Bethany Beach

The quieter place

City gives off home-town vibe

May 19, 2006|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,SUN REPORTER

No beach town this close to four major East Coast cities is going to be a "quiet resort," in spite of the Bethany Chamber of Commerce's optimistic labeling. Not in the summer season anyway. But Bethany Beach at least has fewer hotels and motels to attract short-term visitors, fewer funky boardwalk attractions, fewer honky-tonk bars and more returning families than most resorts a gas tank away from Baltimore.

Nothing much may happen when you vacation at Bethany Beach, and that's just fine with most people. It's a place where folks hold annual family reunions or rent a cottage for a week just to wind down. Most of the days are spent on the beach, but usually one day is set aside for a round of golf or shopping at the nearby factory outlets. The boardwalk is a place to take a leisurely stroll, not get a tattoo.

All things being relative, maybe Bethany is the quiet resort.

Where to stay

There are a few places like the Bethany Arms Motel & Apartments on the boardwalk. (Does that name have a nostalgic ring to it or what?) And, yes, there is a Holiday Inn Express three blocks from the beach. But hotel and motel rooms are much in demand in season, so make your reservations early. You can find listings at beach-net.com and bethany-fenwick.org. Or do what many families do and next year rent a cottage.

The most romantic place to stay in Bethany Beach is the Addy Sea bed and breakfast (99 Ocean View Parkway, 800-418-6764). The historic oceanfront structure has plenty of Victorian charm (don't consider it if you don't like doilies), with comfortable beds and extravagant breakfasts. Adults only. Rates: $150-$400.

Restaurants

Here are a few highlights when you're looking to eat out in the Bethany Beach area:

Bethany Blues BBQ Pit (6 N. Pennsylvania Ave., 302-537-1500). Great wood-fired beach barbecue. Check out the $75 special dinner for two, barbecue with champagne! Entrees: $13-$25.

Blue Crab (210 Garfield Parkway, 302-537-4700) is Bethany's best downtown crab house.

Bluecoast Seafood Grill (1111 Coastal Highway, North Bethany, 302-539-7111). Great restaurant rebirth. (Formerly the Redfin.) Specialties include a pan-seared grouper and Delaware fish stew. Entrees: $17-$29,

Mango's (97 Garfield Parkway, 302-537-6621) offers American and Caribbean cuisine, but the real draw is that you're practically on the water. Entrees: $15-$29.95.

Royal Zephyr (27 Atlantic Ave., Ocean View, 302-541-9555) Soon to be opened, you can dine in real railroad cars, one coach and one first class for fine dining. Entrees: $12-$35.

Nightlife

You must be kidding. There are the evening shows at the centrally located bandstand, but they are mostly for families. Your best bet is to head to nearby Fenwick or farther down the coast to Ocean City.

Shopping

A new coffee shop, the Artful Bean (20 Pennsylvania Ave., 302-541-8160 ) is also a fine arts and crafts gallery.

Bethany is a good place for beach reading. If you run out of the latest John Grisham (or War and Peace, for that matter) head for Bethany Beach Books (99 Garfield Pkwy., 302-539-2522).

Japanesque (16 Pennsylvania Ave., 302-539-2311) carries an appealing combination of Asian and beach things, much of it high end. You'll find Japanese-themed stationery, books, pottery and home accessories, plus hip beachy clothing, jewelry, T-shirts and gifts.

Next door, Pitter Patter (18 Pennsylvania Ave., 302-539-8712) has unusual gifts for children, lots of toys and clothing for infants to 6x.

If contemporary art jewelry interests you, stop in at TKO (100 Garfield Parkway, 302-539-6992). Alice Klein has gotten international recognition for her one-of-a-kind brooches and necklaces.

Fun

Here are a few things to do in the Bethany Beach area other than going to the beach, playing golf and shopping the outlets:

Get a massage or facial at the Atlantic Bodywork Center (653 S. Coastal Highway, 302-539-5099).

Ecobay Kayaking Adventures (Cedar Neck Road, Ocean View, 302-245-9332) is new this year. Visit the James Farm Ecological Center and explore the bay in a kayak. Guided tours include lunch.

Take a hike in the nearby Assawoman Wildlife Area.

If you're interested in local history, visit the Fenwick Island Lighthouse (146th Street, west of Coastal Highway; 302-539-4115 ) and DiscoverSea Museum (708 Ocean Highway, Fenwick, 302-539-9366).

elizabeth.large@baltsun.com

Events

June

Seaside Craft Show -- boardwalk, Bethany / 302-539-8011 or townofbethanybeach.com. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 3. A juried craft show with live music. Free.

July

4th of July festivities -- various locations, Bethany / 302-539-8011 or townofbethanybeach.com. Noon-dusk July 4. Starts with a parade on Philadelphia and Garfield streets. There's a horseshoe-throwing contest at 2 p.m. near the parade starting grounds. Awards for the best float are handed out at 7:15 p.m. and the Philadelphia Brass Band plays at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks start at dusk on the beach. Free.

Beach and Bay Cottage Tour -- various locations, Bethany / 302-537-5828 or www.foscl.com. 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. July 26-27. Tour 10 cottages in Bethany. Tickets are $25, which includes both days.

Talent show -- bandstand, Bethany / 302-539-8011 or townofbethanybeach.com. 7 p.m. July 26-27. Free. Pre-register through the town hall.

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