If you lived here and had the urge to walk on the beach, you could grab an ice cream at King’s downtown, reach the water just as you finish a double scoop, and then walk south all the way to Maryland. That’s about 25 miles of sand between the toes.
Most people know Cape May, New Jersey, the historic town that shares the mouth of Delaware Bay, and the ferry that crosses it, with Lewes. Lewes (population 3,127) has the same coastal character and historic preservation tendencies as Cape May, only with fewer tourists and more affordable real estate. And there is a local citizenry dedicated to keeping the charm and history in balance.
“In 1999, residents raised more than $1 million to purchase Canal Front Park,” says Mike DiPaolo, executive director of the Lewes Historical Society. “A group wanted to build a shopping center and condo complex, and the citizens were able to buy the land. It’s now a green space and marina.”
Your View Is:
Over the canal and Lewes Beach to Breakwater Harbor or out to curving Cape Henlopen and the Atlantic.
Your main street has: Notting Hill Coffee Roastery, Kids’ Ketch toy store, The Buttery, Piccolino clothing store, Teller Wines, St. Peter’s old mariner’s church, and a drawbridge over the canal connecting to the beachside shops and galleries.
Your favorite restaurant could be: Agave for fresh, authentic Mexican food and a tequila bar.
Your neighbors are: mostly residents in their late 50s. Lewes locals participate in the arts community; make trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, or New York (all around three hours away); and bike or walk the American Discovery Trail.
Your Best Beach Is:
Cape Henlopen State Park. Take Great Dune Overlook trail down to the water.
Stay a week: For a modern touch, try Hotel Blue. Rates start at $150; 800/935-1145 or hotelblue.info.
Stay a month: One block from Lewes Beach, three bedrooms, two baths. Weekly rates start
at $1,000; 800/768-2289 or shoresummerrentals.com (rental ID 2619).