Ocean City, Maryland is a family-friendly beach town, which smells of sea air and tastes of boardwalk fries and salt water taffy. While the beach is the city’s main appeal, the plethora of themed mini golf courses, boardwalk attractions, and restaurants with sunset views create an enchanting setting for an unforgettable vacation.
The beach resort sits on a thin peninsula, which features oceanfront and bayside Ocean City hotels, inns, and vacation rentals. The area is especially unique as vacationers can witness both the rising and setting of the sun in the beach city. Set your alarm early to catch the sun rise above the Atlantic Ocean at dawn, and then marvel at the setting sun on the bayside at dusk.
Vacationers who want to stay at an accommodation within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and arcades may want to book Ocean City, Maryland hotels on the boardwalk. These boardwalk hotels in Ocean City, MD present some of the best accommodations near the amusement park, ice cream parlors, kite shops, and countless other attractions.
The hotels in Ocean City located along the bay and further north of the boardwalk offer quieter accommodations away from the excitement of the boardwalk. Vacationers in search of a more peaceful beach getaway can snag cheap hotel deals in Ocean City, MD in these calmer beach areas. Book hotel suites with both outdoor and indoor pools, on-site restaurants, and views of the ocean for a relaxing sojourn.
For those travelers with their beach bags already packed, Ocean City is just a few hours away from several airports. Travelers often book flights to Ocean City through Expedia to Baltimore Washington International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, or Dulles International Airport, and then reserve car rentals to make the several hours drive down to the coastal city.
Guests who drive into Ocean City pack their vehicles with their beach chairs and swimsuits, and arrive either on US 50 across the Bay Bridge or on Maryland Route 90. The beach spot is roughly 150 miles from major cities such as Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Norfolk, and around 250 miles away from New York City and Richmond, Virginia.
It’s fairly easy to get acquainted with the layout of Ocean City, as the beach town is simply one long strip, Coastal Highway, which runs parallel to the ocean. Many beachgoers choose to walk to their destinations, especially around the boardwalk, since the restaurants, shops, and hotels are closely packed together.
The boardwalk offers a tram that runs from the amusement park at the beginning of the boardwalk all the way down to 27th Street. The tram drives down the middle of the wooden boardwalk and provides visitors with a way to take in the boardwalk sites without lugging around their beach gear on foot.
The Ocean City Municipal Bus, which runs up and down Coastal Highway from 1st Street to 146th Street 24 hours a day, is another popular form of transportation. Visitors can purchase cheap one-ride passes or all-day passes for unlimited rides.
And as for driving, at times the traffic can build up along the Coastal Highway, however, finding parking usually isn’t tricky as many establishments, especially restaurants, conventionally offer free parking lots.
Things to Do
Besides the obvious lure of the sand and ocean, the Ocean City boardwalk itself is one of the top attractions in this coastal city. The three-mile wooden strip is the heart of entertainment for all ages with Ocean City hotels, restaurants, bars, beach shops, and even an amusement park. Challenge the kids to a game of “Whack a Mole” at one of the countless arcades, cram the whole family into an old-fashion photo booth, or nosh on cotton candy, funnel cake, and salt water taffy. Visiting this lively seaside hot spot is a must do while vacationing in Ocean City.
After body surfing the waves and digging sand castles on the shore all day, a family trip to one of the two Jolly Roger Amusement Park locations is another must-do activity. There are two Jolly Roger Amusement Parks, one on the pier, and the other on 30th street, both of which offer unlimited fun with spinning rides, thrilling coasters, and speeding race car tracks. The parks also boast calmer rides for the little ones, arcade games, and food stands. A day at the beach is hard to beat, but a visit to these amusement parks simply tops off the vacation fun.
Spend a few days playing on the beach, and then take a break from the hot sand or the crowded boardwalk and explore Ocean City from the bow of a boat speeding along the coastline. Ocean City features a number of boat tours and fishing charters providing vacationers with unique perspectives of the seaside community. Soar across the Atlantic Ocean along with the dolphins on a speedboat or dare yourself to parasail across the coastal skies on your Ocean City vacation.
