Last Updated on December 3, 2023

The beach communities in Southern Delaware transform into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. So much so, you may think you’ve stepped into a Hallmark movie scene.

The charming coastal towns of Milton, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Seaford and Oceanview bring out the holiday cheer for all ages.

Schellville Enchanted Winter Celebration

Family holiday festivities begin at the Schellville Enchanted Winter Celebration in Rehoboth Beach. My husband and I were immediately enchanted by the tunnel of twinkling lights at the entry. The scent of fresh pine emanated from the maze of brightly lit Christmas trees. Then we discovered the food truck with the boozy hot chocolate!

While there are adult libations and a beer garden, the festival entices all ages. The little ones can visit with Santa Claus and explore dozens of miniature houses covered in holiday decorations.

The Snow Zone playground’s manmade piles of snow and felted snowballs lend themselves to epic snowball battles. I had to carefully watch my step as children were bouncing around like little excited ping-pong balls.

Schellville designed a roller-skating rink to resemble a pond of ice. You can also grab a snow tube and zip down Sled Hill, a manmade hillside. After a few thrills, be sure to peruse the artisan shops fashioned after a German-style Christmas market. Or snuggle by a firepit with a tasty food truck snack.

The Schellville Enchanted Winter Celebration is free to attend, however, advanced entry tickets are encouraged to avoid long entry lines. Festivities kick off at 5 pm through the month of December.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware tree lighting
Rehoboth Beach, DE tree lighting. Special to the News Journal/CHUCK SNYDER

Down by the Boardwalk

The mile-long Rehoboth Beach’s Boardwalk anchors the heart of downtown. At the end of Rehoboth Avenue, you’ll find Santa’s House perched by the sea. You can bring your Christmas wish list and share it with jolly ole’ St. Nick in the afternoons throughout December.

The Rehoboth Beach Bandstand sits directly across from Santa’s House. At Christmas, the iconic structure dresses up for the holiday season. The lighted Christmas tree next to the bandstand is said to be the brightest in Delaware.

The Downtown Rehoboth shopping scene will also help knock a few items off your shopping list. Penny Lane Mall, a quaint open-air mall, gives an old-time feel with all the modern amenities. From local art and home gifts to jewelry, you may even find a keepsake for yourself.

Santa's House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk in Delaware.
Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk in Delaware. Photo credit Julie Dee Suman

A Victorian Christmas

My husband and I have been visiting the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel for years with its wrought iron canopies and charming gazebo. The hotel turns into a Victorian Christmas extravaganza with miniature snow-flocked villages placed around the lobby and dining room. The indoor pool is also surrounded by illuminated Christmas trees.

Even if you’re visiting for a day, this oceanfront hotel is worth exploring. The dining room serves a succulent Maryland cream of crab soup. We always enjoy sipping on seasonal cocktails, like the tantalizing s’mores martini in the cozy pub.

Southern Delaware Hidden Gem

On our most recent trip to the Delaware shore in 2023, we discovered a true hidden gem—the Rehoboth Art League. The 3.5-acre campus in Henlopen Acres houses galleries and classroom space for member artists. The art league was founded 85 years ago as a summer retreat for artists. Now the facility hosts artisans from all over the country.

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift, you must go to the Member’s Holiday Sales Gallery. I was blown away by the caliber of the works here. Pieces for sale ranged from hand-crafted glass ornaments and decorative pottery to large-format paintings.

Lovable Lewes

If you love quaint, walkable towns, Lewes should be on your radar. This waterfront village founded in 1631 celebrates its maritime history with multiple museums. Charming colonial-style buildings line the town’s walkways.

A great way to experience local architecture is the free Lewes Lights community holiday tour.

Boutique shops in Lewes are sure to please. The Holiday Village & Market held the first weekend in December sells holiday decorations and greenery. In addition, you can sample specialty food vendors such as Backyard Jams & Jellies.

Good Libations

After all the shopping and holiday cheer, you may want to kick back with a locally brewed craft beer. In addition to the famous Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats, stop in at the Crooked Hammock Brewery for the ‘Let It Snow’ Campfire Experience (reservations required). You can sample a pint, roast s’mores and sing carols while the snow falls.

Dewey Beer Co., our favorite brewery, serves some of the most creative suds on the shore like Swishy Pants American IPA. There’s an extensive list of fruit beers as well. The beer menu changes frequently and there’s always a fantastic food special too.

Holiday Activities around Southern Delaware

Southern Delaware has even more holiday events. Train enthusiasts will enjoy the Holiday Train Display at the Seaford Museum. For theater and music lovers, there’s a selection of shows such as “A Christmas Carol The Musical,” and “Estella Scrooge,” a modern version of “A Christmas Carol.”

If You Go

In addition to rooms at the Boardwalk Plaza, Rehoboth Beach features luxury properties such as the Bellmoor Inn and Spa and Avenue Inn and Spa. Adventure lovers will enjoy the Dogfish Inn in Lewes.

A trip to the Delaware shore would not be complete without a delicious seafood meal. From fresh to oysters plucked from the sea, you can’t go wrong with Henlopen City Oyster House or Matt’s Fish Camp.

Or, if you’re in the mood for a fantastic slice of pie, head to Nicola Pizza.

Author

  • Julie Suman

    Julie Dee Suman is a Maryland-based freelance travel writer and photographer. She has traveled extensively including over 43 countries across 5 continents. In addition to featuring the Mid-Atlantic Region, Julie enjoys destination travel with a focus on nature and wildlife excursions. She is a member of the Travel Writers Café, International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and TravMedia. Julie is also a pharmaceutical scientist and co-editor of Respiratory Drug Delivery. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and trade magazines.