Beyond the Sea
Friday, May 21, 2004; Page WE30
How much beach time is too much? How much boardwalk kitsch? People's tolerance varies, but eventually almost everyone is going to feel the need to take a shower, get rid of that coconut-macaroon tanning lotion smell and do something different. Even if, in some cases, it's just as kitschy.
Nassau Valley Vineyards (36 Nassau Commons; 302-645-9463) is in the little wedge of land between Routes 1 and 9 about a mile west of the junction, making it an ideal place to stock up on the way into Lewes or Rehoboth. The new Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is only a few minutes up the road in Milton (in Cannery Village Center off Chestnut Street; 302-684-1000 or 888-836-4347), and since Fridays at 3 is tour time, you could start the weekend off with a true brew. (And if you really want to get off of Delaware, you can take the 70-minute ferry ride to Cape May, N.J., and wander among the gingerbread Victorian inns; 800-643-3779.)
Ocean City's O.C. Jamboree is a Myrtle Beach-style musical revue that re-stages pop music hits and dance and variety acts during the summer and Christmas acts in the off-season. This summer's feature is a patriotic but not entirely straight-faced production called "Spirit of America" (on Route 611 just west of Route 50 in West Ocean City; 410-213-7581). If the kids have enough stamina to make it all day and into the evening, you can easily pair the Jamboree with an afternoon at the Wild West show theme park and mini-golf/water park complex Frontier Town, also on Route 611 but on the east side of Route 50 (410-641-0880). And a little farther down Route 50 toward Berlin is Ocean Downs, which will host live harness racing Wednesday through Sunday in July and August.
Assateague Island is already "off the boardwalk" -- the Barrier Island Visitors Center (410-641-1441), just west of the Verrazano Bridge on Route 611, with its small aquarium and hands-in tank, and the small life-saving museum on the island are about all the "entertainment" there is. But the town of Chincoteague, which is a smaller island inside the Assateague Island barrier, is one of the area's most picturesque and old-fashioned resorts. The various art galleries and curio shops in Chincoteague host arts and crafts demonstrations, concerts and readings on the second Saturday of each month (757-336-0041). The 1857 Assateague Lighthouse will be open for free tours from 9 to 3 June 5-6, July 10-11, Aug. 21-22 and Sept. 4-5. If you want to make sure your little ones get pony face time, now that Pony Penning Day has become such a crowd event, head to the Chincoteague Pony Center (6417 Carriage Dr.; 757-336-2776). And one of the most popular rainy-day attractions is the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Island (757-824-1344) on Route 175 just west of the islands. The center has hands-on exhibits, a mini-Air & Space-style gift shop and occasional small-rocket launchings, though none is scheduled for this summer. (For free, you can watch planes ducking over the NOAA weather satellite dishes spread out like giant mushrooms across the road.)
The Virginia Marine Science Museum (717 General Booth Blvd.; 757-425-3474) in Virginia Beach has an eight-story-high 3-D IMAX theater, 800,000 gallons of aquariums, an aviary, a short nature trail and more than 300 hands-on exhibits. At the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (420 High St.; 757-393-8031) in nearby Portsmouth, fans can learn about some of the state's most celebrated athletes and see memorabilia, including Arthur Ashe's tennis racket and golfer Sam Snead's straw hat.
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