delaware

Summer Snapshots: Delaware and Maryland Beach Weekend, 2.0

I’m back from my long weekend on the Delaware/Maryland coast, and it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be: relaxing with tons of beach time with a few of my favorite people!

Mal, Peter, Paul and I rented a little bungalow in north Ocean City, a prime position close to all our favorite sandy spots—like the quiet beaches just a few blocks away. (The beaches farther south, near the boardwalk, are much more crowded.)
ocean city, md

The weather was chilly on our first afternoon, so we practically had the beach to ourselves. I was thrilled just to have my feet in the sand, once again.

sandy feet

We all ended up taking long afternoon naps—not a bad way to start a trip!

beach sleep

At sundown, everyone else ran sprints along the beach to warm up and get some exercise. I opted to stay on the blanket—only one vacation per year involves running, at least in my mind!

sunset sprints

The O.C. beach was so nice that we returned the following day. But after that, we decided to switch things up and go to Fenwick Island State Park, just over the border in Delaware. I’d forgotten how much I liked that beach. They only let in as many cars as can fit into the small lot.

walking to fenwick island

Which means that the beach never gets too crowded! Plus, the sand was soft and clean.

fenwick island

Also, unlike many other beaches along the east coast, there are no buildings or high rises adjacent to it. The view is just a little nicer that way, isn’t it?fenwick dunesOne of the reasons Mal, Peter, Paul and I travel so well together is that we all appreciate ridiculousness. That’s why we ended up at Seacrets, the spring break-esque beach bar, for a second year in a row. (Apologies about the slightly blurry pics—I took them through a waterproof bag.)
seacrets

We had a few drinks on the giant floats before the sun went down. Unlike last year, we didn’t end up dancing (and drinking) for eight hours.

mal and peter, seacrets heather, seacrets

Mal and I believe that you have to eat at two types of restaurants when you’re at the shore: an old school, red sauce, family-style Italian joint. And a blue crab place. (I know I’m stating the obvious with the latter!)

For this trip’s Italian, we went to Mancini’s, on Fenwick Island. They make an awesome marinara, whose scent hits you, upon walking in. I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs based on that, alone, and wasn’t disappointed. We ate in their small, outdoor area, which was much airier and brighter than the spartan indoor seating sections.

We also made two trips to Bethany Beach’s Blue Crab, our all-time favorite blue crab restaurant: once for the all-you-can-eat dinner, and a second time for our final lunch before heading back to NYC. During that last meal, I felt a little sad when I realized I was savoring my last crabs until next year. But it was a pretty perfect way to close the summer.

blue crabs

So Ready for Delmarvacation 2.0!

Speaking of favorite vacation spots—this pretty much sums up what I’ll be doing for the next few days:

delmarvacation

I’m going back to Delmarva for another long weekend. (The Delaware + Maryland + Virginia peninsula = Delmarva, according to the locals! Peter has dubbed trips down there “Delmarvacations,” and since this is our second of the year, we’re about to embark on Delmarvacation 2.0.)

We rented another house in Bethany BeachВ north Ocean City, this time, but with a much smaller group—just Mal, Peter, his brother Paul, and me. I’m looking forward to everything in the photo above: boardwalks, blue crabs, beer and especially long days at the beach! And maybe a few drinks at Seacrets

Enjoy your last summer weekend!

Off to a Beach House Weekend

beach

After spending practically every other summer weekend on the beach, for the two years Mal and Peter lived inВ Maryland, I kind of got used to that luxury! Instead of associating summer with steamy, NYC heat (which I do love), I found it synonymous with long days laying out in the sun and cooling off in the waves. (Which I love even more!)

So when Mal and PeterВ moved back to New YorkВ last year, I vowed to find a summer share so we could keep spending weekends on the beach.

That didn’t happen.

I got caught up with life (the new job, etc.). And before I knew it, summer was here. I had missed the summer share market by months.

As a consolation, I decided that the next best thing would be to rent a beach house for a weekend—and fill it with a lot of our friends. Luckily, our friends were game. The hardest part was finding an affordable rental!

The market is insane—especially if you start looking for a July rental in June. I spent a good two weeksВ speaking with realtors andВ scouring rental listings for every beach town in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. (I’m not exaggerating! The places I looked at included Fire Island; Montauk; the Hamptons; Long Branch; Ocean Grove; Asbury Park; Lavalette; Long Beach Island; Avalon; Cape May; Ocean City, NJ and MD; Rehoboth Beach; Dewey Beach; Lewes Beach; Bethany Beach…and more.)

