Each year, as summer fades into the sunset, things change along the Delaware beaches. Restaurants come and go. Storefronts change hands. But all the while, there are some things that stay the same, waiting for the draw of beachgoers back to the shore.
Many people — whether year-round locals, summertime homeowners or week-to-week vacationers — look forward to that brief time of year when the days are long and hot, nights are cool and soothing, and people are eager to steal a sick day for a well-deserved bask on the beach.
For Brian Brewer and his family, it’s the warmer weather that keeps them in high spirits. “We like to get out to the beach,” said Brewer, whose line of business in restaurants thrives on summertime customers. Raised in Ocean City, Brewer has always been at home on the beach, with Rio Grande Pool Bar being a seasonal tradition. “Weather and money are the main things – they’re both pretty good in the summer.”
Joel Antonioli, who came from the D.C. area before settling in Ocean View eight years ago, has frequented his weekend house since 1979. “I have a business here, so I look forward to the crowds,” he said, helping his granddaughter Sofia with an ice cream cone. “I like the summer. My family returns here a lot. We’re beach bums.”
Still, he stated that he doesn’t frequent the ocean as much as he used to. “I hate to say it, but when we used to come down, we would go to Candy Kitchen and walk to the beach. That’s the one thing I miss the most.”
Visits to the beach are at time for unwinding for vacationer Lynn Updegrove and her friend Natalie Koch. “I’ve been coming a long time,” said Updegrove, “since I was in high school. It’s always been a nice change of pace. Recently, the weather’s been perfect.”
“It’s very relaxing,” said Koch, “and it’s nice to get away from it all.”
John Savage, who describes himself as a mixture of local and vacationer, has enjoyed his Delaware beach house as a nice escape from his Bethesda, Md., home for 15 years.
I’m back and forth,” he said, “but down here as much as I can be, especially at this time of year.” Tennis is one of Savage’s preferred pastimes upon return to Bethany — though, like many others, he also looks forward to the local cuisine scene.
“Surf’s Up is really good,” he said. “There are a lot of great places to eat around here, a lot more than there were.”
One of the favorite hotspots to hit, by locals and visitors alike, is Bootsie’s BBQ on Route 26.
“I truly love reopening each year,” owner Judy Robinson said. “I see people who have been coming here year after year, and they feel like friends. Sometimes, it’s like a big family reunion. I think most of them feel the same way, too.” Robinson’s family dates back in the area to the 1600s, justifying her as a “true local.”
“I’ve always enjoyed watching the improvements in the area,” she said. “I once heard that if it wasn’t for the tourists, we’d all be raising chickens and picking strawberries, since that’s all it was at one point.”
In addition to every-year favorites, summer-goers have plenty more to look forward to, also, from Bethany’s new Refresh Mind & Body, specializing in handmade soaps and candles in the Sea Colony Marketplace.
Mostly Monograms, also new to the Bethany area, on Garfield Parkway, will monogram nearly anything, and carries the popular Lily clothing line.
For that sweet tooth, the Berry Good Treats on Garfield Parkway in Bethany, carries the only traditional doughnut machine in Bethany, and also specializes in deep-fried candy bars. New owner Mark Watkins-Fischl opened the shop on April 7.
In the Fenwick area, many will be shocked to see the long-lived Shark’s Cove has switched hands. But, never fear – this spring, restaurateur and chef Matt Haley added to his repertoire, converting the property into Catch 54.
Fenwick Island Tan in the Ocean Bay Plaza, beside Jimmy’s Kitchen, plans to give people a glow this season, and Java Surf Internet Café, in the Village of Fenwick Island, promises to keep customers wired… in more ways than one.
Delaware Arts Fine Art Printing and Gallery, in Fenwick Island, opened by artistic duo, Chip and Barbara Deitrick, features some of Delmarva’s finest painters and photographers.
Avid angler Dave Beall started Delmarva Fishing School, where for an affordable daily fee, would-be anglers can learn to fish the surf and jetties, as well as repair and make their own lures and even cook the fish they catch. Beall has taught similar courses at Delaware Technical and Community College. For more information about his courses and services, call (302) 841-3545.
Millville’s new Town Center has hosted several new businesses since Labor Day kissed the summer of 2006 goodbye, including Patti’s Hallmark, Fractured Prune pastries and even Cingular Wireless. Next door is Trendz Salon, also new to the area since last summer.
Over the off-season, some businesses have relocated as well. Fenwick’s landmark Fisher’s Popcorn, beside Viking Mini-golf, moved across the road into a new three-story building.
Bethany Cycle and Fitness moved a few buildings down from its old location, sharing an address with Tropicana Sun swimwear, across from Grotto’s Pizza. The cycle shop has even expanded to more inventory, as they now carry more outdoor equipment, including offering kayak and canoe rentals.
For a breath of fresh air, local state parks and wildlife preserves are now open for the season. A lazy afternoon picnic and surf fishing at the Fenwick Island State Park could be the perfect touch to a nice summer day. Others can look forward to casting away or catching waves at the Indian River Inlet’s Delaware Seashore State Park.
Farther north at Cape Henlopen State Park, hikers and bicyclers can enjoy adventurous trails that pass the legendary World War II observation tower. Holts Landing State Park, located off Route 26 near Clarksville, is home to the only pier on Delaware’s Inland Bay that was built specifically for crabbing, with a pier open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset.
The Assawoman Wildlife area, stretching across western South Bethany and Fenwick, can provide an unforgettable wildlife adventure, as it is managed for migrating and wintering waterfowl, white-tailed deer and bobwhite quail. For details about the Delaware State Parks, including events, fees, season passes and regulations, call (302) 739-9220.
For entertainment this summer, people will be able to get their putt-putt on once again, as Captain Jack’s Pirate Mini-Golf in Bethany Beach, located at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Central Boulevard, has brought miniature golf back to the Quiet Resorts.
Those looking for something fun to do can also check out all of Bethany’s boardwalk bandstand happenings throughout the summer months. Call the entertainment hotline at (302) 539-5484 for upcoming events and the chance to become part of the fun this summer.