With another hot weekend on the horizon, it may be time to hop in the car and head to the ever-so-slightly cooler stretches of the Delaware beaches.
Whether it’s been a while since you’ve made the trip or you’re a regular beach bum, you may have some questions before you go. No worries: We’ve got you covered.
Delaware Online/The News Journal has been following the latest news at the Delaware beaches all summer, and we’ve rounded up a few things to know, ranging from the latest COVID-19 guidance to tips on getting around the intense summer traffic.
For anyone looking to visit the Delaware beaches during the weekend of Aug. 5, check out this guide for the latest information.
Keep cool: Another hot weekend forecast
The Delaware beaches are in the heat of summer − quite literally. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the entire state, with heat indexes reaching the mid-90s even at the beaches starting Thursday through Friday evening.
If planning to find some reprieve at the beach and cool off in the ocean, then make sure to bring the beach umbrellas for shade, wear light and loose-fitting clothing, reapply that sunscreen and drink lots of water.
While the weather is always changing quickly at the Delaware beaches, and it’s wise to check the weather channel or an app before making your way onto the sand, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.
A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms starts in the late afternoon on Friday and continues throughout the evening. But the daytime forecast should still be mostly sunny, and it may be wise to really anchor in those umbrellas due to a southwest wind likely reaching 10 to 15 mph.
The high temperature on Friday is expected to be near 86 with a low around 76 in the evening.
On Saturday, the weather service is predicting about a 40% chance of showers from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the potential for thunderstorms after 3 p.m. Don’t dash those beach dreams quite yet, though. The skies should be mostly sunny during the day with a high near 85.
Saturday evening will bring some more clouds and a low near 76. A chance of thunderstorms and showers persists until about 9 p.m.
As of midweek, the threat of rain and storms seems to disappear by Sunday. Get to the beach early and enjoy the sunny skies, and stay safe in the ongoing heat as the high once again reaches 86. The evening should be partly cloudy with a low around 77.
Staying safe at the beach during COVID-19 spike
With rising hospitalizations and positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state, all three counties in Delaware have reached a high level of community spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Delaware Division of Public Health announced this change at the end of July and encouraged people to wear masks in “indoor public settings” to help prevent further spread.
The average of tests coming back positive as of Aug. 3 was 19.9%, according to DPH data, which does not include at-home testing that is not reported to the state. The state reported that 158 people were hospitalized with COVID at that point.
In the latest report on July 29, public health officials said the hospitalized patients included at least 16 children under the age of five, representing an increase in the number of kids hospitalized with COVID. They remind Delawareans that vaccines are now available for all persons starting at 6 months old, and vaccination is highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
Beyond staying up to date on vaccines, outside activities and get-togethers are still safer than cramming into indoor spaces unmasked, according to DPH.
However, if you do have plans to be indoors or around a lot of people, DPH is suggesting people wear masks, distance as much as possible and keep up a good hand-washing regimen. And if anyone starts to feel sick or knows they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, they should get tested and stay away from others in the meantime.
Here is a roundup of advice to stay vigilant and avoid COVID this summer:
- Get vaccinated and boosted when you’re eligible. And don’t wait until the fall when the updated vaccines are expected to be available. You will likely still be eligible for those boosters then.
- Stay home if sick and get tested if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Wear a mask indoors in public and if you are at higher risk for illness.
- Stay informed and turn to reliable sources for data, information, and treatment options.
Visit de.gov/coronavirus to schedule free vaccines and/or boosters.
Fine Art Fridays and Elton John tribute in Rehoboth Beach this weekend
Before you head to the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand on Saturday night to catch the popular Elton John tribute show Yellow Brick Road, there are a few other arts-themed events happening around the Nation’s Summer Capital that you may want to know about.
On Friday, the Developing Artist Collaboration is hosting Fine Art Fridays at the Creative Market in West Rehoboth, 19826 Central Street near Revelation Craft Brewing, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Local artists showcase a themed exhibit, and people can browse the artwork while enjoying live music from Bethlehem & Sad Patrick and savory treats from the Grandpa Mac food truck. The free event also includes cocktails for purchase and a DIY craft bar.
