Beaches in Delaware for a Fun Visit

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For a state of its size, Delaware packs quite a punch. It has over 380 miles of shoreline to explore, offering state parks, wildlife areas, and lots of waterfront real estate. There is quite a bit happening here, particularly in the summer, and much of that activity revolves around the Delaware beaches.

From touristy spots like Rehoboth and Dewey to some more laid-back locales like Bethany and Fenwick Island, we love exploring all that Delaware has to offer. Here’s a look at some of our favorite beaches whether you’re visiting in the heart of summer or the off-season.

Rehoboth Beach

Overhead view of the ocean, buildings along the coast, and Rehoboth Beach.
Rehoboth Beach and boardwalk in spring

Arguably the most visited beach in Delaware, Rehoboth Beach calls itself “The Nation’s Summer Capital.” It’s free to visit and family-friendly, so it draws visitors from all over the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast. We love wandering the wide expanse of clean sand here, especially when the weather is good but it’s still technically the off-season.

Rehoboth boasts a mile-long boardwalk flanked with restaurants, stores, and kiosks selling all kinds of merchandise and some delicious food. As you wander, don’t miss some of the classics. Thrasher’s fries are a summer must-have, but be aware that they come with apple cider vinegar–there’s no ketchup here. A burger or cheesesteak at the iconic Gus & Gus’ Place has also been a Rehoboth staple for over 60 years. Follow it all with delicious salt water taffy from Dolles.

Storefront with blue roof and a large sign: "Dolle's Salt Water Taffy."
Dolles has made salt water taffy for nearly 100 years

Not far away, Zelky’s Beach Arcade makes an entertaining stop, and Funland has lots of rides and games when you’re ready for a break from the beach. Going from end to end on the boardwalk always offers some great people watching!

Away from the beach, there are lots of other things to do in Rehoboth. You’ll find tax-free shopping and lots to buy at Tanger Outlets, craft beer and live music at an outpost of the famous Dogfish Head Brewery, and even more aquatic fun at Jungle Jim’s River Safari Water Park. Plus, there are lots of top restaurants selling incredible seafood such as Henlopen City Oyster House.

Delaware Seashore State Park

Waves lapping a beach with golden sand near dusk.
The laid-back beach at Delaware Seashore State Park

With about six miles of oceanfront and 20 miles of bay shoreline, Delaware Seashore State Park is a hub for some of the most fun summer activities. The construction of two jetties that joined the Indian River and Rehoboth Bay to the Atlantic Ocean have transformed the state park into the beach goer’s utopia.

Visitors can take part in loads of activities such as swimming, kayaking, and fishing in the safe waters. You will also enjoy the view where the Rehoboth Bay and the ocean come together flanked by a stretch of undeveloped coastline.

The Indian River Life Saving Station that used to respond to shipwrecks stands tall and serves as an educational center, so there is an educational component to this shore destination. You can surf and sunbathe on the sand or camp out in one of the cottages where you can listen to the music of the waves at night.

Multi-story building with a sign for "U.S.L.S.S. Indian River Inlet."
The historic Indian River Life Saving Station

Outdoor activities on the Delaware Seashore beach include hiking or biking on the six family trails, dining at the oceanfront Big Chill Beach Club, or a hanging out at the Umbrella Bar. One notable mention is the Dockside Marina Bar & Grill, a full-service outdoor restaurant with the best view of the marina and a menu featuring tacos, sandwiches, and lots of fruity cocktails.

Note that, like the other Delaware state parks, there is an entry fee of $5 for Delaware residents and $10 for out-of-state visitors.

Bethany Beach

Aerial view of waves hitting a Delaware beach in front of a boardwalk, businesses, and homes.
Bethany Beach before the crowds

The quintessential small town, Bethany Beach has only about 1000 residents. But the population swells to 10 times that amount in the summer when visitors come to town. Despite the increase, Bethany maintains a reputation for being a family-friendly “quiet resort,” which they advertise on banners in town.

The peaceful nature of the town and its pristine beach makes it one of our favorite spots. You can start your day with sunrise yoga on the beach, spend some time watching for dolphins, and even go kayaking.

The compact Bethany Beach boardwalk is lined with shops to browse and plenty of restaurants. Get your beach gear at Bethany Surf Shop or head downstairs for a beach read at Bethany Beach Books, an independent bookstore that has served the area for over 30 years. All kinds of gummy treats abound at Candy Kitchen, so you can indulge there or head over to Dicky’s Frozen Custard, a local institution for frozen desserts.

Lewes Beach

Wooden fence running along a sand dune on a beach.
Lewes Beach

One of the cleanest and nicest beaches in Delaware, Lewes Beach is also one of the best destinations for families with small kids. The water here is shallow and the waves are generally calmer than other spots along the coast.

Lewes Beach is quiet but still keeps people entertained with things like fishing and boating. At low tide, you can spot jellyfish in the shallows, a sight that children never cease to be amazed by. Plus, there is plenty of room for sunbathing and sand castle building. As a bonus, visitors may find parking just a little bit easier here than at other destinations, though that is relative because the southern Delaware coast gets very busy in the summer. The location also puts you a stone’s throw from the Cape May-Lewes ferry, if you want to explore Cape May’s charm for the day.

