When you think of the classic American boardwalk, you can almost feel your footsteps on the boards, smell the fried foods in the air, and hear the mix of people laughing and waves crashing. When you visit Ocean City’s boardwalk ,all these sensations come to life. Built over 100 years ago, the boardwalk continues its long-standing tradition of entertaining families from all over the world. 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 1902, the historic feel remains. Places such as Dolle’s and Trimper’s Rides have long family legacies of operating businesses on the boardwalk. And 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 seaside promenade.
While you’re strolling the boardwalk, there are quite a few things that you should see, do, and try.
- Take a trip on the tram that has been shuttling guests up and down the boardwalk since the 1960s. Once it was just a quarter to ride, but the current price isn’t too bad—only $3 for a one-way ticket.
- 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 the entirety of the boardwalk with ease. 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 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” dressed up in costumes from bygone eras 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.
- Stop by 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!
- Visit the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. Inside this historic building with is a museum that commemorates 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.
Of course there are some tastes that can’t be missed while cruising the boardwalk.
Saltwater taffy comes in flavors that defy imagination, and Ocean City’s 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 shops make their taffy daily and you might be lucky enough to see the process in action!
Those who like to combine sweet and salty should buy a tin of 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.
For a salty snack, go for 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.
Finally, a trip to Ocean City would not be complete without taking home some souvenirs of items that make the area famous! For example, you certainly won’t forget your Maryland vacation if you have an object to look at featuring the state’s unique flag. You can get clothing with this black and yellow emblem, but for some it may be a bit too… “extra.” 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.
Ocean City is also 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.
Crabby merchandise is another popular way to bring home the icon of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. 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.
And don’t forget local foods! 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.
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