You might expect to see a totem pole in nearly every city in Alaska, but to find one at the entrance to a beach town in southeast Delaware was definitely unexpected! Not only that, but Bethany Beach's has a most unusual story behind it.
Though it may look a little like a "Father Christmas" carving, this totem was carved to resemble "Chief Little Owl," and was dedicated to the Nanticoke native tribal nation in a ceremony by Charlie Clark, a descendant of the chief, and accompanied by traditional songs, prayer and tobacco. The original wood sculpture was carved by artist, Peter Wolf Toth, who who immigrated to the United States from Hungary. Mr. Wolf Toth, who has sculpted more than 50 works of art to honor Native Americans, created the "Trail of Whispering Giants" spanning the country by gifting a sculpture to every state in the nation!! Some of his sculptures are also located in Canada. How Bethany Beach was chosen to be the home of one of his sculptures is the question. The totem is now a recognizable welcome into Bethany Beach and is considered a landmark.
The present totem sculpture was dedicated in 2002 and is the third, replacing the original sculpture from one of 1976, the remains of which are now located in the Nanticoke Indian Museum in Millsboro, DE. Susceptible to weather and insect damage, this newest sculpture was carved from Pacific Northwest Cedar and is expected to last considerably longer.
The totem is located in the median at the intersection of Garfield Parkway and US Rt. 1, surrounded by flowers and is lit at night. (My acccompanying picture - 2nd photo- shows how the totem has weathered in a few short years.)
I love to read and sometimes there is nothing more relaxing than placing yourself on the beach under an umbrella with a good book while also enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean.
If you are on a tight budget, the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach might be the ticket. They sell used books but a temporary library card can be had with ID, completion of an application and payment of a small fee. This is a great option if you will be in the area for a week or longer. The library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach.
If funds are not a problem and convenience is important, consider visiting Bethany Beach Books, an independent book store, just steps from the beach. At a time when independent bookstores are finding it more difficult than ever to keep their doors open and compete against the big stores and online sellers, it's impressive that this bookstore has been in business since 1991. Bethany Beach Books has 2,000 sq. ft. of space, and stocks a little of everything from childrens' books to New York Times' Bestsellers. New York Times' Bestsellers List books are always offered at a 20% discount. From time to time, Bethany Beach Books also hosts author's signing sessions, and sponsors book groups as well. Bethany Beach Books is located at 90 Garfield Parkway. Call 302-539-2522 or 800-509-2384 for any on tap activities.
Also check their website for any coupons or specials that might be available.
Tucked into the far southeast region of Delaware's coastline, "Bethany Beach" is one of many beach towns popular with tourists both south and north of it. It's a tiny, little gem blessed with a wide expanse of white sand beach bordered by replenished sand dunes and a nice boardwalk. Bethany Beach's boardwalk is just that---mainly a nice walkway made from weathered boards. Don't expect the kind of boardwalk lined with scores of shops, amusement rides, and greasy eateries you often find in bigger beach towns. Bethany Beach is far less commercial than many beach towns.
Though it's difficult to estimate how many year-round residents live in Bethany Beach, it is a fact that this lovely little town with its beautiful beach draws visitors but not nearly as many as the larger beach towns such as Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland. We visited the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, and as the accompanying picture shows, the beach was covered literally in a sea of umbrellas, however it did not feel crowded to me. This lovely, clean beach just invites you to spend the day!!
There was a strong breeze and a lot of wave action, but that did not deter some people from making their way into the surf. (NOTE: heed the rip tides warning and rules of the beach). The majority seemed to be enjoying spending the day under beach umbrellas. Both chairs and umbrellas can be rented daily or by the week if you didn't bring your own (umbrellas are a reasonable $10 for the day; sand chairs about $5 for the day). Unlike most beaches in New Jersey, admission to Bethany Beach is free.
The town of Bethany Beach thoughtfully has added a good amount of close parking and access to the beach at the end of many cross streets. Though the parking is not free, you can feed enough quarters into the meters for the day which will cost you approximately $1.50 per hour. So you don't have to run into some shop for change, the town has provided little kiosks near the parking lots that offer change for the meters as well as directions and some information---the town fathers were really thinking about how to make your day a little better when they put these in kiosks!!
For beachgoers, you'll find lots of little eateries and shops carrying beach towels, swimwear, summer clothes, beach toys, sunblock, books, souvenirs, etc. are an easy walk.
