From popular tourist attractions to lesser-known areas, Dolores shares destinations in Maryland as well as regional day trips.
Ocean City, Maryland—a 10-mile stretch of sparkling white sand and surf—boasts a boardwalk, restaurants, bars, amusement parks, miniature golf, shopping, and frequent festivals and special events.
This mid-Atlantic beach resort has offered all the typical fun of a summer vacation ever since the Atlantic Hotel opened on July 4, 1875. While much of the old town has been lost to storms and real estate development, the resort town still retains a quaint, old-fashioned charm.
A barrier island set between the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay, Ocean City is a great place for fishing and bird watching. The level terrain makes it a highly walkable town whether you prefer long strolls on the beach at low tide or a walk down the 2.5-mile boardwalk.
Its pristine beach is wide, safe, and well guarded. OC is a wonderful place to visit all year round, with each season offering its own special appeal.
Where to Stay
Accommodations include 1- to 3-bedroom condos, townhouses, large single homes, motels, and hotels to fit any budget. There are funky old-time apartments, or luxury dwellings—oceanfront, bayside, and in between.
Summer in OCMD
I can think of no place that I'd rather be than on the beach in Ocean City. The soft sand, the clean beach, and the rhythm of the waves create both excitement and serenity. Summer water temperatures rise to a comfortable 70˚F or higher.
Hit the Beach
Waves run between 3 to 6 feet high, great for body surfing, boogie boarding, board surfing, or just plain having a wonderful time. After the guards leave the beach at 5:30 PM, you can surf, fish, swim at your own risk (sometimes it's so beautiful, you can't help yourself), chat, read, or enjoy the peachy golden glow of late afternoon.
Catch the Sunset in Sinepuxent Bay
On any spot in Ocean City, it's a short walk to the Sinepuxent Bay to watch a glorious sunset.
Grab a Bite on the Boardwalk
There are restaurants galore, shops, and a multitude of fanciful miniature golf courses featuring dinosaurs, jungles, and tropical paradise themes spread within walking distance of almost anywhere you care to stay.
Head to Trimper's Rides and Marty's Playland
For the best fun for the whole family, check out Trimper's Rides, a collection of rides at the south end of the Boardwalk which included indoor vintage rides including a 1902 Hershell-Spellman Carousel, the oldest continuously running carousel In the USA.
Marty's Playland, just north of Trimper's is a large arcade offering vintage and new games, an Ocean City classic since the 1930s; open every day of the year except Christmas Day. The claw machines, or the miniature cranes of Diggerville, are nearly 100 years old.
Vist the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum
At the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum, you can check out local history with the special exhibits, including shipwreck artifacts, old-time bathing costumes, and photographs of bygone years all presented in a beautifully restored old building once slated for the wrecking ball.
The museum also offers interesting material on the history of the US. Life-Saving Service, a federal organization created before the US Coast Guard to aid shipwrecks and shipwreck victims.
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Fishing during the summer months can bring you flounder, black sea bass, surf kingfish, and sand sharks. Late summer brings in pan-sized bluefish, sea trout, and croakers.
For detailed information on the fishing scene, check out local bait shops for information on who is catching what, where they are catching fish, and the kinds of bait and equipment they are using. Several head-boats also offer offshore fishing in the Atlantic Ocean or the Sinepuxent Bay.
Birdwatching is great on the beach, at the inlet, or on the Bay. Wetland areas offer waders including Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Tricolor Heron, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Green Heron, and Glossy Ibis.
Gulls include Laughing Gulls, Ring-Billed Gulls, Greater Black-Backed Gulls, and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. Commonly seen Terns include Common Terns, Fosters Terns, Royal Terns, Least Terns, and occasionally Caspian Terns. Osprey and Brown Pelicans can be seen regularly at the beach and on the Bay. Late summer brings Skimmers, Sanderlings, and Oyster Catchers.
Summer Festivals and Events
- Ocean City offers two excellent fireworks displays on the 4th of July; one near the south end of the boardwalk and another at Northside Park on 127th Street and the Bay. Every year the Boardwalk Fireworks display follows a live concert. You can spread out your blanket in the sand and enjoy the beach, the smells of popcorn and cotton candy and watch the sky light up to celebrate Independence Day. (Traffic and parking are terrible in town on the 4th of July. If you plan to attend the downtown firework display, leave your car at the Park and Ride on the west side of the Rt 50 Bridge and take a bus or walk over the bridge into town.)
- The Art League of Ocean City at 94th Street offers an ongoing exhibit that features the work of local artists. The Gallery is open Tuesday–Thursday from 11:00 AM to 4:00PM and Friday–Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. On the first Friday of every month, the Art League presents an art reception that is open to the public.
- ArtX on 125th Street at Northside Regional and national artists, films, music, food and children's activities. Aug. 29, 2021.
- The White Marlin Open is the world's largest bill-fish tournament, with over 250 boats and huge prizes, from August 1–8 or the first full week of August.
- Jeep Week brings Jeep owners and aficionados to the beach for a variety of activities including a beach crawl (a parade of Jeeps on the beach), an obstacle course, and special entertainment scattered throughout town. Aug. 27–30, 2021.
