A natty, new look

After four years of construction along its main drag, Rehoboth Beach is especially ready for its annual seasonal close-up. There's a refurbished bandstand at the boardwalk for evening concerts, a new high-end hotel scheduled to open by the end of the summer and a new farmers' market setting up in the park behind the visitors' center.

It's yet another new chapter for a destination that's had as many incarnations as Madonna -- Rehoboth Beach started as a Methodist prayer camp, has been known as a gay mecca, and now sees its share of families.

HotelsRehoboth has lots of choices in accommodations, from beachfront hotel rooms to off-the-beaten-path cottages. Extensive listings can be found at Rehobothtoday.com, beach-fun.com and beach-net.com. A few places worth mentioning:

• Hotel Rehoboth, 247 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-4300; hotelRehoboth .com. The hotel is scheduled to open in August with 53 suites.

• Brighton Suites Hotel, 34 Wilmington Ave., 800-227-5788; brightonsuites.com. This is an affordable, close-to-the-beach option for families. It has a small indoor pool (key for those rainy days). The upside: 66 suites that offer separate but adjoining space for adults and kids. The downside: paper-thin walls. Rates: $139-$299.

• The Lighthouse Inn, 20 Delaware Ave., 302-226-0407; light houseinn.net. A cozy bed-and-breakfast half a block from the boardwalk. There are four rooms in the main house; a private cottage sleeps four and rents for a minimum of three nights, breakfast not included. Wine and cheese are served Saturdays in season. Rates: $135-$225.

RestaurantsDining in Rehoboth runs the gamut from guilty-pleasure beach eats to Mediterranean tapas to Asian fare. Here's a short list of what's on the menu this season:

• The Pig & Fish, 236 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-7770. A sleek new restaurant decorated with - you guessed it - pigs and fish. Entrees range from $15.95-$23.95.

• The Cultured Pearl, 301 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-8493. This popular, pretty Japanese-American restaurant with fine sushi is due to move this month from its former Wilmington Avenue spot to space in a new retail complex. With entrees priced $21-$38, there will be rooftop dining, along with a waterfall and the koi pond its regular diners will remember.

• Fisher's Popcorn, 48 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-2691. The maker of the famous Ocean City caramel corn is opening a downtown Rehoboth store.

• Vine, 203 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-VINE. A new name and concept for the sushi restaurant Abstractions, which will addwine-focused menu items, more wines by the glass, wine tastings and wine dinners.

• Oby Lee Coffee Roastery, 722 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-6278. A funky place to stop for java, huge cinnamon rolls or sandals from Maui. There's a fireplace, which comes in handy if the weather is dreary.

NightlifeRehoboth and nearby Dewey Beach have lots to do when the sun goes down. For up-to-the-minute schedules, go to Web sites such as deweybeachlife.com and beach-fun.com.

• Concert series. A free summer concert series is offered Thursdays through Sundays at the Rehoboth Beach bandstand from the middle of June through Labor Day. Check the lineup at Rehobothband stand.com.

• Dogfish Head Brewing Co., 320 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-2739; dog fish.com. This spot offers a steady calendar of live music.

• The Bottle and Cork, 1807 Highway One, Dewey Beach, 302-227-7272. Features more than 100 national, regional and local acts from May to October. Buddy Guy and the Pat McGee Band are scheduled to appear this summer.

• The Rusty Rudder, 113 Dickinson Street and the Bay, Dewey Beach, 302-227-3888. Offers live calypso music with the Island Boyz daily from 4 p.m. to at least 9 p.m., May to September.

ShoppingHere are some of the newer places open and some about to open in downtown Rehoboth. Offerings include funky items for the beach house, athletic equipment and unique outfits for nights on the town.

• Amandeline Gallery, 403 Rehoboth Ave., 302-226-0330. Whimsical pieces of art and home accessories in a pretty house gallery.

• Blooming Boutique, 70 Rehoboth Ave., First Street Station, 302-226-1216. A new branch of a Lewes, Del., store, the boutique will feature unique handbags, many of them festooned with flowers.

• Saltwater Mama, 42 Rehoboth Ave, Penny Lane Mall, 302-227-6818. Offers stylish maternity beach wear, along with strollers and other infant gear.

• Rehoboth Beach Running Co., 251 Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-4848. A new shop devoted to all things running, including running shoes and energy bars. It will be a home base for information about running events.

