As news of the pandemic spread last year, fears were heightened, both spring and summer trips were canceled, and my family grieved our annual trip to Rehoboth Beach in early spring 2020.
To be honest, we only just started the trip in 2019. My family is small and our traditions are young, but they mean a lot to us. My daughters Blair and Harper are both elementary school age and attend the same institution here in our home of Baltimore city, which gives them the advantage of having the same days off, spring break included.
In 2019, on a whim I booked reservations for both my daughters, myself and my mother, their grandmother, to stay at Atlantic Sands Hotel & Conference Center on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk at Baltimore Avenue. I booked just one night and should have known better. By the sunset of our first and only night, we were enchanted with Rehoboth Beach.
We were compelled by the friendliness of the people, the delicious Nic-o-bolis at Nicola Pizza on First Street and the affordable shopping at Tanger Outlets and many small, locally owned shops along the Boardwalk. In our enchanted haste, we booked just one more night in Rehoboth Beach in 2019, and guess what? Then we booked a third.
It was clear that just two and a half hours away from home, we had found a spot to call our own at least once a year. We returned later that summer of 2019 and the pace of the town had definitely increased with tourists such as ourselves, but honestly, Rehoboth feels like a second home, so the word “tourist” doesn’t even feel right.
In 2020, when my daughters asked about a safe return to Rehoboth, the answer I gave was a sharp “no.” The uncertainty of the pandemic just wouldn’t allow me or any of us to move farther than the grocery store and back home. We went to a couple of sandy shores, parks, and destinations around Maryland in the hopes of quenching my thirst for Dolle's Candyland and a good windy day for kite flying, but to no avail.
Finally, a light shone with the vaccine and decreasing case numbers in some spots in the United States in 2021, so a trip back to Rehoboth seemed feasible in my mind. I pondered on it for several weeks as the girls’ spring break approached.
On the morning of March 29, I woke my mother up and asked, “Do you think we should go to Rehoboth today?” She answered excitedly, saying she would make the sandwiches for the trip. I moved things around in my calendar, booked two nights at Atlantic Sands in a room with a view of the water, and we headed for the beach. The scenic stretch of roads lined by farms, power lines and small towns on the way to Rehoboth is like something out of a movie.
This year’s visit looked a little different from those in 2019. Dolle’s Candyland has moved from its iconic location on the boardwalk. Nicola Pizza is working at a limited capacity and so we had to get takeout, which was very yummy. Masks were required along the Boardwalk, but we are so happy that we went.
The day we arrived we beelined it for the sand, bringing the one blanket still sitting in the trunk of my truck awaiting a return to the beach. On our second day, I watched the sunrise and later bought the girls pails and shovels from Ryan’s Beach Shop as well as woven blankets for our beach time, and I even caught a nap while listening to the waves of the Atlantic crash against the shore.
We tried an eatery called The Pines, and all of us were blown away by how dynamic the dishes were. I had mushroom risotto and scallops that I’m sure will be calling me back well before 2022.
If you’re feeling nervous about a return to Delaware or Rehoboth Beach, there is no need. Everyone is being super safe. There’s sanitizer everywhere. Bring some disinfectant wipes for the trip, but stay home if you’re having symptoms. The beach isn’t going anywhere. It was right where my family and I left it, ready for us to pick up our tradition. Year two down, many more to go for these Baltimore girls who love a couple of nights’ stay on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach.