At ShoreBread, we dedicate the majority of our time to exploring Delmarva, whether it’s attending events, checking out a new local business, or simply getting outside to explore the shore. One of the things that make Delmarva so Delmarvalous is the fact that each of the towns across the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Southern Delaware maintain a unique level of charm and appeal. Lewes, Berlin, Oxford, Fenwick Island, Ocean City…each of our local towns pack their own special punch. This week, we focused our attentions on Bethany Beach, Delaware and were quickly reminded of all the things that we love about the quiet little coastal town. Adorable shops, stellar cuisine, pristine beaches, and a true family-friendly atmosphere are just a few of the reasons we adore Bethany Beach.
History: How the ‘Quiet Resort’ Came to Be
Did you know that Bethany Beach was originally founded by settlers who were looking for “a haven of rest for quiet people”? That’s right, the resort town was intended as such and while the seaside haven has evolved and grown over the past 100+ years, it still maintains the same quiet charm of its origins. In fact, Bethany and its neighboring towns are known collectively as “the Quiet Resorts.”
What’s Happening? Just Ask the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce…
Our day began with an interview at the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce. Located in Fenwick Island, the chamber is beachfront and downright gorgeous (another win for Bethany). We sat down with Chamber Director Kristie Maravalli to learn more about Bethany and its neighboring towns. “We’re truly a family-oriented area,” stressed Maravalli, and after spending a few hours exploring the town, we couldn’t agree more. Part of the appeal of a family vacation in Bethany is the safe, small-town beach vibe that permeates the entire town. 90 percent of the lodging within the town limits are rentals. and as a result, most vacationers rent homes or condos and stay for a full week. In addition to attracting a large number of families, Maravalli noted that Bethany also draws a large number of retirees to the area. “Sussex County is starting to move into the ‘top 10’ lists of places to retire,” she said.
“Bethany does a great job of keeping that [family] identity,” Maravalli continued, noting that many of the bars close early, keeping the late-night crowds at bay. Another defining factor is the town’s lineup of events, including the upcoming 4th of July festivities, the summer concerts at the Bethany Bandstand, and the Annual Bethany Beach Arts Festival (which will celebrate its 37th year on September 12). There are also outdoor movies available all summer long on Monday evenings on the beach off Garfield Parkway.
Dining with a View: Mango’s
For oceanfront dining, festive happy hours, stunning views, and those irresistible Mango Margaritas, head to Mango’s! Proudly touting themselves as the only oceanfront restaurant in Bethany, Mango’s provides sweeping views of the beaches, ocean, boardwalk, and bandstand. The Caribbean-inspired restaurant and bar includes two ocean front decks, the Mango Bar, two dining rooms, and lunch and dinner menus complete with delicious daily specials. The drink list is inventive, the jerk chicken packs just the right amount of spice, and the fried margarita calamari is downright irresistible.
Recently Opened: Bethany Boathouse
One of the newest additions to the Bethany Beach dining scene, Bethany Boathouse is located on Route 1, just across from its sister restaurant, The Cottage Café. We decided to check out the new spot while we were in town, grabbing lunch on the outside deck. The space includes two bars, a massive TV, several smaller flat screens, plenty of outside seating, and a play area for the kiddies. Daily drink specials and live music are also major draws, as are the irresistible waffle fries we saw pass by on our way out (looks like we need to head back sooner than we thought).
Beach Eats: The Jetty Deli
Before taking a stroll along Garfield Parkway, we decided to stop in The Jetty for a caffeine fix. The Jetty is another recent addition to Bethany Beach, offering a perfect pit stop for coffee, breakfast or lunch before hitting the beach or during a much-needed shopping excursion. Located underneath Mango’s, we only had time to stop in for a coffee, but we will definitely be returning for some of the sandwiches we spotted on the menu. Fried bologna and duck pate grilled cheese?!? That’s one we haven’t seen before but are certainly intrigued by.
Local’s Favorite: The Parkway
Bethany Beach has several staples and The Parkway is certainly one of them. The fine dining establishment has been serving locals and visitors for the past 17 years, garnering a major following in that time (including from yours truly). The food never disappoints thanks to the watchful eye of proprietor and Executive Chef Dana Banks, who we are anticipating an interview with in the very near future. Also worth noting is Dana’s newest endeavor, Dana’s Pantry, which is located just up the street and chocked full of gourmet treats and gifts.
BBQ Fix: Bethany Blues
For your Bethany Beach BBQ fix, we definitely suggest heading to Bethany Blues. The menu is extensive and includes options for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch along with carryout and catering options as well. Expect some good old fashioned comfort food with a mix of fresh seafood options as well. First timers? Opt for the St. Louis Ribs!
Free, Family Fun: Bethany Bandstand
Throughout the busy summer months, Bethany Beach hosts free concerts at the Bandstand on Garfield Parkway. Fun for all ages, the lineup of performers is eclectic, ranging from reggae to children’s theater to country, with tribute bands paying homage to the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, and Billy Joel. Concerts and events begin at 7:30pm.
Supporting Local: Bethany Beach Books
As writers and over-enthusiastic local business supporters, it should come as no surprise that local bookstores are one of our favorite businesses to patronize. Bethany Beach Books is the quintessential local bookstore, with a plentiful selection of books for all interests and ages, rounded out by a super friendly and knowledgeable staff. What’s more, their Book Drop is a book nerds dream come true. Can you tell how much we love these guys?!
New to Town: Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn
While it’s not open for business yet, Maravalli noted that the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn would be open by mid-July and is already receiving an influx of positive attention and interest. The hotel boasts luxury amenities and convenience with a business center, private balconies, boardwalk veranda, on-site day spa, fitness center, indoor/outdoor pool, specialty suites, multi-purpose theatre room, wedding services…yeah we’re definitely going to need to check this place out for ourselves. Bethany is known for having very few (if any) hotels, but the new luxury addition is aiming to cater to weddings and conventions.
“We are really blessed to have the coastline that we do. We all have something unique to offer,” said Maravalli of the towns that make up the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber encompasses Bethany of course, but also Fenwick Island, Selbyville, Millville, Ocean View, Frankford and South Bethany. Maravalli noted that locals and visitors have a wide variety of options for exploring the area, from the local state parks to the Dickens Parlor Theater in Millville to the terrific antiquing in the inland towns. “It’s just so nice, you get a little bit of everything,” she said, adding “another big thing is the bays. There are so many options and a lot you can explore.” Fishing and crabbing are popular area activities, along with surfing, paddleboarding and kayaking. Of course the tax-free shopping in Delaware always lures us over the state line, but with so many attractions, events, and activities to enjoy, there’s truly something for everyone to love about the Quiet Resorts.
Photos by Gina Whaley