The Beach- and Crab-Loving Weekender: Ocean City, MD
Beach + beach food and beach drinks. Visit this spot for a classic Maryland vacation.
I'm originally from Pennsylvania, but after going to school at the University of Maryland, I completely bought into the Maryland craze. The state flag, Berger cookies, I'm not a huge seafood fan but I'll even eat crab once in a while--and then there's Ocean City.
We have wonderful Maryland friends who have been inviting us "down the ocean" (although if you're from Baltimore, it's more like "downy eaushin") for years. I was just texting with one to plan our annual trip, so I thought I'd write about some of the things we like to do there. Granted, I am not a native Marylander so I'm sure many will argue that there are spots I missed. But use this as a jumping off point!
Where: Ocean City, MD
Get there: 3-hour drive from DC (but probably longer on the way back if you leave on a Sunday afternoon)
Do: Hang out on the free beaches, walk the boardwalk, rent bikes for a morning bike ride, kayak on the bay, go for a run on the boardwalk or at a park, play mini golf...basically all beach-y stuff
Eat/Drink: Harpoon Hanna's, Seacrets (if you dare), Hooper's Crab House, Grotto Pizza, Tequila Mockingbird, the Fractured Prune, Dumser's, Macky's, Fager's Island, Abbey Burger Bistro...
Stay: We've mostly stayed with friends or friends of friends--but there are tons of hotel options! I went to a conference once at the Princess Royale and the accommodations are beautiful.
We've been to Ocean City so many times, and when going to the beach, even I don't make a schedule. (That's the beauty of it, isn't it?) So I'm going to just break this down based on things to do and where to eat/drink. If you think I've missed something, shoot me an email and let me know!
The beach. Duh! And Ocean City beaches are free, which is great. If you want to be close to the boardwalk, like most beaches, it gets crowded. Go farther down the beach and it will be clearer but of course, keep in mind where the nearest bathroom will be! (Or is that just me?)
The boardwalk. Ocean City has a pretty robust boardwalk, with lots of shops, restaurants, and places to pick up necessary ice cream and/or fries. Most of the shops will have beach-y or touristy clothes and trinkets, but I think they're fun to walk into. It's a good break during the heat of the day, before it gets hot in the early morning, or after dinner at night (much more crowded then, though!).
Rent bikes for a morning bike ride. Speaking of the boardwalk, one year we rented bikes and did a morning bike ride up and down that area. If you go early enough, it's not too crowded--and you can reward yourself for exercising with a morning donut from the Fractured Prune.
Kayak on the bay. The ocean at Ocean City is great, but don't forget to check out the bay. That's where many restaurants get their outdoor seating and views. And, you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, jet ski, etc. if you want to try something different.
Go for a run. The boardwalk is always nice for a run in the early morning--or you can run to or through a park like Northside Park.
Play mini golf. What is a beach town without mini golf? Ocean City boasts a ton of options. Great for kids, families, quiet nights with friends, or awkward date nights.
Harpoon Hanna's. This is one of our favorite Ocean City restaurants, even though it's technically just over the border in Fenwick Island, DE. There always seems to be live music, you can normally get a table, there is a cool tiki bar/gazebo--and of course, lots of fruity frozen drinks.
Seacrets. This place is infamous in Ocean City. It's basically a huge bar that's part indoors, part on the beach/sand, part in the water. If you want to do the bachelorette party thing or relive your crazy college days, this is probably the place for you. Considering my crazy college days consisted of intense games of Spoons, this is not really my scene.
Hooper's Crab House. Fun place to get your fill on Maryland crabs.
Grotto Pizza. Classic mid-Atlantic beach pizza.
Tequila Mockingbird. Mexican restaurant with huge drinks! And a fun literary name--how can an English major like me resist?
Dumser's. Ocean City's famous ice cream. Honestly I've had better beach ice cream but this is the place to go and try if you're visiting. It's definitely a favorite with Marylanders.
Macky's. Great restaurant and bar on the beach of the bay. Your table could literally be in the sand!
Fager's Island. Again, great bay views.
Abbey Burger Bistro. Amazing burgers and spiked milkshakes, including a Berger Cookie
milkshake and "PB without the J Cup" milkshake, which is basically peanut butter with Godiva chocolate liquor. Yum.
But no matter what you do, take some time to relax! One of my favorite things to do is just sit on the porch at our friends' place in the mornings and read a book. Hope you find your spot, too!