In September 2001, Mike DiPaolo was fresh from graduate school when he became the executive director of the Lewes Historical Society. Though he was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he’d vacationed in Rehoboth as a child. Today he’s an authority on Lewes history. He’s also no slouch when it comes to what to do in the area. He and his family live in the town.
Just after sunrise, DiPaolo rides his bike to Second Street, where he buys a cup of Ultimate Chocolate coffee from Notting Hill and a sticky bun with raisins. While his wife, Jill, goes to the Historic Lewes Farmers Market for fresh oysters—his favorite item at the provider-only market—he pedals to Lewes Beach, where he keeps his kayak in front of the Lewes Yacht Club. He paddles out to the breakwater for a view of the lighthouses, the cape and the pilot boats. “It’s a fun 3-mile loop,” he says.
After storing his kayak, he bikes back home so that he, Jill and their two children can grab breakfast at Lemon Tree on Savannah Road. “It’s a great place to hang with the locals.” He orders three eggs and ham. “It’s an honest breakfast with good portions.”
Breakfast behind them, the family drives onto the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park for a few hours of surf fishing and swimming.
For a late lunch, the family goes to Nectar Café & Juice Bar on Second Street, where DiPaolo orders the PB&J meatballs: slow-cooked meatballs in a Concord grape-chili glaze served in a bibb lettuce cup with peanut dipping sauce. He’ll also sip a smoothie, such as the C-Breeze blend of strawberries, apples and lemon that’s designed to boost the immune system. A chocolate treat—or two—from nearby Edie Bees satisfies his sweet tooth.
After lunch, the kids want to go to Kids’ Ketch to check out the toys. It is DiPaolo’s perfect day, but he makes it Jill’s as well by buying her earrings or a bracelet at Albert Frank’s Fine Jewelry on Front Street. “It’s where we bought our wedding bands,” he says.
If there’s time, they relax on Lewes Beach near the Roosevelt Inland to watch the Lewes Yacht Club sailing races. On the way home, they pick up some wine and beer at R&L Liquors on Second Street, a small but well-stocked shop where folks go to catch up on news. Then they go home to drop off their purchases and rest up for dinner.
After savoring an outdoor shower, a few of those oysters and a glass of wine or a cold beer, the couple head to Striper Bites for dinner downtown—a favorite of locals and visitors. Its proximity to the Dogfish Head Inn, right around the corner, is a plus. There are plenty of local beers on tap.
DiPaolo knows what he wants. “The crab bisque is a must,” he says. The restaurant is also known for a signature club sandwich with mahi mahi, which has been on the menu for years.
Then there’s a free concert in Stango Park or Lewes Canalfront Park. Equally appealing is a special event at the new Lewes Public Library or on the recently redone Lewes Historical Society grounds, where historical structures surround a square with mature trees.