Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bethany Beach Nature Center

I can't even tell you how many times I drove past Bethany Beach Nature Center and didn't even realize what it was! I'm so sad we've been missing out all these years of visiting the area.
Behind the adorable, and beautifully landscaped, building is a small playground, native plant demonstration garden, picnic pavilion and nature trail.
The Baldwin Trail is a short hike that takes you through a pine forest and then juts out in to a marsh via a boardwalk.
We loved seeing beautiful flowers, dragonflies and fallen trees along the way and were rewarded with an osprey eating its lunch in a tree while we were there.

 D especially loved "reading" all of the information along the boardwalk and loved identifying the pictures of animals he saw.

Unfortunately, we went on a Monday and the nature center happened to be closed on Mondays (and Sundays FYI) so we didn't get to go inside, but I did peek through the windows and spotted some tanks full of critters, so we will make it a point to return the next time we are down there. I just need to be more prepared, and check the hours before we go which vary seasonally. It turns out that the nature center hosts kids activities several days a week during the Summer so we will have to attend some of them!
The boys had fun on the trail and playground though, and it just so happens that there is a pokemon gym and several pokestops here as well so Mom and Dad got to play while the boys played. Win, win!

Monday, August 22, 2016

James Farm Ecological Preserve

James Farm Ecological Preserve is a great combination of trails and waterfront adventuring.
One of the things I love about it is that the trails are a manageable length, so you don't have to walk 3 miles round trip to have a great experience (but you can if you want to.) 
I'd consider it to be single stroller friendly, although there are a few places where the path gets bumpy and narrow. We made a loop by taking the green trail to orange to red.
I hadn't done a lot of research about the Preserve prior to visiting, so I had no idea that the red trail ended up on a nice little secluded beach where the water is clear and shallow. Perfect for little ones to wade and splash in the Indian River Bay. Next time we go, we definitely need to have them in their swimsuits so they can get wet. I'd probably put some water shoes on them though since the sand was sort of silty.

We had an awesome view of nesting osprey and I was wishing I had my telephoto lens with me!

We ended up spending the majority of our time there letting the boys "save" all the little snails that were along the shoreline and we had to pry them away from the beach when it was time to go. I always love having places to ourselves. Privacy and peace on a beach is nearly impossible to find during the Summer in Delaware. It changes the experience as a whole, when the kids can run and play freely instead of needing to hover over them so they don't go too far out in the water or get lost in the crowd. Needless to say, we are really looking forward to our next visit to James Farm!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bethany Beach

Coming in 2nd place for best boardwalk in Delaware is Bethany Beach. Although, not even a close second in my opinion as far as size and food, shopping and entertainment but still a great boardwalk nonetheless!
It is much more modest, more "homey" if you will. It has a great little amphitheater where live music is played regularly and we just so happened to catch part of a show one evening which was a nice surprise.
A few little shops line the boardwalk, however most of the shopping action can be found along the main drag which tends to be PACKED. Generally, there are few available parking spaces (not unlike Rehoboth) but if you drive around long enough, someone is bound to pull out of a spot. The beach is fairly expansive and the sand is clean and fine, which means it's easy on the feet. Again, not many shells here.
One thing that sets Bethany apart from Rehoboth is that it has a playground only 2 blocks from the beach and everything is much closer together so you don't have to walk 6 blocks to get to your restaurant of choice after a long afternoon on the beach.
I'm also a huge fan of Bethany's landscaping. They've gone above and beyond with colorful annuals that are quite whimsically designed. You pass them as you enter town and they instantly make me less aggravated to not be able to find a good parking spot.

Overall, I would recommend Bethany Beach to someone who wants the touristy vibe of Rehoboth, but in moderation.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach. The reason why thousands of out-of-staters clog up Delaware highways each Summer. Kidding!! (Not really...) It is arguably the most well known Delaware beach and home to some of everyone's favorite foods. Thrasher's fries, Nic-a-boli, Dolles
candies, etc.
Have any of you ridden on one of those bike cart things??
Tons of shops, the huge boardwalk, large beach, great food and amenities like bath houses definitely amp up the appeal. As a "local" however, I prefer to enjoy those things in the off season when there aren't so many people.
I have to admit, the beach at Rehoboth is pretty nice and there is something about the atmosphere there that makes it an experience. We have yet to visit Funland, but I know it is a Summer staple in Delaware.

It took me a few years before I realized you can change the direction you face on these benches!
One perk about the beach itself is that there are lifeguards, and the day we went the water was very rough so I would feel better knowing they are there. If you like boogie boarding or surfing, than an ocean beach is going to be your best bet, but there wasn't anyone partaking on the day we visited.

If you want to go to Rehoboth, I would suggest visiting as early as you can because the peak beach time there is from about 10am-2pm. If you go then, you will likely have a hard time finding a spot, and will be listening to your neighbor's conversations the whole time.  
The sand at Rehoboth is fairly fine (good for walking on) but much to my boys' dismay, there aren't many shells to be found here. If you want to get nature-y while your there, sit close to the water and dig for sand crabs!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

John West Park

 I'm so excited to finally get to share this park with you! It's one of our favorites when we are at the beach. We aren't the type of people that goes to the beach for hours and hours every day while on vacation. Anytime we go on a beach trip, I am always looking for other things to do because we typically get our beach time done very early in the morning before it gets too hot and then we need to occupy the boys for the rest of the day. 


John West Park is located in Ocean View, DE which is about 10 minutes from Bethany Beach. It is FULL of modern playground equipment, and they've even added more since we had been there last time. Tons of amenities like clean bathrooms, a walking path, water fountains, picnic tables, swing benches for the parents and MORE are why I love this place so much. This is a top 5 playground for me, and I am hard to please since we've been to so many.  

The boys love getting to do different types of things here since it's not the same boring equipment that every other place has. D conquered the bouncy balance beam on this most recent trip which he was afraid to do alone initially. I love seeing him blossom and become more independent (but not TOO independent!!) simply by getting to try new activities.