Miniature golf is another popular thing to do in Ocean City as alluring themed putt-putt courses line Coastal Highway. These are no ordinary greens, but rather courses featuring fire breathing dragons and looming prehistoric dinosaurs. Each course presents a unique theme, so visitors can choose to swing above shark invested waters or between pirates and their loot. This calm activity provides the ideal way to spend a day at the beach after the sun goes down.
Arts & Entertainment
While Ocean City may receive most of its attention for its pristine beaches, resorts, and boardwalk, the coastal city also takes pride in promoting art within the community. The Ocean City Center for the Arts, in particular, forges the way for visual arts as it presents art exhibits and programs. The center not only features an artist of the month and galleries, but it also hosts classes for adults and children. Try your hand at pottery or give watercolors a chance while visiting Ocean City.
Ocean City’s Roland E. Powell Convention Center is a hub for culture, arts, and entertainment in the oceanside city. This center sees touring acts and even car shows for visitors looking for a break from the sand and surf. Meanwhile, the OC Jamboree, Ocean City’s only live music theater, offers another unique way of experiencing art in the beach town. From tribute bands to holiday themed productions, the OC Jamboree presents a fun outing suitable for the whole family.
The seaside city’s first cottage opened in 1869 to welcome tourists to fish and frolic by the sea, and just six years later, the first hotel set up shop along the shore. By the late 19th century, vacationers could arrive in Ocean City on the railroad across the Sinepuxent Bay. It was during these early days when the city announced a law prohibiting men from walking topless on the boardwalk, which still exists today, but thankfully isn’t enforced! Then in the 1933 Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane wiped out the railroad, but the storm created a new inlet from the bay to the ocean. It was here, in this new harbor, where Ocean City was dubbed the “White Marlin Capital of the World” as it became one of the best fishing spots on the east coast.
Ocean City gained more attention and interest from vacationers after the completion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952, which offered easy transportation from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area to the beach town. With the later addition of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in 1964 opening up traffic to the southern regions, Ocean City was even more accessible to beach-goers. Just as the coastal city attracted vacationers during the town’s early days, Ocean City still remains a hot spot for travelers looking for an inviting stretch of coastline.
Ocean City is a hot spot for the vacationing, dining, and relaxing, but it’s certainly not a hub for professional sports team. When it comes to sports in the seaside resort, your best bet is to watch your home team play on the screens at various Ocean City hotels or restaurants. But why spend time indoors watching sports when sand, ocean, and sunshine await you outside? The beach community offers a plethora of watersports and beach activities for you to engage in some sports of your own.
When the surfs up, carve up the waves in Ocean City’s rotating surf spots. These reserved areas change daily, but there’s also a break near the inlet, which is always open to surfers during the summer months. The waves also curl perfectly for both the novice and advanced boogie boarder to ride in the surge. But for those who prefer calmer waters for kayaking or canoeing, guests can take to the bay for other water adventures such as jet skiing and water skiing. When there aren’t any sports teams to follow, create your own team under the Ocean City sun.
When it comes to Ocean City, often times the day-time parties roll into night-time parties, which sometimes even overlap into early-morning parties. The bayside rafting and poolside partying seep into the evenings as the nightclubs and deck parties open their doors to the night owls after the sun sets.
Whether you’re looking to listen to spinning DJs, jamming live bands, or perhaps debut your own vocals at karaoke, Ocean City offers it all. The beachside city serves up bay view beach bars and dance clubs on the boardwalk. Find venues hosting bikini contests and DJs for a rowdy night, or kick back in a swinging hammock and listen to an acoustic live band for a slightly more mellow evening on the bay.
Ocean City is often regarded as the crab capital of the East Coast because the Maryland blue crab is a delicacy, which belongs on every vacationer’s dinner plate. From steamed crab, crab cakes, and crab imperial, to crab soup and crab dip, crab dishes run abundant in this beach city. For visitors new to cracking open these delicious crustaceans though, there’s an art to it, so start by flipping the crab on its belly, open its apron, remove the gills, and then dig in!