• Blair Elizabeth, 110D Rehoboth Ave., 302-227-3363. Offers home accessories and gifts, with serving pieces by Beatriz Ball; lamps by Stray Dog Designs; hand-painted glassware and handmade jewelry.

• Farmers' market. Look for the new Rehoboth Farmers' Market to bring local produce and other goods on Tuesday afternoons to Grove Park, Columbia Avenue and Grove Street.

Fun • Pirates of Lewes Expeditions, Anglers Marina, 400 Angler Road, Lewes, 302-249-3538; piratesoflewes expeditions.com. Here's your chance (and your kid's) to make like a pirate in Lewes, which Captain Kidd once visited. The fee of $20 per passenger includes a 70-minute cruise with mock battle, face painting and the priceless opportunity to dress up like a pirate. Reservations are a must; trips require at least 16 passengers and at least one responsible parent.

• Distillery tour, 6 Cannery Village Center, 302-684-1000. When you're not listening to live music at Dogfish Head, you can tour its Rehoboth distillery or its brewery in nearby Milton. Check dogfish.com for times.

• Kids Cottage, 35448 Wolfeneck Road, 888-556-5437, kidscot tage.com. Need baby-sitting for the young ones while you shop or eat at a grown-up restaurant? Kids Cottage offers drop-in baby-sitting with a colorful indoor play area.


Bethany BeachTreats for all, including dogs

The Bethany Beach area lives up to its billing as a "quiet resort," but that doesn't mean nothing ever changes. In fact, several new places to eat and shop are cropping up this season. Here are just a few of them:

• Berry Good Treats, 108 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, 302-537-9679. This downtown ice-cream/doughnut shop has been renovated and is under new management. It also has an outdoor water station for dogs and serves Frosty Paws frozen dog treats.

• Steakhouse 26, 238 Atlantic Ave., Millville, 302-539-0626. Serves steak and seafood. Entrees are $15-$26.

• The Chalkboard Tavern and Grille, Route 1, Marketplace at Sea Colony, Bethany Beach, 302-539-7482. This new restaurant offers a weekend breakfast buffet and live music. Entrees are $13-$29.

• NorthEast Seafood Kitchen, 29F Atlantic Ave., Ocean View, 302-537-1785. Restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and regional beers. Entrees are $16 to $26.

• Delaware Arts, 12 Ocean Bay Plaza, Fenwick Island, 302-537-0411. A new art gallery featuring originals and prints from regional artists.


EventsMaySpring Sidewalk Sale // Rehoboth and Dewey Beach areas / 800-441-1329, ext. 12. May 18-20. Numerous retailers offer discounts on last season's merchandise.

JuneBethany Beach Seaside Craft Show // Boardwalk, Bethany Beach / 302-539-8011 or townof bethanybeach.com/events. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 2. Juried craft show featuring pottery, glass, metal, wood, fiber works and more. Free.

Paint Out 2007 // Various Rehoboth Beach locations / 302-227-8408. June 22-24. Dozens of artists will set up and paint outdoors, throughout the town, then sell their works at an art show June 24 at the Bellmoor Inn, 6 Christian St.

JulyRehoboth Beach Fireworks Show // Boardwalk and shoreline, Rehoboth Beach / 302-227-2772 or rehomain.com/fireworks.html. Fireworks begin about 9:15 p.m. July 4. Live music on the bandstand at 8 p.m. with the U.S. Navy's jazz ensemble, the Commodores, and at 9:45 p.m. with the Funsters.

Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks // Bethany Beach / 302-539-8011 or townof bethanybeach.com. Parade begins at noon from Philadelphia and Garfield streets. Awards for the best float are handed out at 7:15 p.m. Fireworks begin about 9:20 p.m. Free.

AugustSand Castle Contest // Fisherman's Beach at the north end of Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk / 800-441-1329, ext. 12. Aug. 4. The 29th annual contest features various categories. Free.

SeptemberMain Street Aquathlon // Rehoboth bandstand / 302-227-7667 or surfracersports.com. 8 a.m. Sept. 2. Half-mile swim in the Atlantic Ocean and 5K run. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Rehoboth Beach Main Street Organization. $15 walker; $35 individual; $40 team.

Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival // Boardwalk and adjacent street, Bethany Beach / 800-962-SURF. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 8. Juried show with more than 100 artists and craftsmen showing and selling their work, live music, silent auction, more. Free.

kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

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