By: Nicole Pensiero, Special to Follow South Jersey
If the words “Lewes, Delaware” only make you think about the ferry that shuttles people from Cape May to Delaware’s beaches, think again. It’s a great vacation spot in its own right.
A small coastal community, Lewes (pronounced “Lewis”) is quieter and less crowded than its more southerly neighbors, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Bethany Beach. It offers excellent dining, fun shopping and its very own beachfront attraction: Cape Henlopen State Park.
For our warm-weather, three-night getaway, we opted for a new hotel about a five-minute drive to its downtown: the Hyatt House Lewes/Rehoboth Beach. Along with a large indoor pool, outside fire pit, and an included breakfast, there were also some fun, free “happy hour” treats on weekend afternoons: an Italian soda bar (non-alcoholic) and a soft pretzel bar with numerous mustard toppings. Guests can also use the outside grills by the fire pit for barbecuing, and pet dogs are allowed (for an added cost). It was a great jumping off point for our adventures.
Driving about five minutes to downtown Lewes, we’re immediately taken by its many boutiques and lovely restaurants, many with outdoor dining. Only five square miles (and with a year-round population of about 3,300 people), Lewes is best explored by foot. For dinner, we opted for the Striper Bites, a popular eatery with indoor and outdoor seating. It was still light outside after dinner, so we took another stroll around Lewes, now crossing by foot over the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal Bridge, where admired ospreys and herons – as well as colorful floral planters along the drawbridge.
The next morning, we set off for a fun, 90-minute dolphin watching cruise with Cape Water Tours & Taxi. We had a great boat captain, named Madie, who was also a trained naturalist, so we learned a lot about dolphin behavior and spotted plenty of these beautiful sea mammals. I’d recommend this excursion to anyone visiting the region – it’s great for children, too. From there, it was off to nearby Cape Henlopen State Park, situated at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. With 5,193 acres, this expansive state offers plenty to do, along with relaxing on its free, lifeguarded beaches (there is a per-car fee to enter the park). There are biking and walking trails, camping options, and even an historic fort. There is also a snack bar and restrooms by the beach. It was a great way to spend a few hours.
That evening we headed out to the Crooked Hammock Brewery — a true weekend go-to place for adults and kids alike. There’s a playful vibe to this massive space, and plenty of outdoor games for kids (and grownups) to enjoy, including ping pong, corn hole and a ring toss. There’s also live local music on the weekends. The food was delicious.
On our final day, we took a drive to beautiful Bethany Beach. Dinner on our last night ended up being another winner, at So-Cal-influenced Mexican restaurant Taco Reho in Rehoboth. Established as a popular food truck seven years ago, the physical restaurant, opened in 2021, has both indoor and outdoor seating. You order via phone app, and the food and service are fantastic.
Quite different from the Jersey shore, we hope to return to this special region before long.
For more information about Lewes, Delaware, and its surrounding beach communities, go to www.visitsoutherndelaware.com
Nicole Pensiero is a New Jersey-based travel writer and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).
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