About a week ago I read an article naming Ocean City, Maryland one of the best beach towns in America. We were just there a few weeks ago and are actually planning to go again this weekend, so it seemed like a good time to write about it.
A couple of things: Ocean City is for people who are looking to have fun in a tacky, ridiculous kind of way. If you are a luxury travel person, Ocean City is not for you. If you love playing miniature golf at really silly, tacky mini-golf courses then you will love it!
Unique to Ocean City:
- Visit the Boardwalk
- Play Mini-Golf
- Ride Go Karts
- Enjoy the nightlife at Seacrets
- Eat orange Ice Cream
Visit the Boardwalk – The Ocean City Boardwalk is the most iconic thing about Ocean City. We were lucky enough to get a hotel right on the Boardwalk at about 9th street and were able to walk up and down to find places to eat, souvenir shops, and just take in the overall scenery. When we were there it was chilly, but the Boardwalk is right on the beach which appears to be a very flat, not-rocky beach that stretches for miles. At the far south end is a pier with a small amusement park and the beach to the north goes as far as the eye can see. The Boardwalk is crowded at all hours of the day and the people watching is quite entertaining.
Play Mini-Golf – From what we can tell, there are about a dozen miniature golf courses along the main drag (Philadelphia Ave). There are a handful of courses managed by Old Pro Golf, a couple owned by Nick’s Mini Golf, and Planet Maze. One thing we learned is that mini-golf gets really crowded in the evenings, but fortunately the people mostly let you play through if you’re efficient. We tried out 5 different ones on our day in Ocean City (the beach was chilly, remember). Here are my thoughts about each:
- Planet Maze – A-Maze-ing. No really, it was my favorite! Their alien designs were so fun!
- Lost Treasure Golf – Cool! The plane on the rock formation got our attention from the road. Also, they had a lot of water throughout their course, including one neat hole where you actually putted into the water and the ball got caught my a whirlpool and then sucked through. They definitely put some time into the set-up here. They also were so nice to this family whose little kids accidentally hit their balls into the road. Definitely family friendly!
- Old Pro Golf: Prehistoric Dinosaur Course – Very fun. Some of the dinosaurs are motorized and the volcano in the middle was a nice touch. *Note none of the other dinosaur courses appeared to have a volcano – so points for Old Pro.
- Old Pro Golf: Undersea Adventure – An indoor course
at the same location as the dinosaur course. You might as well do both! They even have a submarine!
- Old Pro Golf: Temple of the Dragon – Ehhh, not sure what the theme actually was here. Aztec? Easter Island? Asian? Fun, but confusing. I actually won the free game at this course!
Visit the Fenwick Island Lighthouse – eh, not that impressive. It’s on the bay side and in the middle of a trailer park.
Check out the Nightlife at Seacrets – I’ve heard a lot of people say that Seacrets is a fun place to go out for the evening if you’re looking for a bar and music. We didn’t try it, we mini-golfed instead.
Next time I visit Ocean City:
- Use my voucher for a free game of Mini-Golf – the Pirate themed one!
- Ride Go-Karts – Brian still had a boot on his right foot for this trip, so he couldn’t drive one
- Ride the Trolley the whole length of the boardwalk
- Track down some of that famous orange ice cream!
I would bring a car and plan on using it. If you are planning to visit any of the locations along Philadelphia Avenue like the mini-golf courses or the go-kart places, then you are going to need your car. Luckily, it’s easy to navigate the town since it’s really just 1 main road and parking never seemed to be an issue.
If you want to stay along the Boardwalk, they have a “Boardwalk Tram” that runs the length of the boardwalk and is very inexpensive (a couple of dollars, I think?) since your fee lets you ride it the entire day. It doesn’t appear to have a set schedule, they just go back and forth all day long. We just ended up walking everywhere, but on my next trip I’d like to ride it and see the things that were out of walking range of our hotel.
Paradise Plaza Inn – we stayed at the Paradise Plaza Inn and I loved it! It is not fancy. The hotel was definitely built in the 1970s and it definitely could use some upgrades. That being said, it was clean, the tackiness was fun for us, and the location is unbeatable. We booked our hotel way back in December through Hotwire and think we got a pretty good deal. And we actually lucked out this time and got upgraded to a balcony suite with a weird layout, but also a huge jacuzzi tub. The view from our balcony (see picture) was awesome, great for people watching and to see the sunrise.
Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks:
Overall the food in Ocean City was not very good. If you are a seafood eater and a big fan of Maryland crabs, then maybe you will love it. But for us, it wasn’t our thing. That being said, we still had a good time, just next time we’ll probably try new restaurants instead of revisiting any of these.
Bull on the Beach – My husband is a Texan and huge BBQ lover, so we stopped at Bull on the Beach the first night. It’s right on the Boardwalk, so a very fun setting. His overall impression was that the food wasn’t very good.
Doughrollers Pizza – For lunch on the 2nd day, we decided to try Doughrollers Pizza right on the boardwalk. Overall the building is one of the bigger, newer looking restaurants in the area. The food was just so-so. The pizza was edible but very greasy. I had a stomach ache shortly after lunch which is rare for me, so yeah….
Hooters – Yea, really. After a couple of bad meal experiences, Brian talked me into eating dinner at Hooters because he promised me that their food would at least be good. And we were already in a pretty tacky city, so why not add to the experience? I think it says a lot about a place when Hooters if your best meal of the weekend, but it honestly was. We just got their standard bar fare, french fries and chicken wings. My suggestion, try local for a meal or two and if you’re disappointed, this can be your fall-back. 🙂
Hammerheads Bar & Grill – We ate brunch on Sunday morning before hitting the road. My overall impression was that it was nice to sit at a table in the sand and eat brunch. The food was fine but not special. Overall service was a bit slow considering how few diners were there.
Rita’s Italian Ice – Okay, any time we go to a beach, we always stop at Rita’s Italian Ice. There’s one located along Philadelphia Avenue and it’s worth stopping at. Even though they are known for their italian ice, the frozen custard is also very good! I love a mango ice and vanilla custard gelati!
Candy Kitchen – These stores are everywhere. We stopped in for a small bag of saltwater taffy.
Dumser’s Dairyland – I’ve read really good things online about the orange ice cream. It’s on my list to try it next time.
Thrasher’s French Fries – Also read good things about the french fries from Thrashers. We’re just not big fans of Old Bay Seasoning, so we passed on this one.
Tips/ Things to Know:
- Tacky, Tacky, Tacky! There’s a reason the nickname is “Ocean Shitty”. Just manage expectations and you’ll still have a fun time!
My Time Spent in Ocean City:
- 2 day weekend getaway in June 2016
Hope you find our travel guide helpful!