Weekend Getaway

Explore Delaware's Protected Waters


Flanked by barrier islands that protect inland waters from the choppy Atlantic, Delaware’s Rehoboth, Indian River and Little Assawoman bays create a backdrop for unforgettable summers. Limitless recreation abounds for all ages on the bayside of iconic coastal towns such as Rehoboth, Dewey, Bethany and Fenwick Island.

Cruising these interconnected bays is an adventure, with narrow channels and winding estuaries framed by new waterfront communities, popular beaches, gorgeous sunsets and family-family attractions. Boaters are welcomed by a dozen marinas, campgrounds, RV parks, golf courses, seafood restaurants and markets for provisions.

Loyal vacationers have chosen Delaware’s inland bays for generations. In addition to being prime summer destinations, these bays furnish jobs for 35,000 people, supporting tourism, recreational fishing, crabbing and oyster aquafarming. As part of the national estuary program created by the Clean Water Act and regulated by the EPA, they’re sure to stay crystal clear for years to come.

Day 1: Rehoboth Bay

Rehoboth Funland Carousel -Credit Kris Bradley via Flickr

At the top of Rehoboth Bay is Dewey Beach, located on a stretch of the island so narrow that walking from the bay to the Atlantic shore takes about 15 minutes. Live music venues and restaurants, such as North Beach, Rusty Rudder and Lighthouse Dewey Beach, promise seaside dining garnished with stellar sunsets. The country club, state park, nature preserve and oyster farms nearby are pleasant attractions.

Just north of Dewey awaits a blast of classic Americana in Rehoboth Beach and its mile-long boardwalk lined with ice cream stands, pizza joints, specialty gift shops and other time-honored amusements. After strolling the wooden boardwalk while snacking on saltwater taffy and Thrasher’s French fries by the bucket, catch a free performance at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand. The clean, soft beaches are lifeguarded during the summer, offering fun-in-the-sun activities like paddleboarding, kayaking or sunbathing along the surf.

Rehoboth’s walkable downtown area and vibrant cultural scene do not disappoint. Discover local history at the Rehoboth Beach Museum, or practice pottery, painting and sculpting at the Rehoboth Art League. For a little excitement, head to Funland, an amusement park famous for old-school rides and boardwalk games like Whack-A-Mole.

Rehoboth Beach’s lively restaurant scene packs outstanding establishments into just a few square miles, with plenty of good options. Unique breakfast spots provide delicious ways to start the day, such as Rise Up Coffee’s breakfast burritos or Egg’s mouthwatering pumpkin pie praline French toast. For a night of delicious local seafood, reserve a table at Henlopen City Oyster House, and 1776 Steakhouse provides a memorable meaty dinner.

Where to Dock: Dewey Beach Yacht Club and Rehoboth Bay Marina

Day 2: Indian River Bay

Charles W. Cullen Memorial Bridge over Indian River Inlet -Credit-Beyond DC via Flickr

Rehoboth Beach to Delaware Seashore State Park 5 NM

After Rehoboth’s bustling boardwalk, reconnect with nature at Delaware Seashore State Park. A beach lover’s delight, the 2,825-acre park is often listed as a top East Coast beach destination. Contained within the park is Indian River Marina, Delaware’s largest marina with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and the calmer inland waters of Indian River Bay.

Delaware Seashore State Park boasts six miles of oceanfront and 20 miles of bay shoreline. Hikers roam through Burton Island Nature Preserve, and kayakers paddle among the salt marsh islands on the bayside. For anglers, the Indian River Inlet is known for striped bass, spotted seatrout, flounder, fluke and marlin.

Other ways to spend your day here include clamming, crabbing, birdwatching or perusing the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum to sample the region’s rich maritime history. On both sides of the Charles W. Cullen Memorial Bridge, you find pristine beaches, and on the south side of the bridge is Big Chill Beach Club, a favorite seaside watering hole and eatery.

A short jaunt west brings you to Pot-Nets Marina and Paradise Grill, a sprawling entertainment spot with lively bars, restaurants, tiki bars and stages for bands. At Dockside Marina Bar & Grill, feast on lobster rolls and tuna poke as you check out the boats along the dock. A few miles south of the bay at Bethany Beach, you find a relaxed vibe with classic beach houses, family-friendly shops and a variety of restaurants.

Where to Dock: Indian River Marina, South Shore Marina, Pot-Nets Bayside Marina #2

Day 3: Little Assawoman Bay

Sunset at Bayside in Fenwick Island -Credit- Forsaken Fotos on Flickr

Delaware Seashore State Park to Fenwick Island 10 NM

Fenwick Island is Delaware’s southernmost beach town and an idyllic place to enjoy the serenity of the outdoors and devour exquisite fish dishes at about a dozen seafood houses. With its neighboring state park and enticing assortment of beachy retail and eateries, this coastal getaway is a favorite among Delaware’s summer vacationers.

The town’s easygoing vibe pervades fun-for-all-ages establishments like Viking Golf & Thunder Lagoon Water Park, where thrilling waterslides pair with go-karts and mini-golf. Examine roughly 10,000 recovered artifacts from shipwrecks at the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. Pop into the Seaside Country Store for homemade fudge, old-timey candy and other gourmet gifts for a sweet treat.

Outdoors enthusiasts can kayak or paddleboard through Little Assawoman Bay from Fenwick Island State Park. A fantastic place to catch a sunset, the park features expansive lifeguarded beaches and a waterfront boardwalk. Surf fishing is a popular pastime here, along with chasing elusive ghost crabs after dark. Be sure to bring a flashlight!

Speaking of lights, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse is Delaware’s oldest, dating back to 1859. Sitting on the Mason-Dixon Line shared with Maryland, it’s worth a quick visit and has a small museum downstairs. Satiate your appetite at One Coastal, where seasonal farm-to-table delights are served with coastal hospitality. For quintessential crab cakes and fresh local oysters, visit Fenwick Crab House or Harpoon Hanna’s, an iconic staple of seafood fans for decades.

Where to Dock: Sharks Cove Marina and Bayville Marina

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