The popular, mile-long Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk is a must-see when visiting the Delaware area. From pizza spots and ice-cream shops to burger joints and seafood eateries, there’s something for everyone here. It’s not just food either. People flock to this boardwalk for free summertime bandstand concerts, watching ball games at the Greene Turtle, and thrilling rides and gaming at Funland’s amusement area and arcade. So grab a slice at Grotto Pizza, try the Big Daddy Funnel Cake at Starkey’s Funnel Cake Factory, get your seafood fix at Obie’s By the Sea, and enjoy live music on the boardwalk. There’s no shortage of things to see and do.
Our one square mile community is located in the mid-Atlantic and is the largest beach resort in the State of Delaware. Known as the “Nation’s Summer Capital”, our town was historically branded as the get-a-way of choice for beach goers from Washington, D.C. Now, our beach town hosts visitors from all over the country, and the world. Many of our award winning town events have expanded later into the year. Rehoboth Beach is now known as a year round vacation destination for business and pleasure.
The earliest settlers to this area were Native Americans who traveled to the beach in the summer months to enjoy the cool breezes and abundant seafood. Between 1650 and 1675, English and Dutch settlers put down roots here as the area became home to farmers and members of William Penn’s earliest legislatures. Later owners participated in the American War of Independence.
According to information from the Rehoboth Beach Historical Society, in 1872, Reverend Robert W. Todd of St. Paul’s M.E. Church in Wilmington visited a Camp Meeting area on the Jersey Shore. He soon pursued the idea of starting a camp area here on the Delaware coast. In 1873, on 414 acres purchased from local farmers, the Rehoboth Camp Meeting Association was formed.
The grounds were laid out in a fan-shaped design with wide streets, parks and specific building lots. That design remains largely intact today.
While the Association discontinued its formal meetings by 1881, other groups utilized the site for services until about the turn on the 20th century. In 1891, Delaware’s General Assembly established a municipality for the territory, naming it Henlopen City. In 1891, it was renamed Rehoboth Beach.
The Boardwalk, now a mile long, was originally built in 1873 on high ground between the beach and Surf Avenue, which ran the full length of the ocean front. Many storms have changed the configuration over the years; but in 1879, the original Henlopen Hotel was built on the site now occupied by a hotel of the same name.
With the coming of the railroad – which ran right down Rehoboth Avenue, the second block of Baltimore Avenue became the new center of camp meetings and city life. Many of the original tent houses (small one-room buildings surrounding a center structure) were moved there with new ones constructed as well.
In 1925, a paved highway was completed from Georgetown to Rehoboth Beach. It helped link the resort with the paved roads towards Washington, D.C.; and many legislators, diplomats and government employees began to visit and vacation here. It wasn’t long before Rehoboth Beach came to be known as the “Nation’s Summer Capital”.
From it’s beginnings as a spiritual center to the public’s embracing of the seacoast as a mecca for leisure activity, Rehoboth Beach has developed as a close-knit seaside town. It’s a nod to the past that the city’s present day charter includes words that are nearly identical to several words from the 1872 charter of the Camp Meeting Association: “the maintenance of a permanent seaside resort and the furnishing of proper conveniences and attractions requisite to the same.”
Downtown Rehoboth Beach came of age in the era of Victorian influences and evolved throughout the 20th century to change with the times. Both the residential and commercial area, despite their growth and maturation, have retained the warm and friendly charm and ambiance that reflect Rehoboth Beach’s historic past.
Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town’s charm and the absence of a sales tax in Delaware. The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk is a 1-mile (1.6 km) long wooden boardwalk adjacent to the beach with restaurants, shops, amusements, and attractions. The Funland amusement park, which opened in 1962, is located along the boardwalk between Delaware and Brooklyn avenues. Several restaurants and shops are located along the town’s main street, Rehoboth Avenue. Outside of Rehoboth Beach along Delaware Route 1, are the Tanger Outlets, which operate three locations along the highway with over 130 outlet stores.