In the process, I learned:

  • No one rents for just the weekend in high season.В Unless you want to pay a ridiculous amount of money—as in, $3,000 for two nights for a house that sleeps eight.
  • Prices are crazy.В Everywhere I looked, most low-end rentals (small homes that slept six to eight people) generally started around $3,000, though most were at least $5,000—or more. Much more.
  • Most rentals are Saturday through Saturday.В I don’t understand that—because you don’t get a full weekend! One realtor I spoke to told me it’s because it’s hard to find people willing to clean the homes on Sundays. Um, ok.
  • Contrary to what I’d assumed, Sandy-affected areas were not offering steeply discounted rates.В In fact, a Long Beach Island relator told me that most owners aren’t lowering prices because they’re hoping to recoup some of their losses.
  • My new goal in life is to buy a beach house an hour away from the city.В Because it’s probably much more doable than buying an apartment in Manhattan. And it would be a great investment because I could always rent it out. And I’d never have to deal with the crazy rental market again.

I eventually found one home that was (miraculously) a Sunday to Sunday rental, available the dates we wanted to go. The price was low enough—shocking low, actually—that we were willing to sign a week’s lease, even though we’ll only be using it for four nights. (Hopefully, it’ll be in pretty good condition!) And it’s in Bethany Beach, Delaware—a town I loved visiting the past few summers, and home to our favorite blue crab restaurant.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to a few days on the beach surrounded by good friends.

Hooray for summer!

Premature Nostalgia

Do you ever get nostalgic for things before they’re even over? When you’re having a great time but know that the moment is fleeting and you have to squeeze out every last bit of enjoyment from it? That’s how I felt this weekend.

Mal and Peter just have a few weeks left in Maryland. They’re beyond excited to move back to New York, as am I–it was quite an adjustment (and not always easy) to have them so far away. But I’m also a little sad to say goodbye to the area that’s been so much fun to visit on summer weekends. Mal and Peter are the best hosts and always up for taking guests around the little towns on Maryland and Delaware’s coasts. I’ve had so much fun spending time with them there that I’ve come to think of the place as my second summer home.

I’m especially going to miss the beaches. They’re much nicer than any near NYC. Despite the long rides to and from Maryland, I loved getting out of the city and spending lazy days at…

fenwick island
Fenwick Island, a Delaware state park with a pretty beach…

bethany beach

Bethany Beach, Delaware, a tiny, quintessential shore town where you can walk or bike down the street barefoot and in your bathing suit without anyone giving you a weird look. The beach is also has nice, white sand, and there’s a little boardwalk. Plus, our favorite blue crab joint is there.

Ocean City, MDAnd, of course, the Ocean City beach. The sand is a little coarser and there are usually more people than at Bethany or Fenwick (though not at 8 a.m., when I took this photo). But it’s less than 10 minutes from Mal and Peter’s place.

This weekend, Mal, Peter, Paul and I decided that we need to rent a beach house around Bethany for a few days next year. We all know we’ll need an annual MD/DE beach/crab fix going forward!

Are you having any premature summer nostalgia?

Dogfish Head Brewpub

Four years ago, I read a greatВ New YorkerВ piece about Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head. At the time, I was new to the world of craft beers and had only tried Dogfish Head brews on a couple occasions. But immediately after finishing the article, I wanted to head straight to theВ Dogfish Head brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I was wowed at Calagione’s imagination for dreaming up different types of beers flavored with tea, juniper berries and all kinds of spices. And I was even more impressed at the lengths he went to create them: sourcing rare wood in Paraguay to build aging barrels, crafting a beer similar to what the Egyptians brewed back in 730 BCE and so on.

I never made it to the brewpub until Mal and Peter moved to Maryland. Dogfish Head is about 40 minutes away from their place and it’s become one of our go-to spots. Not surprisingly, they have lots of wonderfully quirky, experimental brews on tap. The food is good, too–Dogfish Head sources veggies and meat from nearby farms. Plus, beer is a key ingredient in many dishes.

The place is usually packed year-round, all times of day, even though it’s huge–two floors and an outdoor patio. But luckily, it wasn’t insane on Memorial Day afternoon. (I suppose everyone was still at the beach.) We scored a shady spot outside.

mal and peter

heather

Even though I was getting on a bus afterward, the beer menu still tempted me into ordering a drink. (How could I not?) I would have loved a flight, but opted for the Lil’ Tart, a light (only 3.4% ABV!), sparkling cherry wheat beer. Peter, who was not making a 5-hour trip back to NYC, ordered the Red & White (10% ABV), a Belgian-style witbier fermented with pinot noir juice.

dogfish head menu

And since we were coming from a very taxing day of lounging on the beach, we ordered food, as well.

dogfish head

В We shared a pizza (made with unfermented ale, of course) topped withВ prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula and balsamic reduction; a turkey burger and a BLTA (made with house cured bacon).

dogfish head food

It was the perfect way to top off the holiday weekend. I’m looking forward to returning–and getting a flight next time!

dogfish head flight