Ocean City Travel Guide

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

Best Things To Do in Ocean City

The Boardwalk that backs Ocean City is a three-mile stretch of shops, hotels and restaurants. You'll enjoy some quality family time at the Ocean City Beach and Ripley's Believe it or Not! Or, if would prefer a quick day trip, venture 10 miles south to the Ocean City Golf Club or Assateague Island National Park  for some fun and relaxation.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated April 14, 2017

  • #1
    Things to do in Ocean City
    View all Photos
    #1 in Ocean City
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    When the summer rolls around, head to the Ocean City Beach for sun, sand and surf. Running along the entire 10-mile-long east coast of the island, you're sure to find the perfect spot to spread your towel. If you're looking for a rowdier atmosphere, recent travelers recommend sticking to the southern end of Ocean City, where the neighboring Boardwalk makes for great people watching and seafront dining. For a quieter, family-friendly beach, head north past the Boardwalk; although there are fewer amenities here, you won't have to deal with the hustle and bustle of passersby.

    "Rehoboth and the Jersey beaches just can't touch Ocean City for beauty, safety, and cleanliness, and the city itself is also great: lots of free parking, friendly people, and excellent restaurants," raves one TripAdvisor user. The beaches are free and open to the public between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.; lifeguards patrol the beaches between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. You can find easily accessible public restrooms nearby along the Boardwalk.

  • #2
    Ocean City Boardwalk
    View all Photos
    #2 in Ocean City
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Even if you're only passing through Ocean City, you can't help but spend time on the boardwalk. This kitschy three-mile long pedestrian route is flanked by soft sand and the Atlantic on one side and a mish-mash of hotels, eateries, souvenir shops, bars and rides on the other. Most of the area's popular sites can be found here, including Ripley's Believe it or Not!, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum and Trimper's Rides and Amusements.

    Recent visitors praise the Boardwalk as an idyllic vacation spot for kids, citing the arcade games and amusement park rides as particular highlights. Many also said it's a great place for people-watching and suggest grabbing an ice cream and finding a bench to relax on. So whether you're looking to nosh on famous Maryland blue crabs, see a shrunken head, ride a roller-coaster or party the night away, this is the place to go. Those with pets should note animals are prohibited from the Boardwalk from the beginning of May until the end of September. For more information, check out the Boardwalk website.

  • #3
    Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
    View all Photos
    #3 in Ocean City
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're interested in learning a little area history, head to the southernmost tip of the Boardwalk to the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum. Housed in a former U.S. Lifesaving Service and Coast Guard building, the small yet interesting museum traces this tourist hotspot back to its days as a small fishing village. Here, you'll see exhibits dedicated to Ocean City's development, as well as to local sea life and artifacts recovered from old shipwrecks. The museum also hosts special events and free children's programs, so it's a great place to visit as a family.

    From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the museum welcoming visitors between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. During the winter, hours vary. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children ages 6 to 17. For more information, check out the official website.

  • #4
    Trimper's Rides and Amusements
    View all Photos
    #4 in Ocean City
    Amusement Parks
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Amusement Parks
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Since the late 1800s, Trimper's Rides and Amusements has dominated Ocean City's entertainment scene. With more than 100 rides -- both indoor and outdoor -- you're sure to find something to suit the whole family. Let your tots fly high on the Airplanes ride, or take to the seas in the Bumper Boats. Your older kids might enjoy the thrills of the Avalanche and the Freakout.

    But because this is one of the most popular spots in Ocean City, expect hefty price tags. "It's not necessarily cheap, but it's a lot of fun. Whether you have small children or teenagers, there are plenty of rides and things to see for everyone," says one TripAdvisor user.

  • #5
    Assateague Island National Park
    View all Photos
    #5 in Ocean City
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you tire of tourist-filled Ocean City, you may want to consider a day-trip to nearby Assateague Island National Park. This long, lean island — which begins just south of the resort area and stretches on to Virginia — is famous for its herds of wild horses, which are said to have taken over the island after surviving a Spanish shipwreck several centuries ago. Beautiful views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Sinepuxent Bay make Assateague a popular hiking spot.

    The easiest way to get to Assateague Island is to take the Ocean Gateway to the Stephen Decatur Highway, which leads south to the Verrazano Bridge (about a 10-mile drive). The park is open throughout the year, but hours vary depending on the season. Vehicle entrance to the park costs $15 for a seven-day pass. You can also purchase a Duck Stamp for $30, which serves as an annual pass to Assateague National Park and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, visit the park's website.

  • #6
    Ocean City Factory Outlets
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    #6 in Ocean City
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If the Boardwalk doesn't satisfy your yen for spending, the Ocean City Factory Outlets should do the trick. Located on the mainland just north of the Ocean Gateway, this sprawling outdoor shopping center boasts popular stores such as Aéropostale, Gap, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Pac Sun. There are also plenty of places to eat here, making it easy to spend several hours perusing and purchasing.

    The outlets open their doors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The outlets hours vary during the winter months. For more information, check out the official website.

  • #7
    Ocean City Golf Club
    View all Photos
    #7 in Ocean City
    Golf
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Golf
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This massive golf club is actually home to two separate golf courses. The older of the two -- the par-72 Seaside Course -- was founded in 1959 and is known for its more classic layout, featuring wide fairways and challenging greens. Seaside's newer neighbor, the par-73 Newport Bay Course, is described as both challenging and enjoyable, a perfect combination for players of all levels.

    While not actually located within the city proper, the Ocean City Golf Club is just 10 miles or so south, across Sinepuxent Bay from Assateague Island National Park. Both courses are open throughout the year, with green fees ranging from $35 to $95 depending on the day and the season. If you're feeling energetic, you can also reserve tee times for both courses for a discounted price. For more information, visit the club website.

  • #8
    Ripley's Believe it or Not!
    View all Photos
    #8 in Ocean City
    Museums
    TYPE
    Museums
    TYPE

    At the Ripley's Believe it or Not! museum -- easily recognized by the massive shark escaping from the front façade -- you'll find oddities from around the world. Authentic shrunken heads, two-headed animals and more than 500 other mind-bending exhibits wait for you in the site's 12-themed galleries. You can also visit the museum's Impossible LaseRace, the Marvelous Mirror Maze and the Candy Factory.

    But recent visitors are torn on whether you really need to see Ripley's to believe it. Some say it's extremely entertaining, but others cite the attraction as place for tourists. As one TripAdvisor user writes, "Although it is a classic tourist trap, it is done with quality, and interesting exhibits."

  • #9
    Jolly Roger Amusement Park
    View all Photos
    #9 in Ocean City
    Amusement Parks
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Amusement Parks
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Jutting outward from the Coastal Highway into the Isle of Wight Bay, Jolly Roger is Maryland's largest amusement park and a great place for a family day. Its wide variety of attractions -- including a water park, roller coasters, games and two miniature golf courses -- will suit visitors of all ages. While you're here, don't pass up your chance to try out the Slingshot, known for being Ocean City's most thrilling ride.

    "The park is reasonably priced, well kept, and offers rides to suit everyone's likes," says one TripAdvisor user. Yet other visitors express complaints about prices, parking and crowds as well as poor employee attitudes.

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