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North Hills Monthly

The Beach is Just the Beginning: Enjoying the Off-season in Southern Delaware

Jul 30, 2015 01:37PM ● By Vanessa Orr

The Rehoboth Art League

It’s easy to enjoy the beach in the height of summer. You’ve got sun and sand…what else could you possibly need? But what might surprise you is just how much there is to do in the off-season, especially in southern Delaware.

While Rehoboth Beach might be a sun-seeker’s paradise, it is also home to a wide array of art galleries and entertainment options that don’t end when the tourists leave town. In October, for example, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival attracts top-notch talent; past performers have included Al Jarreau, Boney James, Stanley Jordan, Patti Austin, Art Sherrod and Club Phred, among others.

I think what I enjoyed most when I went last year was the fact that unlike big-city festivals where artists and audiences don’t often get a chance to interact, in a more laid-back setting like Rehoboth, you can actually get up close and personal with the performers. Last year, Boney James spent about as much time out in the audience at the Cape Henlopen High School as he did on stage; a delicious dinner at The Cellar Door, one of Rehoboth’s newer restaurants, was made even better when accompanied by Camille Thurman and the Fred Hughes Trio, who performed only a few feet away from appreciative diners.

Even if you don’t travel to town for a specific festival, there is still plenty to do on any given day in Rehoboth and surrounding coastal towns. Art galleries abound, and again, you often get a chance to talk to the artists themselves, which adds a lot to the experience. In the Kevin Fleming Gallery in Rehoboth, for example, you might get a chance to visit with the man who has been recognized as “America’s Best Observer” by Readers Digest. I was fascinated by Fleming’s openness in talking about how he got some of his most famous National Geographic shots; some he shot in 15 days; some took 4/10s of a second. He even offered photography tips to some of the group I was with. Just across the street at the Heidi Lowe Gallery, Heidi herself was more than happy to talk about the ideas behind some of her exclusive pieces and the work of artists from all over the world that she describes as “pushing the boundaries of jewelry.”

A must-stop is the Rehoboth Art League, which was voted the number one gallery in Delaware last year. Located among four acres of beautiful gardens and historic buildings, the nonprofit teaching and exhibiting arts organization, which is now in its 76th year, has something for almost every taste, created by its more than 1,000 artist members. I particularly liked the funky outdoor sculptures, especially the living room set made out of stone.

There’s a wealth of art and art galleries to be found just a quick drive from the beach as well. In Lewes, for example, Abraxas Studio features intricate oil paintings by the young artist for which the store is named, who sold his first painting at the age of 14. The Peninsula Art Gallery features the work of more than 25 local and regional artists, including a breathtakingly beautiful driftwood horse sculpture by Larry Ringgold, which I would have snapped up in a heartbeat if I had a bigger budget. Even the local winery displays art; at Nassau Valley Vineyard, you can wander through a gallery featuring local artists’ work as you sip a 2012 Laurel’s Red. The afternoon that our group was there, we were lucky enough to view paintings by the Rehoboth Beach Watercolor Society while listening to the acoustic fingerstyle guitar stylings of Keith Mack. Mack grew up in Rehoboth Beach but moved to New York to play with Patty Smyth and Scandal, and now tours with Cyndi Lauper.

Rehoboth doesn’t lack for evening entertainment as well, even in the colder months. Clear Space Theatre, a professional acting company located less than a block from the beach, will be performing Lips Together, Teeth Apart in September, as well as A Christmas Story: The Musical, in November. And you absolutely have to stop into the Blue Moon Restaurant to experience one of its Murder Mystery Shows, a drag-style performance that was one of the funniest celebrations of someone’s passing that I’ve ever seen. The event is interactive, so go prepared to do some sleuthing on your night out.

There is so much to do off-season in southern Delaware that I can’t even fit it all in; for example, upcoming events include the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival on September 6, the Seawitch Halloween and Fiddlers Festival on October 23-25, and the Rehoboth Film Festival November 11-15.

To learn more about everything happening in the area, visit Southern Delaware Tourism at or call 800-357-1818 for help planning your trip. For contact information on the businesses listed in this article, visit: