In the United States, there are plenty of great gay destinations and LGBTQ travel spots – especially along the coasts. Some of the most obvious are your large and visible communities in big cities like San Francisco, New York City and Philadelphia. Others are a little harder to find, but complete gems. One of them is the enchanting beach town in coastal Delaware called Rehoboth Beach. A gay Rehoboth Beach vacation can be the perfect getaway for a group trip, couple’s destination or even a family vacation. The Rehoboth Beach gay community is friendly, campy and fun.
I started visiting Rehoboth Beach over a decade ago and still go back during our summer travels back to the States. If you make the trip there, you’ll see how I got hooked and you probably will too.
Here is a guide to everything you want to know about a trip to ReHOMO Beach. I’ll dish out all the practical details and then break down Rehoboth using our 5-4-3-2-1 method. This means we countdown 5 things to do, 4 things to eat or drink, 3 places to stay, 2 instagram spots and 1 insider tip for Rehoboth Beach.
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Getting To Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach is between two hours and two and a half hours from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. This makes it best to reach by car and possible to fly into one of those cities and drive to the beach. Beach traffic can greatly impact how long it takes you and of course that’s heaviest in the summer months and on weekends.
From New York City and New Jersey, many drive to Rehoboth by using the Cape May Ferry at that New Jersey shorepoint.
Using public transportation is also an option from most major cities but will require several transfers. Train and bus trips will also require timing, so a road trip is the best way to reach Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
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When To Visit Rehoboth Beach
Rehoboth Beach is a fantastic gay destination all year. I have visited the city in every month of the year and you find something to love in every season.
Rehoboth is of course most popular in the summer months with the holiday weekends being the busiest. Outside of peak season there’s a lot to do in Rehoboth even if things slow down and the crowds subside. It’s almost nicer then because you really notice the community of locals and homeowners that visit the beach town all year.
It can be a fun place to spend New Years Eve or Halloween and there are events all year long. Many Rehoboth Beach events are organized by the community center Camp Rehoboth. Check their websites for information on some of the most popular ones.
Some of the best are The Sundance Gala sponsored by Camp Rehoboth each Labor Day weekend. There’s also an annual Drag Volleyball tournament held on Poodle Beach each Labor Day since the late 1980’s. The annual Sea Witch Festival in October is also a great off-season weekend to visit Rehoboth Beach.
How To Get Around Rehoboth Beach
If you’re staying in downtown Rehoboth, it’s easy to get around by biking or on foot. You’ll also find pedicabs and have the option of using uber to get around.
It can be difficult to park in Rehoboth and much of the city is permit parking in the summer months. This means you will need a parking permit to avoid getting a parking violation and ticket. It’s very common to take an uber to the beach in order to bring your beach items and get dropped off by the boardwalk.
Robe Trotting Tip: If you’re using a ride-sharing service to get around, expect surge pricing in the afternoon as people leave the beaches and especially close to closing time for bars. Most drivers head into Rehoboth Beach from Wilmington, DE – so there’s a limited number of rides available.
FIVE Things To Do in Rehoboth Beach
While Rehoboth Beach is full of activities, it’s mostly a place to relax and unwind, enjoy the LGBTQ community and let loose in an open and out way. Rehoboth is a party by the ocean that still has all the charm of an east coast beach town.
1. Go To The Beach
For any gay beach destination, you need to learn where you can find your tribe. For most gay men, Rehoboth Beach’s best ocean front tanning location is Poodle Beach.
And it’s more than a fun name, it’s actually got a strategic purpose.
When Rehoboth and the neighboring beach town, Dewey Beach, were being surveyed, there was a forgotten stretch that wasn’t put in the jurisdiction of either municipality. At least that’s the local legend, thus you will be less likely to see any authority figure patrolling the beaches south of the boardwalk. This may sound great if you like to mix a cocktail and bask in the sun, but you should still exercise discretion and follow local laws.
Compared to many gay beaches in Europe and even a few in the USA, there isn’t a lot of cruising during the day. This goes for on the sand or in the water. Most people cluster up with their group of friends and play music under a beach umbrella to sip cocktails.
To find poodle beach, walk onto the boardwalk and head south (that means when the ocean is in front of you, turn right – because geography). At the end of the boardwalk, aptly named Queen Street, you’ll see a sea of speedo-clad men and bright umbrellas. Follow the Lady Gaga music and BOOM, you’re there.
2. Go Shopping
Rehoboth is one of the best places for every type of shopping and one reason is that everything is tax free. You pay exactly what price you see on the item (like every country in the world besides the other 49 states). This makes things a little lighter on your budget, so you can get that extra mimosa at brunch… okay, you where getting it anyway, but now you can afford it.
In Rehoboth Beach itself you have art galleries, vintage stores, hip boutique clothing stores and quirky novelty gift shops. Some of the best are located along Rehoboth Avenue and others are in The Mews between Rehoboth Ave and Baltimore Ave.
If you head out of the downtown area towards Highway 1, you can find shopping center after shopping center of outlet stores. All of the best brand names from Coach to Express have outlets in Rehoboth Beach. No tax and outlet prices — you’re welcome.
3. Experience Rehoboth Beach Gay Nightlife
Let’s be honest, after a full day of checking out guys on the beach, you’ll want to mingle with them at night. The first place to go out is Baltimore Avenue. It’s where most people begin their night for happy hour either after the beach or before dinner.
Robe Trotting Tip: The bars in Rehoboth Beach have last call for serving drinks at 1:00 AM. This means after party culture is big, especially for visitors that rent group houses. Consider that when booking your accommodation.
35 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Blue Moon is a Rehoboth Beach establishment! It’s a wonderful restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner and a great night out for dancing, drag, cabaret or to see and be seen. Even The Real Housewives of Potomac have spent a night out at the Blue Moon – and so should you!
57 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
My first stop of the night is usually Aqua Grill. They do serve food, so you can even make it your dinner. At Aqua you’ll find sexy servers and friendly visitors and locals enjoying the big deck. There’s a DJ on weekend evenings and hightop tables to claim if you go early.
There’s always a crowd and on holiday weekends, it’s PACKED. But that’s part of the fun.
134 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
The Purple Parrot is a beach bar just off the boardwalk on Rehoboth Avenue and it’s a blast. The Parrot has an indoor and outdoor option with a seasonal beer garden. On Sunday nights they host the best drag show in Delaware and the bartenders are an attraction of their own. They serve tasty bar food and it’s a great gay beach bar with a mixed crowd and friendly people.
Diego's Bar and Nightclub
37298 Rehoboth Ave Rehoboth Beach, DE
If you’ve been to Rehomo before, but not for a few years, then you may remember Diego’s as The Double L or the home of MANdance (for many years). It’s gotten a bit of a facelift, like many others in Rehoboth Beach, and it’s just as fun as always. On the weekends you’ll find dancers, go-go boys and DJs, so it still feels like the MANdance era. During happy hour or the weeknights it has more of a small town bar feel with drag, game nights and a traditional pub calendar.
4. Enjoy the Boardwalk
The best Atlantic coast beaches in America have a picturesque boardwalk to stroll. That’s one of my favorite parts of Rehoboth Beach, the wood.
Whether you want to play like a kid again at FUnland and try the arcade games or just get an ice cream and listen to the ocean, it’s a fantastic addition to Rehoboth Beach.
Where the boardwalk meets Rehoboth Avenue, you’ll also find the Rehoboth Beach bandstand. It’s a bandstand of course, and there are free concerts throughout the summer that give you a non-bar related nightlife activity.
5. Pamper Yourself
One things I love about Rehoboth Beach is that it can be a party town where you hang out on the beach all day and hit the bars at night, but you can still find ways to relax. Pamper yourself at the beach as a reminder that you’re on vacation.
Truth be told, I got my first-ever pedicure at Rehoboth Beach and I don’t know why I waited so long. Since then I always made a point to visit the salon and day spa, Bad Hair Day?, to get a little pampering before I start my weekend.
FOUR Things To Eat in Rehoboth Beach
You’ll find a lot to put in your mouth during a trip to Rehoboth Beach. Here are the best places to experience the food variety.
1. Nicola Pizza
71 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Nicola Pizza is one of the most famous spots in Rehoboth Beach. It’s hardly the only pizza place, but it’s my personal favorite and a great spot for late-night food, and groups. There are two locations in Rehoboth Beach, but the original Nicola Pizza is on Rehoboth Avenue.
2. Dueling Sushi - Which Will You Crown the Winner?
Sushi is such a good meal at the beach. I guess because it’s seafood and it’s also light.
In Rehoboth there are two great sushi restaurants that each offer something different. Everyone has their favorite and it’s tough to make a proper recommendation so I’ll just tell you about both and let you pick your preference.