While the Maryland blue crab and other seafood reign on the top of the majority of Ocean City menus, there are countless other food options located here by the sea. For a true taste of Ocean City, sample the famous boardwalk fries, while hand-dipped doughnuts are a local favorite as well. The beachside community also features ocean view and bayside restaurants with every kind of grub, including BBQ, Cajun, Italian, Jamaican, and more.
Score the season’s hottest bikinis, browse the board shorts, pick up reclining beach chairs, and treat the kids to boogie boards at the countless beach shops dotting the coastline in Ocean City. Whether vacationers want to choose a signature hermit crab to take home as a pet, find the best seashell souvenirs, or spoil themselves to new sunglasses, they can find it all at the boardwalk shops or Ocean City Tanger Outlets.
Visitors won’t find multi-story fashion malls or rows of luxury designers in this beach resort, but for beachwear and goodies, Ocean City’s boardwalk presents souvenir stores and surf shops. On the hunt for a beach snow globe for your best friend back home or a pair of waterproof flip flops? The boardwalk shops answer all your shopping quests and desires, which are within walking distance of many Ocean City hotels. Meanwhile, for the cheapest deals on brand-name items and luxury goods, vacationers mosey over to the Tanger Outlets. Though these outlets offer cool and shaded relief from the sand and the sun, they deliver hot prices on the latest trends.
Pet Friendly Travel Basics
Some vacationers simply cannot stand to leave their tail wagging friends at home when they depart for a trip to Ocean City. Luckily, visitors will find a plethora of pet friendly hotels offering accommodations to human and furry guests alike. If Fido is in tow with you on your seaside vacation though, make sure you abide by the city’s laws pertaining to animals. For one, animals are prohibited from going on the beach and the boardwalk between May 1 and September 30. For pet owners looking to introduce their pups to the sea and sand, round up your pup for a day at Assateague National Park, where animals on leashes are allowed year round.
If you’re revolving your Ocean City vacation around hanging at the beach all day and night, do understand there are rules and regulations in place to keep locals and visitors safe. One rule to keep in mind is sleeping is prohibited on the beach between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, so plan on booking hotels in Ocean City instead of trying to camp on the beach. Consuming alcohol and grilling are additional activities not allowed on the beach; however there are plenty of beachfront restaurants where vacationers can indulge in drinks and grilled cuisine with a view of the sea and sand.
Personalities & Culture
Beach culture best represents Ocean City. This ocean destination features a welcoming and laid-back feel, with a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no problem’ kind of attitude. During the summer months when the temperatures are warm, the ocean refreshing, and the sun shining, vacationers and locals roam the coast in their swimsuits and summer wear. Unlike in cities such as Miami or New York City, visitors are not expected to dress to the nines here. This scene is all about rolling off the beach straight to happy hours, restaurants, and concerts in the evenings.
This chunk of paradise has a little bit of something for every kind of visitors. College students and recent grads revel in the beach bum by day and party animal by night prevalent culture, while kids can’t get enough of the amusement parks, arcade games, and ice cream parlors. Meanwhile older vacationers enjoy easy beach access and the plethora of restaurants near all the hotels in Ocean City, MD.
Weather & Climate
Although Ocean City may boast the sand and sea, its weather isn’t conducive to sunbathing and swimming in the Atlantic all year round. In fact, the winter months can experience temperatures around the 40s and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while sometimes snow even falls! You can score cheap hotel deals in Ocean City, MD from November through March, but do understand many restaurants and shops close up until the warmer temperatures roll back through the beach town.
For the best weather and temperatures, plan a visit to Ocean City between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The summertime here welcomes warmer temperatures in the 90s, long days, and plenty of sunshine, so you can spend the entire day at the beach. With that being said, June through November is the time of year when the East Coast is most susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms. Keep an eye on the weather, heed warnings, and take the necessary precautions should a storm head your way during vacation.
When it comes to Ocean City, it doesn’t matter whether you’re sporting your swim suit or bracing for the cooler temperatures, at all times of the year the salty sea air welcomes you to relax by the calming waves on your beach getaway.