During the hot summer months, Ocean City becomes Maryland’s second-largest city, with beachcombers and sun seekers flocking to the sands. Located on a barrier island off the state’s eastern coast, Ocean City is the summer vacation destination for residents of nearby Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and beyond.
A major reason why Ocean City tourism spikes in the summer is that the city’s 10-mile-long beach is free and open to the public. Soft, clean sand awaits castle makers and sunbathers, while two reserved areas give surfers ready access to waves.
Adrenaline junkies visiting Ocean City get the blood pumping by parasailing, jet skiing or windsurfing over the sparkling sea. For a great adventure on the water, swashbuckle with the whole family on the Duckaneer, a real pirate ship that sets sail from the Talbot Street Pier. Power your own exploration on a kayaking tour of nearby Assateague Island to see the legendary wild ponies.
Another key component of Ocean City tourism is the city’s incredible three-mile boardwalk. Take a morning bike ride down the boardwalk, and then set out on foot to take a closer look at the smorgasbord of eateries, shops and hotels. Snack on saltwater taffy or candied popcorn while browsing for souvenirs from Ocean Gallery World Center or picking out a kite from the Kite Loft.
For a good meal on the boardwalk, try Davinci’s by the Sea for outstanding Italian fare or order the famous soft-shell crabs from the Dough Roller Boardwalk Restaurant. Then head to Ocean City’s fishing pier, built in 1926, where kids can ride the beautiful 1902 Venetian two-tiered carousel at Jolly Roger. Lovebirds, board the pier’s Ferris wheel at sunset for a romantic view.
More rides and excitement are found at Jolly Roger’s 30th Street location. Home to the country’s largest go-cart track, Speedworld, the park grounds also house Splash Mountain Water Park, two mini golf courses, ziplines and the ultimate wet roller coaster, AquaLoop.
Golfers visiting Ocean City can hit the fairways on their choice of 17 championship courses, including Eagle’s Landing, Maryland’s only golf course that doubles as an Audubon Sanctuary. Or, head to Golf Course Road and spend the afternoon shopping at the Ocean City Factory Outlets.
For dinner, Phillips Crab House and Seafood Buffet on Philadelphia Avenue is a culinary legend of Ocean City. Crab cakes, shrimp fried or stuffed, steamed mussels, oysters and lobster populate the menu of what Metropolitan Magazine claims is the best crab house in town. In West Ocean City, the Shark on the Harbor offers the dorsal-finned entrée with amazing bay views, as well as excellent cocktails at the rooftop bar.
Nightlife in Ocean City is hopping at the island-themed Seacrets, Jamaica. Tiny lights glimmer in palm trees and club-hoppers can dance in the sand at any of the venue’s four stages, which commonly welcome national bands. For hot DJs, head to one of Fager’s Island’s deck parties on Mondays in the summer or to the Party Block for three rocking clubs within one city block.