Fall in OCMD
Ocean City is beautiful in the fall. The crowds thin dramatically, and the waves seem higher and crisper. There is less humidity in the air and the beach is cooler, yet the water is warm enough for swimming comfortably, often into October.
In the fall, the bluefish come in with the cooler water, as well as Tautog, striped bass, and sheepshead.
Fall is the time to check out migratory birds as well as sandpipers, waders, and fall warblers. Late fall brings in the Great Cormorants, Red-Throated Loons, grebes, Brant's Geese, and Mergansers. Migratory ducks include Scoters, Scaups, Eiders, Red Heads, Gadwalls, and Buffleheads.
Fall Festivals and Events
- Delmarva BikeFest centers in Ocean City in mid-September (actually the last week of summer, but after Labor Day seems like Fall). Motorcycles invade the Eastern Shore for themed activities, displays, workshops, entertainment (Kid Rock, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Joan Jett), special vendors, and fun. If you are not interested in motorcycles, you will be when you check out the incredible variety of types of cycles there are. September 15–19, 2021
- SunFest, September 30–October 3, 2021. For 46 years, Sunfest has been held at the Inlet Parking Lot on the southern tip of Ocean City featuring 180 crafters, food, hayrides, and entertainment. The huge extravaganza happens during Ocean City's best weather and admission is FREE!
- National Folk Festival in nearby Salisbury (15–20 minutes west of Ocean City) welcomes traditional music as well as dancers, crafters, storytellers, and food, Sep. 10–12, 2021.
- Berlin Fiddler's Convention in late September. Main Street, Berlin, a few miles west of Ocean City hosts a free concert, an acoustic fiddling contest, crafters, and food vendors in the quaint, historic town. September 24–26, 2021.
- October festivals include the Family Campfire on the Beach, Winefest on the Beach, the Ocean City Coin and Currency Show, Harbor Day at the Docks (highlighting local maritime history and heritage), and Oktoberfest at the Convention Center on 40th Street on October 24, 2020.
- Endless Summer Cruisin' at the Convention Center, 4001 Coastal Highway. From Oct. 7–10, 2021 you can check out 1500 hot rods at a car show featuring street rods, classics, and custom creations.
- Holiday Shoppers Fair at the 40th Street Convention Hall featuring Christmas-related crafts, and holiday items. Nov. 26–28, 2021.
- Winter-fest of Lights. In late November until January 2, a small train takes you on a trip through a world of Christmas lights including religious and secular themes. At 127th Street, Northside Park.
- A Victorian Christmas in Berlin with horse and carriage rides, home tours, and music. Events go on the whole month of December in the quaint town of Berlin, several miles west of Ocean City, south of Route 50.
Winter in OCMD
I love the stark winter beach and the nearly empty Boardwalk in the winter. Ocean City is usually a bit warmer than further inland due to the warmth of the Gulf Stream current. And if it's cold, you can wrap up and enjoy the brisk, clean ocean air.
Things start to cool off in winter, but you may catch some big stripers (Rockfish). The mackerel run offshore begins sometime in March.
Winter is a great time for checking out birds in Ocean City. Besides the ducks that winter in the area, you may see an occasional pelagic (those birds that spend most of their time out at sea) such as Razorbills, Murres, and Skua. Gannets are a common sight as they fly over the ocean. Some charter boats offer winter birding trips out to sea where you may see Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Dovekies, Black-legged Kittiwake and Atlantic Puffin.
Festivals and Events
Many winter events have been cancelled in 2021 due to COVID.
- Delmarva Art Expo held Jan. 16–17, 2021 features many forms of art at the 40th Street Convention Hall.
Spring in OCMD
After being cooped up all winter, there is nothing like the fresh air and sunshine at Ocean City. Property owners are out sprucing up their buildings and there is a general buzz of excitement. The beach is relatively empty but often warm enough to spend a pleasant day walking or relaxing.
Early in the spring, catch a boat out to sea for the mackerel run or catch stripers, blues, and kingfish from the shore.
Spring is time for the return of migratory local birds, including gulls, and waders as well as spring warblers and Willets. In spring, anything is possible!
Festivals and Events
- Home, Condo, and Outdoor Show at the Roldand E. Powell Convention Center, 4001 Coastal Highway features decorating and remodeling concepts as well as an arts and crafts fair. April 23–25, 2021
- Springfest at the Inlet Parking Lot on the southern tip of Ocean City is held the first full weekend in May. It features arts and crafts, entertainment, food vendors, and more under a big top. May 6–19, 2021.
- Cruisin' Ocean City at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center hosts a huge car show that includes classic cars as well as customs and hot rods. Entertainment and vendors add to the fun. The show costs $10.00 on Thursday and Sunday; $15.00 on Friday and Saturday.
- Ocean City Air Show on June 19–20, 2021. A free air show that can be seen along the entire length of the Boardwalk featuring military jet demonstrations, skydivers, formation flying teams, celebrity pilots, and Coast Guard demonstrations
Ocean City, Maryland
© 2010 Dolores Monet