Rehoboth Beach boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Best Things to Do in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

BY Emily Rothschild | July 16, 2021

This story appears in Fifty Grande Magazine #3, the Road Trip issue.

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Rehoboth Beach? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Rehoboth Beach?”

Sprawling sandy beaches. Boogie-board-friendly waves. An iconic old-school boardwalk crammed with greasy beach eats, shops and retro rides. Rehoboth Beach isn’t nicknamed the “Nation’s Summer Capital” for nothin’. It’s one of the East Coast’s most popular summer destinations, attracting vacationers from families to rowdy groups of singles to President Joe Biden, who owns a picturesque blue beach house in the north end.

Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Rehoboth is one of a handful of like coastal towns in the area, including Dewey and Ocean City, Md., but it stands out for its perfect mix of high- and lowbrow restaurants, quirky stores and beachfront hotels, plus its aforementioned boardwalk, where you can buy everything from a $65 Lafco candle to a hermit crab. Here’s what else you can do on the boardwalk: get a black-and-white photo strip from an old-timey photo booth, ride bumper cars, play Skee-Ball, eat funnel cake, eat ice cream, eat taffy, eat a giant bucket of french fries you’ll still be thinking about in February.

I’ve been going to Rehoboth my whole life and never stray far from the beach, but less lazy types will find more diverse stuff to do if they’re willing to hop in the car. Like life itself, a trip to Rehoboth is what you make of it. 

*All located in Rehoboth unless otherwise noted.

Thrasher's French Fries
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Thrasher's French Fries in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Thrasher’s French Fries, multiple locations

Thrasher's French Fries, North Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

If you’re not beelining for Thrasher’s French Fries within the first few minutes of arrival, you’re not living. The fries are made from fresh-cut potatoes and fried, skin-on, in peanut oil. During the summer, high demand means the fries go directly from the fryer cage into your paper cup. For peak deliciousness, locals know to sprinkle liberally with salt and douse in vinegar, both of which are sitting right on the counter. Don’t even think about asking for ketchup; it’s strictly verboten. 

To complete the classic boardwalk food trifecta, make sure to stop by Kohr Brothers for an orange and vanilla twist and Grotto Pizza for a basic cheese slice. Oh, and pick up some Fisher’s Popcorn for the road trip home.

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Funland in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
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Funland in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Funland

6 Delaware Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

This circa-1962 amusement park and arcade is a must-visit, period. The toddler set will find plenty of plane, train and automobile options among its 20 rides, and there are also bumper cars and more stomach-dropping thrill rides like the Freefall and Sea Dragon (AKA the pirate ship) for those without a parental chaperone.

Its retro games have gone up in price a little since our childhood, but not by much, and Skee-Ball still costs just 25 cents. Our other favorites are Whac-A-Mole, the derby horse racing game and the nearly impossible Frog Bog, where smacking a mallet onto a catapult launches a slimy green frog through the air. Good luck landing it on one of the floating lily pads. 

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Rehoboth Farmers’ Market, Grove Park.
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Rehoboth Farmers’ Market, Grove Park.

Farmers’ Market, Grove Park

3 Grove St, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Go early to this friendly little farmers market for some of the area’s best peaches, nectarines, blueberries and tomatoes, plus baked goods, jams, meats and more bougie finds like cold brew, juice cleanses and crabcakes. Parking can be a bit of a challenge, so walk or bike if possible, or prepare to park a ways down on a side street.

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Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
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Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Boardwalk Plaza Hotel

2 Olive Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

If you’re going for a week, you should consider renting a house or condo, but for a weekend trip the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel can’t be beat. Known for its bright pink exterior, Victorian design and beachfront setting, this 84-room hotel is as luxe as Rehoboth gets (don’t expect the Four Seasons). There’s a walnut bar, indoor-outdoor pool (adults-only at night) and whimsical lobby, and when you want a fine-dining break from boardwalk food, Victoria’s is right downstairs. 

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Henlopen City Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
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Henlopen City Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Henlopen City Oyster House

50 Wilmington Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

Arguably the best restaurant in Rehoboth, this airy beach-chic spot is known for its oysters (obvi), but also things like steamed clams, lobster rolls and rockfish (Maryland’s state fish). Its impressive craft beer list and creative cocktails make it just the place for date night or satisfying your annoying foodie friends, but it’s still casual enough to bring the kids; just beware there’s usually a wait, especially during happy hour.

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Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
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Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Browseabout Books

133 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

Our favorite shop has changed a bit over the years, from the DIY T-shirt emporium to the place with henna tattoos to upscale gift shops selling the kind of fancy incense you put behind your toilet when you’re adulting, but the one place that’s remained a constant is this beloved book mainstay. It has a surprisingly big selection for a beach bookstore. In addition to the expected big blockbuster titles, you’ll find lots of reads from local authors, plus an especially delightful selection for kids. There’s also a wide array of gifty items, so even if you know exactly what you want, give yourself enough time to browseabout.   

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Gus & Gus Place in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
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Gus & Gus Place in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Gus & Gus Place

15 South Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

Opened in 1956 by Gus Svolis, and run by his two sons, Billy and George, this absolutely iconic boardwalk spot is as old-school as they come. Order at the walk-up window, where you can smell sizzling burgers and hot dogs cooking on the grill, or snag a seat inside its tiny dinerlike digs for a real retro experience. 

The first 35 years of our life, we exclusively ordered the fried chicken, eaten on a sandy beach towel, but with the advent of children, we’ve expanded our order to Italian sausage sandwiches, burgers and gyros picked up for a quick and inexpensive meal enjoyed on benches nearby.

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Cape Henlopen State Park
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Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse in Cape Henlopen State Park. Photo by Shutterstock.

Cape Henlopen State Park

15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE, USA

Reader, I’ll be honest. In my many, many (many) years of coming to Rehoboth, I’ve never come close to visiting this park. As I said right up front, I never stray far from the beach. But reliable people say it’s well worth the short car trip for miles of bike/hike trails, a kid-friendly nature center and a WWII observation tower you can climb for 360-degree views. 

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Lighthouse in Lewes, Delaware. Photo by Shutterstock.
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Lighthouse in Lewes, Delaware. Photo by Shutterstock.

Lewes, Del.

Lewes, DE, USA

Unless you have amazing beach luck, you’re bound to face a rain day. Instead of hitting the outlets like everyone else (including me), spend some hours exploring nearby Lewes, maybe before or after your trip to Cape Henlopen State Park? Go antiquing at Antique Village Mall or Heritage Antiques, check out Hopkins Farm Creamery for some mint chocolate chip from a working dairy farm or create your own brewery crawl by stopping by Dogfish Head, Big Oyster and Crooked Hammock.

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