), or any of their other exquisite scents, shampoos, lotions, and foot scrubs.
I can’t stop myself when I’m there and especially adore the seasonal scents. In the springtime, the Lilac soap takes me back to spring in New Hampshire. In the summer, I prefer Buttercup, a floral and sweet scent that’s still clean, yet not too feminine. By the fall and winter, I need something soothing from the dry air and opt for Cashmere Sweater or Henlopen Pines.
LEH offers wrapped, pre-cut bars or you can have them cut to size. Cinda, the manager, is amazing to work with and incredibly helpful. Once, I wanted to do something special for my houseguests, so Cinda and I came up with the idea of having the large soaps cut into 1″x2″ bars, about an eighth of an inch thick – all individually wrapped with blank labels to add each of my guests’ name. Everyone appreciated the detail and thought; they loved having their own personal “hotel soap.”
My Favorite Find: Detox, the black soap, handmade with activated charcoal, is amazing for keeping my complexion clear. I’ve been using this cleanser for years now, just once or twice a week to clean out pores and keep my face smooth and even.
129 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach | lehsoap.com
Best for Getting Lost in Book Aisles: Browasabout Books
There are so few good bookshops left, aren’t there? Browsabout Books has an expansive book selection. You can always grab a summer thriller, beach read, local history, or cookbook on your way down to and from the water. In addition to books, Browsabout features a great selection of local souvenirs, high-quality toys, housewares, and stationery. I can always find a little gift or trinket when I’m there, and can rarely pass stopping in. The space is brimming with lots to see, and its café provides sustenance while you shop. You may just find that you’ll need it.
My Favorite Find: Books by a local Rehoboth author. You can often find them there signing their books and chatting with tourists and locals alike.
133 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 | www.browseaboutbooks.com
Best for Unique Gifts for your Home: Mod Cottage
My mom would probably lovingly call this a tchotchke shop, although I think it holds so much more. At the front door, shoppers are greeted by welcome mats with a charming visual pun. The store is brightly lit and service is cordial. It’s hard to resist stepping inside to sample the sea salt lotions and smell the fragrances at the front of the shop. I love perusing the cut crystal and stemware and am always drawn to tablescapes that may inspire my next dinner party.
The pieces are all exquisite and thoughtfully chosen – nothing feels fussy and everything serves a purpose. There is a section devoted entirely to clever kitchen gadgets and tools, alongside napkins, wine glasses and stoppers, clever slate cheese boards, cutlery, and other wonderful things designed for entertaining. The back of the store holds linens, towels, bedspreads, curtains, scarves, and jewelry.
My Favorite Find: The terry cloth backed Turkish beach towel in a robin’s egg blue, decorated with thin white stripes and white tassels. It’s so soft and so warm, I never go to the beach anymore without it.
247 A Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 | www.modcottage.net
What are your special finds on the Delaware coast? Share your questions and recommendations below.
About the Author
By day, Jared helps technology leaders find their voice and helps teams find their moment as organizations change and adapt to new realities. By night, Jared writes, travels, finds, thinks, and shares. Jared finds joy in the quotidian, and beauty everywhere. His blog, Curated Life details the finds, sounds, tastes and destinations that he chooses for himself, and then shares with others. Jared and his partner David divide their time between Washington, DC and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.