The Washington Blade hosts its tenth annual summer kickoff party in Rehoboth Beach, Del., this Friday from 5-7 p.m. at the Blue Moon, an event the staff looks forward to all winter. And although the weather is so far not delivering summer temperatures, the town is ready for the season’s crowds.
As always, there’s plenty to do at the beach when you’re not relaxing on the sand. Rehoboth’s restaurant scene continues to draw crowds and attention. Among the changes this year, Blackwall Hitch, which has outposts in Annapolis and Alexandria, is opening soon at 52 Rehoboth Ave. and promises live entertainment in a setting more refined than surrounding T-shirt shops and pizza joints.
The long-popular Nage (19730 Coastal Highway) has been reinvented as Fork + Flask at Nage and features a remodeled interior with much larger bar area. There’s a new menu, too, with more affordable options. Just a few doors down, is the new Jimmy’s Grille opening soon next to Outlet Liquors. Down the highway in Dewey, the iconic Starboard has spun off a new joint, Starboard Raw (2000 Coastal Highway) a 48-seat raw bar that is now open. Chesapeake and Maine (316 Rehoboth Ave.) is a new high-end seafood restaurant and bar from the team behind Dogfish Head. The slick new bar is already drawing crowds as construction begins on the revamped Dogfish Head next door.
A couple of longtime favorites have closed in the off-season — the Seafood Shack on Baltimore Avenue is shuttered and was acquired by the folks who run the Blue Moon across the street. No word yet on when it will reopen or what the new concept will be. And just up the street, Ginger Breneman’s popular Mixx has closed.
Two watering holes frequented by gay and lesbian visitors are under new ownership. The Rehoboth Ale House on Wilmington Avenue is now being operated by Kyle McLaughlin and Adam Newman of Dewey Beach, according to the all-knowing Rehoboth Foodie. Meanwhile, the Double L Bar reopens May 20 under new ownership but will retain its appeal to the leather crowd — and the popular Man Dance event on Saturdays. It will host a “Bear Bust” party from 3-7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, followed by Man Dance at 9 p.m.
Coastal Living magazine just ranked Rehoboth as its No. 2 “happiest seaside town.” A good bit of the credit for that distinction goes to the longtime business owners — many of them gay — who have helped earn Rehoboth such a welcoming reputation. The Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave.) is open seven days a week, serving some of the best food in town on one side of the building, and some of the best live entertainment on the other. The “Queen of Rehoboth” Pamala Stanley continues her residency, performing Sundays-Thursdays from 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday’s “Legends Show” drag performance continues starting at 9:30 p.m.
Purple Parrot’s Biergarten is now open, offering food and drinks in a beachy setting with plenty of happy hour specials. Inside, the gay-owned Parrot (134 Rehoboth Ave.) hosts karaoke Thursday-Saturday 9 p.m.-1 a.m. and the Tara Austin & the Birdcage Badgirls show Sundays at 10 p.m.
The gay-owned Dos Locos (208 Rehoboth Ave.) continues to offer some of the best fajitas and margaritas in town in a festive atmosphere. Its happy hour is among the best in town with $6 martinis and $5 house margaritas.
CAMP Rehoboth, the local LGBT community center, has a full season of events on tap. June 24-26 brings Family Pride CAMP, featuring kid-friendly activities all weekend. Visit camprehoboth.com for more information.
The Rehoboth Beach Bandstand’s 53rd annual summer concert series kicks off May 28 and promises entertainment for all ages every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening starting at 8 p.m. Don’t miss the Neil Diamond tribute band Real Diamond on Aug. 6. Visit rehobothbandstand.com for a full schedule.
Looking for a ride to Rehoboth? BestBus service from D.C. to Rehoboth begins Memorial Day Weekend with two pick-up locations in the city — Union Station and Dupont Circle. One-way fare is $40. There’s a VIP membership program allowing regular riders to earn reward points. Visit bestbus.com for details.
And don’t forget your stylish accessories for the beach. Check out Beach Essentials (33 Baltimore Ave.) for its impressive swimwear selection and don’t miss the nearby Shademakers (33-c Baltimore Ave.) for the season’s most stylish sunglasses and eyewear.