Roadtrip: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Things have been hectic in the world of Jacquie lately. I've been working on relocating and that has involved many things; resume drafting, phone calls, interviews, real estate appointments, packing/cleaning/organizing and a general taking-care-of-things that have absorbed so much of my life over the last six months.

In spite of this, my boyfriend and I planned and took a trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The timing was tricky but I'm so happy we didn't postpone it, because we had a fantastic time!

The idea to go to Delaware came about because of the band the Slackers. We had heard they were playing in London, England on Halloween. Of course, this seemed like a great idea but a weekend-long trip to England was not in the budget. But while checking out the band's website , I noticed they were also scheduled for a gig in Rehoboth Beach. I had no idea where that was, but they were putting on a free show at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and it seemed like a perfect opportunity for a road trip!

In researching Rehoboth Beach, I learned that the population is less than 1500 people, but there are 29 hotels. It's a summer destination primarily for people who live in Philadelphia, PA, or Washington, DC, being about two hours drive from each. Situated on the coast in the state's Cape Region, the city balloons to over 25,000 in the summer months. A beautiful boardwalk, picturesque shops, bars and restaurants, and of course, a gorgeous beach, are what make this a popular spot to visit.

It so happened that right before leaving, I also discovered that the same weekend we'd be there, was the Sea Witch Festival, a Halloween-themed, weekend-long celebration! I was so excited when I found out because I'm crazy about halloween.

Rehoboth Beach is about 7-9 hours drive directly south of Kingston, Ontario. Our first stop was in Syracuse NY, where we luckily happened upon Dinosaur BBQ. This was a huge accident and a complete highlight. They had a great selection of craft beer on tap, an awesome menu, and incredible food. We had fried green tomatoes, mac n' cheese, pulled pork, and more. They make their own delicious hot sauces and the atmosphere is great too. We finished the meal with an incredible cheesecake unlike I've ever experienced in a restaurant.

Onwards we drove until stopping in Bear, Delaware. Bear is just outside of Wilmington, which is the most populous area of the state, and is actually very close to Philadelphia. Bear was chosen because of a cheap but fancy hotel, a bit off the beaten path. We closed the night eating greasy American pizza and were off to bed. The drive from Bear to Rehoboth Beach was only about an hour and a half, so we stopped along the way in Smyrna, DE to have a meal at the Waffle House.

When we arrived at the beach, we checked into our totally cute hotel. The Crosswinds Motel had a woman dressed as a man at the front desk, (halloween festival, remember) and our room was small but completely updated. We really liked this hotel and I can't recommend it enough. Another great feature is that it was located next door to the Dogfish Head brewpub!

Eddy on the Beach

Exploring Rehoboth Beach over the next two days was a blast. We met some fantastic people! Tons of people were in Halloween costumes for the festival, just walking in the streets like that which was so fun. Kids were ducking in and out of stores trick-or-treating, and there were games and activities. The beach was very busy for late October! The streets were bustling too. Rehoboth Beach is a very pretty and walk-able community and I can imagine it must get pretty crazy in the summer months.

One thing we learned while at the Seafood Shack , was that there is a large gay and lesbian community there. As we were informed by some new friends we made, the area is sometimes called "gay beach". It was definitely more subtle than gay neighbourhoods in Toronto, for example. No big rainbow flags, no sex shops, no bathhouse advertising. Which was interesting, but seeing as the political climate is different in the US, you can understand why it would be a bit more reserved. Our friend pointed out that it was a bit more of a family destination lately, as, "when the restaurants, nightlife and shopping are made great by the gays, the families follow," which makes sense to me too.

Here's an article on the Huffington Post about this topic, that also points out that gay marriage is now legal in the state of Delaware.

The Slackers at Dogfish Head
The first evening we spent at the brew pub watching the Slackers. We had a great time eating their incredible food, trying out different beers from the menu, and dancing the night away. Dogfish Head started out in 1995 and is now a very large and successful craft brewery. Their initial goal was to bring good beer, great food, and great music to the Rehoboth Beach area, and that's exactly what we experienced while there.

On our second day there, we explored the area by driving along the coast and over some of Delaware's famous suspension bridges that extend along the coastal state parks. At points ocean is on either side of the highway, while sand dunes rise up around you. It's an incredibly beautiful area. After our drive, we stopped into a little tavern called the Table & Taproom. This was another accidental find and we were the only people in there when we walked in. We sat at the bar and began asking questions about beer. The fellow working told us he wasn't a beer expert, since he was the head chef and just covering until the bartender arrived. This ended up working in our favour, as he began to insist we try things on the house for "keeping him company", which of course, was our pleasure.
One of the best I tried: Hell or Highwatermelon by
21st Amendment Brewery

We had house-made pretzel sticks with house-made mustard and house-made horseradish-spiked cheese, deep fried pickled zucchini with spicy house-made ketchup (you're sensing a house made theme, right?) and a great flat bread. This spot is a favourite memory of mine--I like it when you discover places like this by accident, and you're treated like an old friend by staff.

Later that evening (after a long nap!) we went to the movies and saw Bad Grandpa...which actually was a good choice for a light vacation movie, and had a very late dinner at the Rehoboth Beach diner, a typical american spot with huge portions and all-day breakfast.

Before departing the beach in the morning we stopped at Surf Bagel. Their house special was a tuna or chicken salad on a toasted bagel with cheese and topped with a pineapple ring. This sounded crazy but who is to argue with a house special? So of course we both had that, and it was better than you can imagine. On the road we continued and stopped briefly in Philadelphia, to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But actually, not to visit the museum (it's closed on Monday's anyhow) but instead to have a bit of a Rocky moment.

Finally, we drove back through Syracuse and stopped again for another incredible bbq meal at Dinosaur BBQ. If something is nice, do it twice. We crossed back into Canada and stayed the night in Gananoque.

Busy Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach
Our last day of vacation was spent in Kingston. We finally ate at Morrison's Restaurant. I snapped a pic of the restaurant's sign for my sign blog (here) last summer,  and this spot is something of an institution in Kingston. The classic busy diner, with a long counter with short stools in front of it and booths surrounding it, the menu is just as you expect it to be.  We then went and watched two movies back to back, the surprisingly un-terrible but just-as-you-want-it-to-be ridiculous Escape Plan, and the much better and incredibly beautiful Gravity.

We had such a great time on this trip, we discussed when we could go back again. So many people asked us, "Why Delaware?" because to Canadians that area isn't really known as a vacation destination. Having visited, I can see why it is popular with the surrounding areas and I would love to go back in the warmer months to take advantage of the beach. Maybe we'll go back to catch the Slackers again. It was worth the drive!

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