AG-Tell us about Bethany beach and what you like about it.
PC- Bethany beach is not far from Ocean City, Maryland and is what I would label as a quiet resort. The best part about it, in our book, is the ability to drive there by car and bring everything we need.
We stay in a gated community resort there (sixth year in a row), which is less than 100 feet from the actual beach. It was built in the late seventies-early eighties and boasts multiple pools for families to use, even an indoor/heated pool. We have the choice of going to the beach or to the pool during our week stay there, which ensures more flexibility if our non-verbal autistic son doesn’t feel comfortable with one specific setting that day.
AG-What type of lodging can one expect in this resort?
PC – We rent a spacious 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, with a fully equipped kitchen timeshare rental apartment, so my parents can join us for the week and help with our kids with special needs. The Sea Colony does provide bed linens, towels, and a maid service for an additional charge.
I’ve noticed that the best rental prices are actually the week before Labor Day and the resort is a lot less crowded than in the prior summer weeks. We like to bring our own towels and linens to make things more familiar for our autistic son-he can have his favorite pillow and comforter and feel like he has a part of home with him at nighttime.
AG- Your son is on a Gluten-Free Casein-Free diet, so how easy is it to follow while you’re traveling?
PC- That’ s another reason we ended up vacationing in the same spot for the past 6 years – the comfort. There are several grocery stores outside the complex and we buy our supplies when we get there. One store in particular carries organic items, as well as gluten-free casein-free ones so it actually makes it pretty convenient. My kid’s favorite spot is a donut place that has gluten-free casein-free donuts that are incredible, so we always go there for a daily break.
We do go out and eat since the restaurants are all within walking distance but I actually enjoy cooking for my family since I’m a professional chef by training. One of the best bonding experiences we have is eating breakfast as a family on vacation. I make my own ‘secret’ gluten-free casein-free berry sauce and waffles recipe that I only make on vacations so you could say we’ve kind of developed our vacation rituals by now.
AG-Do your kids like the beach or do they prefer pools?
PC- Our son started off with pools and slowly warmed up to the beach and ocean – putting on sunscreen is still a moderate challenge. He is currently learning to swim in the ocean. They have licensed lifeguards, the waves around there are rather calm, and the water is only about 4 feet deep with no jellyfish (so far).
He’s gotten better at sitting on the sand, which is swept on a daily basis, and building sandcastles with the toys we bring along. If he gets antsy we swing by the small wildlife preserve area where you can watch dolphins, sand crabs, and sharks.
AG-What activities do you enjoy while on vacation?
PC- There are so many to chose from so it really depends what the general mood is. Bethany Beach, like many other east coast beach towns, has a fun boardwalk to explore. My kids have their special salt water candy store they like to go in and buy taffy from, and an old fashioned ice cream parlor that has home made gluten-free casein-free ice cream to die for.
There’s a tram that goes to the boardwalk from the resort itself for those who don’t feel like driving or looking for parking. The resort itself organizes social family events like bonfires at night, and treasure hunts, but there’s always watching TV or playing the WII that we bring from home).One of our family traditions is to go and shop at Ocean City MD outlets for school supplies.
AG- You mentioned one of the appeals Bethany Beach presents is the fact you can drive there and not having to deal with airports-how does your son do on car rides?
PC- He does great! It’s a 4-hour drive so we bring a DVD along and we tell him where we’re headed to get him excited. It’s when he returns home and realizes vacation is over that he’s cried.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Chef Paul Cimins graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and owns Culinary Delicacies.As a dedicated parent to two kids Emily (11) and Johnathan (8) with disabilities Paul has worked relentlessly within the autism community to help families of children with autism through his weekly podcasts entitled ‘Hope saves the day’ on Autismradio.org. The internet has enabled Paul’s program to reach and support families who want to share Information on their personal experiences globally.
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Does your family have regular travel plans or do you change it up every year?