We traveled to Lewes, Delaware for our annual summer family vacation this year. Most years we rent a house with my husband’s family for a week. For those of you not from the DC metropolitan area, there are a group of towns in Delaware that are the equivalent of the “Hamptons” to DC. The comparison holding only so far as the distance of 3 hours away and the terrific beaches. I’m told that Lewes is the furthest and most quiet of the beach towns. However, I’ve not experienced any others firsthand.
Believe it or not, this was my first trip to the Delaware beach area. Yes, I have technically lived in DC for over 13 years now. But as those of you who know me IRL are aware, I am not naturally the relaxed, ‘Life is a Beach’ type! Just ask my extremely patient family who put up with me the first few days of our trip…
Lewes was lovely and relaxing. Keep reading for details of where to stay, eat, and shop. I can’t wait to go back to finish the list of things I didn’t get to see, do, and eat!
See you at the beach!
Family, Games, and Tradition
My husband’s family has a serious obsession with game playing, which my children have inherited. Of the many things I have in common with this wonderful family, this is not one of them. But that is O.K. I caught up on six months of Architectural Digest while everyone else played fierce games of Mexican Train Dominoes and Anomia. I dare anyone to beat my 9 year-old in Anomia, the new game he was excited to teach everyone.
We had a hard time getting the kids to leave the house, except for the beach. Our one big outing was a two-hour dolphin tour. Cape Water Tours offers many different charters and excursions. The three-hour tour offers a chance to see whales, but our kids just made it through the two-hour version! Totally worth it to see the dolphins playing with each other in the “wild.” I’ll spare you my 75 pictures of dolphin tails on the surface of the water.
Lewes Beach has the most welcoming, calm waters for toddlers and babies due to the cape like curve the shore makes. This also makes it a great area for Paddle boarding, which we tried on the days the water was anything but calm! Does it count as Paddle boarding if you can’t stand up when the water moves? Seriously, the kids and I had so much fun acting like goofballs, riding the big waves as we sat on the board. Paddle boards, Kayaks, Floating Mats, and all your beach gear can be rented from Quest Kayak hourly, daily or weekly, if you like to travel light.
Sand toys and babies (this one does belong to our family!) in sand pits? Priceless! Our rental house came with a paddle board, and we brought a bucket of sand toys with us. We live in a city apartment, yet this random bucket of sand toys from Costco 9 years ago is perhaps one of my best toy purchases ever!
Max making some new slimy friends at the beach. He actually used the sand toy bucket to bring home a new pet for a few days. Thankfully, he wasn’t too upset when his new friend escaped the open bucket outside the house.
Where to Eat
There are a lot of breweries in Lewes! Great if you drink beer, which I do not. Or if you have children, which I do. Wait, what? I swear! It seems many of the Lewes, Delaware breweries have playgrounds and other manners of entertaining children. Breweries aside, there is a lot of great food in town and the surrounding area.
We also had fabulous Mexican food at Agave and Neapolitan pizza from Crust & Craft Rehoboth. On the list for the next trip are sandwiches at Patty’s Deli, and breakfast at both the Nectar Cafe and Eggcellent, all in Lewes.
Lani and family taking an edge off the kids’ hunger at Notting Hill Coffee Roastery. We also purchased some super delicious flavored ground coffee at the store.
I highly recommend the Big Oyster Brewery. Great food, a giant playground, live music. I might move in.
Unfortunately, I did not get to eat any of this delectable looking meal. But my lucky sister and brother-in-law did get to go to Heirloom, the hottest restaurant ticket in all of Lewes. I mean, it was their anniversary!
Another fabulous brewery with a playground? Yes! One of the highlights of our trip was visiting good friends who moved to Lewes a few years ago. One of them is a brewer at the Crooked Hammock Brewery Yes, that’s a real job!
No trip to the beach is complete without finding the nearest and best ice cream shop! King’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop is the only shop we tried in Lewes. However, I think we need to do more ice cream searching and eating on our next trip!
My two favorite stores in downtown Lewes were Biblion Used Books and Rare Finds, a cornucopia of book treasures and gifts, and the fabulous local toy store, Kids’ Ketch. Not that my kids let me do a lot of shopping! On the list for the next trip to Lewes is The Brush Factory on Kings, and in Rehoboth, Browseabout Books and Pineapple Princess Beachwear. According to my friend Alison, the Pineapple Princess has the absolute best selection of swimwear.
I found my dream marble mantle at Lewes Mercantile Antiques, a collection of antique vendors under one roof. Unfortunately, I don’t have anywhere to put it right now, so I’ll have to wait a few more years to take it home!
Other Fun Things to Do!
We didn’t have time to do everything the area had to offer. There are a few activities and places that will definitely be on the list for next time!
Funland in Rehoboth Beach is a classic Americana family beach boardwalk, amusement park and arcade. First opened in 1962, Funland is still family operated and open every summer beach season. Mr. Real Life Style was worried that if we took the kids to Funland this time, they would just want to go back every day after! Which would be a big waste of a house across the street from the beach!
Cape Henlopen State Park
Walkable or bikeable from Lewes Beach, Cape Henlopen State Park looks like the perfect spot for nature lovers! With a nature center, fishing pier, point overlook, historical area and miles upon miles of trails, the question is, what to do first? The coolest feature this park has to offer in my opinion, is their Borrow-a-Bike Program. Completely free to use, you can borrow a bike for up to 2 hours at no charge to bike around the entire park! We would definitely want to check out Gordon’s Pond Trail, a partially elevated boardwalk style hiking and biking trail over wetlands and through the woods to spot some wildlife in the park. Free to enter on foot or by bike, or a small $5-$10 fee for car entry, Cape Henlopen State Park is a must see for us next time! I’ve read that you can even pet crabs in the nature center!
Ferry to Cape May, NJ
From the Lewes Ferry Terminal, catch the 85 minute ferry to Cape May, NJ for the day! Did you know Cape May was the first seaside resort in America? Once you disembark from the ferry in Cape May, there are a plethora of activities to choose from. You can take a MAC trolley tour around the historic district to admire the unique Victorian style homes built in the late 1800’s or walk around the Washington Street Mall and visit the numerous gift shops, jewelry stores, restaurants and home decor stores on the mall. Or maybe take a stroll along the Cape May Promenade with beaches on one side and numerous candy stores, arcades and beachside resorts on the other! In peak season, the ferry generally runs from about 8:45am until the last departure at around 6pm.
Have you been to Cape May or the Delaware Beaches? Let us know in the comments below!
Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and serve clients across the country. We offer personal styling services, an on-demand e-course, corporate services, and training to become a personal stylist.
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