One of the things I thought I’d miss most when moving from Boston to Baltimore was the easy access to beautiful seaside towns.
Massachusetts is known for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket – all picturesque New England experiences. I even remember hearing a bit of an ‘our-beaches-are-better-than-yours’ attitude towards southern counterparts New Jersey and Maryland while I still lived up north.
So it was with some trepidation, and maybe even low expectations, that I packed up the sunscreen and beach towels and headed to Ocean City, Maryland. Turns out that while there are differences between Mid-Atlantic and New England beaches, there is also plenty to embrace. I loved every bit of it.
Here is a guide to your next getaway in Ocean City, Maryland.
Where to Stay
Inn at the Ocean
Located right on Atlantic Avenue, this quaint bed and breakfast offers a quiet sanctuary from busy, tiring days at the beach. You won’t have to worry about finding (or buying) breakfast, since it is included in the room price at the Inn at the Ocean. I enjoyed people watching from the wrap-around porch and rocking chairs after a long day of walking up and down the beach.
If old west rustic is more your style, Frontier Town offers rental cabins, tents and trailers about five miles from the beach. You can take part in a Wild West show, the lazy river and mini golf. If you’re worried you might get bored of the beach, or if you want to zip line on vacation, this is the place for you.
Hilton Oceanfront Suites
If traveling with a group or looking for typical hotel amenities, the Hilton Oceanfront Suites have you covered. The arcade and indoor pool are great for rainy days, although the outdoor pool is also lots of fun. The three restaurants include one that allows you to dine and drink al fresco.
What to Eat
If you’re headed to the beach for vacation, you should be ready to eat a lot of seafood. And Hooked, which relies on local suppliers for fish and veggies, has you covered. You can get your Maryland crab fix with the crab cakes, and I loved the calamari with spicy dipping sauce. Signature cocktails are also a must, like the spicy Thai Creek or the refreshing Orange Crush.
“I’m on vacation, so I can eat donuts every day.” At least that’s what I told myself once I discovered the Fractured Prune, which has several locations in Ocean City. You can pick your own flavors and toppings like caramel, lemon, honey or mocha glaze (just to name a few). The combinations are infinite, and even though the Fractured Prune is expanding across the country, Ocean City is where the magic started.
Liquid Assets is open for lunch, dinner, and after-dinner cocktails and drinks. You can also buy booze to go – a great option if you want some goodies to enjoy at your hotel. I spent a couple hours sampling from their extensive wine list and enjoying a crazy good charcuterie and cheese plate, which was ample enough to count for dinner.
What to Do
Wild horses couldn’t drag me from this beautiful, unique beach (sorry, I had to). Assateague Island National Seashore is more natural and pristine than Ocean City itself and, yes, you can see wild horses. Regular visitors know not try to pet or feed the horses. This is their home, we’re just visiting!
If you are lucky enough to see the horses running across the beach or swimming the beautiful ocean, it’s a sight you’ll never forget. If you’d rather see it from the ocean, you can take a sightseeing cruise or kayak tour of the national park.
The Beach and Boardwalk
I mean, this is why you come to shore, right? There are 10 miles of free, wide beaches in Ocean City, MD. There are also two sections of beach always reserved for surfers, if that’s your thing. There were public restrooms and rinse of stations so that I could freshen up without having to go back to the hotel.
The city also provides fun activities in the evening on the beach, like outdoor movies and concerts. I loved walking the Boardwalk, with quintessential shops, French fries, ice cream parlors and arcades.
There’s a little something for everyone at Seacrets. While I liked the live music, my friends liked the blended drinks and sand under their toes. With seating that allows you to keep your feet in the water with a drink in your hand, Seacrets is a must-visit. Also, they are opening a distillery this summer, so even if you’ve been before, it’s worth it to go back.
Ocean City, MD, has a reputation as being a families-with-young-kids spot, but I found that there are plenty of options for 20-somethings. Between the Instagram-worthy food options, live music, and abundant cocktails, I don’t think I’ll miss those New England beaches too much after all. I’ll be heading back to Ocean City, MD, this summer!