By Eleanor Linafelt
If you’re looking for a quieter way to re-emerge into the world this summer, Bethany Beach, Delaware, is the place to go. The quaint beach town, which is an easy two-and-a-half hour drive from Philadelphia, is perfect for families, couples and friends alike.
Bethany Beach has its fair share of places to eat and things to do, but if you want even more to explore while you’re there, it’s conveniently located near multiple other busier beach towns and beautiful state parks.
From concerts all summer long to weekly youth nature programs to locally owned restaurants, we found all the things for you to check out on your vacation to Bethany Beach.
What to Do
The Bethany Beach boardwalk, lined with shops and food (more on that shortly), is less than a half-mile long, which makes it perfect for a calm evening stroll or peaceful morning bike ride.
For interesting and fun educational experiences, bring the family to the Bethany Beach Nature Center, consistently ranked as one of the top 10 things to do in Bethany Beach. The Nature Center offers events to increase awareness of the area’s inland bays and wetlands, and fun hands-on activities for kids of all ages. Throughout the summer, the Nature Center will hold youth programs every Saturday morning.
For even more fun family activities, take a visit to Arnie’s Playland, located along the boardwalk. The amusement center has Skee-Ball, arcade games and more. Another favorite spot is Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf which is the only miniature golf in Bethany Beach, and, thankfully, open every day. Kids will love the 50-foot pirate ship and talking pirate along the course.
If you’re looking for fresh, local food during your stay, make sure to fit in a trip to the Bethany Beach Farmers Market, which is open on Sunday mornings throughout the summer. Started with the goal of connecting the town’s residents and visitors with the food they eat, the Farmers Market’s growers are primarily from around the area.
And then, of course, there’s always the beach. Bethany’s is beautiful, clean and perfect for everyone’s favorite beach activities, including sunbathing, swimming and more.
Where to Eat
In terms of food, you’ll definitely want to sample some of the many available boardwalk treats while you’re at Bethany Beach. Boardwalk Fries offers chicken fingers, hot dogs, fried pickles and more, in addition to their fries served plain or with special flavoring. DB Fries is the spot for fried seafood options, and if you’re craving popcorn, you can get a big bucket from Fisher’s Popcorn.
For dessert, Dickey’s Frozen Custard is a much-loved Bethany Beach institution. The family-owned Maureen’s Ice Cream and Desserts is right around the corner, offering not only ice cream, but also cupcakes, cakes, coffee and more.
Bethany Beach has plenty of sit-down, locally owned restaurants as well. There are multiple options for seafood, including Bluecoast Seafood Grill and Raw Bar, 99 Sea Level Restaurant & Raw Bar, Off the Hook and The Blue Crab. For something a little different, 14 Global is a popular restaurant with a variety of globally inspired dishes, cocktails and craft beers. For breakfast and coffee, check out Beach Break Bakrie and Café and Sunshine Crepes.
And of crucial note: Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen, which has locations in Rehoboth, Ocean City, Maryland and Wilmington, just opened a new spot in South Bethany. The collaboration with Big Fish Restaurant Group includes a full market with meat, fish, Jewish delicacies and more, in addition to a sit-down restaurant with both Rosenfeld’s and Big Fish specialties. You’ll find a variety of Reuben sandwiches, blintzes, matzah ball soup and many more delicious favorites.
Bethany Beach is offering consistent and varied event programming all season. Musicians perform every Thursday evening through the summer at the boardwalk’s bandstand. This year’s scheduled lineup includes the official chorus of the U.S. Air Force, a modern country band, Nashville singer-songwriters, an Elvis tribute artist and more.
For a fun family evening activity, check out the Movies on the Beach offerings. Every Monday through the summer, Bethany Beach hosts outdoor movies at dusk. This year’s include many family-friendly favorites, including “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “Toy Story,” “Dolittle” and more.
If you’re able to make it to Bethany Beach in time for Independence Day, the 287th Army Band will perform on the Fourth of July, and a local rock band will be playing the next day right before the fireworks display.
And just in case you decide to make a post-Labor Day trip to the beach, be sure to be there for the 43rd annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival on Sept. 11. The event will feature work from painters, woodworkers, sculptors, jewelers and more. There also will be a silent auction to raise money for the arts programs at five local schools.
Bethany Beach is just one of many destinations along the Delaware and nearby Maryland coast, which means there are plenty of fun day trips you can take while you’re there. If you’re looking for a more bustling beach experience, Ocean City, Maryland, is only a 30-minute drive. Ocean City’s three-mile boardwalk is often packed with visitors enjoying its vast array of food, shops and amusements.
Rehoboth Beach is another popular Delaware beach, which is about 20 minutes north of Bethany. If you make the drive to Rehoboth, check out Matt’s Fish Camp on the way, a favorite seafood spot for locals and visitors. You’ll also pass through the Delaware Seashore State Park, which has six miles of ocean coastline and nearly 3,000 acres of undeveloped park.
For another peaceful nature experience, Fenwick Island State Park is a tranquil barrier island a mere 10 minutes south from Bethany Beach. The island has a historical lighthouse, a shipwreck museum and a small boardwalk of its own.