Before my husband and I had kids we loved visiting Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach in the fall.
Hotel and house rentals were suddenly much more affordable. The crowds were substantially less, and the weather was generally perfect.
We made it a point to head to a beach on Delmarva every September until the kids arrived and school became the priority.
It never dawned on me when we lived outside of Baltimore that we should head to the beach for a weekend with the kids in September, or even in October for that matter. I wish we would have. Beyond the bargains and the perfect weather, there is still plenty to do and see on Delmarva during the start of fall and the end of summer.
The beach and the boardwalk are still options. The water is still warm, and a lot of stores and shops, at least at the Delaware Beaches, are staying open a little bit longer to try and extend as much of the “season” as they can. This is also the time of year where you can get bargains at the speciality shops that line the streets of Delmarva’s beach communities. I could easily go broke in downtown Rehoboth Beach. The shops have the cutest things.
Cultural festivals and special events also are in full swing. The weekend after Labor Day my kids and I hit the 40th Annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow in Millsboro. Then later that same afternoon, we headed over to Rehoboth Beach to the Sand Castle competition. The weather was perfect and it was just a really great day.
We were outside. We got to see dancers from different Native American tribes. We got to learn a little history and experience a different culture. We also got to ride on a tractor. Less than 20 minutes away, we got to hang out on the beach and check out the different sand sculptures. Teams crafted mermaids, crabs, sandcastles, of course, and even the Mystery Machine from Scooby Do. A really smart girl carved out the state of Delaware. She won in the kids’ group. She was sweet and let my youngest take a picture holding her trophy.
That is the thing about Delmarva, you could go to a powwow in the morning and end up at a sandcastle competition in the afternoon. There always is something going on; even when there is nothing going on.
Here are some other perks of visiting Delmarva in the fall:
- Free parking: the meters, thankfully, have been turned off. Park wherever you like, it is free!!! If you have visited the beaches during the summer, then you know, this is huge! The parking meters in Rehoboth, for example, are expensive and annoying. Just charge me $20 for the day and be done with it. The meters are turned off in Rehoboth Beach and most other places by the second Sunday after Labor Day.
- Dogs allowed: Starting Oct. 1st leashed dogs are allowed on practically all of the beaches. This is great news for us because we just got a rescue dog from First State Shelter in Camden. Our dog loves the beach and swimming. People on Delmarva LOVE dogs, so you will find most outdoor restaurants will allow you and your pup to sit outside. A lot of restaurants even put out water bowls and dog treats for furry tourists. Plenty of hotels and even rentals will let you bring your dog.
- Less traffic: If you have ever driven down to the Delaware beaches or Ocean City, Md. from Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and have used Coastal Highway during the summer you have experienced the “beach traffic.” Immediately following Labor Day weekend, the traffic is far, far less. You can pretty much zip along to anywhere you want to go with little to no waiting. Yay!
- Inexpensive lodging: Whether you are staying a hotel, inn, renting a beach house or staying at a cabin at one of the state parks, the rates are going to be substantially lower because it is now the off season.
- Deals abound: Now is the best time to stroll the streets of the downtown beaches. Most of the shops, if not all, are still open and they have substantially marked their goods down. If you are going to towns such as Bethany Beach or Rehoboth Beach, you are going to find a lot more than beach towels. We are talking one-of-a-kind art work, clothes, jewelry and toys.
- Fewer crowds: This is the best part. There is plenty of elbow room. There are still a lot of people taking advantage of the off-season rates and weather, but there is room to move. It is, dare I say it, the best time of year at the beach.
- Fall Festivals: Once summer is over, the chambers, nonprofits and farms hold events such as Rehoboth Beach’s Sandcastle Competition, outdoor movies on the farm, the Sea Witch Festival, Zombiefest and evening hayrides at Killens Pond State Park. The list goes on and on.
- Nature Trails: Delaware is largely underdeveloped. Nature centers abound once you cross the bridge from the northern part of the state. Delaware Bay and the nature centers like Dupont Nature Center outside of Milford and Prime Hook outside of Milton attract all sorts of shore birds on their way to or from the North and South. Dolphins can be seen jumping in the bay waters off Lewes and Rehoboth.
- Historical Sites: Delmarva is rich in culture and history. In Cambridge, Maryland, people can visit places such as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad. In Lewes, Delaware, Fort Miles still has the barracks and towers that were used by U.S. troops keeping the East Coast safe during World War II. In Virginia, learn about life on the eastern shore at the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown. There is a lot of history on Delmarva. Now is the perfect time to discover it.
- Federal Parks: Delmarva is home to some amazing federal parks. In Maryland, Assateague is amazing. You can see wild horses in their habitat. In Delaware, Prime Hook is a great place to fish and watch birds. In Virginia, Chincoteague has a lighthouse and wild horses. It is cool.
There are probably at least 20 more reasons to love Delmarva in the fall, but these are just a few.