Even if you're not generally a shopper, there are days when too much sun and too much fun lead you to seek a little indoor amusement -- but something a little more elevated than rude T-shirts and "one-day sale" silver earrings that seem the same price every day. If you only want to drop in and out of a block of shops, try the 200 block of Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth, which has a mix of dock- or deck-friendly crockery and seriously good-looking home furnishings, factory store resort wear, fine antiques and antic animal accessories. And since several of the street-side shops actually open into mews or mini-malls, you can expand your side trips as you like:
Elegant Slumming (33-I & H Baltimore Ave.; 302/227-5551), which has always had nice jewelry, has expanded into bright and clean designs for the home, walls and especially shelves and tables -- sort of Michael Graves meets Fiestaware. (Its window display is almost a perfect color match for the new mural on the outside wall of the Iguana Grill -- hot pastel bookends for the street.)
Critter Beach (33-A Baltimore Ave.; 302-226-2690) is one of those pet boutiques that offer toys, pet wear (bibs and caps), "real" baked bones and biscuits; but it also has plenty of people playthings, from cat-print mugs to a lamp with bone print shade, a two-dimensional floor-sculpture of a Welsh corgi (this one's blond while mine is tricolor) and great clothes hangers with animal heads attached like William Wegman's Weimaraners (www.critter beach.com).
Twist (39 Baltimore Ave.; 302/227-6608) continues to be one of the most interesting sources for furnishings, including neo-gothic sconces, faux mink pillows, mixed-metal floor lamps, wrought-tin animals, a pewter-gilded Moore-or-less figurative sculpture and a clock that resembles one of those big, airy wooden houses along the Bethany shore and would be a dynamite housewarming present if you want to drop $195.
The Redfish Design Factory Store (49 Baltimore Ave.; 302/226-1418) is stocked with easygoing, beach-colored and shell-printed scarves, sarongs, socks and totes at even easier-going sale prices. More elaborate batiklike prints, cat- or fish-block patterns in loose-fitting sets, many designed and hand-dyed by co-owner Sara Gafvert, are the norm at Dragonfly Designs (302/227-5440) at the Baltimore Avenue end of the Village by the Sea complex across the street.
On the other side of the Village alley is the great and seductive Tempest Fugit (302/227-1228), which has Buddha-print sarongs, carved and painted fish and roosters, Asian cabinets and a very funny take on fancy utensil holders, a faux-naif hanger with four wooden spoons, each topped with a different tree joke: a birdhouse, a bird, an oak leaf and an acorn. It also sells a four-lens camera that takes not quite simultaneous shots so it captures quick-action movement, a steal at $12.95.
-- Eve Zibart