While there are a number of beach towns in Delaware, there’s only one where you can hop on a trolley for a quarter to travel back and forth from the beach to the downtown area. And this nod to tradition is just one of the things that keeps bringing visitors back to Bethany Beach.

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The Chief Little Owl totem, carved by Peter Wolf Toth, greets visitors to Bethany Beach./Wayne Lyons

“While our beautiful beach is the No. 1 draw,” said Julie Malewski, events director and media coordinator for the Town of Bethany Beach, “we’re also known for being a quiet resort where families can feel good about coming and spending time together.”

While there are about 1,000 year-round residents in Bethany Beach, crowds can swell to 25,000 in the summertime. “The main draw is the number of family homes and rental properties we have available; some people come the same week every year and plan their stay around our events,” said Malewski.

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The Poseidon Festival will run from May 28-31 this year, and includes live sand sculpting./Lori Staniewicz

While Bethany Beach has always been considered a summer resort, the area has begun holding more events in the spring and fall shoulder seasons to let people take advantage of the mild weather. These include a seven-month-long concert series, which draws roughly 40 bands and acts to the bandstand, as well as bonfires on the beach, movies on the beach and child-oriented entertainment. Malewski added that the town tries to provide a diverse range of entertainment to please everyone from toddlers to grandparents.

The area is best known for its huge Fourth of July event and for its Seaside Craft Show, which attracts thousands to the one-day, juried craft show for fine crafters. The Poseidon Festival is also a big draw, offering island-themed entertainment while also providing coastal safety information.

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More than 40 bands and acts perform at the Bethany Beach bandstand during the town’s seven-month concert series./Town of Bethany Beach

Held on Memorial Day weekend, the Poseidon Festival includes a Jimmy Buffett tribute band and pirate and mermaid-themed activities, featuring a live mermaid tank. “We also provide marine science education,” said Malewski. “All of the events are meant not just to entertain, but to inform.”

In addition to the beach, the area offers great outdoor opportunities at the Bethany Beach Nature Center, located on a historic property that includes trails and activities for kids and adults to explore. The Bethany Beach History Museum, which will reopen in July in its new location inside a historic home, documents what it was like living in Bethany Beach in the early 1900s.


The Poseidon Festival includes a pirate and mermaid parade, as well as a mermaid tank booth./Town of Bethany Beach

“We also have a lot of little specialty shops and great restaurants, which is a big draw,” said Malewski. “For such a small town, we have a nice diversity; you can have Italian one night, barbecue the next, Mexican the next; and, of course, seafood.”

While the town offers all of the modern amenities, it has worked hard to preserve its original charm.

“It’s very comfortable,” said Malewski. “People are welcoming and they like to help each other and support local businesses. You just feel good when you visit.”

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