Along the Atlantic coast in often-overlooked Delaware sits gay-popular Rehoboth Beach--one square mile of cottages, grand mansions, and sparkling sands.
The town's boardwalk connects 75 eateries and gourmet restaurants (many gay-owned), including the pioneering Back Porch Caf?, which welcomed a gay group back in 1974. The town includes lodging options for all budgets, a surprisingly vibrant nightlife for such a small community, arts, events and, of course, and the all-important beach.
When a new crowd of gays descended in the '80s, a backlash saw bumper stickers screaming, keep Rehoboth a family town! Now, with the providential addition of gay businesses, plus diverse neighborhoods and tourists, Rehoboth is once again comfortable being a family town for all kinds of families.
With four distinct seasons, Rehoboth is a year-round town. Summer sees the largest crowds and the most exciting beach and nightlife, of course, but as it gives way to fall, visitors enjoy independent film and jazz festivals, wild holiday shopping (no sales tax!), and a New Year's women's gala at the convention center. Spring brings chocolate, wine, and cabaret festivals.
Visitors come mainly from the nearby states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland and many from the District of Columbia, though every year sees more visits from international travelers the world over.
Lodging includes upscale hotels, a breadth of rental cottages, and Victorian and beach-chic B&Bs. Many of the guesthouses are pet-friendly so bring your labradoodle.
The Silver Lake Guesthouse is a gay-owned B&B in a tranquil setting overlooking Silver Lake and the ocean. Only 10 minutes away on foot, it's the closest gay guesthouse to Poodle Beach, mainly popular with gay men.
Located in town, the Sea Witch Manor Inn & Spa is a lesbian-owned Victorian property, quaintly furnished and bursting with antiques. Room amenities include private balconies and private baths some with Jacuzzi tubs. The owners of the Sea Witch have added two adjacent properties, Bewitched and Bedazzled.
The Shore Inn is a gay-owned B&B for men with 14 rooms, located about a mile from the beach, and five blocks from the downtown bars and restaurants. The owners host Friday and Saturday happy hours.
For something super luxurious, head to the famous ? and gay popular -- Bellmoor Inn to enjoy the finest amenities in Rehoboth in an elegant though comfortable atmosphere.
From the delightfully fatty fried beach goodies to gourmet dining worthy of Martha Stewert, you?ll find it all in Rehoboth Beach.
La La Land serves eclectic, creative cuisine in a romantic, purple-hued atmosphere. Their little-known back bar, surrounded by a bamboo forest, is a great out-of-the-way place for drinks.
Cloud 9 is a fun eatery serving gourmet pizzas, pasta specialties and more.
Grab a meal at one of the area?s gay-owned dining spots, including Purple Parrot, a fun, bar-food establishment with the occasional drag show, great for breakfast or lunch; and Dos Locos for your requisite Mexican margarita or Sangria in a festive atmosphere.
For a delicious and upscale dinner, Blue Moon is consistently voted one of Delaware?s top 10 restaurants.
In the words of one local, the big summer attraction in town is ?beach, beach, beach.? Men usually head to Poodle Beach; women head to North Shore Beach; though both beaches warmly welcome members of the opposite sex.
Poodle Beach, just south of the Boardwalk, near Queen Street, is the "circuit" beach, very popular with younger gay people who cram into a three-block area at the south end of the boardwalk. Go early to secure your 6' x 3' plot of sand. Beachgoers can rent umbrellas and chairs right on the beach, and plenty of refreshment stands are within easy reach along the boardwalk. It is the last beach in Rehoboth before you enter mostly straight Dewey Beach.
North Shores charges a $5 parking fee per car, and is much quieter than Poodle. It is primarily a lesbian beach, but also attracts less scene-oriented men who tend to gather to the left of the jetty. Enter the beach from the parking lot as far from the entrance as possible. The jetty itself is jokingly referred to as Indecision Point since it divides the men's beach from the women's beach.
Sunbathers of all body types, ages, and personalities generously commingle. Babies and leashed pooches are welcome in most places too. Leafletters traverse the sand with flyers hawking tea dances and celebrity DJs at the eclectic Frogg Pond or Caf? Zeus. At the legendary Labor Day drag volleyball competition, panty-hosed athletes spike, then sashay.
The mile-long boardwalk is where you?ll find saltwater taffy, tacky t-shirts and other mementos of our long lost childhood.
The rest of the year there are many festivals and a really thriving art scene with a dozen art galleries, art shows and art walks.
Delaware Pride Festival (held annually in September; Cape Henlopen State Park and Gordon's Pond State Park) celebrates LGBT culture with live music, drag, and fun for the whole gay family.
For such a small community it?s surprising how much gay and lesbian nightlife is available in Rehoboth, with many bars and small clubs and six venues that offer late-night dancing. Some of the area favorites including Cloud 9; Blue Moon, Purple Parrot, which offers drag performances and Aqua Grill, with a popular outdoor bar area.
If Christopher Peterson is performing in Rehoboth, by all means catch him ? Christopher is a female illusionist whose shows are consistently standing-room only. The Frogg Pond is a sports bar where lesbians, sporty gay and straights pack ?em in for happy hour and bi-weekly karaoke.
Shopping is big here for the simple and wonderful reason that Delaware has no sales tax. You?ll find lots of great shopping from beach junk to super high end products.
So, rent a van and get ready to bend the plastic at exceptional gay-owned and gay-friendly shops like Elegant Slumming for jewelry or Rock Creek for cool clothing.
With attractions ranging from pinball arcades and dolphin watching to dazzling cuisine, gay beaches, tax-free shopping and a colossal gay sensibility, Rehoboth is a place to put on your travel gaydar during the summer or any other time of the year. Spend some quality time here and you'll never say "Delawhere?" again.