With the iconic Ocean City Boardwalk, family-friendly beach and vibrant night life scene, Ocean City, Maryland, has become a go-to summer destination for Washingtonians.
Whether it’s your very first time visiting — or just your first time out this year — here’s WTOP’s Ocean City Beach Guide, filled with tips from locals, to help you navigate one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most exciting beach towns.
Where should you go in Ocean City, Md. this year?
Go to: Your favorite crab house. There’s lots of them, and it’s because sitting at a table and picking crabs is a great way to relax with friends.
Take your kids to: Harrison’s Harbor Watch. Located at the very end of the boardwalk, you have expansive views of the channel as boats exit the ocean for Assawoman Bay and back. Your kids will keep busy looking across at Assateague Island, hoping to see some of the wild ponies that sometimes graze to the northern point, just across from O.C.
Go here for the first time: Marlin Moon hasn’t been around for a while but it’s back in a new location for less than a year now and was already nominated for Best New Restaurant in Maryland. It didn’t win, but there’s probably a reason it made the list. Decide for yourself.
You probably haven’t tried this place, but you’ll wish you did: Sunset Grille in West Ocean City. The Restaurant Association of Maryland named it best restaurant in the state. You have to drive over to West O.C. to get there, a bridge too far for some, but maybe not anymore.
Get breakfast at: Layton’s will sit down and serve you something hot, but its doughnuts are also big, rich and delicious.
Need a pizza? You have tons of options. But Lombardi’s on Coastal Highway at 92nd Street never disappoints.
What is new in Ocean City, Md.?
Things to do in Ocean City
- A ninja-style obstacle course built by Woodward called WreckTangle opened on 3rd Street.
- Check out the tunes at The Jellyfish Music Festival.
- And Punkin Chunkin could be coming to Ocean City in 2019.
New Ocean City restaurants and O.C. food
- Three Anchors Restaurant at Coastal Highway and 75th Street.
- Sanibel’s Oceanside 32 in the LaQuinta on 32nd Street.
- Sanibel’s at Sunset Landing in the development on 67th Street bayside.
- Shotti’s Rhino Chaser Café on the boardwalk at 6th Street.
- AlleyOops — The owners of Ropewalk are turning what used to be the old J/Rs on 131 Street that closed in 2014 into a Dave & Busters concept.
- Taphouse Tavern replaces the Kirby’s Red Onion Grille at 137th Street.
- Phillips Crab House on North Philadelphia Avenue has undergone extensive renovations. It’s uptown Tex-Mex restaurant closed.
- Ocean 13 on Atlantic Avenue has a new chef and menu — Brad Taylor from Captain’s Table.
- There’s a new Dough Roller in West Ocean City.
- Mad Fish on the west end of the Commercial Fishing Harbor in West Ocean City has a new menu.
- There’s a new Bad Monkey in West Ocean City.
- Get your sweets from the newly opened Candy Kitchen in West Ocean City.
- The Starbucks in West Ocean City is moving into the area adjacent to Hoopers.
New Ocean City Hotels
- Hampton Inn in West Ocean City has opened.
- Beach Bum Inn on 3rd Street by City Hall has opened.
- Aloft Hotel on 45th Street has opened.
What are some family-fun activities in O.C., Md.?
There are plenty of places where adults can let loose, but Ocean City has plenty of kid-friendly fun.
There are the obvious choices, such as a visit to the Jolly Roger Amusement Park on Coastal Highway at 29th Street or one of the many mini-golf courses, but there are also free activities to keep families of all ages entertained.
- Ride the renovated Ferris wheel: The Ferris wheel at the Jolly Roger Amusement Park.
- Free movies: June 5 through Aug. 28, catch free movies on the beach Monday and Friday nights at 27th Street and the beach as well as Wednesdays at the Carousel Hotel on 117th Street. See the movie schedule.
- Ice cream in the park: Have a couple of ice cream lovers in your group? You’ll definitely want to make Sundaes In the Park part of your beach vacation. Every Sunday from June 16 through Sept. 1, enjoy free ice cream sundaes, games for the kids and live entertainment at Northside Park at 125th Street bayside.
- Camp: Every summer the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department offers more than 30 different summer camps — from model rockets to tennis to kayaking. Check the website for details on times and topics.
