Coastal Delaware is a beehive of activity during the warm weather months, particularly during the traditional Memorial Day to Labor Day summer tourist season. Visitors descend on the area in large numbers every year, flocking to places like the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, Lewes Beach and the "quiet resorts" of Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island.
And just across the state line rests Ocean City, Maryland's second largest city during the summer months.
But what about when Labor Day has come and gone and most of the part-time visitors have left for home, either returning to school or to the daily work routine?
Well, that's what we're going to talk about today in our latest blog entry - and trust us, you're going to want to hear what we have to say.
Let's first start with the most obvious question, and that pertains to the 26 miles of picturesque Atlantic coastline that Delaware's coastal region is most known for.
Well, guess what? The beaches don't just disappear after Labor Day - far from it!
The day after Labor Day is the beginning of what coastal Delaware natives, and those who have lived here for years, like to call "locals summer," the most popular time of the year for full-time residents to enjoy the sandy shores of the Atlantic.
The weather is still nice, the water remains warm and it's must less crowded. And in most places, the parking meters have been covered up for the season, so you don't even need a pocket full of quarters, or a credit card, to park your car and stroll to the beach or the boardwalk.
Most of the shops along Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach, Second Street in Lewes, Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach and many other shopping destinations are still open, as are many locations on the Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach and Ocean City boardwalks.
In short, it's a great time of the year to hit the beach. We do it, our friends and clients do it, and so do a few others who are "in the know" about this fabulous time to enjoy the Delaware and Maryland beaches.
If you haven't yet enjoyed and experienced "locals summer," the month of September is a great time to do so - you won't be disappointed!
The other major thing that makes autumn such a great time to visit the beaches is the absolute bounty of fall festivals on the calendar, in both Delaware and Maryland.
This has really become a major appeal to the area in recent years, with every weekend filled with fun and exciting events to attend and take part in.
Let's hit a few of the highlights:
Nanticoke Indian Powwow
Held every year on the weekend after Labor Day, the Nanticoke Indian Powwow is one of the more popular and widely-attended events in Sussex County.
Though the gatherings date back many decades, the powwow, in its current form, has become a major festival in southern Delaware since its rebirth in the late 1970s. Today, thousands of people come from the First State and several neighboring states to enjoy two days of music, dancing, fellowship and culture.
It is also the major fundraiser for the Nanticoke Indian Association ― money raised at the event goes to support the tribe in many ways, including maintenance of their museum. It's a great event and is guaranteed fun for the entire family.
Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival
This annual arts festival in Bethany Beach is held the weekend after Labor Day and generally features more than 100 artisans from throughout the country.
Jewelry, glass, pottery, watercolor paintings, oil paintings, photography, woodworking and more are on display, with the surf of the Atlantic Ocean serving as the backdrop.
Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest
Produced by the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, this free event has been held for more than 40 years on the beach, between Brooklyn Avenue and Hickman Street.
The contest is open to both adults and children, and some of the sculptures are quite extraordinary.
Ocean City Sunfest
The annual Sunfest in Ocean City features four fun-filled days of musical entertainment, kid’s activities, great food and much more.
Featuring lots of vendors and top notch entertainment, it's free to attend and is held at the inlet parking lot in Ocean City.
Coast Day/Boast the Coast Day
The University of Delaware and the Lewes Chamber of Commerce hold separate maritime-related events every year on the first weekend in October.
The University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes hosts its popular, long-running Coast Day festivities, which focuses on the wonders of the sea and the importance of Delaware’s marine and coastal resources.
The event began more than 40 years ago and features hands-on exhibits, lectures, ship tours, crab races, a crab cook-off, a boat show and much more.
Making Coast Day weekend even greater is the Lewes Chamber of Commerce’s annual Boast the Coast maritime festival, held the day before the University of Delaware’s event.
Begun as a complement to Coast Day in 1995, Boast the Coast Day has become a major event for the Lewes Chamber of Commerce.
Greyhounds Reach the Beach
If you own a greyhound or just want to see a couple hundred of them roaming the area beaches, be sure to visit Dewey Beach in October, as the Greyhound Project, Inc., holds its annual Greyhounds Reach the Beach event.
Designed as a way to bring greyhound adoption group members together in one place, Dewey Beach has been the home of the event since 1994.
Apple Scrapple Festival
The Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville has become a big autumn festival in the western reaches of the county.
The event began more than 25 years ago when Bridgeville residents began discussing ways to promote the town and the area's agriculture industry.
The festival has grown from 2,500 visitors in 1992 to more than 25,000 now. It has become a major fundraiser for local community organizations and helps elevate awareness of the agricultural profession in southern Delaware.
Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival
The Rehoboth Beach Autumn Jazz Festival holds its annual event every October in Rehoboth Beach.
The festival continues to grow more diversified each year, encompassing traditional and contemporary sounds, as well as the heritage side of Jazz music.
Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler’s Festival
For a frightening good time the week before Halloween, be sure to visit the annual Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddler’s Festival in Rehoboth Beach.
Organized by the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, the event boasts three days of fun-filled activities for the young, and the young at heart. The highlight of the festival continues to be the parade down Rehoboth Ave., which is held the Saturday of the festival.
Sussex County Return Day
Sussex County Return Day is a unique slice of America you just can’t witness anywhere else. Dating back to as early as 1792, the event features a parade and festival in Georgetown two days after Election Day.
Stemming from colonial times when the public would congregate two days after the election to hear the results – because it would take that long to deliver them to the courthouse by horseback – the day is marked by a traditional parade around The Circle and the ceremonial burial of the hatchet by leaders of the county’s political parties. The hatchet is buried in sand from nearby Lewes, the original county seat of Sussex.
During the ceremony, the town crier appears on the balcony of the County Courthouse and reads the results of the election in Sussex County because, as he says, they're the “only results that matter.”
Screams at the Beach
Located between Georgetown and Lewes, on the grounds of Sports at the Beach, this award-winning Halloween attraction is one of the best in the entire mid-Atlantic.
Open on Friday and Saturday nights during the Halloween season, this popular attraction features five haunts in total, all centered around the haunted village of All Hallows.
The complex is located about three miles east of the Georgetown Circle on Route 404. Just look for the hearse sitting on the side of the road, and make your way back to the ticket booth located in one of the parking lots.
In short, September and October are great times to visit the Delaware and Maryland beaches, when they're a bit less crowded, yet still open for business.
Enjoy "locals summer" everyone!