The Rehoboth Art League is also kicking off its signature summer event this weekend. The Outdoor Fine Art and Fine Craft Show lasts for two weekends, starting this Saturday and ending next Sunday, Aug. 14.
Beyond a fine art show, this popular celebration includes food, live music, artist demonstrations, gallery exhibits, beautiful gardens, the historic Peter Marsh Homestead and a Dogfish Head Beer Garden.
There is a weekend ticket price of $5 per adults and no charge for children under the age of 12.
MORE FUN ACTIVITIES:Riding on fumes? 15 free events you can enjoy this summer with your family
Beach parking and transportation
All resort towns from Lewes to Fenwick Island have their seasonal parking rules in place this summer.
Rehoboth Beach now has a universal $3 per hour rate throughout the city, and Lewes is charging $1.50 downtown and $2.50 at the beaches.
Lewes has several free non-metered parking lots listed on its website, as well as metered lots and spaces on side streets.
When visiting Delaware State Parks like Cape Henlopen, parking is included in the entrance fee. However, it’s wise to check the parks’ Facebook pages where staff will post whether the park is closed due to full parking.
In Dewey Beach, parking is free in all permit-only and metered spaces Monday through Wednesday from 5 to 11 p.m. only. All other days and times, you must pay to park on public streets.
(These free parking times coincide with family-friendly movie nights and bonfires in Dewey, events that continue throughout the summer).
Fenwick Island and South Bethany mostly require permits to park, but Fenwick offers free parking on its side streets after 4 p.m.
In Bethany Beach, all spaces are either metered or require a permit through Sept. 15.
Many of these towns and cities offer payment through the ParkMobile app.
For more about parking (or State Park fees), visit each beach town’s website:
Consider taking the Beach Bus
Want to forget about parking or paying for gas? Take a bus to the beach. Parking is free at the park and rides in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
The Beach Bus has already started its routes and will continue seven days a week until Sept. 11. The stops include Rehoboth Beach and the Boardwalk, Lewes, Long Neck, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, Ocean City in Maryland, Millsboro and Georgetown.
The cost to ride the bus is $2 per trip, $4 for a daily pass, $16 for a seven-day pass or $60 for a 30-day pass.
Traveling from northern Delaware or Kent County? The 305 Beach Connection from Wilmington to Rehoboth Beach started last weekend. It runs Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through Sept. 5.
Riders taking this bus will pay $6 for one-way trips from Wilmington, Christiana Mall and Odessa and $4 from Dover and South Frederica. A daily pass is $10 from New Castle County and $8 from Kent County.
If traveling around Bethany Beach, the town also offers a trolley with a single route that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and costs 25 cents per trip.
In Lewes, the new seasonal transit option Lewes Line cost $1 per ride. Stops include the two municipal beaches, downtown locations, the library and more. To learn more, visit www.ci.lewes.de.us/363/Lewes-Line.
What to expect at restaurants, beach businesses
After a record-breaking summer in 2021, business owners were bracing for what this season would bring. So far, business owners and chamber of commerce leaders say this summer has been busy: People are booking hotels, buying ice cream and eating out.
Early signs show that travel trends seem to be returning to expected pre-pandemic levels, and multiple hotel managers said d more visitors are spontaneously planning trips to the beach this year, rather than planning a long way out.
With these crowds comes the same but ever-important advice: Have patience, folks.
Some restaurants, bars, and others in the service industry are still facing staffing shortages and limiting their hours to preserve the staff they do have. While some iconic businesses, like Funland in Rehoboth Beach, are getting more help from international students than in the past two years, several other factors are impacting the seasonal labor shortage this year – especially a lack of affordable housing.
It may be wise to make early reservations, follow your favorite spots on social media or call ahead to stay updated on any changes.
As far as outdoor dining, many beach towns found ways to continue that in the 2022 season, but that popularity may mean you have to wait longer for those coveted patio seats, too.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at email@example.com or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.