Two-story building with a gabled roof.
The distinctive Dutch-style Zwaanendael Museum

Away from the beach, there are lots of things to do in Lewes. History lovers will enjoy “the first town in the First State,” which has numerous historic buildings and small museums telling the stories of early Dutch settlers, residents in the 1700s, and people who helped make Delaware what it is. Check out the colorful Zwaanendael Museum and the collection of unique buildings at the Historic Campus, including Sussex Tavern that offers live music and 18th-century drinks on the first Friday of the month.

Downtown Lewes has dozens of boutiques and restaurants as well as unique attractions like the Lightship Overfalls. For something sweet, head to Hopkins Farm Creamery to enjoy farm-made ice cream in the company of a few dairy cows.

Fenwick Island Beach

Rope barrier along a golden sand beach beside blue ocean waves.
Fenwick Island Beach

Fenwick Island is one of the coastal peninsula towns with a wild ocean ambiance and a natural landscape. One notable thing about the 3 miles of beaches at Fenwick is that they retain a lot of their natural charm because there hasn’t been any commercial development, which is a good thing as Fenwick boasts of an assortment of wildlife. If you’re looking for a quiet spot, this is it.

Fenwick Island State Park is the area’s biggest attraction. It is a haven for swimmers, so it has a modern bathhouse, convenient showers, and changing rooms.

With fewer crowds than most Delaware beaches, Fenwick is an excellent location to enjoy sunbathing. It’s also a lot calmer than Ocean City, Maryland, that “other” beach town just over the Maryland state line. It’s best to arrive early to ensure a parking place (stay by the white lines), and having the ParkMobile app is helpful.

Cape Henlopen State Park

Sea grass on a sandy beach.
The beach at Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park has six miles of coastline, which includes lots of room for swimming, surfing, and surf fishing. The designated swimming beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean side (eastern side) of the park just south of The Point. Concessions, umbrella rental, a picnic pavilion, and showers make this our pick for an easy place to spend the day because everything you need is already here—including pristine sand. It’s also wheelchair friendly.

As you head south along the Atlantic coastline in the direction of Rehoboth, there are other beaches for surfing and surf fishing. We enjoyed Gordons Pond Beach, which has two unexpected World War II lookout towers right on the sand, making for a dramatic backdrop. If you’re traveling with a pet, Herring Point is a wonderful dog-friendly beach in the park.

Two stone observation towers on a beach.
World War II observation towers near Gordon’s Pond

Beyond beaches, Cape Henlopen State Park has numerous interesting things to see. We particularly enjoyed the sites of the Fort Miles Historical Area, a place where 2500 soldiers monitored and defended the coastline from potential attacks by the German navy during World War II. There are tours of the underground museum in Battery 519 if you want more details, or you can explore the guns, tanks, and original buildings around the historical area. Information panels explain the displays.

To experience some of the area’s wildlife up close, visit the Seaside Nature Center. We loved its main attraction, a two-level, 300-gallon touch tank. If you’ve ever wanted to see horseshoe crabs eat, stingrays swim, or other sea life on the move, this is the place to come.

Broadkill Beach

Ocean waves on a sandy beach with sea grass beside a row of homes.
Broadkill Beach

With natural beauty and calm waves, Broadkill Beach is ideal. There are plenty of animals to watch, including birds, crabs, and dolphins as you wander this long strip of land bordering the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the mouth of the Delaware Bay. The beach only has two access points, and thus, it has few visitors, so don’t be surprised if you find a whole stretch of sand to yourself.

You can drive a truck (with a license) along the length of the beach, from the south end to the north end. You will pass the Broadkill Store in the middle–one of the few businesses in the area. The store rents bicycles to explore nearby, or you can go for a rental kayak or standup paddle board. For something calmer, shop around for your day’s picnic supplies. Across the street from the store is a cute, well-cared-for Little Free Library (complete with solar panels so you can grab a book at night) and a garden bed designed to serve as a waystation for monarch butterflies.

Exterior of a store covered in wood shingles with a sign for "Broadkill Store."
The beachside Broadkill Store

Broadkill Beach is worlds away from the famous beaches, so it is perfect for people looking to have solitude and quiet. Note that bugs can be a nuisance here in the summer (sometimes extending to early fall), so bring repellent or other protection.

Pickering Beach

Houses along a sandy beach with some algae and horseshoe crabs
Pickering Beach is a horseshoe crab sanctuary

Wildlife is the draw at secluded Pickering Beach. From shorebirds to turtles and even foxes, there are different species to see year-round.

Much of the activity here happens in the late spring and early summer during the horseshoe crab spawning season. Pickering Beach is a sanctuary for these unusual looking crab who take to the beaches in Delaware and New Jersey to lay their eggs in clusters at the edge of the water. The process is fascinating to watch. Visitors are asked to assist in flipping over crabs that accidentally turn upside down on their curved shells to help them return to the water.

Come here for a walk, the animals, and to enjoy the beauty of the sand dunes, but don’t expect to swim. Parking is limited and there are no facilities like restrooms or food kiosks.

1 thought on “Beaches in Delaware for a Fun Visit”

  1. Wow 🤩 I love it 🥰 Rehoboth Beach are beautiful nice people, and my family and i had a good time 👍😍😍😍 Definitely we will be back next year.

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