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Nostalgic Fun on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk: Essential Guide

I absolutely love the beach, and nostalgic beach communities are among my favorites. There’s something about dipping my toes in the sand, walking around a quaint town, and getting a soft-serve ice cream cone after dinner.

I was recently able to explore Bethany Beach Delaware (for the first time!) – and spent my time at the Bethany Beach Boardwalk. It’s a great place to visit for a beach vacation on the East Coast.

My trip to Bethany Beach was complimentary as part of a media trip with Bethany Beach Ocean Suites. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission from a click through/purchase through one of these links.

Boardwalk shops and food stands from the beach with sand and seagrass in foreground

Nostalgia Fun on the Bethany Beach Boardwalk: Essential Guide

Bethany Beach feels like a throwback to a simpler time. With delicious summer snacks like ice cream and popcorn, and quaint shops and cafes, the boardwalk area is a fantastic place to vacation with kids.

Location of Bethany Beach

This beautiful beach community is located in south Delaware, north of Ocean City, Maryland. It’s fairly remote from any major city, with Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia being the closest cities. All are hours away, however. Downtown Bethany is especially popular in the summer season.

Once you get into Bethany, the actual boardwalk is located just beyond the intersection of South Atlantic Avenue and the Garfield Parkway. The gift shops and restaurants spill out beyond the boardwalk and into this whole area.

Bethany Town Center alley with shops on both sides

What To Do On the Bethany Beach Boardwalk

The boardwalk is the highlight of the town. It is a wide, walkable boardwalk that runs for about half a mile.

This isn’t the type of boardwalk with amusement rides. It’s much more low-key but is so much fun. The public beach, of course, is the highlight, but it’s also fun to walk around the town.

Like most beaches, this beach fills up throughout the day. I found that it was quiet in the early mornings but by mid-morning it had gotten quite busy. If you didn’t bring equipment, like chairs and umbrellas, they are available for rental each day. That can be a better option than purchasing them once you arrive.

In the summer season, there are other fun activities. The Bethany Beach Bandstand offers a summer concert series with live music on Thursday nights, with kids’ concerts on Wednesdays in July. They also offer evening outdoor movies on occasion.

You can also work out on the beach. I saw a Zumba class taking place outdoors, and there’s also a beach boot camp that takes place Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. A per person per session fee applies.

If you enjoy shopping, there are lots of quaint boutiques and shops located on Garfield and along the Boardwalk. Some of my favorites include the Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Surf Shop, Rhodes 5 & 10, and Delmarva Dry Goods. Delaware offers tax-free shopping, so it’s the perfect place to shop.

You won’t want to miss all of the fun snacks and boardwalk treats. These include fudge, soft-serve ice cream and custard, boardwalk fries, salt water taffy, popcorn, and funnel fries. While the area restaurants are also delicious, for one lunch, I just walked around trying various treats.

Bethany Beach Boardwalk from the beach area with seagrass


The town of Bethany Beach is a peaceful community, although it’s still lively. I noticed some regulations posted that help keep things well-managed. These include the following (keep in mind these regulations are always subject to change):

  • A curfew of 11 pm for those under 18
  • Lifeguard hours daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend (weekends in Sept after Labor Day)
  • Restrictions during lifeguard hours include no fishing, kites, surfboards, launching kayaks/paddle boards
  • No dogs on the beach or boardwalk between May 15 and Sept 30
  • No tents or canopies
  • No fires or grills
Exterior of Via Sophia on the boardwalk

Where to Eat on Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach is filled with fantastic places to eat, including full-service restaurants and counter-service spots. Here are some of the delicious places we visited during our trip.

Sunshine Crepes – a popular counter service creperie with coffee, crepes, waffles, granola bowls, and more. I loved my peanut butter, Nutella, and banana crepe so much that I went back a second time. It does get busy, so keep that in mind.

