Dewey Beach adjoins Rehoboth Beach to such an extent that you might not realize that you’ve gone from one to the other when you’re walking along the shoreline. But a stroll around town, particularly in the evening, will reveal Dewey’s distinct personality.
The town was likely named for Admiral George Dewey, who became a war hero after the Battle of Manila during the Spanish-American War in 1898. But it was not incorporated until 1981. Meanwhile, Dewey became the coast’s nightlife capital. In the 1960s, The Bottle & Cork and The Starboard, then a dive bar, were always hopping, and there was a bonfire on the beach at the end of many streets.
The scene is still electric in the evening and bonfires are allowed with the proper permit. But now you’re just as likely to see parents with strollers as you are college students. Dewey has something for everyone, and here are a few activities to consider during your visit.
Hit the Beach and the Bay
Because Dewey occupies a narrow strip of land, you can walk from the Rehoboth Bay to the Atlantic Ocean in a matter of minutes. The ocean side has a wide, sandy swathe that appeals to families. The bay is friendly to all kinds of watercraft.
Skimboarding is a signature sport in Dewey, and you can sign up for lessons at Alley Oop, which has gear for skimboarding and surfing.
You can also get what you need at East of Maui, which in addition to skim and surf gear has products for standup paddle boarding and kiteboarding. (There is a second shop in Lewes.)
Looking for a Jet Ski or boat rental for the bay? Call Dewey Beach Watersports, which also rents kayaks and standup paddle boards.
If you feel like taking to the sky, Fly Dewey can give you a lift. Take off and land directly from the boat.
Purchase Fresh Produce at Fifer’s Farm Market Cafe
No trip to the beach is complete without some produce to take home. Fifer Orchards is a beloved institution in southern Delaware, and the family-owned farm has a market café on Route 1 at Cullen Street. In addition to produce, you’ll find deli items, locally roasted coffee and local preserves. Even the sandwiches contain seasonal vegetables.
Explore Delaware State Seashore State Park
Traveling out of Dewey, you’ll spot the concrete World War II towers to your left. The area’s history also includes the U.S. Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard. Stations once dotted the Delaware coast, and a replica of the Rehoboth Beach station is prominent on Route 1 in Dewey as you head north.
The Indian River Life-Saving Station in the Delaware State Seashore Park, located just before the bridge, was built in 1876 and moved 400 feet inland in 1877. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the station is a now a museum that details the life of the men who patrolled the coast to save shipwreck victims. Along with history programs, the station and the park offer surf-fishing classes and special events.
Listen to Music
You would expect a town known for its nightlife to have multiple music venues, and you won’t be disappointed. The Bottle & Cork dates back to 1937 when Ginger and Harry Shaud purchased property in Dewey for $7,500. They opened Jack’s Café, which offered dinner, sundries and gasoline. After a few years, the couple shucked the gas, candy and gewgaws. The café became the Bottle & Cork.
In the 1950s, the Bottle & Cork was the hotspot in town during the summer. Shaud had to institute an “intermission” in the afternoon so the staff could restock the bar for the next jam session and the patrons could sober up. People wore their good shoes and pressed clothes for a night out.
Today the Bottle & Cork is owned by Highway One, which brings in national headliners, including Dave Matthews and Matchbox 20. Many consider it one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bars in the country.
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Music with a Side of History
The Starboard began as Duke Duggan’s Last Resort Bar, which opened around 1960, according to an Aug. 3, 2011, article in the Cape Gazette. (Duggan’s old home is now a dining section in The Starboard called The Shark Tank.) The Hearn family bought the restaurant in 1986, and beach personality Chip Hearn, who now owns the hot sauce shop Peppers, and The Ice Cream Store on Rehoboth Avenue, turned The Starboard into the hotspot it is today. That’s true in more ways than one. His love of hot sauces helped create The Starboard’s famous Bloody Mary bar. Today, there are more than 700 ingredients. The Orange Crush is another don’t-miss house favorite. The Starboard regularly ranks a leading seller of Absolut.
The restaurant is now owned by Steve “Monty” Montgomery and his partners. Montgomery, who was 18 when he started working for Hearn, is also a philanthropist and civic leader. The Starboard’s events have become traditions. Consider the Running of the Bull, now a weekend festival of sorts. (The “bull” is two people in a fuzzy costume.)
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You’ll also find live music at The Rusty Rudder, which boasts a raised stage right on the deck, which faces the bay.
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Listening to tunes by the water, dining alfresco with friends or family, and watching the sunset is the perfect way to end the day.