Bethany Beach is one of a group of beach towns known as, “Delaware’s Quiet Resorts.” Founded by members of the Christian Church of the Washington DC area and Pennsylvania (also known as, “The Disciples of Christ”) as a, “Haven of rest for quiet people,” and a permanent year-round seaside assembly for the Christian churches of the country.
The boardwalk at Bethany Beach may only be 3/8 of a mile long, but it is a delight that is perfectly in tune with the vibe of this sleepy beach town. The boardwalk provides opportunities both for walkers and more strenuous morning exercise classes in season.
Bethany Beach can be sub-divided as:
- Downtown Bethany (“Bethany Proper”) – the downtown area east of Coastal Highway clustered around the Bethany Boardwalk.
- South Bethany – the communities south of the downtown area.
- West Bethany – the communities west of Coastal Highway extending out to Ocean View and the Indian River Bay.
- North Bethany – the communities east and west of Coastal Highway north of Downtown Bethany and close to Tower Shores.
While each community comprising Bethany has its own unique qualities, all boast a range of dining options, from the beach fries to fine dining and everything in between. Two trolley cars tour Bethany Beach for 25 cents a ride. Shuttles extend west along Route 26. Biking is an option, just be careful crossing Coastal Highway. In season there is a popular Sunday morning Farmers’ Market and two annual Arts/Craft Festivals, seasonal Bandstand performances (weekends and evenings), a variety of Civic Clubs and state parks. Once a year on Labor Day, there is the New Orleans style Jazz Funeral, lamenting the, “Death of summer!” Just north of North Bethany is located the southern tip of the Delaware Seashore State Park.
The 24-foot statue of Chief Little Owl on Garfield Parkway at the downtown entrance to Bethany Beach has been a landmark since 1976. The original statue was carved by Artist Peter Wolf Toth and donated to the town as part of his, “Trail of the Whispering Giants” project. The original, weakened by termite damage, was destroyed by high winds in 1992. The second statue sculpted by Dennis Beach lasted through 2000, becoming victim to rot. Peter Wolf Toth stepped in again to carve the statue which stand to this day. Scultped out of Pacific Redwood Cedar, it is expected to last 150 years. During the dedication ceremony on July 15, 2002, State Senator George Bunting, D- Bethany Beach, said “it’s a landmark that says ‘you’re in Bethany’ and it pays honor to the Nanticoke nation. It ties us to our heritage.” Charlie Clark, a descendent of Little Owl, blessed the sculpture in traditional fashion with song, prayer and tobacco.
The remains of Peter Wolf Toth’s original 1976 statue may be viewed at the Nanticoke Indian Museum in Millsboro, Delaware.