Photo: Yeilyn Channell/Shutterstock

Things to Do in Ocean City, MD, Home of 'America's Best Boardwalk'

Maryland Beaches and Islands
by Alexandrea Sumuel Nov 14, 2023

Take just one look at the shoreline of the East Coast, and you’ll see that almost every state has quite a few beach towns to choose from – and with that, quite a few towns that offer a classic East Coast beach experience, boardwalk cotton candy stands and all.

But despite the stiff competition, Maryland’s seaside town of Ocean City manages to still be one of the most popular on the East Coast, and has been since it was founded back in the turn-of-the-century (when beachgoers still wore red-and-white striped swimsuits down to their ankles).

And that could be for any number of reasons. The town has more than 10 miles of beaches, two bays, plus a three-mile-long boardwalk lined with shops, cafes, amusement parks, souvenir stands, boutiques, and no shortage of french fry and funnel cake stands. The boardwalk is a centerpiece of the town and encapsulates the coastal boardwalk experience, wooden planks and all.

things to do in ocean city maryland - vintage beach sign

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Today, Maryland’s OC is warm-weather resort town. It has nearly 6,000 residents but sees more than eight million visitors per year. Though most come in the summer, especially during school breaks, it’s also a great place to head in spring during one of the East Coast’s wonderfully warm March or April weekends.

Here’s what to know about the town, including the best things to do in Ocean City, where to stay, and iconic food you can’t miss.

The best things to do in Ocean City

Stroll along “America’s favorite boardwalk”

things to do in ocean city - boardwalk

Photo: Yeilyn Channell/Shutterstock

The Ocean City boardwalk was named “America’s Favorite Boardwalk” by The Travel Channel and is a must-visit in town, whether you’re with kids or adult couples traveling together. Cheesy, yes, but it’s also nostalgic, fun, and lively, not to mention a great place to get in a walk on vacation.

It’s home to Trimper Rides (a boardwalk amusement park opened in 1893), arcades, souvenir shops selling beach-themed memorabilia, restaurants, and (naturally), a Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, billed as the “weirdest attraction in Ocean City.”

Hit the beach

things to do in ocean city maryland - beach crowded

Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Shutterstock

It’s no surprise that one of the best things to do in Ocean City is hit the beach. Those looking for fun in the sun, sand, and surf will find plenty of beach access, with multiple parking areas next to the boardwalk (though the Inlet Parking Lot is one of the biggest). You can rent kayaks, jet skis, paddleboards, and more at multiple places along the beach, or use a company like O.C. Parasail to take to the skies.

Assateague Island National Seashore

things to do in ocean city md - wild horses

Photo: Vicky Faye Aquino/Shutterstock

Another amazing adventure to have in Maryland is just a few minutes from town, making a visit with the famous wild horses one of the best things to do in Ocean City. The wild ponies inhabit the Assateague Island National Seashore, just a quick boat ride from Ocean City. There, you can witness wild ponies grazing near the shore and in the surf, making it’s a must-do for photographers. Book a boat tour with OC Bay Hopper, which also includes a scenic ride around the area.

Wet your whistle on the Seacrets Distillery Tour

This unique experience combines an education on the art of distilling with a Prohibition-style atmosphere. Seacrets Distillery produces a variety of spirits, including rum, vodka, gin, and whiskey, using locally sourced ingredients. After the tour, you can savor the distinct flavors of Seacrets’ spirits in the on-site tasting room.

Learn a thing or two at the Ocean City Life Saving Museum

things to do in ocean city md - life saving museum

Photo: Alexandrea Sumuel

This fascinating attraction offers a glimpse into the area’s rich maritime history. The Ocean City Life Saving Museum showcases the courageous efforts of the US Life-Saving Service, a predecessor to the US Coast Guard. It’s not a big museum, but it’s actually quite fascinating, and you may learn a thing or two you can use in an emergency.

Where to Eat and Drink in Ocean City, MD

Fractured Prune

The donuts at this Ocean City staple have been a crowd-pleaser since 1976, and having a leisurely breakfast with coffee and a few fresh, made-to-order donuts is one of the best things to do in Ocean City on a Sunday morning. You’ll have 19 different glazes and 13 toppings to choose from. All the locations are popular and tend to get long lines, but fortunately, they all move rather quickly.