- Nightly light show: Back for its second year is a nightly light show, called 100 Nights of Lights, which runs every 20 minutes from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. The show is free and happens on beach near North Division Street.
- Dance party: Every Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ocean City’s Caroline Street Stage on the beach (July 2 through Aug. 27), dance fans can let loose to live entertainment. Pack your beach chair and a blanket for the free event.
- Sunset Park Party Nights: 2019 Dates: Thursdays, July 11 to Aug. 29, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Enjoy a free concert while watching the sunset over the Isle of Wight Bay. See the band schedule and head to South Division Street on the bay, near the Coast Guard Station.
- Competitive castles: The annual Family Beach Olympics will be held June 25 through Aug. 13 at 27th Street from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Events include sand castle contests, tug-of-war, relay races and more.
- Wild horses on Assateague: A quick drive to check out the ponies and wildlife on Assateague Island is always a nice outing for little ones and grown-ups, alike. You will have to pay to park at Assateague State Park.
- A Marine-themed museum: The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is another great option. Enjoy it from July 1 to Aug. 24. Print a free admission coupon.
- Take to the water: Kayaking, paddleboarding, surfing and other water sports are a big part of the summer lifestyle at Ocean City. Rental shops are sprinkled throughout Ocean City and Delaware, especially along the bay.
What are some rainy-day activities in Ocean City?
Bad weather keeping you from spending the day at the beach? There’s still plenty to do.
Check out local art at The Art League of Ocean City on 94th Street.
Of course, there are endless options for outlet shopping and eating (here are some recommendations from WTOP staffers), should the rain move in.
What’s Ocean City known for?
Ocean City is known for a lot of things. Be sure to check out these activities, recommended by frequent visitors and locals, alike.
- Favorite fries and beachy beverages: No trip to Ocean City is complete without french fries from Thrasher’s, a frozen rum cocktail at Seacrets and a sunset at Fager’s Island, complete with the “1812 Overture.”
- Boats at the beach: Boat fanatics will enjoy a trip to the town’s commercial harbor.
- Fresh seafood at Fish Tales: Like to watch the boats and eat? Local resident John Buono recommends a trip to Fish Tales on Herring Way.
- Best view: Visitors should take a stroll under the pier at the inlet and out to the jetty area, which overlooks Assateague Island.
- Small-town charm: Need a change of scenery? The Maryland towns of Berlin and Snow Hill are a short drive away (15 to 30 minutes). Grab lunch, take a brewery tour at Burley Oak or go on an eco-adventure at Ayers Creek while you’re there. And be sure to check out Berlin’s farmers market on Fridays.
- O.C. Air Show: The annual Ocean City Air Show, featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, returns June 15 and 16. Your best viewing spots are along the boardwalk.
- ArtX: Aug. 24 and 25, catch music, art and film at the free art show, ArtX. It will be at Northside Park.
Where do you park in Ocean City? How do you get around Ocean City?
Just headed to the beach for a quick trip? Here’s what you need to know about parking:
- Meters: There is plenty of parking in town, and much of it is metered along the main roads. Download the Parkmobile app, so you can refill the meter without giving up your spot on the beach.
- Lots: The Inlet lot at 809 S. Atlantic Ave. has 1,200 parking spaces and is located close to the boardwalk and beach. Find more information on additional lots.
- Park & Ride: On busy weekends, such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July, the Park & Ride is recommended. Park your car in West Ocean City and take the shuttle downtown for $3.
- Bus: Take the Ocean City Bus anywhere in town for $3.
- Bikes: Lots of people get around town on bikes, mopeds, scooters and by foot. Bike rental shops are scattered throughout town.
Where do you stay in Ocean City — Ocean City hotels, Ocean City rentals and Ocean City condos?
Lodging at Ocean City is a real mix of hotels and home and condo rentals.
Those looking to be right in the center of the action might prefer an oceanfront room near the boardwalk or inlet. Visitors looking for more of a quiet escape will find that in the northern part of the town.
Another great resource: OceanCity.com offers visitors tips for finding the perfect place to fit their needs — from pet-friendly accommodations to bay-side bedrooms.
And you find hotel deals on the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce website.
For more beach news, traffic and weather, visit WTOP’s Summer Beach Guide section.
WTOP’s Rachel Nania, John Domen, Will Vitka and Colleen Kelleher contributed to this Beach Guide.