Ocean City, MD  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Ocean City Area Features

The Classic American Boardwalk

The Ocean City Boardwalk continues its long-standing tradition of entertaining families from all over the world. The aroma of pizza, candy and deliciously greasy boardwalk food fills the air, attracting hungry beachgoers. Meanwhile, children’s shrieks of amusement are heard as they play the arcade games or experience a thrilling ride. You can’t help but feel nostalgic while strolling the wooden planks of this scenic promenade. And though it has been rebuilt since its conception in 1910, the historic feel remains—almost taking you back to when the boardwalk was only 5 blocks long. That’s the appeal of Ocean City. It’s the generations of family members who can’t wait to introduce their children to many of the same things along the boardwalk that they experienced when they were young.

Today, hundreds of restaurants and food counters, stores, shops, games and rides line the 10-mile-long promenade. There is so much to see and do that the boardwalk is a destination all by itself. Because of these businesses and the wooden planks that give it an edge over the modern concrete “boardwalks” of other cities, the Ocean City Boardwalk has won travel destination awards and is always a top-ranking boardwalk on travel lists around the country. And though a large portion of the walkway is cement, the wooden boards near the inlet are there to stroll along—just as previous generations have—while visiting this classic American boardwalk.

Boardwalk Musts!

Some of the shops, attractions and vendors along the Ocean City Boardwalk can trace their roots back to the early days of the beachside attraction. Maryland residents and vacationing families flock to these mainstay businesses in search of merchandise, food and fun they can’t find elsewhere. Read on for information about these coveted jewels along the sea.

Must See:

Various landmarks are iconic along the Boardwalk. Some are impossible to miss…

  • Ocean Gallery: This unique building is usually seen way before the viewer is close to it… The outside of the building can be construed as a work of art (as can the “batmobile” parked alongside the gallery), but inside is an insanely massive collection of prints with themes covering every topic from adorable pit bulls and beautiful sea turtles to Marvel™ superheroes and Marilyn Monroe. There are some famous prints and others that can only be described as intriguing. Yet, there is something for everyone. Find your masterpiece!
  • The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum: At the very end of the boardwalk on the inlet is this amazing historic structure. Inside the 1891 white building with its distinguishing red roof is a museum dedicated to the United States Life-Saving Service—the precursor to the modern Coast Guard. Here, visitors can learn about the valiant efforts of those who manned this station and saved countless lives. In addition, a history of the boardwalk and new and engaging exhibits can also be explored. Even the kids will enjoy activities that are designed just for them in the Little Keepers Day Room. Take some time to soak in the history and information that is available in the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum.

Must Do:

While visiting the boardwalk, here are some of the things that should really be experienced!

  • Rides and Amusements: Numerous carnival rides are scattered along the pier and the boardwalk including a Ferris wheel, roller coasters and the most iconic of all, the Trimper’s carousel. Purchased in 1912, this attraction featuring hand-carved animals is one of the oldest operating carousels in the nation. There are also kiddie rides indoors for younger family members and more thrilling rides like bumper cars for older kids and kids at heart. The entire family will have fun exploring the mirror maze or “braving the high seas” on the pirate ship. Maybe even tour the creepy home of Count Wolf Von Vinderstein on Trimper’s popular haunted house ride. Prepare to be scared!
  • Bicycle: What better way to explore the entirety of the boardwalk than with a leisurely bicycle ride? From solo bicycles to tandems, Atlantic Bike Co. rents just about any type of bike you can imagine. Load up to 6 people in a surrey and ride down the boardwalk under the cover of its canopy. There are also bikes with trailers, fun cycles and tag-along bikes for other ways to pedal along the wooden planks.
  • Arcade Boardwalk Games: Just as you would expect to see on an early 1900s boardwalk, arcade amusements and games are calling kids of today to come play. Classics such as the clown water balloon game (where you shoot a watergun at the clown’s mouth in an attempt to pop the balloon) and updated games including “Box of Moon Rocks” (toss a wiffle ball in a selected spot to win a prize) are inexpensive to play and tons of fun. It’s all part of the atmosphere that makes the Ocean City Boardwalk a family-friendly and entertaining place to visit!
  • Take an Old Time Photo: Dress up in costumes from bygone eras and have your photo taken for a cool keepsake of your vacation. Gentlemen may find their alter ego as an 1800s barkeep or a 1900s mobster. Ladies can appear as a flapper from the Roaring ‘20s or in the Victorian era’s prim attire. Not only is it a fun experience, but a memorable one as well.

Must Try:

Anyone who has visited the boardwalk and tried some of its irresistible foods undoubtedly has a favorite place they HAVE to revisit. Many places such as Atlantic Stand have been a boardwalk cornerstone for decades. Some of the foods are also synonymous with the Ocean City Boardwalk including:

  • Saltwater Taffy: In flavors that defy imagination, Ocean City’s saltwater taffy is a delicious treat that must be sampled. Many visitors to the boardwalk correlate this sticky confection with Ocean City itself. Long taffy sticks or taffy kisses can be tried in just about any flavor you like, from lime and watermelon to a stuffed peanut butter or banana-strawberry swirl. You can even get minty flavors for a quick refresher after eating a garlicky pizza or onion rings! Many of the shops make their taffy daily and you might be lucky enough to see the process in action!
  • Caramel Corn: The tantalizing aroma of this salty-sweet treat can be detected long before you see the store. And it’s not just caramel corn that should be tried—some stores concoct fancier blends by mixing in chocolate drizzles and nuts. Yet, the original is typically the most popular and exceedingly delicious. Served slightly warm and made fresh daily, caramel corn is a great boardwalk snack.
  • Boardwalk Fries: The line for Thrasher’s French Fries probably started back in 1929 when it first opened—and it is still worth the wait! These fries are the ultimate Ocean City Boardwalk food. Perfectly fried and dowsed with apple-cider vinegar and a sprinkling of Old Bay (you are in Maryland after all…) these fries alone keep people coming back to the boardwalk. While here, don’t miss your opportunity to enjoy this iconic food.

Must Buy:

A trip to Ocean City would not be complete without taking home some souvenirs of items that make the area famous!

  • Treats to take home: After you’ve sampled the fabulous sweets in the candy stores, purchase a box of taffy from Candy Kitchen or a tub of caramel corn from Dolle’s to take home or share at the beach with friends.
  • An item featuring the Maryland flag: It’s the hottest, loudest look on the boardwalk and you too can wear this yellow and black symbol of Maryland. Too much flair for your taste in clothing? Maybe just pick up an item featuring the flag, such as a kite, the trendy crab-shaped bumper sticker, or glassware for a subtler remembrance of your vacation.
  • Crabby merchandise: You may not want to travel with a bushel of these delicious crustaceans, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring home the icon of the Chesapeake Bay in some other form. Shirts proclaim the wearer’s crabbiness, plush toys present a “soft”er crab, and even elegant crab-shaped jewelry can be purchased at Atlantic Gold or Park Place Jewelers for that special someone.
  • T-Shirts: Ocean City is seemingly a “mecca” for T-shirts. Whether the design reflects the name of the city, a bad joke, a political statement or spray-painted artwork, it’s hard to walk even a block without seeing an ample assortment to choose from. Local establishments with catchy names or cool logos such as M.R. Ducks and Salty Dog are also popular purchases for out-of-towners.

Photo Ops:

Take a moment for a photo-op at some of these cool spots along the boardwalk:

  • Under the Boardwalk Sign
  • Anchor at the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
  • Among the dinosaur or whale statues on the beach
  • Put your face in the Ocean City sign near the pier
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