Your Guide to Nightlife at the Delaware Beaches
Where to rock out, chill out and dance the night away.
Eric Lindell plays Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth Beach.//Photo by Joe del Tufo
When the sun sets over the bay, the entertainment scene starts to heat up. The beaches boast a vibrant nightlife, with options for all ages. There are so many, in fact, that Chris Maliszewski, president of Resorts Entertainment sound company, created the Get Out mobile app so users can get the skinny on the go.
“On weekends and even weekdays, you can find open mic nights, trivia and bands,” says Maliszewski, who’s been working at the beach since the 1990s. “Many places didn’t even exist 10 years ago.”
Irish Eyes Restaurant & Pub has long been a destination for live music in Milton and Lewes. In Milton, you might see The Stims or Harbor Town Band. In Lewes, performers have included locals Ed Shockley and Keith Mack, as well as classic rock groups and three-piece dance bands.
Both Milton and Lewes stage concert series. Lewes’ free concerts take place in Stango Park on Tuesdays, June 13-Aug. 29. Milton holds concert series on Wednesdays May 31-Aug. 30 in Milton Memorial Park. This season’s performers include classic rockers, country swing band Big Hat, No Cattle, military bands, a big band and more.
Crooked Hammock Brewery (16989 Kings Hwy., Lewes, 644-7837) features live music every Friday and Saturday night all year long, but now that the weather is warm, the crew rolls up the garage door-style windows so customers can move from the bar to the beer garden stage. You might find two acts in an evening, including locals faves such as Matthew Street Band and Lower Case Blues. While you’re enjoying the tunes, the kids can play Corn Hole and table tennis.
Bethany Blues (18385 Coastal Hwy., Lewes, 644-2500) is so close to Crooked Hammock that you can go back and forth between the two. Artists such as Clifford Keith Band perform in the bar area, and its new open mic night, hosted by longtime local rockers, was a hit right out of the box.
Any Saturday night at The Gray Hare Tavern (18766 John J. Williams Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 645-9911) features live entertainment and you might hit a doubleheader. The evening could start with a solo artist like Ken Thompson for happy hour, then end with a full band such as Kaotik. There are also karaoke and billiards.
Venture down Del. 24 toward Millsboro to discover a Caribbean retreat in Long Neck. Family oriented Paradise Grill (27344 Bay Road., Millsboro, 945-4500) in the Pot-Nets Bayside community, has several stages for live music beside the water.
Between Lewes and Rehoboth, Big Chill Surf Cantina (19406 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 727-5568) has live music Thursday through Sunday by longtime locals such as the bluesy-soulful-funky Teletones. Big Chill is the hotspot for hospitality industry workers. After 10 p.m., the place starts to hop with servers and bartenders just off work.
In downtown Rehoboth Beach, The Cultured Pearl (301 Rehoboth Ave., 227-8493) has live entertainment on Friday evenings beginning at 7 p.m. Artists include vocalist Kerensa Gray and local rocker-made-good Cliff Hillis.
Across the street, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats (320 Rehoboth Ave., 226-2739) has consistently featured cutting-edge, nationally recognized bands and artists. The new building has a 10-by-22-foot stage, a premium sound and lighting system, and a professional soundboard that makes favorites like Philly-based alt-rock band Pet Cheetah sound even better.
Music plays such a key role at Conch Island Key West Bar and Grill (207 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-9378), guitars flank the restaurant logo on its website. You might see Tony Mowen, a Beatles tribute band or Matt Avery.
For those who love to dance, the new G Cask & Kitchen (234 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach) will have DJs seven days a week in the summer.
After the dinner crowd departs, the glam gets going at Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave., 227-6515), where a parade of female impersonators will sing like your favorite divas. You might also find Pamela Stanley tickling the ivories during happy hour. Her cabaret show features a performance of jazz standards, Broadway classics and disco hits.
If you want more of the drag experience, stroll to The Purple Parrot (134 Rehoboth Ave., 226-1139) on Sunday nights. The Birdcage Bad Girls Drag Show is a classic. The karaoke on Thursday, Friday and Saturday can be just as entertaining.
For a cluster of entertainment options in one place, few towns can beat Dewey Beach. The legendary Bottle & Cork (1807 Coastal Hwy., 227-7272) regularly books national and international headliners. This summer’s lineup features Rusted Root and the Old 97’s, plus tribute bands such as Badfish (Sublime), dark Star Orchestra (Grateful Dead) and Who’s Bad (Michael Jackson). You’ll also find homegrown talent like reggae band Spokey Speaky. Wear comfortable shoes for the standing-room events.
The Starboard (2009 Coastal Hwy., 227-4600) is another icon for cool libations and hot tunes. The venue features live music and DJs. Fridays are fun days at Hammerheads (1818 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach, 227-7325). At 10 p.m., DJ Woody B. starts spinning the tunes. DJs also get the after-dinner action going at Nalu Surf Bar & Grill (1308 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach, 227-1449).
The beat goes on at The Lighthouse in Lighthouse Cove (124 Dickinson St., 227-4333), which boasts a bay view and DJs or live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in season. The venue is on the Jolly Trolley circuit, so you can bop back and forth between Dewey and Rehoboth.
Jimmy’s Grille (Bellevue Street and Highway One, Dewey Beach, 260-9914) is as popular for its entertainment as it is for its fried chicken. Clifford Keith, Shortcut Sonny and Ron Thompson are a few of the artists who perform in the open-air venue.
No list of nightspots is complete without the Rusty Rudder (113 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 227-3888). Generations have danced the night away on the bayside deck. The Rudder is the place for major music festivals and bands such as Love Seed Mama Jump.
Jimmy’s and the Rusty Rudder are part of Highway One hospitality group. So are Northbeach and Ivy, both on Rehoboth Bay. At Northbeach (125 McKinley St., Dewey Beach), you will find country music, acoustic acts, cover bands or a DJ. Ivy (136 Dagsworthy Ave., Dewey Beach, 227-9292) offers a classic dining experience with a water view. But diners turn into dancers when the DJ takes control.
Near Indian River Inlet, the marina location of Hammerheads Dockside (39415 Inlet Road, 752-8010) will make you feel like you’re in the tropics. (The palm trees boost the mood.) Bands here include Lower Case Blues.
Headliners and local artists take turns on The Freeman Stage at Bayside (31750 Lake View Drive, Selbyville, 436-3015). Now in its 10th year, The Freeman Stage has upped its game. The roster this summer includes Chicago, The Wallflowers and Blues Traveler. Tickets to many of the headliner performances sold out the day they went on sale, but, if you’re lucky, you might be able to snag a few.