Thoughts about Ocean City Maryland Vacation?

We’ve decided to go to Ocean City, Maryland, for our family vacation this summer, and I’m looking for any thoughts you guys may have. We’ll have a 6 year old and a couple of 15 year olds, and we’re looking to stay as close to the “fun” boardwalk as possible.

My Specific Questions:

1 - I have read that you should stay on the east side of the Coastal Highway - true? We’ll be walking to the beach, but we found a super-cool little property closer to the bayside, but it’s three blocks to the ocean and we would be on the west side of the highway. Is that really a big deal?

2 - How close is too close to the amusement park/pier area just south of 1st street? I want to be able to just wander down there with the kids on a whim, but I don’t necessarily want 26,000 people on the sand, or the bumper cars rolling next door until 2am.

3 - We’re looking at going the last week of June, but it looks like June is “High School Seniors” time. I don’t mind that as much (should I?) but the thought is that our nice, responsible daughter and her friend will be able to spend some evenings on the Broadwalk - will the Seniors get them drunk and take advantage of them? Is it a rowdy crowd? I wouldn’t mind a “first kiss” sort of summer thing for my daughter (how romantic!) but I’d like to avoid a Roofies and Assult sort-of pregnancy.

Any ideas on day trips in the area? We always promise ourselves that we’ll someday have a vacation that has a lot more cocktails than truck stops, but we always end up driving around looking for cool stuff anyway. Any good historic homes to tour or state parks to explore?


Oceanside/Bayside dwellings are more a matter of preference than anything else. It really depends on how often you plan on going to the ocean beach. People really like the convenience of being able to walk to the beach barefoot and with minimal things to carry. Additionally, trying to cross Costal Highway as a pedestrian is not fun. You’ll definitely pay more for oceanside rooming.

If you want to stick close to the boardwalk, two things: One, be wary that you’ll be assaulted by a lot of light and a lot of noise (ferris wheel, people yelling, etc.) late at night while you may be trying to sleep. Two, better make your reservations now, since those rooms are snatched up pretty quick and can get pricey.

I would be very careful about your daughters if I were you. The potential to get roofied and assaulted is pretty high with so many drunk high schoolers/college students around. Every 16-24-year-old guy goes to Ocean City with only two things on his mind: getting drunk and getting laid.

  1. OC is a strip only about 1/4-1/2 mile wide. Throughout my childhood we always stayed on the bay side and it was never a problem.

  2. If you have to stay on the ocean side, there are nice, quiet places up towards the northern end of the boardwalk where it’s pretty much just all hotels. Or consider places farther north. Rates will be cheaper and the bus going up and down the Coastal Highway is only a buck to board or $3 to ride all day.

  3. When I went there on Senior week back in the day, it was very tame. The thing is, everyone in town knows that everyone there that week is underage so the bars and liquor stores make it difficult if not impossible for kids to get alcohol.

Rehoboth is a nice day trip, or Lewes, DE which is the next town north of Rehoboth. Lewes is “the first town in the first state” and there’s some nice history there. It’s also a very nice little town with some good local restaurants.

And there’s always Assateague/Chincoteague which is only a short drive from OC.

Great suggestions. Might I also add the Outer Banks if you’re willing to pay a bit more. I just went to Corolla, OBX for the first time last year and it was one of the best, if not the best, vacations I’ve ever had.

Just remember: this is OC, MD. There are a ton of places where you can get crabs.

Yes. You must go to Phillip’s Seafood House Buffet.

I really don’t want my daughter to get crabs…


Dumser’s is pretty good too.

I don’t have anything useful to add, but its neat to see this mysterious city mentioned. Technically, I’m just down the road here in Sacramento, California, and pass this sign frequently: It may be 3073 miles away, but at least it will be difficult to get lost!

I spent every summer between 8 and 14 at Ocean City. We always stayed ocean-side, but further north. It is nice to walk out the sliding glass door onto the beach.

Beach week is fairly tame. Your daughter and her friend won’t be able to get into any of the bars. Just make sure she knows not to go into anyone’s hotel room. But down on the actual boardwalk (particularly near the amusement park part of it) she should be fine. Most of the high school and college kids will be in their hotel rooms funneling beer and vomiting.

sigh… the good ol’ days.

My family has owned a condo in Ocean City for about 40 years.

1 - Our condo is on the ocean side of the highway, so that’s what I’m used to. It’s nice to be able to take a quick walk back to the condo for beverages or a bathroom visit. If you stay on the boardwalk end of town there are public restrooms and places to buy drinks. It’s nice to have a short distance to haul your beach paraphernalia. I prefer the ocean side.

2 - The beach is pretty crowded from one end of OC to the other. The amusement park and pier rides are not a noise factor late into the night, and not a factor at all on the north end of the boardwalk, or even past Talbot Street. If you stay on the bay side, you won’t here noise from the rides.

3 - Ocean City is a remarkably safe place. If the girls are hanging around on the boardwalk, they are unlikely to get into trouble. There are cops everywhere, and the girls really have no way of knowing when they might run into you on the boardwalk. There are tens of thousands of people strolling in the evenings, but it’s remarkable how often you run into the few people you know there.

The buses in OC are great. The run 24 hours a day from the inlet to the Delaware line, they are cheap, and they eliminate the need to find a parking space.

For a day trip, go to Assateague Island, a half hour drive from OC. Beautiful dunes and wild ponies.

For a more adventurous day trip, drive to Crisfield, MD and take a boat to Tangier Island or Smith Island. I prefer Smith. These are inhabited Chesapeake Bay Islands that still live off of the bay, it’s like going back in time. Crisfield is about 75 minutes from Ocean City. Cruise info here.

Have fun! If you have any more questions, I’ll try to answer.

And Driver8, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a sign over US 50 as you leave Ocean City that gives the mileage to Sacramento,

That does please me, funny enough. Good to see from the Wikipedia pictures that it is 3073 miles in both directions. :slight_smile:

It’s fun to leave Atlantic salt water behind and see that sign above the road.