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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

The Best Beaches Near DC—And Which One Is Right For You

By meerna Jul11,2024
The Best Beaches Near DC—And Which One Is Right For You

Distance from DC: 124 miles, approximately 2 hours 40 minutes drive.

So many Washingtonians flock to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, every summer that the city long ago earned the nickname “The Summer Capital of the Nation.” It’s a destination for a diverse community, including the LGBTQ+ beachgoers who began flocking to the city in the 1950s and ultimately transformed it. It’s known for its restaurants, shops, a highly regarded strip mall on the boardwalk, and a number of ice cream and pizza shops. Oh, and guest appearances by President Biden, who has a beach house just north of downtown.

It’s hard to find common ground in D.C., but Rehoboth is our pick for a beach town that’s perfect for almost any occasion: a generational reunion, a college reunion, a weekend getaway with the kids, or a romantic getaway for couples.

Rehoboth has taken on the role of the grande dame of Delaware beaches—on its main drag, Rehoboth Avenue, you’re more likely to find boutiques selling high-end dresses or Scandinavian art than questionable T-shirts. Longtime favorite Browseabout Books is the place to pick up a beach read or drop in for an author signing. Penny Lane Mall, tucked away on a picturesque street, is a shopper’s dream, with a photography gallery, nautical decor stores, a jewelry store, and an ice cream parlor. Decades-old CAMP Rehoboth hosts art exhibits and meditation classes. Rock, country, and cover bands (think Elton John or the Eagles) play at the boardwalk gazebo Friday through Sunday nights.

The boardwalk stretches for a mile, and a few blocks near the central business district offer the expected mix of arcades and shops selling ice cream, boogie boards, and T-shirts. The historic Funland amusement park, with its old-school games and modern rides, is a must-see for kids of all ages. The rest of the boardwalk serves as a wooden walking trail. On weekends, when the beach nearest the music pavilion is covered with towels and umbrellas, pick a direction and follow it to a less crowded spot. Head south and eventually you’ll reach Poodle Beach, a longtime gay hangout. For more exercise, just north of Rehoboth is Gordon’s Pond, a beautiful salt marsh famous for migrating and nesting birds, with walking and biking trails. Between Gordon’s Pond and Rehoboth you’ll find North Shores, the city’s longtime lesbian beach.

Rehoboth’s charm, however, is timeless: The streets outside the city center are lined with homes, not towering apartment buildings and hotels. For the most part, Rehoboth’s vibe is the same as it was a decade ago or the decade before that. And that keeps people coming back.

Don’t miss it: Rehoboth is a great place to start exploring the area’s beer and wine scene. Nearby are Dogfish Head Brewery, known for its bold flavors and unusual ingredients, which offers tours and tastings from its mothership in Milton, and Dewey Beer Co., which gained a national reputation for its fruity, smoothie-like sours and tropical hazy IPAs and now has a brewery and tasting room in Harbeson, as well as an original brewery restaurant in Dewey Beach. Wine lovers should head to Nassau Valley Vineyards, where, in addition to self-guided tours and tastings, you can enjoy live music and an art gallery. —Fritz Hahn

By meerna

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