Southern Delaware offers a number of cultural and gourmand experiences… you just need to know where to look! Luckily, as part of my “digging deeper” exploration of the region, I searched for the best lesser known experiences to share. And the best part about it was that I didn’t have to look far…
I’ve found that so-called “beach food” can either be really good… or really bad. (Or, sometimes it’s so bad that it’s good. Case in point: funnel cakes.) Anyway, I prefer to stay on the “really good” side of the line, so I had lunch with Delaware’s very own Rehoboth Foodie to get the inside scoop on Southern Delaware’s restaurant scene. Over an extravagant lunch, he shared some of his current favorite spots – a(MUSE.) and Henlopen City Oyster House. His app “Rehoboth in my Pocket” offers on-the-spot recommendations for all the shops and restaurants in town.
Besides the restaurant-scene, Southern Delaware boasts two gourmand destinations that are worth a drive-by.
First, Nassau Valley Vineyards in Lewes… Delaware’s first and only award winning winery has been thriving for nearly 20 years. Owner Peg Raley actually changed Delaware legislature to be able to open her farm winery… and got a “you-go-girl” pep talk from the one and only Julia Child in the process! Today visitors can come and visit the lovely vineyard, sample the wines through free tastings and learn about the entire 8,000 year-old history of wine in their self-guided tour. Tip: My favorite wine was their Indian River Red.
A mere 10 miles from the winery is one of the region’s most prominent local success stories: the Dogfish Head Brewery. What started as a simple 12-gallon microbrewing operation in their local brewpub in downtown Rehoboth (and the smallest commercial brewery in the whole United States) has turned into a huge operation making over 20 types of beers and selling in more than 25 states. If you visit their 100,000 square foot brewery in Milton, you can sign up for one of their free brewery tours, which includes 4 generous samples so you can try their “off-centered ales for off-centered people” for yourself! TIP: My favorite was the Belgian-style Namaste white beer, that had notes of coriander, lemongrass and orange peel.
After you’re done with the wining and dining, and you’re looking for something unique to do in the evening…
The Dicken’s Parlour Theatre offers a true magic show experience, and located less than 10 minutes inland from Bethany Beach it’s the epitome of a “hidden gem.” You start your evening in the “Theatre”, an intimate 50-seat space, watching world-class talent perform tricks with lots of audience assistance. (For my show, Walt Disney World magician Brian Staron was the star.) Then, once the 55-minute show is complete, the crowd heads over to the Parlour to hob-nob with the magician (and participate in some tableside tricks) over drinks and desserts. Take it from me: it was a blast. But get your tickets in advance. The popular shows often sell out.
Another local landmark is the historic Clayton Theatre in Dagsboro. Open since 1948, it’s the only first-run single screen theater in Delaware and it’s a movie-fan’s dream. The vintage neon sign (buzzing with that tell-tale electronic hum) is the first indication that you’re in for a special movie-watching experience. But the reasonably priced concessions and– my favorite –a balcony, keep locals coming back week after week to see the current release.
For more information about Southern Delaware’s cultural and foodie attractions, check out the Visit Southern Delaware tourism website.