Rehoboth Beach is also known as one of the mid-Atlantic coast’s popular LGBT-friendly getaways because of the large number of LGBT-owned and operated businesses and because of the LGBT-frequented stretch of beach near Queen Street at the south end of the boardwalk, known as Poodle Beach. Poodle Beach attracts gay men while North Shore Beach within Cape Henlopen State Park attracts lesbian women.
Reader’s Digest named the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk as “Best of America” and featured it in the May 2006 issue. Additionally, AARPhas named Rehoboth Beach as one of five dream towns as “Best Places to Retire”.
The town has several festivals including the Sea Witch Festival, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, and the Rehoboth Beach Autumn Jazz Festival every year.
The Clear Space Theatre Company, a professional theater company, offers a year-round schedule of musical and dramatic productions in the Rehoboth Theatre of the Arts.
Dogfish Head Brewery‘s original brewpub is located on the town’s main strip Rehoboth Avenue. The location has grown in years as a popular destination for American craft beer enthusiasts. Grotto Pizza was founded in Rehoboth Beach in 1960 and has grown to 22 locations throughout the state of Delaware along with parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Grotto Pizza has three locations in Rehoboth Beach, of which two are along the boardwalk while the other is along Rehoboth Avenue. Nicola Pizza is a well-known business in Rehoboth Beach that opened in 1971, with two locations in the town. In 2021, Nicola Pizza will relocate to Lewes.
The restaurant scene in Rehoboth Beach was traditionally centered in the downtown area, which remains competitive. In the 21st century, a restaurant scene has begun to develop along the Delaware Route 1 corridor, where parking is more available and accessible.
In 2011, the city passed a smoking ban covering parks and playgrounds, but sparing the beach and boardwalk. The smoking ban was extended to the beach, boardwalk, and adjacent public areas in 2014. In 2017, the city implemented a ban on tents, canopies, and large umbrellas on the beach, the first such ban in Delaware.
In addition to beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, there are several parks located in Rehoboth Beach. Grove Park is home to a playground, pavilion, restrooms, and benches. Stockley Street Park is located along Silver Lake and has benches and a playground. Teardrop Park offers a dock along Silver Lake. Lake Gerar Park is located along Lake Gerar and has benches and a playground. There are tennis courts that are located at Deauville Beach. Deer Park and Central Park offer wooded areas that allow for wildlife viewing. Lee Street Park offers trees for shade. Martin’s Lawn, located near the Anna Hazzard Museum and the Senior Center, offers a grassy area and trees.
Located on the Delaware Shores, the Rehoboth Beach & Dewey Beach Resort Area is known for its award-winning boardwalk, awesome hotels, specialty stores, amusements, beautiful homes, tax-free shopping and some of the finest restaurants anywhere.
Visitors enjoy exploring 30 miles of unspoiled Delaware coastline, and many passive park areas. Nature based activities include State Parks, kayaking, nature cruises, ferry rides, walking trails, surfing, skimboarding, paddleboarding, sailing or exploring the water’s edge. Adding historical venues and live performing arts will make your stay in the “Nation’s Summer Capital” a perfect one.
Neighboring Dewey Beach is just a short walk from Rehoboth Beach and sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Rehoboth Bay. Dewey offers beach sports and activities as well as great restaurants, majestic sunsets, live music, dancing, and nightlife that is world famous. During the summer, Dewey offers family activities including movies and bonfires on the beach. The Resort’s Gateway (Highway One), offers a “mile of style” at the famous Tanger Outlet Center as well as additional restaurants, bars, shops, rides, and attractions.
The Resort Area hosts many events for fun-seekers of all ages…all year round! Spring and fall sidewalk sales are held in May and October and the Annual Sandcastle Contest is held in September. If you like fun, costumes & parades, the annual Sea Witch Festival held in October will appeal to you. More fun events include 5K Races, Elvis Festival, Pet Events, Jazz Festival, Film Festival and holiday tree lightings and happenings.
Once you visit, you will want to stay and return often to enjoy our beaches, boardwalk, natural beauty and hospitality. The Resort Area is always fun and always tax-free!
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