Beach guide: Delaware's hidden treasures

May 23, 2012|By Karen Nitkin, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Certain beaches, restaurants and stores on the Delaware Shore seem to land on everybody's "must-do" list. But there are also plenty of places and activities that get less attention. Maybe they're a few miles from the shore, or take place midweek, or don't have splashy ad campaigns, but each of the treasures listed below has its own charms. Maybe they'll become part of your "must-do" list.

1. Freeman Stage

This outdoor performing arts venue, four miles west of Fenwick Island, has been wowing audiences since it opened in 2008. Most performances are free, though there might be a charge for special events like the July 6 performance from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes ($25). Guests bring chairs, blankets and picnic fare, and can buy sandwiches, beer, wine and other treats at the concession stand. This year's season runs from late May to mid-September and includes an Elvis tribute (June 21), the Chesapeake Brass Band (July 5) and a performance by the First State Ballet Theatre (Aug. 30). freemanstage.org

2. Marine tours

Yes, it's fun to explore the shore and its animal life on your own, but a few insights from the experts can make the experience more rewarding. From June through August, the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment offers free tours every Friday, starting at 10 a.m. on the Lewes campus. Best for ages 12 and older, the tours begin with a 20-minute video showing some of the projects being undertaken by students and staff. Participants then get up-close views of a tropical reef tank, a Global Visualization Lab showing how researchers are learning about the ocean and exhibits on research taking place in extreme marine environments, from the very deep to the very cold and very hot. http://www.ceoe.udel.edu/getinvolved/tours-lewes.shtml

3. Farmers' market

Every Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m., through October, Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach becomes a lively open-air market, with about two dozen vendors selling local cheese, produce, cupcakes, jams and much more. Try gourmet rice pudding from Sap's Puddin, handmade Italian pastries from Pasqualini's, organic vegetables from Greenbranch Farm, and organic salads and wraps from Hobo's. Live music and cooking demonstrations are part of the experience. Info: rbfarmersmarket.com

4. Free family movies

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society shows free family-friendly movies at dusk throughout the summer at the Lewes Canalfront Park in Lewes. Bring your own chairs and bug spray. This year's schedule includes "The Great Outdoors" (June 27), "The Muppets" (July 25) and "Big Miracle" (Aug. 5). Dewey also shows movies Monday nights in July and August, starting at 8:30 p.m. Enter the beach at Dagsworthy Street. rehobothfilm.com

5. Wednesday night bonfires

Kids can roast marshmallows, play games and dance to music at the Wednesday Night Bonfires, held each week at Dewey Beach, from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The weekly event starts June 22 and runs through Aug. 29, excluding July 4. Bring marshmallows and glow sticks, and enter the beach at the Dagsworthy Street entrance.

6. Junction and Breakwater Trail

This 6-mile biking and walking trail connects Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, traveling through coastal marshes, forests and open fields. Interpretive signs provide information on plants and animals you'll pass along the say. Access the trail, which is primarily crushed stone, at Hebron road in Rehoboth Beach, or in Lewes opposite the Cape Henlopen High School or from Gills Neck Road near the Hawks Eye community. destateparks.com

7. Beach, park yoga

Grab your yoga mat and water bottle and head to Dewey Beach between West and Cullen streets for an hour of spiritual and physical rejuvenation. Sessions led by Kaya Wellness Center instructors are held Memorial Day through Labor Day, weekdays except Wednesday, starting at 8 a.m. The cost is $11, with $1 going to the Dewey Beach Lifeguard Fund. If you prefer a park setting, Lewes Canalfront Park hosts Yoga by the Canal, featuring Dimitra of Dimitra Yoga and Soul Yoga Studio, on Sundays through Sept. 15. Class begins at 8 a.m. and is free, although donations are accepted. kayawellnesscenter.com and lewescanalfrontpark.org.

8. Shipwreck museum

Shipwrecks and our fascination with them didn't start with the Titanic. Dale W. Clifton Jr. has collected thousands of artifacts from shipwrecks around the world, including coins, weapons, china, keys and even an hourglass. In 2001, he founded the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, which showcases the items in frequently changing exhibits. The museum, at 708 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island, is open to the public, free of charge, daily from June through September, on weekends only from October through December, and Saturdays in April and May. discoversea.com.

9. Ecological preserve

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