Ocean City On a BudgetOne of the most popular vacation areas of the U.S. east coast, Ocean City is a long-time resort town, taking roots as a getaway when the first beach-front cottage was built in 1869. The destination sits on a strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wight Bay. The Atlantic Hotel was the first major hotel, built in 1875 and still in business today. It has been family owned and operated since Charles W. Purnell bought it in 1923.
Though the area suffered a hurricane in the 1930s and the original pier was destroyed by fire in 1994, the setbacks did little to hinder the city's growth. Today Ocean City flourishes as a resort town thriving with hotels, motels, apartment houses, shopping centers, residential communities, and condominiums. The southern tip houses the Ocean City Boardwalk, which serves as the main shopping district and entertainment area of the town with amusement parks and carnival goodies. Ocean city is a favorite vacation getaway and really comes to life in the summer months, attracting up to 8 million visitors annually.
SightsPrimarily a vacation destination, Ocean City's best sights are the beach and boardwalk. The beaches are beautifully kept and stretch for about 10 miles. They are free and open to the public (the way beaches should be!) from 6am-10pm daily. A family friendly environment, the beaches occasionally host free activities like concerts and movies. After a long day of swimming, sunning, and building sand castles, the best way to spend the evening is exploring the boardwalk. With an endless variety of stores, sweet shops, arcades, and amusements, Ocean City's boardwalk has been ranked amongst the best in America by the Travel Channel itself. It has also has been consistently rated as one of the "best boardwalks for food" in USA Today, and was rated one of the Top Ten Boardwalks to Visit in the US by National Geographic. Stretching for about 2.5 miles, the boardwalk ends with two amusement parks that are very popular with visitors, Jolly Roger at the Pier and Trimpet's Rides.
NeighborhoodsOcean City is first and foremost a resort town. Coastal Highway 528 stretches as the main route through the city, with many side streets on either side, residential to the east and resort to the west along the Atlantic beaches. The boardwalk stretches from the southernmost part of the city up to 27th street, and is the commercial and entertainment district of the area with many amusements, shopping, sweet snacks, and carnival food. The rest of the oceanfront which stretches to the north is lined with hotels and condominiums for easy access to the town's beaches. Also located along the main highway are restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, shopping centers, bars, and mini golf.
ActivitiesWhile the beach, boardwalk, and amusement parks are the main attractions of Ocean City, there is so much more for those looking to go the extra mile.
In regards to outdoor activities, many take advantage of the waterfront location with water sports like surfing, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. There are even establishments catering to those who wish to have a more thrilling experience with activities like parasailing or jet skiing. In regards to fishing, Ocean City has a long history, both commercial and recreational. The town bills itself as the "White Marlin Capital of the World," even hosting an annual tournament called the White Marlin Open. Held in early August, prize money for the largest White Marlin, Blue Marlin, and Tuna can reach up to 1 million dollars.
For the history buffs, Ocean City is home to many historical landmarks, like the Atlantic Hotel mentioned earlier. Though it was rebuilt in 1926 due to fire, the place exists as one of the oldest and most historic hotels in the city. There is also a 2.5 ton anchor on display at the boardwalk, recovered from the Sailboat Wreck in 1870 by the commercial clam vessel Star Light. The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is another historical site. Built in 1891 as a part of the coastal system, it was important for the saving of vessels and lives in distress. Today the museum houses interesting exhibits on the history of ocean life, nature, and life-saving services.
Food and DiningFor food, the boardwalk of Ocean City is a hot spot. From salt water taffy, cotton candy, fudge, and ice cream to pizza, burgers, barbeque, and sandwiches, the options available at the boardwalk have been consistently rated at the top. There are even a few restaurants that serve anything from spicy steamed crabs to thick sizzling steaks. Being a coastal city of Maryland, visitors and locals indulge in the seafood caught fresh offshore. A long-time favorite is of course the world-renowned Chesapeake Bay crab cakes, seasoned with Old Bay. Some of the top restaurants as rated on TripAdvisor include Thrasher's French Fries, Fisher's Popcorn, The Shark on the Harbor, and Liquid Assetts. Hooked, Sunset Grill, and Crabcake Factory are a few other favorites.
TransportationThe nearest airport is Ocean City Municipal Airport, located 3 miles west of downtown Ocean City, serving general aviation and charter aircraft. Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport, located just inland, also provides commercial air service for Ocean City.
By car, Ocean City has only a single major north-south highway, Maryland Route 528, known as the Coastal Highway for most of its length, and as Philadelphia Avenue at its southern end. It extends north into Delaware, as Delaware Route 1. Three bridges connect Ocean City to the mainland, which follow U.S. 50, Maryland Route 90, and Delaware Route 54.
Keep in mind that on summer weekends, traffic can get heavy, especially on the main highways from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
In regards to public transportation, Ocean City has a system called the Beach Bus which runs pretty much the entire length of the city, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round.
There is also a park-and-ride service known as the West Ocean City Park and Ride. Ocean City's transit service connects with Shore Transit where patrons can travel to or from destinations on the Eastern Shore such as Salisbury and Pocomoke. This connection point is the West Ocean City Park and Ride in the summer and the S. Division Street transit center in the off season.
The city also maintains open-air shuttles on the boardwalk called the Tram, which runs parallel to the boardwalk from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend.