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Courtesy of Chris Tobin/Getty Images

Why Go To Ocean City

Affordable and kid-friendly too, Ocean City, specializes in the classic American beach vacation. Stroll along the Boardwalk, and you'll find adrenaline-pumping amusement park rides, far stretches of powdery sand, scrumptious blue crabs and plenty of souvenir shops. Bright carnival ride lights twinkle as families frolic to the beach; intrepid sun-seekers parasail across the water; and the squeals of children are heard playing inside the arcades to Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. But you can power down at Ocean City too. Bait and tackle shops are a surplus, and a daytrip to the serene Assateague Island National Seashore is only a 20-mile drive down the coast. Golfers will also find plenty of courses to play in the area.

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Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Ocean City

Ocean City Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Ocean City is from late May to early September, just be prepared for average highs in the mid-80s and a little humidity. There will also be a lot of crowds, and hotel rates that are double the cost of visiting in spring, so consider booking several months in advance. Budget travelers might want to consider the winters: Average low temperatures are in the lower 30s, keeping room rates low. But forewarning, many local hotels and inns close down for the offseason.

Weather in Ocean City

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
44.5
28.1
46.3
29.6
52.8
35
61.4
43.5
69.9
53.1
78.5
61.8
83.7
67.5
83.3
67.4
78.1
62.4
68.3
50.8
58.4
41
49.4
32.4
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
0.17
0.14
0.17
0.13
0.14
0.11
0.14
0.16
0.15
0.13
0.12
0.13
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Ocean City

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • Doors close after Labor Day After Labor Day, everyone in Ocean City alters their schedules. Restaurants, attractions and public transport run on limited hours until visitors return after Memorial Day.
  • Dangerous rip tides abound If you find yourself caught in a powerful current, swim parallel to the beach until the waters are mild enough for you to get back to the shore.
  • Jellyfish thrive here Jellyfish are a common pest along the East coast. Pack unseasoned meat tenderizer containing papain to treat stings quickly.

How to Save Money in Ocean City

  • Pack your own goods Rental stands along the beach offer umbrellas, boogie boards and towels, but they overcharge for the convenience. Save yourself some dough and bring your own gear.
  • Clip your own coupons Before you head for a round of mini-golf or some go-cart racing, check with the visitor center and the local Beachcomber and Sunny Day newspapers for discounts and coupons.
  • BYOB Alcohol is overpriced in most liquor stores. If you plan on picking up a six-pack, do it before you enter the city limits.

What to Eat

Seafood reigns in this coastal city, and no trip to OC is complete without a bushel of blue crabs. You'll find the most dining establishments (serving crabs and other cuisine) along the Boardwalk and the Coastal Highway.

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Safety

Ocean City is relatively safe, but be sure to use common sense. Keep an eye on all your valuables and walk in groups after dark. At the beach, swim near a lifeguard and pay attention to any warnings that may be raised about the water conditions. One of the biggest things to watch out for in Ocean City is a rip tide, a current of water that churns as it rushes back to sea. These are recognizable by a difference in water color. If you're caught in one, stay calm and swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current's way. The Ocean City Beach Patrol is on duty every day in the summer from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jellyfish can also make an appearance in Ocean City. If you're stung, wash the afflicted area with salt water (freshwater will only exacerbate the pain), sprinkle meat tenderizer on it and see a lifeguard. Also keep in mind that glass containers and alcohol are forbidden from the beach at all times. From Oct. 1 to April 30, pets are allowed on the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City; pets are allowed on Assateague year-round.

Getting Around Ocean City

The best way to get around Ocean City is on foot or by public transit. Most of the top things to do are centrally located on the Coast Highway, an easy 10-mile north-south thoroughfare. The buses and boardwalk trams can get you to the destinations that are farther away at affordable fares. Rentals are available at Ocean City Municipal (OCE) and Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional (SBY) airports, although most visitors opt to drive to O.C., not fly. If this is you, you might find parking hard to come by; we recommend taking advantage of the park-and-ride program.

Learn about Neighborhoods in Ocean City

Photos

Ocean City1 of 14
Ocean City2 of 14

During high season, the 3-mile-long boardwalk is filled with tourists that frequent sites like Ripley's Believe it or Not! or Trimper's Rides and Amusements.

abriggs21/Getty Images

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