Aaahhhhh! There is nothing like that first moment each year when your feet first touch the beach. The warm, calming feeling of sand between your toes, the smell of the salt water, the call of the seagulls, the rainbow of umbrellas painting the beach, the sound of children playing, the waves crashing — that moment when you take a deep breath in and say to yourself, ‘I really missed this.’
It’s summertime — time to go down to the shore, get some steamed crabs, a suntan, stare at people dressed in inappropriate bathing suits, build sand castles, fly kites, and temporarily ditch our diets for Thrasher’s French fries and Fried Dough. From Putt Putt Golf to water slides to the best places to chill with your favorite mixed drink, we’re going to break down the best of each beach town so you don’t have to. So sit back, take a deep breath in, and imagine that you can already smell the salt air and feel the sand beneath your toes, and discover what awaits you down at the shore.
Ocean City is the pinnacle beach town —high rise hotels, clothing shops with beach-inspired gear, surf board and skateboard shops, and putt putt on every corner…Ocean city doesn’t miss a beat. If you are looking to be in the center of it all, then Ocean City is the way to go. It’s a bit noisier then the other towns mentioned, but then again it’s a lot bigger too. Ocean City has gotten quite crowded over the last few years — beaches, restaurants, and Coastal Highway are always packed with people, but it’s still Marylanders’ favorite place to sunbathe, jump waves, eat, shop, and meet friends.
Ocean City’s boardwalk, which stretches to 27th Street in the oldest part of Ocean City, is crowded with hotels, some of them dating back to the 1920s. Restaurants, ice cream stands, and shops line the boardwalk and even if they seem redundant, you still want to go in every one of them. The boardwalk ends at the fishing pier with amusement games and tons of rides.
Rte. 611, 4 miles south of Rte. 50 — 410-289-7877 for Old West park, 410/641-0693 for water park; www.frontiertown.com
Train rides, as well as, pony rides, can-can shows, bank holdups, gunfights, and swaggering cowboys make up Frontier Town which has been in operation for more than 40 years. In a separate park (with separate admission), there’s a water park and mini-golf. The park is open 10am to 6pm and parking is free.
30th St. and Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, Maryland — 410-289-3477
Along with two miniature golf courses, a water park and more than 30 rides, Jolly Roger is home to SpeedWorld, the largest go-cart racing complex of its kind in the United States. There is no admission to the park; however visitors buy “debit cards” that they can use throughout the park. Go-cart riders can buy a $30 armband to ride for 2 hours or purchase single track rides. The go-cart tracks have minimum height requirements.
The park is open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day. SpeedWorld is open noon to midnight. The park rides run from 2pm to midnight and the mini-golf is open 10am to midnight. SpeedWorld and the miniature golf courses are also open March through May and September through October, with reduced hours. Water park admission is $30.
200 S. Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland21842 — 888-395-0335 — 410-289-5638
Since 1937, the Fisher family has been making popcorn on the Boardwalk and Talbot Street in downtown Ocean City, Maryland. This small family business takes pride in making tasty caramel corn. The popcorn is amazing, especially fresh and gooey. The popcorn is available all year round. For those of you with peanut or nut allergies, be aware that the popcorn comes with or without peanuts, but they are made in the same facility.
Ocean City Pier Rides
On the Inlet in DowntownOceanCity — 410/289-3031
The rides here appeal mostly to older kids and teens who like thrills, but the giant Ferris wheel is the main attraction and a highlight for all ages. The rest of the rides seem to change every season, although the Venetian double-decker carousel is always in its place. Rides cost about $2 or so each.
The Kite Loft
511 Boardwalk, Ocean City, Maryland — 410-289-6852; www.kiteloft.com
For 31 years, The Kite Loft has been THE place to buy beautiful and unique kites in Ocean City. From windsocks, to flying toys, wind chimes to windwheels, The Kite Loft is the number one place to visit if you are in the market for an air-borne pastime.
112 S Atlantic Ave, Ocean City, Maryland21842 – (410) 289-2434
Sunsations is the largest beach department store in Ocean City. With many locations throughout Ocean City, Sunsations has everything you need for a perfect vacation – swimsuits, toys, T-shirts, souvenirs, gifts, footwear, hats, boogie boards and much more.
Thrasher’s French Fries
Boardwalk, between Wicomico and Worchester streets, Ocean City, Maryland21842 —
Thrasher’s fries are arguably the best French Fries in the world. Since 1929, Thrasher’s has been a part of just about everyone’s beach experience on the Maryland Shores. They’re good with ketchup, they’re good with mustard, they’re good with salt and vinegar — let’s face it, Thrasher’s fries are good with anything. Those with peanut allergies beware: Thrasher’s fries are made in peanut oil.
60th Street on the Bay, Ocean City, Maryland — 410-524-5500
Picture dark wood, Tiffany lamps, and a laid-back vibe, and you have Fager’s Island bar. Popular with the over-30 set, Fager’s offers summer deck parties on Mondays, DJ on Saturdays, and live music on weekends.
49th and the Bay, Ocean City, Maryland — 410/524-4900
Entering Seacrets is like automatically waking up on a Caribbean Island. Surrounded by palm trees, dangling lights, sand, the bay, and a few great signature drinks, Seacrets bar is a one-of-a kind experience. Along with a large covered dancing area, Seacrets also serves food, but it’s best to come very early if you want to eat. Many bring their young children for an early dinner because they love the theme park decor, especially the sand on the floor.
The Green Turtle
11601 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, Maryland21842, 116th St. and Coastal Highway
Almost three decades worth of service has made this restaurant and pub into a Maryland favorite. The popular sports bar boasts nine TVs, a game room, and happy hour daily from 4-7 pm.
The Fractured Prune
28th and Coastal Hwy, Around Town — 410-289-4131; www.fracturedprune.com
The Fractured Prune may very well be the best kept secret at the Beach. You simply can not come to Ocean City without stopping here for one of their famous, hot, sweet donuts. In each of their two shops, donuts are made to order. While they are hot, you can choose to have them dipped in one of a variety of glazes, toppings, and sugars — from cherry glaze with chocolate chips to top chocolate glaze with peanuts or coconut. They’re all delicious. They also serve really good sandwiches. Donuts are $6.95 a dozen.
S. Division St, Ocean City, Maryland — 410-289-3501
This pizza parlor has five locations in Ocean City and has become a popular restaurant for pizza lovers. The Victorian themed restaurant is beautifully decorated with a stellar menu to match including, pizza, burgers, subs, Italian specialties, as well as delicious strawberry daiquiris. They also serve a delicious breakfast including pancakes which are served around the clock.
12305 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, Maryland — 410-250-5543
Since opening in 1939, Dumser’s has become an Ocean City landmark. Offering 20 different varieties of sundaes, as well as simple but scrumptious entrees like fried chicken, crab cakes, sandwiches and salads, this restaurant has great options for kids and their parents. With three ice cream-only boardwalk locations as well as a limited-menu Drive–In located at 49th and Coastal Highway that’s open year round, Dumser’s is a great place to visit for delicious food and dessert.