Ocean City, MD Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
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Courtesy of Chris Tobin/Getty Images

Ocean City, MD Area Map

Neighborhoods

Ocean City's 10-mile beach is accompanied by a 3-mile-long boardwalk and attached pier; plenty of hotels, restaurants and shops congregate at the city's southern end. The highly visible Ripley's Ocean City is located at the boardwalk's pier, as are some amusement park-type rides.

The boardwalk starts at the southern end of the city (which is bounded by the Ocean City Inlet) and extends north to 32nd Street. North of 32nd, Coastal Highway travels through the city and is strewn with shops, hotels and restaurants. Like 32nd, streets that intersect Coastal Highway are numbered and increase as you travel north. Along these streets are a multitude of mini-golf courses, restaurants and more affordable hotels.

Ocean City is also located nearby other car-accessible bodies of water, including the Assawoman Bay to the north and Sinepuxent Bay to the south. Assateague Island, which straddles both Maryland and Virginia, is also a quick drive from the southern part of Ocean City. The area is known for its herds of wild horses, rumored to have first arrived on the Maryland and Virginia shores after a Spanish ship sunk off its coast, centuries ago.

If you're looking for a quieter beach scene, drive a little farther north to Bethany Beach or Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. Both are less than an hour away.

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.

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