In my humble opinion, every summer resort town should have at least one miniature golf course. My reason is that they are partly nostalgic for me, but also because they are pure Americana! I always get a kick out of the different themes which are carried out through golf "decor" such as Dinosaurs/Flintstones, Wild West, cartoon characters, jungle adventures, waterfalls, etc.
Bethany Beach just happens to have a nice miniature golf course which appears to be an eye-catching takeoff on a recent movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean." "Captain Jack's Pirate Golf" has eyepopping attractions such as the huge skeleton pirate steering a ship's helm and other pirates lurking about, a large pirate ship, rock & water features, palm trees and lots of chances to sink a putt which is the whole point. (There is even a miniature version of Bethany Beach's Totem Pole carving of Chief Little Owl.) This miniature golf course is also very well maintained--something I always appreciate.
After a day on the beach, playing miniature golf in the cool of the evening can be fun for the whole family and especially keep younger children entertained. Though my preference is for "holes" to have a degree of difficulty and to be challenging due to obstacles or attractions, Captain Jack's is not structured in this way. However, this does make it easier for small children (and some adults) to play without undue frustration.
There is also a small gift shop with pirate toys, t-shirts, figurines, and other souvenirs of your encounter with Pirate Jack's.
Daytime prices (2009) are: $6 for 10am - 5pm; Evening prices: $7 from 5pm - 11:30pm
Coupons for $1.00 off admission can be found on Captain Jack's website and in lots of the little info. papers found around town.
Yes, Bethany's boardwalk is nice. It isn't as loud and obnoxious as Rehoboth/OC. No silly, loud games, drunk people yelling out of bars or hecklers. However..it is a nightmare to go there during the summer. I'm a local, and I need tylenol after even attempting to get into Bethany! Fall is great..still warm, but not all the traffic. I like to surf there.
For visitors, for those people lucky enough to own a Summer home at Bethany Beach, for those who may be renting a beach cottage as well as daytrippers, the town provides free entertainment at the Boardwalk Bandstand every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend!!
Music of all types, from jazz, zydeco, country, rock n' roll, band tributes, to Elvis and Buddy Holly impersonators and even Broadway show tunes, is performed by a host of bands including some from the US Naval Academy. Other acts are frequently scheduled for other nights of the week which is great also as outside of a few places near the beach with lively bars, night time maybe a little quiet for the younger set, although they surely have their own hangouts.
Shows start at 7:30pm but are subject to changes or cancellation for weather. Calling to confirm whether the shows remain scheduled is a good idea if in doubt. For schedules and confirmation of show, call (302) 539-5484. Bring lawn chairs or blankets if you care to. There are a few permanently placed benches and seating around the bandstand area if you arrive early and don't have your own seating.
Had we been staying in Bethany Beach, listening to a little night music would have put a cap on a great day at the beach. A few people had already positioned themselves around the Bandstand as the sun was beginning its descent from the sky.
When we get a rental house, we get a hang tag for the car that allows us to park on the streets near the beach. We get up in the morning, and have breakfast and take a run or ride our bikes. Then we pack a lunch and the beach chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen, boogie boards and beach toys, and go down to the beach. We pick a spot and set up and spend the day.
# Meters/Permits are in effect May 15 to Sept. 15
# Meters are enforced 7 days a week - including holidays
# Meters are in effect from 10 AM to 11 PM on Garfield Parkway and all two-hour meters in the commercial zone (blue meters)
# Meters are in effect 10 AM to 8 PM elsewhere (eight-hour meters)
# Permits are required on side streets as posted and must be displayed so that meter enforcement officers can see them
# Sat. May 25, 2005 - Mon. Sept. 2, 2005 (and weekends thru Sept. 22)
# Daily Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM
# Weekend & Holiday Hours: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
An obvious answer to what to do at Bethany Beach is -- you go to the beach. My daughter usually rents a house and with it comes a beach parking pass for the car. They load the car with lunch, blankets, towels, beach umbrella, beach chairs and everything else they may think they need. Then they set up on the sand for a day in the sun.
These photos were taken in several different years
This is a great beach to walk on while the sun goes down. It's really quiet & peaceful here, they do call it "The Quiet Resort", very low crimeand violence, almost unheard of here. This town may be a dry town so don't plan on getting your grovey buzz on here or you will be a statisic.
Grab the kids, toys & blanket and go to the beach early to get your spot. This beach doesn't get as crowded like Rehoboth or Ocean City MD, so you don't feel like people are breathing down your neck while your trying to catch a tan.
You can go climb these old World War II Towers and get a great 360 degree view of the ocean and the bay! See what the WWII army soldiers saw while protecting the coast line from invaders.