The East Coast places LGBT people often think of when looking to vacation are Provincetown, MA, or Cherry Grove and the Pines on Fire Island, NY. All 100% gay immersion and very expensive. If instead you're hunting for a beautiful resort with a diverse population that is very gay friendly the place to go is Rehoboth Beach, DE which is also more affordable.
Rehoboth was "founded in 1873 as the Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association by the Rev. Robert W. Todd, of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church of Wilmington, Delaware, as a site for Methodist camp meetings in the spirit of similar resorts on the New Jersey shore, such as Ocean Grove. The Camp Meeting Association disbanded in 1881, and in 1891, the location was incorporated by the Delaware General Assembly as "Henlopen City", shortly after which it was renamed Rehoboth Beach."
Today Rehoboth Beach is a vibrant year-round community that grows exponentially during the summer season. It has for years had many LGBT visitors. In 1991 CAMP (Creating a More Positive) Rehoboth was born. CAMP is now a thriving LGBT community center and since its inception the driving forces behind it have been Steve Elkins and his husband Murray Archibald.
According to a Gay history on the CAMP website "Lore has it the DuPont property along the ocean was where Rehoboth's gay nightlife began. In the 1940s, Tallulah Bankhead and Hollywood cronies frolicked at the DuPont mansion and the local art league nurtured a cadre of women painters famous both for their canvases and their close camaraderie." If you have gay life fine dining will follow. "In 1974, three restaurateurs, one gay (Victor Pisapia) and one straight couple (Libby and Ted Fisher), opened The Back Porch restaurant adding fabulous contemporary cuisine to the fried seafood platters in town. In 1980, Pisapia and Joyce Felton opened The Blue Moon, and gay owned and operated restaurants began their ascent." The Moon as it has been dubbed, at 35 Baltimore Avenue, became the anchor for a bustling LGBT scene. CAMP set up their offices next door at 39 Baltimore Avenue and new gay owned and operated restaurants and shops opened adding to the attraction of a mile long boardwalk, white sandy beaches (poodle beach as it is dubbed is the very fun gay section of the beach at the south end of the boardwalk), salt water taffy, cotton candy, and always tempting Thrashers French Fries.
Baltimore Avenue is a two block stretch from the Beach to Second Street. On those two blocks you have a wealth of gay owned and operated places to eat and shop. On the beach block there are two great restaurants. Eden at 23 Baltimore Avenue and its sister restaurant Jam at 21 Baltimore Avenue being the more casual. Both serving fine food.
On the second block is the venerable Blue Moon and new places and old standbys that continue to improve. The Philip Morton Gallery at 47 Baltimore Avenue was opened ten years ago by Philip Livingston owner of Elegant Slumming, 33 Baltimore Avenue, as a fine arts gallery. It then changed hands and became an art gallery. Philip has it again and it's the home of unique accent pieces and the unusual and the unexpected in home furnishings. Philip still also focuses his art and talent on his fine jewelry business at Elegant Slumming.
Stop at the CAMP courtyard and browse the new Brick & Mortar, the creation of Kathy and Lynn. They carry a wide variety of affordable gifts including quality classic tees and hats, local pottery, soaps, and candles. Another great reason to visit the courtyard is Lori's Oy-vey Café this year celebrating its 20th anniversary. Lori Kline escaped to Rehoboth from a life of teaching and opened her café with the goal of providing fresh, quality fare to satisfy any appetite. Stop in and you will see she has succeed royally. Her chicken salad is legendary and today Lori's will even deliver your lunch to the beach.
Walk to the end of the block and on the South side find Hobos Restaurant and Bar, the creation of the very talented Gretchen Hanson. The food is wonderful and has been described as Eco Global Fusion. Hobos celebrates the subtle simplicity of street food from around the world. Across the street is Aqua Grill owned by Bill Shields and his fiancé Andres. Aqua with its huge outdoor deck and hundreds of hot men is the place to be on a summer evening in Rehoboth. From the moment you enter and are welcomed by Mike at the door, or Bill himself if he isn't otherwise occupied, the fun begins. You are approached by one of the hunky friendly waiters like Louis, Eric, Griffin, Cody or Matt among many others who will take your order and bring drinks to you with a smile. Or head to the bar and order a drink from the very hot bar manager Josh. Stay and enjoy dinner from their tasty and affordable menu overseen by Andres or stop in for Sunday brunch.
If you decide to wander off Baltimore Avenue which I suggest you do walk through the Rehoboth Mews and stop at the Coffee Mill for freshly brewed coffee and buy some beans to take home. Then on Rehoboth Avenue stop in at Gidget's Gadgets, 123 Rehoboth Avenue, owned by Steve Fallon for collectables and a wide selection of vinyl records. Cross the street and head to the fantastic ambiance of the Purple Parrot at 134 Rehoboth Avenue. Owners Hugh and Troy have built a restaurant and bar now open year-round serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is great and affordable and the Biergarten is a fun place to hang out. The staff is friendly and with the addition last year of the always hot and fun Chandler behind the bar the Parrot is better than ever.
If you haven't been before make this summer your first visit to Rehoboth Beach and if you have been there go again and bring all your friends.