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Seacrets, just across the road from the distillery, is a Jamaican-inspired restaurant on Assawoman Bay. This massive establishment has indoor dining, outdoor dining, a concert stage, and tables in the water. It’s acceptable to come in your bathing suit as you can choose a table anchored in the bay, complete with cocktail service. It’s probably the most popular daytime party spot in Ocean City.

Fager’s Island


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This restaurant and bar on Assawoman Bay is a popular place to grab lunch or dinner. Upstairs offers a refined atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating, but downstairs is more relaxed, with frequent live music. The menu focuses on American and Pacific Rim cuisine, with an extensive wine menu, too.

Crab Bag


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You simply cannot visit town without enjoying one of the most traditional things to do in Ocean City: going crab pickin’. If you want to partake in this unique experience, head to Crab Bag. The large restaurant offers plenty of seating for families and friend groups, including outdoor picnic tables perfect for a bushel or two of Chesapeake blue crabs. Oh, and don’t wear clothes you love – it can be a messy experience.

Layton’s Family Restaurant

If you’re looking for a good ol’ American breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Layton’s. It offers items ranging from chipped beef smothered in sausage gravy to breakfast bowls, omelets, waffles, and fresh pastries. It’s a popular spot, so expect a wait. However, while you’re waiting, you can still head inside to grab one of its famously delicious pastries.

Where to Stay in Ocean City, MD

Ocean City, Maryland, has five beach districts filled with accommodation options. Historic Downtown is a more lively area with easy access to boardwalk attractions. In Midtown South, you’ll find great dining and a vibrant atmosphere. Midtown North is a little more relaxed and family-friendly, while Condo Row is more of a residential area. And, if you want to avoid crowds altogether, Uptown is where you’ll want to stay.

The Residence Inn by Marriott

This popular Residence Inn is in Midtown South. Everything you want to see and do is within a 5-10 minute drive, it’s walkable to many popular restaurants and attractions, and the bay views are gorgeous. Hotel rooms have kitchenettes and are quite roomy. Rates in the summer start in the low $300s, but can be as low as $90 per night in the off season.

A home rental or Airbnb

ocean city MD airbnb

Overlooking Ocean City, Maryland and the wetlands from a vacation house balcony at Fenwick Island, Delaware, USA

There are tons of great vacation homes in Ocean City and the beaches around it, ranging from sprawling multi-room houses to tiny condos perfect for a couple’s getaway. It can be overwhelming ot know where to start, but fortunately, Matador has a guide to the best Ocean City rentals, starting under $100 per night.

How to Get to Ocean City, MD

If you’re flying in, the closest airport is Baltimore International Airport (BWI). You’ll then need to drive about three hours to reach the beach, or take the BayRunner Shuttle from the airport. You can also fly into the Salisbury/Ocean City Regional Airport, operated by American Airlines, which is about 30 mins to OC.

Most visitors to Ocean City are within driving distance, probably because it’s reachable for a weekend trip from so many towns. Drive times aren’t bad, especially if you’re already in the DC area.

  • NYC: 250 miles, 5 hours
  • Trenton: 200 miles, 4 hours
  • Philadelphia: 150 miles, 3 hours
  • Washington, D.C.: 150 miles, 3 hours
  • Richmond: 250 miles, 5 hours
  • Virginia Beach: 140 miles, 3 hours

How to get around Ocean City, MD

ocean city maryland beach tram

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Nearly everyone who visits Ocean City has a car, but that doesn’t mean you have to drive everywhere – especially if your definition of the best things to do in Ocean City involves drinking in the sun. Uber and Lyft are available, and there are also convenient public transportation options.

For $4, you can ride the Coastal Highway Beach Buses all day from the South Division Street Transit Station to/from the 144th Street Transit Station. You can also take the Boardwalk Tram. It’s a great way to see the entire boardwalk during the half-hour ride, and since it makes frequent stops, you can hop off and explore anytime.

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