Day Trippin': Shopping, exploring Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 23:04
Thanks to Sunday’s cold, rainy weather, my Day Trippin’ plans and back-up ideas flopped. And man, were they good. For those interested in spelunking—which is a fancy way of saying “cave adventuring”—or who simply find amusement in reading about my misadventures, check out next week’s column. I’ll hopefully hike through some Pennsylvania woods and, for the first time ever, head deep into a cave. Let’s hope I don’t uproot some latent claustrophobia.
But for now, let me take you back to April 15. It was one of those summer-like days calling people outside, and when my father decided he needed to return something to the shopping outlets in Rehoboth Beach, Del., my mom, sister and I decided to tag along. We headed south for the hour-and-40-minute drive for a spontaneous afternoon at the beach.
The three Tanger Outlets, with at least 100 stores and restaurants, are a shopper’s paradise and a main attraction for beach vacationers in the summertime. When I was younger, I obsessed over the few bookstores like Atlantic Books or The Book Cellar, which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Aeropostale and Claire’s were some favorites during my early teen years, until I discovered the possibilities of a Bohemian, surfer-girl lifestyle from shops like PacSun or indulged in Old Navy’s addictive flip-flop sales.
And there’s dozens of other shopping possibilities—Christmas-themed shops, home décor, clothing, shoes, appliances, fragrances, candy, jewelry, candles, leather, expensive items, slightly less expensive items—it’s all there.
A few miles away is the seaside town of Rehoboth. The largest coastal town in the state, Rehoboth is also known as the “Nation’s Summer Capital,” mainly because of an influx of D.C. visitors each summer, although vacationers come from all over the world.
It is also a favorite spot for celebrities like Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. A few years ago, I was strolling down the mile-long boardwalk with my siblings and cousins when I noticed a trendy couple who stood out from the swarms of sunburned, hoodie-wearing, stuffing-faces-with-boardwalk-fries tourists. “Hey, they look important,” I blurted out. Someone in our group exclaimed that it was Grohl, but by then he had already disappeared down the boardwalk. It gave me something to talk about for the next few days—even though I had never even heard of him before I gawked and pointed like an obnoxious child at the zoo.
Aside from its famous vacationers, the town is also home to some popular historic spots. Grotto Pizza originated in 1967 in a take-out stand on Rehoboth Avenue. Dolles Salt Water Taffy, which was built in the 1900s, is also located off Rehoboth Avenue. And I can’t forget world-renowned Thrasher’s boardwalk fries or Fisher’s popcorn, to add to the plethora of other beachy delights, like historic hotels and an arcade that features a weird, spinning space ship called the “Gravitron” that I was always too afraid to try. I’m pretty sure even my alternative, the carousel, has given me motion sickness at times.
The town is known for its nightlife and liberal atmosphere, so its origins are a little surprising. Rehoboth was actually founded by the Rev. Robert W. Todd in 1873 as a site for a Methodist summer camp. The name “Rehoboth” comes from the Bible, and means “place for all.” A few years later, the camp was broken up and the town was eventually named Rehoboth Beach, evolving into the tourist hot spot it is today.
My mom lounged peacefully on the blanket. Some guy attempted to flirt with my sister by accusing her of taking his picture as he walked by—which she didn’t, unless he grouped himself in with the particularly raucous seagulls hovering around. My dad, as conspicuous as Dave Grohl, busted out his metal detector from the car. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt, he weaved between bathing suit-clad tourists, eyes downcast while he searched the sand for treasures. And I just shook my head, let grains of sand slide through my fingers, and laughed at it all.