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Summer is coming to a swift close, people! In about three weeks, probably less, all the pumpkin spice will be out. The meme of Dwight from The Office with his pumpkin head is already populating my Twitter feed. I think we should all take one more quick vacation before the summer ends. And I know just the place: OCMD.
…oh? We’re not all on a first-letter basis? Well, let me introduce you, then. OCMD is Ocean City, Maryland. And it’s my favorite vacation spot.
I might be biased, because I’ve been going there every year since I was born. However, I think after a trip or two, you’ll start to see why the third place I call home (the first is where I actually live, the second is my college town) is an awesome spot for you and your friends.
Places to Stay in OCMD
My family continues to go to OCMD together almost every year, although I wouldn’t call it a spot for family vacations. It’s a bustling beach city, much more conducive to a twenty-something vacation. Tons of bachelor and bachelorette parties, lots of really trendy beach bars, and yet somehow, we manage to have peaceful, quiet, family time. It’s because of Hidden Harbor.
Literally hidden a few streets back behind the main drag is a gigantic complex of quiet, family-friendly condos right on the bay. If you’re going to OCMD because you wanna party, but you also want to be able to get away from that, this is your spot. These condos have either a canal view or a bay view, and everyone has a balcony, but on the first floor, you can walk right out to the water. There are several large pools that are impeccably clean, and it’s steps from a huge park where tons of people work out or people-watch.
My parents have a friend whose mother owned one of these condos. When they were in their early twenties, they were sitting at the bar bored on a Friday night and that friend said:
“Wanna go to Ocean City?”
My parents shrugged, packed their bags, and headed on the four-hour journey. They loved it so much they’ve come back on their own every year since. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is! We’ve even been staying in the same exact condo for the past five years or so. We notice when the owners upgrade the place, we’re familiar with the quirks, it’s really very cool. It feels like home, but with the added bonus of the beach.
The only reason I even bother to add another place to stay in this post is because The Carousel is such a classic. It’s called the Carousel because it boasts basically an indoor carnival. The most notable draw to the place isn’t a carousel though, it’s the ice rink pictured above!
And yes, those are hotel rooms and/or condos overlooking the atrium! Those rooms have a gorgeous view of any ice shows that go on, and an an amazing people-watching spot. Another attraction in the atrium is a snack bar where you can get carnival food like soft ice cream, hot pretzels, and cotton candy!
The Carousel is such a classic because it was the first major attraction to open on the north side of OCMD. Before it was built, anything above 40th street was basically sand dunes. When this big, smart, politically-oriented developer came in and built this, everyone wondered why. But now, the side of Ocean City closer to Fenwick Island is just as bustling as down by the boardwalk.
Places to Get Dinner in OCMD
Fager’s Island is famous for sunsets. It’s incredibly high on the list of restaurants with the best atmosphere in OCMD.
First, let’s talk about how it’s more like a complex than just a restaurant. There’s an upscale dining area, a casual dining area, a store full of merchandise, and a dance floor where there’s often live music. They even have hotel rooms! It’s huge. I’ve never been to the upscale dining area, but the casual area is seat-yourself. They have indoor seating, outdoor seating on high tops, at regular tables on the deck, booths on the deck, tables in the sand, or seats around fire pits. All of these options have full waiter/waitress service!
Be sure to look for a seat where you’ll get a great view of that sunset though, because they are no small event at Fager’s. Every individual night, they perfectly time a fanfare to match up with it. When it’s officially below the horizon, they throw confetti and play patriotic music. Then, the band usually starts, and the night begins!
As for the food– they call it “American and Pacific Rim cuisine.” To me, that means burgers and things with a little island-y flair. At least, that’s what I see when I read the menu. My personal favorite entrees (off the “lite fare” menu) are the salmon BLT and the jerk chicken wrap.
Macky’s is another gorgeous spot where you can eat with your toes in the sand! They’re a lot more low-key though. There’s no sunset fanfare, but there is live music, and great food and drinks. Behind the photo, there’s also a large bar and indoor seating area. My favorite food options here are the Tuscan chicken pasta and the Bayside tacos!
Sunset Grille is home to a very upscale marina. And I’m saying very upscale to sound chill, even though I literally have negative chill about how big the damn yachts are that live in this marina. Often, Sunset Marina the hub for big fishing competitions like the Midatlantic Tournament and the White Marlin Open. All that being said, this place is on the expensive side. It’s the kind of place you go to to impress a date, or indulge your dreamy side. It’s a lot of fun to walk the dock and try to see inside the boats. Sometimes there are people in them doing the most casual things, just like, watching TV. On their yacht. Or talking and having a drink. On their yacht. And you’re just like, “I do that too! I would be so good at being rich!!”
The food is delicious. They have a really great sweet potato crusted mahi-mahi on their entree menu. However, a lot of their appetizers and all their salads are definitely big enough to fill you up. Last time I was there, I got their vine ripened tomato salad (basically mozzarella and tomato, balsamic, and pine nuts…my go-to everywhere) and it was big enough to fill me for dinner.
Places to Get Dessert & Breakfast in OCMD
When I was little, I loved to come here for breakfast just because the building is bright, flamboyant pink. Literally so pink. But as I got older, I learned to appreciate that they have pretty amazing crepes. They have a dish called Banana Royale, which is two halves of a banana wrapped in crepes and topped with Chantilly cream and almond slivers. It is to die for. They also have a fresh juice bar and some really creative foods. They also serve dinner, but I’ve never heard anything about it, as they’re famous for their breakfast. Some quirks worth mentioning: the coffee is reliably undrinkable, and they don’t serve toast. It’s also a little pricey because it’s a bit famous. However, portions are large, service is great, and the atmosphere is adorable.
