Ahhhh…..Rehoboth Beach & the Boardwalk Plaza!
By Bob Tagert
With the early arrival of warm temperatures this year, we decided to take a Road Trip to the Atlantic Beaches and visit the bustling town of Rehoboth, Delaware. For those of you who grew up here, like myself, you probably discovered the Atlantic Ocean by first going to Ocean City, Maryland on some sort of spring break or with the family for a beach weekend. It was always an ordeal, especially on warm weekends. Back then, there was only one Bay Bridge and there were tolls to pay going each way. This always led to impromptu parties in the backup. The second span was completed in 1973 and in the last few years the toll booths have been eliminated. This has all but eliminated traffic backups except when there is a massive volume of vehicles trying to make their way to the beaches.
On the Wednesday that we travelled to Rehoboth, there was very little traffic and we made the 260 miles in under three hours. We could not have picked a more perfect April 12th – weather wise. Arriving a little before check in, we decided to hit Dewey Beach for a quick lunch. Our first choice, the Starboard, wasn’t open so we chose a new place…Woody’s Dewey Beach. This place is fantastic. Great food at a good price with a very casual bar with plenty of seating and an extremely friendly and engaging staff. Next time we are there we are trying out their famous crab cakes. After a nice lunch we continued on to the Plaza.
The Boardwalk Plaza Hotel is a Victorian style hotel situated right on the boardwalk a block and a half from the ocean front bandstand on the main drag. The hotel is absolutely beautiful and you will get that vibe as soon as you walk up to the desk. The lobby is spacious and decked out in period furniture and furnishings. You will also be greeted by the three resident parrots…Moose, the one who tends to greet you with a peck from his beak; Peanut, the large one who talks a lot; and Emro, the greeter with the personality who will jump on your hand and walk up to your shoulder.
After check in, the elevator will take you to the floor of your room. We were lucky enough to get the 4th floor which is adults only and has access to the rooftop deck and hot tub. This is an excellent treat. The rooms have two queen size beds and dresser, a walk through with fridge, vanity, sink and enclosed bathroom. Next is a nice den with writing desk, another TV and comfortable chairs. The den opens up to the balcony with two chairs and a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean and the beach. We noticed that the town is in the midst of beach replenishment as a pipe lays partially covered by sand leading into the ocean where sand is pumped from the seabed to the beach. This is an ongoing exercise up and down the coast especially after rough winter storms.
As I laid down on the comfortable bed after the drive, Lani began to take a stroll around town. She loves checking out people and places and even though several of the boardwalk venues remained closed until Memorial Day, there was plenty to entertain her – the arcades, the fun “beachy” shops with the $5 deals, etc. And…the boardwalk was jumping with people. The 80+ degree weather really brought them out!
After a brief nap I met up with Lani – who was already at a discovery we made last trip – the Nalu Surf Bar. Nalu, which in Hawaiian means wave surge, or wave is one of our new favorites. The whole restaurant has a tiki feel to it and the walls are adorned with paintings of huge waves, the bar top looks like a wave under glass, and the happy hour Mai Thai is only $6 with a dollop of dark rum on top. Yum. We also ordered our favorites…grilled bacon wrapped pineapple with a caramel drizzle and an order of an old time favorite – Coconut Shrimp. This is such an uplifting place and the staff, with the like Jules, our bartender, are terrific.
Another nice thing about going to Rehoboth this time of year is that the down town parking is still free. However, the 89 degree day drew folks out of the woodwork and finding a spot would be difficult. We were glad that the Plaza was only a block and a half walk. In Rehoboth, most of the shops and restaurants are open although a few may still be closed for a few more weeks. You could hardly tell, with all the doors wide open inviting folks in. I scored with a $14.99 Panama hat at one of the many shops – I wore out my old one. Another bonus–there is no sales tax in Delaware. It is a great place to shop.
After the second Mai Thai we decided to take a short drive down coastal highway to the Maryland state line and Our Harvest Restaurant in Fenwick Island, Delaware. A very good friend of ours, Marty Jenkins has moved to the area and works at Our Harvest. It was great to see him after all these years. This is another great example of our “Bay to the Blue Ridge” connection. If you are in the area I would highly recommend this restaurant and it’s spacious bar. The menu is fantastic and the prices are very reasonable.
The next day after a nice breakfast on the patio at Victoria’s, the hotel restaurant, we went back to the room. I was still a bit tired so decided to revisit that comfortable bed while Lani took a walk on the beach and ventured up the north side of the boardwalk. In all of the times we have been here neither of us got past OB’s on the Beach. Come to find out there a couple of retailers and a huge yoga and fitness center on that end.
Once again I dozed for about an hour and went to meet Lani at the Purple Parrot. From the “Parrot” we took another drive down Coastal Highway to the Maryland line and met our friend Nancy at Harpoon Hanna’s on the canal. The first incarnation of this restaurant was built in 1983. In the last 40 years it has more than tripled its size. We met our friends at the waterside bar to listen to some live music.
After leaving Harpoon Hanna’s we stopped in Bethany Beach on the way back to Rehoboth. We stopped in town at Mangos for dinner. This restaurant was originally opened as Mango Mike’s by Mike Anderson and Dicky Heidenburg (owner of Starboard in Dewey). Anderson owns a number of restaurants in Alexandria including Sweet Fire Donna, Whiskey & Oyster, Pork Barrel BBQ, Holy Cow and a popup bar that changes seasonally. Another “Bay to the Blue Ridge” connection.
Mangos is a second floor restaurant that has excellent views of the beach and ocean. We chose a table out on the covered porch and enjoyed a leisurely dinner and a bottle of wine and headed back to Rehoboth and the hotel for a night cap.
Friday morning rolled around and we had to get back to Old Town. With the late checkout that comes with the rooms on the 4th floor, however, there was time for another stroll on the beach for Lani while I enjoyed reading the paper on the balcony. Upon our noon checkout we decided that the trip wouldn’t be complete without spending some time at the Starboard in Dewey (remember, it was closed on Wednesday). They are open Thursday-Sunday until the official season rolls around. We opted to have lunch at the outdoor bar with our new BFF Pete Gillette behind the bar. Starboard never disappoints – the juices are fresh squeezed, the beers are cold and the food is great. And on top of that, the people are fantastic.
You all might want to schedule a trip to this slice of heaven in the next couple of weeks before the Memorial Day crowd starts off the 2023 season. Even though it was more crowded than years past this time of year…still no lines to get in places and there is plenty of space on the beach.