COASTAL DELAWARE

If you haven’t noticed my 2011 travelogue yet, you can see I’ve been to the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware area three times since August including a short getaway this past weekend.

Why so many visits? Well, I have family in the area, namely two grandparents and a cousin (who you can read his about his travels here. Yes, it runs in the family). It’s been a spot I’ve visited for many summers as a youth and lately I’ve become more familiar with the place in fall (and soon winter).

WWII-era towers flank most of Southern Delaware's protected coastline

Rehoboth is a somewhat typical beach getaway – plenty of outlets and overpriced, lower-quality nik-nak shops to go with the homespun ma-and-pa businesses. It’s not over-commercialized, yet, at least when you look at neighboring Ocean City, MD or other major beach resort towns. Being it mid-November I was surprised at the onslaught of traffic still hitting the stores (and relative busyness of the boardwalk, which was half-open for the mild-weathered weekend).

Waves crashing into the rocks at Cape Henlopen State Park

As is usually the case with our getaways to Rehoboth, we take a new route every time – this time passing through Federalsburg, MD en route to the coast. Federalsburg is an industrial town – spearheaded by a Kraft Foods plant, among others. There honestly isn’t much to see here, but it’s a major (relatively speaking) Maryland town in Delmarva, so it piqued my curiosity enough to just drive through.

A barge sails in the distance

We were greeted early Saturday with 60-degree temperatures and a cool, brisk wind. On recommendation from my cousin, Walter, we headed over to Cape Henlopen State Park near Gordon’s Pond. Shockingly, the park is still collecting fees – but the weather was good enough (and fishing is popular around this time) so I don’t blame the state for running the fee calendar through the end of the month.

The Rehoboth Beach boardwalk with the iconic Dolle's sign, still active in mid-November

It was an absolutely beautiful day at Cape Henlopen, with undisturbed sand and hardly a person in sight (save for a couple photographers and fisherman flanking the World War II-era coastal protection towers. We stayed for over and hour snapping shots of the shorebirds, collecting seashells and generally enjoying a day at the beach.

Ocean City, MD - you either love it or hate it

Our Sunday we braved the outlets, but after an hour of shopping (and new shoes for me) we drove along the Delaware Coastal Highway  (a mostly protected state park area) to Ocean City, Maryland – about 27 miles each way. The weather was even better – not warm, not cold and no wind. I’ve never been a huge fan of Ocean City, with its rather ugly high-rise hotels and worn-out boardwalk, but it’s Maryland’s only ocean town and, in my opinion, is best enjoyed mostly empty when the crowds and general noise don’t get in the way of the beach itself.

A shorebird pivots on one-leg with the Ocean City boardwalk in the background

It was great to see family again and we’ll be back soon I’m sure. I’m plotting out further locations in Delaware to explore, including Prime Hook Reserve, Slaughter Beach and Fort Delaware to the north. Unlike most other states, Delaware’s gems are hidden. The state doesn’t have a national park site nor a national forest. With the second-lowest elevation of all 50, it’s also the only state not to have a commercial airport.  Here’s hoping it stays relatively untouched and undiscovered!

4 thoughts on “COASTAL DELAWARE

  1. Rehoboth Beach – love it (especially in the dead of Winter). Ocean City – hate it.

    I’d definitely keep Fort Delaware on the list. Also be sure to check out some of the geo-oddities like the Wedge, the 12 Mile Circle Markers and Ebright Azimuth. Oh, plus the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton.

  2. Have been planning a visit to the wedge and those other markers you mentioned (Ebright being the somewhat controversial highest point, of course). While I’ve been through Newark, Christiana and Wilmington, Northern Delaware is a bit less familiar to me. I’m also highly curious about “Delaware East” – the partition of land attached to New Jersey and if any of it is passable by foot without treading into a nuclear plant…

    Dogfish Head – My family loves the stuff and I never thought to inquire about it…

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