An off-season getaway at Bethany Beach, Delaware, still comes with the sand, soothing waves, boardwalk and shops but without summer’s traffic and crowds. There’s time to explore Bethany’s nature centers, ecological preserves, funky shops and stroll the .38 mile boardwalk (it’s a tiny town).
As you’re driving into Bethany, take a minute to notice the 24-foot Totem Pole.
Start your outdoor exploration at the 150-acre James Farm Ecological Preserve, considered an oasis of wild land just minutes from the nearby resort beach towns. Visit during low tide, if you can, to walk the sandy beaches and see the salt flats of the lowland marshes.
Addy Sea Bed and Breakfast, a friendly, warm, and convenient base of operations, is land-side of the dunes and has its own walkway to the beach.
Take a short drive to Millville’s Dickens Parlour Theatre for a night of magic performed by world-class magicians.
Stop by Off the Hook for an after-dinner snack. Try a local or specialty beer, including Heavy Seas or Old Dominion. The kitchen closes at 10 on weekend nights (summer and winter), so try to be there by 9:30.
Head to Bethany Beach Books, the town’s only indie bookstore. The shop has lots of information about local sites and attractions as well as hosts book-related activities and visiting authors.
Visit the Bethany Beach Nature Center where you can learn about the region’s inland bays through interactive exhibits inside. Then, take the short stroller- and handicap-accessible boardwalk for an outside exploration of the marsh and forest. This is a great place for bird watching and seeing other critters. Interactive exhibits help explain the relationship between humans and nature.
For Eastern Shore comfort food, lunch at the Penguin Diner, a family-friendly diner in downtown Bethany, where products are locally sourced when possible, except for the Vermont maple syrup and Cabot cheddar cheese. Good choices include pancakes, tuna-melt, or grilled salmon tacos. In winter the diner remains open for breakfast and lunch.
Walk across the street to the Three Blonde Bakers for fudge, gourmet chocolates, ice cream from Venderwendes, a local Bridgeville, Delaware dairy and creamery, and other deliciousness.
It’s time to relax, so head back to the beach or the wrap-around porch at the Addy Sea. The Inn provides beach towels and chairs.
When you’re looking for the perfect thing to warm your tummy on chilly evenings, head to the Bethany Blues BBQ Pit and just try to decide whether to order the brisket, the baby back ribs, or the pulled pork, while you’re scarfing down the cornbread and creamy coleslaw. Live music, brews on tap, lots of TV sets for your sports fix.
Before you leave town, do the one thing you can do in few other places. Walk across the Indian River Inlet Bridge (or Charles W. Cullen Bridge) where photo ops are likely to include shots of the surf, the fishermen, and seashell collectors.
Because Delaware doesn’t have a sales tax, shopping is a major attraction. Tanger Outlets occupy land on both sides of Route 1 in three different malls, outside of Rehoboth Beach, south of Lewes. You’ll find food, apparel, housewares, and specialty shops.
Bethany Beach in Season
If you visit in summer, remember Bethany Beach summer activities include music at the bandstand, a farmers market, Fourth of July festivities, exercise classes, the Town Trolley, a seaside craft show, Monday night movies at the bandstand, Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf, the occasional bonfire with marshmallows to toast, and more.