On any given weekend in summer, between 250,000 and 300,000 visitors come to Ocean City, whose 10 miles of sandy beaches attract up to 8 million people annually. Chances are good that the majority of them traverse the boardwalk at some point during their trip. Indeed, many come to the city because of this iconic gathering place, which is defined by a colorful arch at North Division Street.
At nearly three miles long, the boardwalk is lined with hotels, vintage arcades and other amusements, cultural attractions, shops and the foods that have become synonymous with the beach: French fries, funnel cake, ice cream and frozen custard.
Officially known as Atlantic Avenue, this pedestrian thoroughfare with a view started in 1902 as a portable wooden walkway. A collaboration between hotel owners, the clever contraption allowed guests to walk on the beach without getting sand in their shoes. Around 1910, a permanent five-block boardwalk was built, and it was expanded in the 1920s. A devastating storm in March 1962 consumed the structure, which was rebuilt. It now ends at 27th Street.
A multimillion-dollar renovation has brought an old-fashioned feel to the boardwalk. Think Victorian-style benches, new streetlamps and decorative planters. Some businesses have also renovated their buildings to play up the boardwalk’s charming history.
Don’t-miss landmarks include:
- The Inlet Indian, a Peter Toth sculpture of an Assateague Indian made from a 100-year-old oak.
- The Pier Building, erected in 1926 on the site of the first structure, which was built in 1907.
- The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, a circa 1891 building, which tells the early history of the lifesaving service.
- Trimper’s Carousel, which has been in operation since 1912, making it the oldest continuously operated carousel in the country.
- The U.S. Coast Guard Tower, built between 1934 and 1935.
Sightseeing and salt air will help you work up an appetite. Make a pit-stop at Thrasher’s French Fries, Dolle’s Candyland, Dumser’s Dairyland or the Golden Plate, which specializes in funnel cakes.
As if all the restaurants and arcades weren’t enough, there’s free entertainment for the whole family on nearly every night during the season, from concerts to fireworks over the ocean. One thing is for sure: You’ll never be bored on the boards.