Last week I posted about major efforts to protect two prominent Sussex County natural habitats, offering some happy news for everyone who’s worried about the ongoing transformation of open space into residential neighborhoods.
One is the imminent protection of vast forests and marshland leading to Broadkill Beach and more scenic land along the Nanticoke River. The other is the transformation of the Hopkins farm into an educational enterprise with public access that will allow people to enjoy hiking and biking trails.
There’s even more good news to report on this front – which I’ll cover next week – but since the big Memorial Day weekend is coming up I thought it might be more helpful to provide some tips on another timely topic: Getting to the beach with fewer hassles on the busiest days of the summer! I’m doing this out of necessity since it can be somewhat difficult to get to some of the most popular beaches on summer weekend days unless you learn a few crucial workarounds.
Cape Henlopen State Park
If you’re craving body-surfable waves and beautiful scenery unencumbered by boardwalk attractions, you’ll love Cape Henlopen State Park, which can be reached via Lewes at one end and Rehoboth at the other. Both ends of the park offer fairly large public parking, with spigots for rinsing off sand before you get back in the car. If you need easy access to nice bathrooms and showers and a snack bar you’ll love the bathhouse, which is easy to reach if you enter the park from Lewes at the end of Cape Henlopen drive (just follow the signs).
If you enter the park from Lewes there are also nice wide beaches on both sides of The Point Overlook, one of the highest points on the East Coast, where there’s also a parking lot along with portable johns.
You can also get to a nice wide beach at the Rehoboth end of Cape Henlopen State Park. Just head out on Ocean Drive at the northern end of Rehoboth and follow the signs to the park.
The most important thing to know if you want to visit these beaches on the weekend is to arrive either before 11 a.m., or after 2 p.m. That’s because the parking lots fill up early with folks who want to visit the beach at an earlier time. And when that happens the park staff turn all of the other cars away. Fortunately a lot of those early goers leave by mid-afternoon, which frees up more parking spots. And at the height of summer you still have several hours to enjoy the beach even if you don’t get there until 2.
Check out more details including admission fees and other park activities at https://destateparks.com/Beaches/CapeHenlopen.
Park and Ride Hassle Free
Another way to get to the beach without worrying about parking is to utilize the Dart Beach Bus Service, which runs all summer. It seems easy to use – you park your car in the big parking lots at the Lewes Transit Center near Five Points or off Shuttle Road in Rehoboth and hop on air conditioned buses that will drop you off in Rehoboth, Lewes, Dewey, Long Neck and the Outlets. You can get a day pass for $4, and there’s room for wheelchairs as well.
Click here for more details and to access the schedules.
Consider the Lewes Line if You Live Close to Downtown
If you live in downtown Lewes or closer to the outskirts you can easily get to the beach and other sites all over this beautiful town on the Lewes Line. It runs 7 days a week during the summer, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It only costs $1 for each ride – but you have to have exact change, and you can get 12 rides for $10 by purchasing a pass at Lewes City Hall at 113 E. Third Street just off Kings Highway, or at the Chamber of Commerce a block away.
This is a great option if you live downtown but don’t want to hassle with parking when you go to the beach, or if you can find parking on a residential street or at a metered space downtown. This bus also stops at lots of Lewes attractions, including Canalfront Park, the Zwaanendael Museum and the Lewes Maritime Museum.
Check out the map with pick up locations here. According to a rep from City Hall, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 30 minutes at any stop for the bus to come along.
Parking in Rehoboth or Lewes for a Day at the Beach
Rehoboth remains one of the most popular places for beach time, shopping and dining. Throughout the summer you’ll have to pay to park at meters, and you might have trouble finding spaces during the busiest times of day. But you also need a parking pass if you park on one of the residential streets, which you can buy for the day, weekend, week or season. Again – there isn’t a lot of parking within an easy walk to the boardwalk during the busiest times but it’s been known to happen. Learn more at https://www.cityofrehoboth.com/parking-information/parking-permits.
You can also find metered parking at Lewes Beach at the end of Savannah Road, which is also easier at non-peak times of the day.
Feeling sporty? Then Ride Your Bike to the Beach
One of our greatest local treasures is the Lewes-Rehoboth Loop Bike trail, offering one of the best ways to see lots of wildlife, beautiful vistas of forests, marshlands, the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the scenic area around Gordon’s Pond. Check out this link for maps. This is obviously best suited for folks who want to incorporate exercise into their day, especially if you’ve got collapsible chairs that you can put into a backpack with beverages and snacks.
Two further pieces of advice on this: One – wear a helmet. These trails get pretty crowded on nice days and with traffic and scenic distractions everyone’s a risk of a tumble or collision. Two – ride to the right, single file. The trail is narrow and not nearly big enough for people riding two abreast. Enjoy your ride but stay aware of other people.
The Junction & Breakwater Trail presents one of the best bike routes for cycling enthusiasts, while Gordons Pond Trail traverses the saltwater lagoon on the eastern coast, with the marshes and dunes teeming with nature.
Whether you’re here for a short break or an extended vacation, the Lewes-Rehoboth Loop has so much to offer. There’s no better place in Southern DE offering such a stunning nature trail.