Via Sophia by the Sea – this new restaurant, located at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites, is a gorgeous oceanfront location with both indoor and outdoor seating. We dined there on our last evening, and the ahi tuna entree I ordered was delicious. If you want to dine along the Bethany Beach Boardwalk, this is your best dining option.

Mickey’s Crab House – Mickey’s Crab House is located a few blocks away from the Boardwalk, but still within walking distance. As you’d expect, the menu is filled with crab and other seafood specialties. I ordered a crab cake, and it was one of the best I’ve had. Don’t miss the crab dip appetizer as well.

Bluecoast Bethany – We dined at this restaurant, located a short drive away, on our first evening. It is an extremely popular place, and people were waiting outside for their seats. The food here is amazing, with inventive dishes like scallop fried rice, sweet corn hush puppies, and clams and spaghetti. It overlooks Salt Pond and is a beautiful spot.

Harvest Tide – this steak and seafood restaurant is located right off the Boardwalk. It has great views of the downtown area and also has delicious food.

Exterior of Bethany Beach Ocean Suites on the boardwalk

Where to Stay in Bethany Beach

Bethany Beach Ocean Suites

During my stay at Bethany Beach, I enjoyed three nights at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites. This ocean-front hotel is a Residence Inn and part of the Marriott Bonvoy program.

It was recently renovated, including a new restaurant, Via Sophia by the Sea. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to be right in the center of this popular beach resort town.

My room, a king bedroom, offered a beautiful view of the beach, as well as a kitchenette with a range top, dishwater, refrigerator, microwave, and kitchen supplies. This is great for families who may want to prepare some food in their room to save money.

It also had a little balcony with two chairs and a small table. I’d recommend getting an ocean-view room so you can have beautiful views while you enjoy your morning coffee on the balcony.

Larger rooms include two beds as well as a pull-out couch. There are two separate buildings, but both are very close and easy to access.

Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn offers a complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning, as well as complimentary coffee and tea (including iced coffee) throughout the day. In the summer, they offer various family-friendly activities including jugglers and face painters.

While the beach is right outside the door, the hotel also offers an outdoor pool. This rooftop pool is an indoor/outdoor pool, so you’ll be able to use it even when the weather isn’t cooperating.

I loved my stay at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites. The crisp coastal theme is relaxing and perfect for a stay by the beach.

Hotel Bethany Beach

Another fantastic Bethany Beach hotel option in the area is Hotel Bethany Beach. This newly renovated and rebranded hotel was originally a Holiday Inn Express.

Hotel Bethany Beach is located a few blocks from the beach but is still within walking distance. It offers beautiful hotel rooms, including one family suite with two bedrooms and plenty of space for a family. There’s also an outdoor pool if you’d rather not go to the beach.

Guests at the Hotel Bethany Beach can enjoy room service from the adjacent Mickey’s Family Crab House. Beach concierge service (including beach chairs and umbrellas) is available on a complimentary basis. Guests also get two free rounds at Nick’s Mini Golf and can enjoy a free morning breakfast, and an afternoon reception.

Trolley outside of hotel in Bethany Beach

Beyond the Boardwalk

In season, there are other fun things to do beyond the boardwalk. The Bethany Beach Farmers Market takes place on Sundays, on the corner of Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue.

There are also several different miniature golf locations, including Nick’s Mini Golf, a short walk from the Hotel Bethany Beach. I always love playing mini golf on family beach vacations, it’s a fun tradition.

From Memorial Day weekend through mid-September, there’s a free trolley that runs continuously through the area. You can see the schedule here.

During our stay, we also visited the nearby Barn Hill Preserve of Delaware. This preserve is home to over 35 species of animals, including sloths, kangaroos, camels, and otters. There are several ways to visit Barn Hill, including a 90-minute animal encounter tour, and events like an otter swim and kangaroo yoga.

I loved my visit. It was such a great opportunity to learn about some new-to-me animals, and we had the chance to pet the kangaroos. I would recommend booking one of the events or the encounter tour.

Boardwalk fries from the beach, trolleys on street, exterior of Bethany Beach Ocean Suites.

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