Ocean City, Md., specializes in excess. It has 10 miles worth of beaches, a three-mile boardwalk and plenty of nightlife establishments where people are known to drink and drink and drink and then dance. Though nearly every beach town has its fair share of places to party (be it in New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland), Ocean City takes it to the next level.
Given that, you might want to make this an overnight trip rather than a day trip. Excess doesn’t equate too well with driving back the same day.
How to get there
A car is probably going to be your best bet for getting to Ocean City. Amtrak is another option, but a one-way ticket will run you about $150. The drive to Ocean City is fairly simple. Just take I-95 South and switch to 113-South once you get past Wilmington. It will probably take about three hours depending on traffic.
If you don’t go with the Amtrak option, your main costs will be springing for a tank of gas and a hotel. If you want to spend $200 a night on a hotel, it can easily be done here. But search around for smaller motels, and you can sometimes get a great deal, especially right before you go down — many motels bring down their prices if they have vacancies.
You can’t really go wrong with spending the entire afternoon at the beach here. It costs nothing, and there’s plenty of shoreline to explore and find a great spot. Perhaps the best news is that wherever you decide to hang out and swim, it should be clean. Ocean City has recently been lauded as having one of the cleanest beaches in the country. Two areas of the beach are designated for surfing, and you can fish wherever you want, provided you’re 50 yards away from swimmers.
What to do
Shopping: Shopping in Ocean City is about the same as any East Coast beach town. There’s Tanger Outlets, with lower-cost brand-items a couple miles from the beach. On the boardwalk, you’ll find t-shirt shops and the usual carnival games. Ocean City is also home to Trimper’s Carousel, which has been in operation since 1912 and is also perhaps haunted. Plenty of more thrilling rides dot the boardwalk, too.
Coast Guard Tower: You’ll want to take a look at the United States Coast Guard Tower. It’s been by the boardwalk since 1934 and was actually used during World War II to scan for German U-Boats (spoiler alert: they didn’t see any). The bad news is you can only look. The public can’t enter.
Ice skating: Yes, ice skating. Swing by the Carousel Resort near 118th Street on the northern end of Ocean City for ice skating all year ’round.
Water sports: Water sports are huge in Ocean City, and the canals along the bay side are perfect for kayaking. Swing by 48th Street Watersports for affordable bayside kayaking options where you can snag a one-hour, single-person ride for $15. There are also dozens of places where you can rent boats for fishing or speed boating. More information on that, here.
Surfing: If you’re into surfing, Ocean City, Md. is pretty much THE place in the region for it. Check out the surf report here, and let these guys show you how great the waves can be:
Seacrets: A massive venue with live music, its own spot on the beach and 18 bars. Yeah, that’s not a typo. Visit the spot on 49th Street on a weeknight for a more relaxed atmosphere, and get there during the day on Saturday if you want to feel like you’re at spring break.
Backshore: Ocean City’s first brewery.
Fager’s Island: Celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Known for its seafood but also has live bands at night when it’s time to party.
Phillip’s Seafood: Yeah, it’s a chain. But this popular spot for seafood in Ocean City boasts a huge, all-you-can-eat seafood buffet as well as other sit-down options like pick ’em crabs.
J/R’s Ribs: This place defines rib joint. Swing by the 61st street location for great BBQ and sides.
Hooked: Local seafood that’s fancier than your standard beach restaurant but only a couple blocks from the water. It’s also a little pricier, though.
Macky’s: One of the best views for a bar/restaurant, and it gets hopping at night when it usually has a live DJ.
Ocean City Brewing Company: Has standard bar fare and tons of craft brews on tap.