Looking for great entertainment within a two-and-half drive of Maryland? Then check out the cities of Lewes and Rehoboth, Delaware and Cape May, New Jersey.
These beach cities offer music festivals, craft festivals, regular theater productions and a variety of tasty cuisine. In addition, one can immerse themselves in the local history and culture.
I recently packed my bags for a three-day getaway, staying in Lewes which was originally the home of the Lenape tribe. It also became the home of Dutch settlers who found the site ideal for whaling.
Essentially a seafaring town with an excellent harbor, the town was visited by Captain Kidd and other pirates as late as 1698. During the War of 1812, a British frigate bombarded the town. Lewes’ Cannonball House still has an embedded cannonball from that bombardment.
In Lewes, you can visit the Ryves Holt House, the oldest house in Delaware which was built in 1665. You also can learn more about the town’s past at the Lewes History Museum in Margaret H. Rollins Community Center. Lewes’ outdoor wonders include Cape Henlopen State Park, one mile east of of the town, where the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay meet. It consists of about 5,000 acres that include a 4-mile beach, both ocean and bay vistas, nature trails and a bird sanctuary.
Lewes also boasts two historic lighthouses perched atop massive stone breakwaters. During my visit, the town was hosting its fourth annual Shakespeare Festival, a week-long festival of the life, times and works of the Bard.
If visiting, check out Nectar Café and Juice Bar, which serves healthy, fresh food for breakfast and lunch in a casual atmosphere. Their Morning After juice, made with lemon, ginger, apple, spinach, kale and pineapple is yummy, and their black bean burger is a favorite.
On my second day, I took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and thoroughly enjoyed the scenic 85-minute ride across the Delaware Bay. If you are lucky, you can spot native and migratory seabirds and playful dolphins along with picturesque harbors.
If not taking your car, you can take a shuttle into town where you can jump on a trolley and take in a variety of events. These include the annual food and wine celebration that was being held while I visited. The event was one of many presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities (MAC), a nonprofit committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors.
The organization started with a group of young, passionate preservationists whose collective efforts saved the 1879 Emlen Physick Estate, designed by famed architect Frank Furness, from destruction. The house was the grandest Victorian home of its day. MAC’s success in the process sparked Cape May’s renaissance, a historic preservation that continues today.
If visiting the estate, be sure to check out the history of Dr. Physick, whose grandfather was known as the father of American surgery. Their ancestors included silversmiths, one of whom designed the inkwell that was used at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. You also can dine in the estate’s Carriage House Café and Tearoom featuring a classic tea luncheon that includes scones and assorted tea sandwiches.
Other Cape May dining options include the Mad Batter Restaurant that serves some of the best food in Cape May. The restaurant’s vegetarian/vegan “crab cake” sandwich is made from hearts of palm and chickpeas and is absolutely scrumptious.
For theatergoers, Cape May boasts two theater companies. The Cape May Stage theater company will stage ”The Taming” from Sept. 25 through Nov. 1 and the Elaine’s Cape May Dinner Theatre will mount “Love at First Bite” though Nov. 2.
On my last day, I visited Rehoboth Beach, six miles from Lewes, and had lunch at Twist Juice Bar and Café. It offers wholesome salads, sandwiches, wraps, soup and a variety of juices. I tried the tasty Drop the Beet bowl with quinoa, spinach, roasted beets, red onion, carrots, Parmesan and Korean style tofu. I also savored the warm Morrocan stew that included chickpeas, red lentils, cilantro and turmeric.
For theater lovers, you can take in Clear Space Theatre’s current production of “Three Tall Women” that runs through Oct. 6. If you love bargains, this also is the perfect time to catch after-summer sales. If visiting, be sure to take a walk along the scenic boardwalk where you can stop and order a cup or tub of Thrasher’s famous French fries, a Rehoboth Beach must.
For those wanting to explore beach options in Virginia, check out Chincoteague Island, Virginia’s only resort island, located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Upcoming events include the Annual Chili Chowder Cook off and Car Show on Sept. 28 which is free and will feature live music, various food offerings and a variety of arts and craft vendors. On Oct. 5, the public is invited to celebrate the International Observe the Moon Night at 7 p.m. at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitors Center. The annual free event connects scientists, educators and lunar enthusiasts from around the world.
Seafood lovers may also want to check out the Chincoteague Oyster Festival on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tom’s Cove Park.