Dumser’s is such a gem because it’s both breakfast and dessert! Of course, it’s basically a diner so they also do lunch and dinner, but like Bayside Skillet, that’s not what it’s known for. It’s one of the most famous restaurants in the city, and there are several locations. The one pictured above is the location I go to that’s closest to Hidden Harbor, on 124th st.
It’s so quaint and sweet– when you step inside, you’ll feel like you stepped into 1950. The decor is classic, and you could maybe compare it to a Friendly’s if you still have one by you. And at night, the lines for ice cream snake all the way through the deck and down into the parking lot. It’s super delicious and the atmosphere is great.
Fractured Prune is a chain that now reaches far outside OCMD, but has it’s roots there. The first one was built there in 1976.
It got it’s name because the owner had already bought the place, but had no name for it. He wanted it to reflect some history of the city, and he stumbled across an article in a book. It was about Prunella Shriek, who was a famous athlete from OCMD in the 1800s. She was famous for competing in men’s sports, although she often got hurt. Eventually, she became known as “Fractured Prunella,” which the owner loved.
So, the name’s a little funky, but it matches the place perfectly. When you go in, it’s all purple and green and surf-themed. You can order specialty donuts, or create your own! There are 19 glaze and 13 topping choices, which, according to their website, means there are over 155,000 combinations of possible donuts! Then, when you order, you’re handed a playing card. When they call your playing card, your order is ready! The donuts are always made when you order them, so they’re fresh and piping hot.
When the lines are too long at Dumsers, you can head right over to the small little ice cream parlor called Justine’s on 124th street. We spoke to someone who grew up in OCMD and he said that this was the best place to get ice cream in the whole city, so that’s quite an endorsement!
Places to Drink in OCMD
If you’re planning a trip to OCMD, I’m almost sure you’ve already heard of Seacrets. It’s world famous. They are a restaurant, but they’re much more famous for their incredible atmosphere and how hard they party. The spot covers over six ACRES of land, and is home to not one, not five, not ten, but EIGHTEEN bars. It also has its own radio station on-property, its own distillery, a large store for it’s merchandise, a hotel, night club, and huge stage and dance floor for live entertainment. It can hold over 4,500 people at once, and on summer weekends, over 25,000 people wait in line to get in.
According to this article by the Washington Post, they don’t disclose their income reports to just anybody, but they’re estimated to make up to $25 million per year, and that was back in 2011. This would put them 15th on the list of highest grossing bars in the entire United States, second only to bars in Vegas and a couple in D.C..
If you’re looking for the biggest beach party in the continental US (plus Alaska, I don’t think they have competition there), you’ve found it with Seacrets.
Coconuts is a beach bar that’s part of a hotel called Castle in the Sand down on 37th street of OCMD. It’s extremely trendy and full of people in their twenties, just like you!
It’s small– nothing like Seacrets! But its draw is an incredible two-for-one happy hour that goes on every day from 5:00-6:00. Like, you order one drink and they literally just hand you two of them. They call it the fastest hour on the beach, for good reason!
The Greene Turtle is more of a sports bar. It’s not beachy at all. However, it’s another OCMD staple, and they have delicious bar food and drinks! Though they began in OCMD, they have now expanded most of the way along the east coast of the United States, so if you’re anywhere between New York and Virginia, you should be able to find one!
Another awesome thing about The Greene Turtle is that they actually partnered with a couple of organizations that help save sea turtles. So if you’re into spending money on delicious food and saving animals, you found your place. If you want to learn more about that, check out this page on their website!
Places to Do Fun Things in OCMD
Now, I live in New Jersey, where you pay $10 to park your car and another $10 per person to get on the beach. I understand that it’s not unheard of to get on the beach for free everywhere else. That being said, I think it’s awesome that the Ocean City beaches are completely FREE to get on, and parking is free as well.
If you stay in a hotel that has it’s own beachfront, you may get special passes to go there, but it’ll likely be much more crowded than the open beach, so make sure you check out all the spots available to you!
I mention Northside Park for a few reasons. For one thing, it’s a step away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can find it right outside Hidden Harbor, the condo complex I stay in that’s a few streets back from the highway.
Northside Park has literally everything you could want in a park. There’s a soccer field, baseball and softball fields, playgrounds, and whole covered area full of fitness equipment that’s open for anyone to use. Every week, they hold an event called Sundays in the Park, which is basically a small carnival with vendors and music. Often, my family goes for the 4th of July, and this is where we watch the fireworks. On that day, too, there’s a big festival with live music and food.
And did I mention it’s right on the bay?!
The OCMD Boardwalk is over three miles long. It’s so long that takes easily more than one evening to do and see everything you want! Growing up, the only thing I wanted out of life was to go to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum they have there (when I finally got to go, it wasn’t worth my insane hype). But in case you’re not the Believe It Or Not type, they also have lots of classic boardwalk things like rides and games and arcades. It features Kohrs and Dumsers ice creams, Thrasher’s fries, and Fisher’s popcorn, all staples of the city.
You can also find tons street performers and sand artists. There are art galleries, restaurants, and hotels you can stay at so you never miss out on the action!
Every year, my family rents a pontoon boat from this place, Action Watersports. They have the largest riding area in OCMD, which is over three miles, and the views are gorgeous. You can ride your boat through this amazing neighborhood full of gorgeous waterfront homes (we all know I love pretty houses). Or, you can also hang out and fish, or just check out the other boats riding around you. There’s a big pirate ship that goes around a similar riding area, and it’s so fun to watch the excited kids enjoy that!
Of course, you don’t have to rent a pontoon boat. If you’re a little more action-y, they also offer Jetski rentals!