Beach locals call the fall the second season, and it’s easy to see why. The crowds have thinned, the weather is cooler and there is still plenty to do. Here are 10 reasons why coastal residents and visitors should get out and about this autumn.
Once designed to encourage visitation after Labor Day, many annual events now attract as many—if not more—attendees than summer festivities. Fall favorites include the True Blue Jazz Festival, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, the Sea Witch Festival, the Nanticoke Indian Powwow and the Rehoboth Film Festival in November. See an extended calendar for more information.
Festivals aren’t the only place where you can savor the arts. Coastal Concerts has a full 2018-2019 season that includes pianist Awadagin Pratt on Oct. 20 and the American String Quartet with Roberto and Andreas Diaz on Nov. 17. The concerts take place in the Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware’s facility on U.S. 9.
888-212-5458 • coastalconcerts.org
Clear Space Theatre’s fall schedule includes performances of “Rabbit Hole,” “Heathers,” “Willy Wonka,” and the musical “A Christmas Carol.”
20 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-2270 • clearspacetheatre.org
Performances are scheduled for the Bottle & Cork in Dewey into September. Morgan Wallen, for instance, takes the stage on Sept. 20.
1807 Highway One, Dewey Beach, 227-3888 • bottleandcorkdewey.com
The Gipsy Kings are scheduled to play The Freeman Stage on Sunday, Sept. 16.
31750 Lake View Drive, Selbyville, 436-3015 • freemanstage.org
Meanwhile, galleries continue to hold art openings, and Lewes artists open their studios to the public on Sept. 15.
The annual bird migration makes Cape Henlopen State Park one of the busiest places for birders come fall. A hawk watch, for instance, is conducted from the World War II bunker overlook in September and October. In late October and early November, thousands of sea ducks, cormorants, gannets and loons migrate past the cape. For a list of species, visit destateparks.com/downloads/activities/birding/cape-henlopen.pdf.
Golden retrievers get their time in the sun—and on the sand—Sept. 28 to Sept. 30. deweysgoldenjubilee.com. It’s the greyhounds’ turn Oct. 4-7 in Dewey and Rehoboth. grtb.org. You don’t need to have a greyhound or golden to walk your dog on the Rehoboth Boardwalk. The ban is lifted after Sept. 30. Note that dogs by law must be leashed. But judging by the amount of Fidos chasing Frisbees on the sand, the regulation is lax. To be safe, visit a town’s website to view the rules and keep a leash on hand.
After Labor Day, many stores start slashing prices to move summer merchandise. Downtown Rehoboth Beach’s sidewalk sale is Oct. 5-7. In October, Tanger Outlets will hold the PinkSTYLE campaign. Buy a reusable pink card to receive 25 percent off in participating stores for the entire month. Proceeds from the card sales will benefit the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Half-priced bottles of wine, half-priced burgers or tacos, buy-one-get-one-free and discounted pasta dishes are only a few of the promotions diners can savor in the off-season. While these are undeniably tempting, it’s the opportunity to dine without a lengthy wait that appeals to most locals. Rehobothfoodie.com keeps a running list of cheap eats and specials.
Many farmers markets along the coast stay open well into September to take advantage of the harvest. The Historic Lewes Market is open into November. For a list of the dates and hours, visit agriculture.delaware.gov/communications-marketing/farmers-markets-guide.
In September, the water temperature off the coast of Lewes on average is 70 to 73 degrees. You can sunbathe and swim into October—longer if you have a wetsuit. Granted, fall is also the time for nor’easters. Storms off the coast can lead to swells. All of that is good news for surfers. After the storm, beachcombers with a keen eye can find treasures on Lewes Beach and Coin Beach, the stretch of sand near the Indian River Inlet.
To appreciate the changes in the light, flora and fauna, leave the beach and hit the trail. Among the most popular are the Junction and Breakwater Trail—which runs alongside farmland, pine forests, open fields and wetlands—and the 6-mile Gordons Pond Trail. Also, consider Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the 143-acre Edward H. McCabe Preserve, both near Milton, the 150-acre James Farm and Holts Landing State Park near Ocean View.
For those who fish, fall means the opening of the point in Cape Henlopen State Park, which is closed in summer to protect endangered beach-nesters and migratory birds. Because the cape is always in flux, each year presents a new challenge for the fishermen, who vie to find the best spot for snappers, blues, flounder and maybe a striped bass.
Of course, one of the best things about fall is the temporary demise of the much-maligned meters. Rehoboth, Dewey, Bethany and Fenwick lift parking restrictions the weekend of Sept. 15-16. Lewes waits until Sept. 30 for the Lewes Beach lot and Oct. 14 for the historic district and the 1812 municipal lot. (There is a three-hour maximum, however, in the downtown area.)
So forget that phone app and put away your quarters. You no longer need to pay to play.