Here’s what you need to know
It’s time for what is arguably summer’s biggest weekend at the Delaware beaches: the Fourth of July.
If you’re heading for one of the state’s favorite beach towns, prepare yourself for traffic, lots of people and a whole bunch of Fourth of July celebrations. With the holiday landing on Monday this year, there will be plenty of activities stretching throughout the long holiday weekend and plenty of people spending their holiday with some fun in the sun.
So what do you need to know? We’ve got you covered.
For anyone looking to visit the beaches during the weekend of July 2, this guide will help answer questions ranging from event details to parking and the latest weather reports.
Fourth of July fireworks
Not every Delaware beach town sets off its own fireworks, and not every one does it on the formal Fourth of July. Here’s where you can see the fireworks if you’re in town. Keep in mind, most towns close roads as part of their celebrations so expect to arrive early, plan for road closures and delays and bring your patience.
Leweswill launch its fireworks from a barge in the bay off Savannah Beach around 8:30 p.m. Monday The fireworks can be seen throughout town, especially at higher elevations. The bridges at Savannah Road and Freeman Highway will be closed, so it may be wise to park downtown and walk toward the fireworks if possible.
Rehoboth Beach will set off its fireworks on Sunday from anytime between 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. — it all depends on the weather, though festivities in town begin at 8 p.m. Zambelli Fireworks will handle the show, which is launched from south of Rehoboth Avenue and visible up and down the beach and boardwalk.
Dewey Beach‘s fireworks, hosted by Highway One, will launch at 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July from a barge in Rehoboth Bay.
Bethany Beach will host a fireworks show at dusk on Monday, July 4, but live music will start at 7:30 p.m. downtown.
For more information on all of the Fourth of July events happening at the beaches, check out our roundup here.
Weather for the Fourth of July holiday weekend
If you’re a Delaware beaches fan, then you probably know this already: The weather can certainly be unpredictable and quickly changing here. So here’s a reminder to always check your weather channels or apps before settling in on the sand.
That being said, the National Weather Service is predicting a mix of sun, rain and storms this weekend in the Rehoboth Beach area.
Friday is looking to be a beautiful beach day with a high of 84 and sunny skies throughout the day. As some light winds pick up in the evening, temperatures will drop to 73 overnight.
Saturday is forecast to bring a high temperature of 82 degrees, though the National Weather Service is forecasting a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Heavy rainfall may come along with those storms. Showers will likely continue overnight and drop the temperatures to the low 70s.
More showers are slated for Sunday, with a chance of thunderstorms again after 2 p.m. The high will top out at 77 degrees, according to forecasters. Overnight, temperatures will slightly drop again with a chance of rain continuing into the early morning hours.
As for the actual Fourth of July holiday, forecasters say it’s going to be a mostly sunny day with highs topping out at 79 degrees. While we’re still a few days out, forecasters are saying there’s a slight chance of showers that evening.
What to expect at restaurants, beach businesses
Delaware’s beach towns are preparing for a summer that’s as busy – if not busier – than last year.
That means it’s once again time for this reminder: Have patience, folks.
Many restaurants, bars, and others in the service industry are still facing staffing shortages. While some businesses are getting more help from international students than in the past two years when COVID-19 restrictions limited that workforce, several other factors are impacting the seasonal labor shortage this year – especially a lack of affordable housing.
Remember last year when some businesses were limiting hours or services? Visitors could see that again this summer, according to Carol Everhart, president of the Rehoboth-Dewey Chamber of Commerce.
Hiring signs are still hanging in many business windows and some are forced to have limited hours due to staffing.
It may be wise to make early reservations, follow your favorite spots on social media or call ahead to stay updated on any changes.
As far as outdoor dining, many beach towns found ways to continue that in the 2022 season. However, Rehoboth Beach no longer allowed parking spaces to be blocked off for dining on public sidewalks.
Public health guidelines, COVID cases
An unfortunate reality: COVID-19 is still present for summer vacations at the Delaware beaches. But the good news is cases and hospitalizations have been decreasing since late May, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health.
The Delaware Division of Public Health reported that an average of 14.3% of tests were coming back positive as of June 27.
Even with these downward trends, though, DPH reminds people to stay vigilant – especially when traveling for crowded events or visiting the beaches.
This is the latest advice from DPH:
- Stay home if sick and get tested if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- There are no mask mandates, but DPH advises masking up in indoor places or if you are at higher risk for illness.
- Get vaccinated and boosted when you’re eligible.
- Stay informed and turn to reliable sources for data, information, and treatment options like de.gov/coronavirus.
Want to know where to receive booster shots? Visit coronavirus.delaware.gov/vaccine/where-can-i-get-my-vaccine/#publichealth.
Parking and transportation
All resort towns from Lewes to Fenwick Island have their seasonal parking rules in place.
Both Rehoboth and Lewes increased some parking rates this year. It is now a universal $3 per hour rate in Rehoboth, and Lewes is charging $1.50 downtown and $2.50 at the beaches.
Lewes has several free non-metered parking lots listed on its website, as well as metered lots and spaces on side streets.
When visiting Delaware State Parks like Cape Henlopen, parking is included in the entrance fee.
In Dewey Beach, parking is free in all permit-only and metered spaces Monday through Wednesday from 5 to 11 p.m. only. All other days and times, you must pay to park on public streets.
(These free parking times coincide with family-friendly movie nights and bonfires in Dewey, events that continue throughout the summer).
Fenwick Island and South Bethany mostly require permits to park, but Fenwick offers free parking on its side streets after 4 p.m.
In Bethany Beach, all spaces are either metered or require a permit through Sept. 15.
Many of these towns and cities offer payment through the ParkMobile app.
For more about parking (or State Park fees), visit each beach town’s website:
If planning to visit one of the State Parks, it’s wise to check the parks’ Facebook pages where staff will post whether the park is closed due to full parking.
Consider taking the Beach Bus
Want to forget about parking or paying for gas? Take a bus to the beach. Parking is free at the park and rides in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
The Beach Bus has already started its routes and will continue seven days a week until Sept. 11. The stops include Rehoboth Beach and the Boardwalk, Lewes, Long Neck, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, Ocean City in Maryland, Millsboro and Georgetown.
The cost to ride the bus is $2 per trip, $4 for a daily pass, $16 for a seven-day pass or $60 for a 30-day pass.
Traveling from northern Delaware or Kent County? The 305 Beach Connection from Wilmington to Rehoboth Beach started last weekend. It runs Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through Sept. 5.
Riders taking this bus will pay $6 for one-way trips from Wilmington, Christiana Mall and Odessa and $4 from Dover and South Frederica. A daily pass is $10 from New Castle County and $8 from Kent County.
If traveling around Bethany Beach, the town also offers a trolley with a single route that runs from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and costs 25 cents per trip.
In Lewes, the new seasonal transit option Lewes Line cost $1 per ride. Stops include the two municipal beaches, downtown locations, the library and more. To learn more, visit www.ci.lewes.de.us/363/Lewes-Line.
Emily Lytle covers Sussex County from the inland towns to the beaches. Got a story she should tell? Contact her at email@example.com or 302-332-0370. Follow her on Twitter at @emily3lytle.