Bel Air News & Views hits the beach

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I didn’t want summer to end without seeing the ocean waves crashing against the sand, so Bel Air News & Views decided to take the family on a day trip to the beach. I like Rehoboth Beach in Delaware for day trips because it takes just under two and a half hours to get there from Bel Air and you can do a lot in one small area (also, the shopping is tax free).

We checked the beach weather before we left by peeking at the Rehoboth Beach cam. We hit the road just before noon on Monday with a picnic lunch to eat in the car (leaving even earlier is better, and since you don’t have to drive through Baltimore, traffic is usually lighter). We headed up I-95 to Delaware’s Christiana Mall (tax-free shopping) exit 4A, which sends you down Route 1 – a relatively smooth ride over the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, past the Dover Air Force Base and Dover Downs’ NASCAR track to Rehoboth’s Rehoboth Avenue. Look for it where you see the Tanger Outlet Centers in Rehoboth. (If you need a rest area, Smyrna has a really nice one with swings for kids, a fountain that shoots blue water and fancy Corian (this is the state DuPont built) counters in the bathrooms.

Rehoboth has metered parking along Rehoboth Avenue from the beach all the way back to Canal Street. As it was a weekday, there were plenty of spots open several blocks from the beach, and if you drove around long enough, you were likely to get lucky closer to the boardwalk. We snagged a spot about three blocks from the beach. I had “borrowed” a bag full of quarters from my son’s piggy bank and we were able to get a maximum of three hours at the meter before we’d need to feed it again. In all, we spent $5 on parking for the day.

We hit Funland first which offers games and rides for the kids, then cooled off in the air conditioned shops along Rehoboth Avenue. We beat the crowds with an early dinner at Grotto Pizza (I like the one right on the boardwalk, where you can have a view of the ocean while you eat.) After that, my daughter kept telling me she wanted to go swimming on the beach. I had packed suits and changes of clothes and had planned to hit Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware (a few miles north of Rehoboth) for swimming. For a $5 entrance fee, the park offers beach access and showers. But since it was getting late, I decided to wing it in shower-less Rehoboth and sent my husband back to the car for the kids suits and sand toys. We changed them under a towel on the beach and urged them not to get too wet or sandy (that didn’t work.) They had a ball.

When the sun started to set, we did our best to rinse them off with buckets full of ocean water and the tiny shower head Rehoboth offers on the boardwalk, installed so close to the ground you can really only rinse your feet with it. The beach has public restrooms on Rehoboth Avenue just in front of the bandstand and on the boardwalk between Delaware and Brooklyn Avenues by Funland and to the north between Baltimore and Maryland Avenues. But be warned, while I saw workers attempting to keep them clean, beach bathrooms get pretty disgusting pretty quickly.

After the sun sets, Rehoboth’s boardwalk and main shopping drag get even more crowded than during the day. My 3-year-old had a ball dancing on the new bandstand stage with other little kids. My mother had fun doing some nighttime shopping at the boutiques. We hit the road again at about the kid’s bedtime and were home just at midnight. The adults were exhausted the next day, but the kids bounced back easily – despite the fact they slept in sandy sheets.