Top kid-friendly things to do at Delaware beaches
As many moms and dads will attest, Delaware’s beaches are just the spot to keep the kids affordably entertained and happily occupied -- whether its a full day of soaking-wet entertainment at a waterpark, or taken on a side trip for a chilly ice cream cone and some salt-water taffy. So when you’re looking for things to do for kids at the beach, keep these Top 10 Kid-Friendly Activities in mind for your next family vacation to Delaware’s East Coast beaches:
Make memories at Funland (on the boardwalk at 1 Delaware Ave., Rehoboth Beach): Since 1962, families have made memories amid the vintage amusement rides and arcade games at this landmark-by-the-sea. Kid-friendly activities are essential to Funland’s legacy – and when it’s time to head home, stop by for a treat at nearby Grotto Pizza, Dolle's or the Candy Kitchen.
Cool off at Jungle Jim’s Water Park (36944 Country Club Rd., Rehoboth Beach): Much more than just a water-slide park, Jungle Jim's is the go-to place for families and kids ready to spend the entire day riding bumper boats, playing mini golf, swinging away in the batting cages, or racing for glory on the go-kart track.
There’s also a fun waterpark (and plenty of other activities) at Killens Pond State Park. At the family-friendly beach town of Fenwick Island, check out Thunder Lagoon Water Park. Also at the beach, there’s a waterpark (and go-cart racing) at Midway Speedway Park, known visually around the beach for the big airplane hoisted over top.
Take the Putt Putt challenge: Miniature golf is kind of like french fries with vinegar – when you’re at the Delaware beaches, you'll probably end up trying them both. Some favorites include Fire Mountain Golf (part of Midway Speedway Park, Del. 1, Midway Shopping Center, near Rehoboth Beach); Ryan's Mini Golf (1 Delaware Ave., Rehoboth); Shell We Golf (19366 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach); Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf (21 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Bethany Beach); and Viking Golf (corner of Coastal Highway and Del. 54, Fenwick Island).
Get some ice cream: Next to the aforementioned Grotto Pizza and french fries, the most beloved kid-friendly food at the beach has to be ice cream, which is typically home-made and comes in flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Here are some hotspots for affordable treats for the kids:
-- The Ice Cream Store, (6 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach)
-- Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard (46A Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach)
-- Archie's Ice Cream (42 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach)
-- King’s Homemade Ice Cream (201 2nd St., Lewes)
-- Hopkins Farm Creamery (18186 Dairy Farm Road, Lewes)
-- Dickey's Frozen Custard (97 Garfield Pkwy, Bethany Beach)
See the Sandcastle Contest: Participants and spectators alike are invited for what has become one of the beach’s most popular kid-friendly festivals, the free Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest. More than 100 teams vie to be judged most artistic with such fanciful creations as Swamp Animals, Mermaids, Pyramids, Crabs, Dolphins, Sharks, and yes, even the occasional sand castle.
Go kayaking, paddleboarding or skimboarding: When kids are looking for something to do, they seem to celebrate every possible way of getting wet, and the Delaware beaches have more to offer than just a dip in the surf. The beach and the bayside are dotted with businesses that specialize in low-cost kayak, paddleboard and skimboard lessons and tours. Here’s a sampling:
-- DelMarVa Board Sport Adventures (19470 Coastal Hwy #5, Rehoboth Beach & Fenwick Island)
-- Coastal Kayak (Del. 1, north of Fenwick Island on bayside).
-- Alley-Oop skimboard (2000 Coastal Hwy. Unit 106, Dewey Beach)
Take a ferry ride across the bay: The kids will feel like high-seas sailors aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which makes regular 80-minute journeys back and forth between Lewes to Cape May, N.J. Bicycles and kids 6 and younger sail for free, so consider spending a day biking through Cape May, where there are plenty more affordable things to do. On Thursdays, kids ride with the ferry's adorable mascot, Lighthouse Pete the Pirate.
Also consider taking one of the special cruises on the Cape Water Taxi in Lewes – they have eco-tours, sunset cruises, osprey banding tours, and more.
Sail on the Kalmar Nyckel: Known as “The Tall Ship of Delaware,” the Kalmar Nyckel will take everyone back to colonial times with its stately beauty. When it’s docked in Lewes, check out the Kalmar Nyckel’s occasional “Pirate Sails.”
Hit the beach for nighttime fun: For years, families have kicked back after a long hot day along the shoreline in Dewey Beach, where they’re justly famous for Monday Night Movies on the Beach & Wednesday Night Bonfires on the Beach. Even better, it’s free.
Try your hand at crabbing, clamming or fishing: There are plenty of low-cost, no-stress ways to catch your dinner in Delaware’s bays and ocean. They’ll even help you get started at such places as Delaware Seashore State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park.