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Going for the 'Now' Factor

Friday, May 19, 2006

Dewey Beach is often described as Rehoboth's younger, bar-hopping sibling, and in fact the town wasn't incorporated until 1981, so it's only recently attained its legal drinking age. (The Bottle & Cork proudly advertises itself as having been founded in 1936, but back then it was a combination gas station/general store and spaghetti diner that got its ice from what is now Silver Lake.)

But Dewey's party-hearty image may be endangered by the widespread conversion of commercial property to increasingly upscale condos and hotels. With a moratorium on such conversions looming (and now in place), many popular retail and dining establishments, the Ruddertowne complex included, moved quickly to redevelop. So if you've ever wanted to do the Dewey, do it now.

(The flip side of the shift is that more year-round residents are giving Dewey Beach a new and more gentle sense of community, so we've included a few "adult" moments.)

It's worth noting that since most of the nightlife addresses are fairly close together and parking is limited, the Rehoboth-based Jolly Trolley (302-227-1197) runs along Route 1 from Ruddertowne to Silver Lake and on into Rehoboth; each trip is $2 before midnight and $3 until 2 a.m. Let that be your designated driver.

FRIDAY

7:30 p.m. The Taco Toss at the Lighthouse in Ruddertowne (Dickinson Street and the bay) is a tradition too hilarious to miss, a cross between "Coyote Ugly" and "Where the Boys Are." (For those who call in well on Fridays, it starts at 4.) The crowd generally mixes with survivors of the outdoor calypso party across the parking lot at the Rusty Rudder (302-227-3888) and spreads out down the pier as the sun sets.

9 p.m. The Bottle & Cork (1807 Route 1; 302-227-7272) remains one of the best, and most eclectic, music clubs in the region: In the first two weeks of June, it will host Dwight Yoakam, Little Feat and Vanilla Ice. Nice. Future shows scheduled are Cowboy Mouth, Shooter Jennings, Marty Stuart and .38 Special. (The all-ages Baycenter next door is just about as broad-minded.)

Midnight There is a theory (prevalent mostly among college students) that greasy food helps absorb alcohol. If you're tempted to try the Irish car bomb (Guinness with a shot of Irish whiskey and Bailey's Irish cream) at McShea's Irish Beach Pub & Grill (1705 Route 1; 302-227-9430), side it with the house special bacon cheeseburger and fries or the crab cakes.

SATURDAY

7:30 a.m. (Just kidding.) But if you're up and starving, the Sunrise Restaurant is already well into coffee and hash browns (2300 Route 1; 302-227-3202). If coffee and a big, comfy chair sound more soothing, try BookSandCoffee in Ruddertowne (302-226-9959).

8:30 a.m. Dewey Beach is doggie heaven -- one of the few places pets are welcome during the season -- and you can make plenty of two- and four-legged friends just by strolling over to the beach. Bring an old Frisbee, and you're golden as any retriever.

Noon Lunch at Gary's Dewey Beach Cafe Grill (2000 Route 1; 302-227-8519), where the locally famous turkey burger goes for only $6.95.

1 p.m. Dewey Beach is home to the oldest skimboarding competition in the country, so if you're ready to ride the baby waves, get aboard at Dewey Beach Surf and Sport (23 Bellevue St.; 302-227-8288).

3 p.m. Now that you have your feet wet, get a little more extreme with a kiteboarding lesson, a cool $200 from the pros at East of Maui (104 St. Louis St.; 302-227-4703). If you're the observer type, get a free show at the bay access at New Road off Route 1.

7 p.m. Once you're cleaned up, splay your tired limbs in a beach chair on the sand or a silk-cushioned sofa inside the bazaarlike bar at Venus on the Half Shell (Dagsworthy and the bay; 302-227-9292) and share a mixed seafood platter for protein.

9 p.m. Take whatever groove thing you have to shake to northbeach (McKinley Street at the bay; 302-227-8673), Dewey's major stab at a slick DJ dance club -- loud, bright and booty-full. If it gets too hot for you, head back to the Rusty Rudder and see who's on deck.

Midnight Cool off at Big Mike's Frozen Tundra (1904 Route 1; 302-226-9118), which is decorated to look like an igloo, with picnic tables and a midway's worth of frozen drink machines. (This is more locals' bar than college-kid hangout, so behave accordingly.)

SUNDAY

8:30 a.m. Sweat it off with a jog along the beach or the broad pedestrian/bike lane up and down Route 1 all the way from Silver Lake pretty much, well, to Fenwick Island, though a couple of marked miles from near Ruddertowne around Silver Lake will do the trick.

10 a.m. The Starboard's make-your-own bloody mary smorgasbord (2009 Route 1; 302-227-4600) is standard recovery procedure in town. The bartender pours your choice of vodka, and you dress it up choosing from a reputed 700 condiments. Once you can face food, try the eggs Delmarva (like Benedict with lump crab), a pile of pancakes, etc.

Noon ISO sensitive souls in Dewey Beach? Stop by Legends and Lore in the Shoppes at Ruddertowne (302-226-1693), a gallery of all local art, stained glass, jewelry, pottery, paintings and even preserves, along with musical instruments and sheet music, antiques and collectibles, run by longtime local music fixture Regina AaMacha. On first Sundays of the month she holds artist receptions; put on your clever shirt and mingle with a different crowd.

On the way home Jimmy's Grille in the triangle between Routes 13 and 404 in Bridgeville (302-337-7575) serves up six-inch-tall wedges of banana walnut cake -- and uses only real whipped cream in anything.

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