The Bygone Era of Ocean City

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August 21st 2015
Published: September 6th 2015
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Ocean City BoardwalkOcean City BoardwalkOcean City Boardwalk

Ranked as a "Top 10" and "Best for Food" boardwalk, this attraction is located between 2nd and 27th Street downtown
Long in the tooth are the days of frolicking businessmen or prim and proper women on the shores of Ocean City. What started as a "Ladies' Resort to the Ocean" is now a doormat to hordes of Spring Breakers and Senior Week graduates looking for a memorable time, albeit short on the memory part. When entrepreneur Isaac Coffin built the first beach-front cottage in 1869 to receive paying customers, it was unlikely he foresaw what was to be: a sprawling metropolis with its heyday from the 1950s to 70s. This seaside town may no longer play among the ranks of Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket for Wall Street executives, and probably can't even compete with the less snooty OBX and Myrtle Beach, but it still packs a punch. Like its sister city, Virginia Beach, Ocean City caters towards the young and restless, the fun and reckless, because if the pompous crowd won't give you attention, then to hell with them. If you're searching for a slew of activity and buzzing atmosphere, skip the white-powder beaches of the Emerald Coast and the serenity of Cape Cod; you'll feel right at home in Ocean City, Maryland.

It's still one of the most popular
Fractured PruneFractured PruneFractured Prune

Famous for their hand-dipped donuts
beach destinations on the east coast, transforming into the Old Line State's second biggest city every summer when the population balloons to 350,000 from its normal 8,000 inhabitants. Due to the increase in visitors, this place is also considered the most dangerous in Maryland based on crime per capita, which many residents argue is unfair and skewed due to the fluctuating population. Regardless of the statistic, safety has never been an issue here for Kristina and me, who have visited countless times with friends and family, which on this occasion is the latter. We arrived on a Friday night and were gone by Sunday, an appropriate amount of time to avoid the typical lulls of week-long beach stays that inevitably result in unsightly tan lines and peeling noses, not to mention deadly sins like gluttony and laziness. For us, it was about getting just enough time with family, food, and fun without overdosing.

So we rented a condo on 127th Street uptown away from the crowds with its own stretch of secluded beach. A hearty Friday night dinner with grilled lemon-grass shrimp and steak rolled in rice paper was the ideal mood-setter. We then kicked off the next morning
Julia's CannoliJulia's CannoliJulia's Cannoli

Famous crunchy cannolis stuffed with ricotta cheese
with donuts from the famous Fractured Prune (12701 Coastal Hwy), who hand-dips theirs fresh daily. It was conveniently located across the street from our rental, so Kristina and I made the short walk to treat ourselves after breakfast before heading to the beach, also situated nearby. An hour of sand castles and salt water was enough for the two of us, so we decided to leave the family and head to Tanger Outlets (12741 Ocean Gateway), a resounding disappointment with limited selection and little variety. We then made our way back to the boardwalk to kill some time before dinner with a leisurely walk. The boardwalk runs between 2nd Street and 27th Street downtown, several miles south from where we were staying. It consistently ranks as a "Top 10 Boardwalk" according to National Geographic and the "Best Boardwalk for Food" by USA Today. For what it lacks in class, this attraction definitely makes up for in energy. Located here are the wildly popular Thrasher Fries (made with vinegar), Fisher's Caramel Popcorn, and Dolle's Salt Water Taffy. We tried the famous Julia's Cannoli (11th Street of Boardwalk), which is stuffed with their signature ricotta cheese filling to order. After a "filling"
Phillip's Crab HousePhillip's Crab HousePhillip's Crab House

An Ocean City institution, albeit a chain restaurant, with all-you-can-eat seafood.
snack (pun intended), we headed home for the obligatory nap from food coma in preparation for another Ocean City institution, the all-you-can-eat buffet, Phillip's Crab House (2004 Philadelphia Ave). At $35, it's an amazing deal if you can gorge enough oysters, crabs, mussels, clams, shrimp, and any other crustacean imaginable. Just make sure you come before the 6 p.m. dinner rush.

After dinner, the family took another shot at the boardwalk to appease the little nieces' craving for Polish ice. We also tried Trimper's Rides Amusement Park, which has one of the world's oldest operating carousels, dubbed by Travel & Leisure as one of America's best. With a quick $15 loss and only a Chinese-made stuffed ducky and lead-paint ridden trumpet to show for it, the family left the carnival and called it a night.

The next morning, with a quick breakfast (Fractured Prune once again) and hasty clean up, we locked up the condo and headed home. With a long 4.5 hour drive ahead of us, Kristina and I had plenty of time to digest our oysters from the night before. Until another uneventful summer anchored by a weekend trip to Ocean City, happy travels!


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