By Eve Zibart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 20, 2005
Welcome to the Rehoboth see-scape, where drinking, dining and decorating are all competitive activities. This is Beach Body Central, baby, and it's packed with day spas, gay bars, henna tattoos, trendy restaurants, buff-baring beachwear and sometimes just beaches in the buff. And since beauty demands a backdrop, downtown offers the area's most elaborate, chic, extravagant and frankly arch home accessory shops, clustered in the blocks between Wilmington and Baltimore avenues and from the ocean to about Third Street.
Dewey Beach, Rehoboth's bayside bro, swings from body pounding by day -- kiteboarding, kayaking, boogie boarding, parasailing, surfing -- to beer pounding at night. Pounding bass, too, as some of the region's hottest bands pack the nightclubs; and pounding heads, almost palpable in the morning lineup at Starboard 's bloody mary smorgasbord (2009 Route 1; 302-227-4600).
And as Assateague Island is to Mother Nature, Route 1 Rehoboth is to Sister Shopper. More than two miles of outlet malls and name-brand factory stores line Route 1 north of the resort area, and the no-sales-tax rule makes them destinations in themselves.
If you've never seen kiteboarding, there's nearly always a free show, from novice to X-treme, offshore the New Road parking lot, bayside along the Delaware Seashore State Park. If you want to try it yourself, or any of the other more energetic water sports, check in with the pros at Dewey's East of Maui (104 St. Louis St.; 302-227-4703). . . . The Bottle & Cork in Dewey still pops the top pops, booking everyone from Foreigner, Ted Nugent and Buddy Guy to Little Feat, Men at Work and New Orleans thrash-funkers Cowboy Mouth (1807 Route 1; 302-227-7272). . . . Ruddertowne -- the block-square complex on Route 1 at Dickinson Street that also includes BookSandCoffee (302-226-9959) and the all-ages music club Baycenter (302-227-3888) -- is most famous for Friday night's "taco toss," which starts at 4 at the Lighthouse (302-227-4333) and tends to spill over into the calypso party at the Rusty Rudder (302-227-3888), but skip that meet-market scene in favor of Sunday nights, when the music's still live but mostly locals hang out. Instead, take in the St. Tropez-style view at Venus on the Half Shell , a satellite of Rehoboth's Planet X (Dagsworthy Street and the Bay; 302-227-9292); or go native with a no-frills last call at Big Mike's (1904 Hwy. 1; 302-226-3288). . . . Want to keep that sea-scrubbed glow? Among the most elaborate of the (booming) day spas in Rehoboth are the neo-Victorian Sea Witch Manor Inn and Spa , and its annexes, the Bewitched and BEDazzled B&Bs (71 Lake Ave.; 302-226-9482); the Bellmoor Inn and Spa , one of the first to jump on the luxe-vacation bandwagon (6 Christian St.; 302-227-5800); and the less dramatic but adept Ocean Retreat (3712 Hwy. 1 in Rehoboth Beach Plaza; 302-227-1199). . . . Restaurants are legion in Rehoboth Beach -- and increasingly long-lived: Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave.; 302-227-6515), which arguably launched Rehoboth on its trendy (and straight-tolerant) ways, has topped the quarter-century mark -- but easily the best big-ticket menu these days is at the retooled and fine-tuned mod-Med Espuma (28 Wilmington Ave.; 302-227-4199). Next choice is Nage (19730 Route 1; 302-226-2037), though solely on the trend-cramming scale, and the menu at 59 Lake (59 Lake Ave.; 302-226-5900), which has replaced the old Third Edition, weighs pretty heavy (seared rosemary scallops on gingerbread, foie gras on peppered pineapple carpaccio). Don't worry, the music goes on. Even fry-phobics could learn to love Go Fish !, the Brit-style fish 'n' chips stall with tube-stop decor and Newcastle on tap (24 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-1044). Prefer fish in a more "natural" state? Try the old standby Cultured Pearl sushi bar (19 Wilmington Ave.; 302-227-8493), with its Japanese garden interior, complete with koi pond and waterfall; or the caviar bar at Red Square (162 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-7782). For fresh beer and no-cover live music, walk up to the Dogfish Head brewpub at 320 Rehoboth Ave. (302-226-2739). Eden 's wines-by-the-glass list is paradise (23 Baltimore Ave.; 302-227-3330). . . . Accessory fans can look for the odd, the exquisite and the expensively silly at Elegant Slumming (33-1 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth; 302-227-5551) and handmade but not budget-busting jewelry by Anne Hurley (129-C Rehoboth Ave.; 302-245-6601). Versatile, flippant-to-formal furniture lurks at Abizak's (208 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-227-6595 and 4120 Hwy. 1; 302-227-1500). Proud pet parents can pick up doggie duds at Dalmatian (204 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-8344) or Critter Beach (33-A Baltimore Ave.; 302-226-2690). . . . Rehoboth isn't quite as adults-only as it seems: The venerable Funland , a combination arcade and enclosed amusement park on the Boardwalk, has added a mini-Ferris wheel (302-227-1921); Jungle Jim's lures a slightly older crowd with go-karts, a rock climbing wall and mini-golf as well as the water park (8 County Club Rd.; 302-227-8444). The Rehoboth Summer Children's Theater has "Peter Pan," "Snow White" and "The Emperor's New Clothes" on this year's schedule (in Epworth United Methodist Church at 20 Baltimore Ave.; 302-227-6766) and offers acting classes for teenagers and younger. Even more useful classes might be the cooking classes for ages 6 to 16 at the Wizard's Whisk (48 Wilmington Ave.; 302-227-0848).7-0848).