I grew up spending lots of vacation time in sleepy little beach towns over summer break.
We’d stay a week in Litchfield, SC, just south of Myrtle Beach, with my dad’s side of the family every June. “The Timmons” cottage slept 10 of us comfortably, but without any frills or fanciness. It sat right on the beach—we had our own walkway across the dunes and right out to the soft, white sand—and the entire inside of the house was filled with knotty pine (walls and all).
Its furniture could’ve lived just as easily outside as it did inside, and yet it was super comfortable. You could come in, kick up your feet, and not worry about destroying anything. As kids, it was grand. As an adult, I’d imagine not having to worry about kid destruction on someone else’s furniture was equally as awesome.
Then, every August, we’d spend three weeks in Groton Long Point (GLP), CT, with my mother’s family at my grandparents’ shore house. GLP was exactly what you’d picture out of a New England beach town: lots of cedar shake, plenty of Izod golf shirts, and so. much. seafood.
We rode bikes everywhere on the point, arriving home when it got dark, in exactly the same fashion kids did back in the ’50s, I’d imagine. We spent most days swimming in the cooooooold Atlantic Ocean a long block away, looking for sea glass, jumping off the dock into the lagoon (a.k.a. Venetian Harbor), going for long evening walks, and visiting the Casino (no, not that kind of casino; it’s an old school soda shop that’s part of the GLP Yacht Club).
Neither of them was your standard Maryland summer vacation destination like Ocean City, MD, or North Carolina’s Outer Banks. And I loved it.
5 Awesome Reasons To Visit Slaughter Beach, DE
Fast-forward to today, and my husband and I have tried to recreate a similar beach vacation experience for our kids. We’ve spent time in bustling family-friendly Dewey Beach, DE, with my husband’s family, and we’ve enjoyed two relaxing, calm weeks at Smith Mountain Lake, VA, with both sides.
We’ve vacationed in Cape May, NJ, which is historic and lovely and quaint; and, most recently, we’ve visited Slaughter Beach, DE, which is like blending the best of both worlds of my childhood summer beach vacation experiences.
1. Slaughter Beach, DE, is a sleepy little beach town with houses that sit right on the water.
The cottage we’ve rented for the past two years has four bedrooms, three living rooms, and plenty of room to fit the eight of us more than comfortably. It’s not fancy, but it has all the amenities you need to be comfortable—which is what matters to us. We don’t need fancy at the beach!
Plus, since it sits right on the beach, we’re able to set up our pop-up canopy tent upon arrival, bring our chairs and toys down, and LEAVE THEM ALL WEEK. No schlepping beach paraphernalia back and forth from the house to the sand (been there, done that; it sucks), and no worrying when one kid wants to head up to the house to
watch YouTube videos read, and the other wants to stay on the beach.
We’re able to enjoy bonfires and S’mores at our leisure, and walk 100 feet back up to the house when it’s time to turn in for the night. You could put babies to bed, and bring the monitor out to the beach, and be plenty close to still hear what’s going on. It’d be like sitting in your backyard, except BEACH.
Plus, the view from the house is outstanding—especially the sunrise in the east, over the ocean!
2. Omigosh, the horseshoe crabs are incredible!
Slaughter Beach, DE, is actually “A Horseshoe Crab Sanctuary” and Certified Wildlife Habitat Community. You’ll see full grown dead AND alive horseshoe crabs on the beach (don’t worry; they’re harmless even though they look prehistorically crazy), and you’ll also see little babies the size of a dime in the water at low tide.
It’s pretty cool. We’ve never seen anything like it before!
Bring your bicycles, because in addition to having lots of scenic (and empty-ish) roadways, about a mile away from where we stay is the DuPont Nature Center. If you’re into birds and bird watching, this is the place for you! And getting there via bike is one of the best ways.
3. The beach has the lowest of the lowest tides I’ve ever seen.
If you have kids, especially very young children, low tides like this are amazing because there aren’t any huge waves to knock toddlers over. You can actually walk about about a half mile before the water makes it up to your knees. Insanity!
You’ll want to make sure to bring tight-fitting water shoes, because the beach can be a little rocky (reminds me of New England beaches!), and the sand in the water can be a little sludgy. Not all the time, but some of the time.
4. Even though you’re staying in a sleepy little beach town, other fun places are nearby!
Rehoboth, which is more of a classic “boardwalk” beach town, is about a 15 to 20 minute drive away—perfect for an afternoon shopping trip, followed by dinner at one of the many fun seafood restaurants. The Tanger Outlets, if you’re really into shopping (hello, no sales tax!), are right off RT 1, in between Slaughter Beach and downtown Rehoboth.
Other cool spots nearby include Lewes, where you’ll find historic charm, museums, bed and breakfasts, all in a walkable downtown area.
Fellow writer, Victoria Fedden, grew up in Milford, a stone’s throw away from Slaughter Beach (and where you’ll find the closest grocery store and pharmacy). She suggests, “Visiting Fifers Orchard Farm in Wyoming. It’s magical. You can pick peaches now!”
Other can’t miss spots include ice cream at Hopkins Farm Creamery and a visit the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, as well as their farmers’ market—a must see foodie destination, according to Victoria. Her friend Josh Nash is a farmer who sells his veggies there, and she encourages folks to say, “Hi!” when they visit. If you’re looking to pick crabs, The Surfing Crab on Coastal Highway is her recommendation, and she added, “Big Fish Grill is probably my favorite restaurant at the beach.”
5. Speaking of crabs, even though you’re in Delaware, picking crabs at the beach is a must do event (says every Marylander, ever)!
You can go out and pick crabs at a restaurant like The Surfing Crab or a dozen other local haunts. Eating out is nice because once you’re done, you’re done. No mess to clean up, except for what’s on your hands.
OR, you can order steamed crabs to go, and then pick them in the comfort of your own beach house, which is what we do.
It really doesn’t get much better than that. Nope.
If you’re trying to squeeze in an end of summer vacation, or if you’ve already hit the beach this summer and you’re trying to figure out next year’s trip, consider Slaughter Beach, DE! We love it for all the reasons above, and also because it’s easy to get to from western/central Maryland (less than three hours and NO BAY BRIDGE), and also a simple trip southward from Brooklyn, NY, where my sister and her husband live.
Can’t wait until next year!
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