Stingray Sushi Bar + Asian Grill
59 Lake Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Stingray is delicious – there’s no other way to put it. They have perfected traditional and creative sushi and Asian dishes with a fusion flare. The ambiance is gorgeous inside of the restaurant and the staff are excellent. When it comes to the two, I have to say that the sushi is marginally better at Stingray… but it’s not that simple of a choice.
The Cultured Pearl
301 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
The Pearl is such a gem. It’s also a great Japanese restaurant on multiple levels in a prime location on Rehoboth Avenue. While the food is great, I do think Stingray edges them out, but it’s still delicious.
Their staff is also wonderful, but what REALLY sets them apart is the space itself. Most notable, the outdoor deck on top of The Cultured Pearl is a 15,000 gallon koi pond. They’ve installed wooden boardwalks around the ponds with gazebos. The rooftop especially gives them a bonus that’s makes the comparison tough. You’ll have to decide on your own.
3. Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
If you like craft beer, you should visit a Delaware staple – Dogfish Head. You can try their house-brewed beers and then pick through their menu of foods that pair brilliantly with what’s on tap. They can accommodate larger groups and often have live music and events in case delicious food and craft beer isn’t enough for you.
4. Salt Air
50 Wilmington Ave, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Salt Air is a high-end restaurant with a farm-to-table menu and delicious meals. The food is SERIOUSLY good and the menu changes seasonally. I first went there for New Years dinner and returned the following summer and received the same level of service and cuisine.
THREE Rehoboth Beach Hotels To Stay in
I’ll give you excellent places to stay for varying budgets but the most important thing you need to know is to BOOK EARLY. This is especially true for any holiday weekend.
If you’re not used to American beach holidays, the biggest ones are Memorial Day weekend in late May and July 4th weekend. Labor Day in early September is also a big beach weekend and there are several events in Rehoboth Beach that weekend.
TWO Instagram Spots in Rehoboth Beach
Are you even in Rehoboth Beach if you don’t put it all over social media?
Actually… this can be a little annoying when all of your friends are gay men from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC.
BUT STILL, you need to know where to go for those perfect instagram spots and here are my suggestions.
Cape Henlopen State Park
North of Rehoboth Beach is one of Delaware’s most beautiful state parks. It’s Cape Henlopen State Park and a great day trip from Rehoboth Beach.
The southernmost point of the park is about two miles if you walk on the beach from Rehoboth. Then it’s about another 3 miles to the tip of the cape – so it’s a long trip on sand by foot. There’s also a bike path from Rehoboth, so if you have access to a bike or rent one that’s a much shorter way to get there.
The state park is located where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay so there’s a lot of natural beauty. It also encompasses a retired military installation that was built to fortify the beaches in the event of a German invasion during WWII. You’ll find towers and bunkers up and down the coast which make great photo opportunities to fill your IG grid and story.
The Rehoboth Beach Water Tower
Okay, okay, okay, I know it’s a bit odd and maybe even corny BUT the Rehoboth Beach water tower is pretty cool. You can see it from most areas of downtown Rehoboth, so it’s gonna be in your instagram whether you like it or not.
You can see it from the deck of Aqua or walking along Rehoboth Avenue to Dogfish Head so why not pose with it. It may be the font or the shape, but I just kind of love the water tower, so please tag us in any Rehoboth water tower photo you take @robe_trotting!
ONE Insider Tip About Rehoboth Beach
Gay Beaches at The North Shores
Poodle beach is great, but it tends to be occupied by pretty gay men. There’s another gay beach in the opposite direction on the north side of Rehoboth Beach called Whiskey Beach.
It’s popular with lesbians and bears with gay and straight families sprinkled between. To get there you’ll have to drive or Uber to Gordon’s State Park and head north on Ocean Drive. You can also walk a mile north of the end of Rehoboth boardwalk.
There’s a dividing jetty once you park and enter the beach. Men usually head north while women head left, but most days it’s pretty mixed on these north shore beaches.
Now You Know Everything About Rehoboth Beach
This should give you a good idea of what to expect and how to make the most of a Rehoboth Beach gay vacation.
The best thing about Rehoboth Beach is that it has something for everyone. It’s a community, there’s a deep LGBT history in the town and it’s emblematic of the America that is tolerant, progressive and diverse. This enclave of queer spaces in a popular family beach destination is inspiring.
What do you think of Rehoboth Beach? What did we miss? Let us know your thoughts and YOUR tips in the comments below!