Today’s adventure brings you to my latest road trip – to Ocean City, Maryland. Now Ocean City is a popular destination during those hot summer months of July and August, but I highly recommend a visit during April. As you probably know, peak vacation season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. So, if you travel outside of those dates, you’ll find cheaper prices, less crowds, and an overall more enjoyable experience! Hotel prices for Ocean City in April are a third of what they would be in July or August – a third! That means you can easily find a nice hotel along the boardwalk for less than $100 per night. You can’t beat that. The weather is just starting to get warmer and shops and restaurants are reopening from being closed for winter. Shops have huge sales on merchandise as they get ready to bring in new items for the current season. You can find t-shirts and souvenirs for cheaper than a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks. Granted, not every shop is open for the season yet, but do you really need EVERY shop to be open? No, no you don’t. There is nothing more peaceful and relaxing than a Sunday afternoon spent strolling down the 2-mile boardwalk without running into a million people.
One of the other great things about visiting during the off-season? I can’t tell you how many dogs I saw while walking the boardwalk. If you know me, you know I was in heaven. This time of year, the boardwalk at Ocean City is very dog-friendly. Dogs can easily enjoy walking on the sand or the wooden planks that make up the boardwalk. Many of the shops and cafés have outdoor seating areas which could easily accommodate dogs. Shop owners are considerate as well; I saw a man at a restaurant along the way happily offering a bowl of water to a dog whose owner had stopped by. So if you have a dog, bring him/her with you to Ocean City during the off-season! They will love it just as much as you do.
A visit to the Ocean City boardwalk is truly not complete without a bucket of fries from Thrasher’s. Yes, skeptics might say that they are just regular fries and there is nothing special about them. Let me tell you, they are wrong! Thrasher’s are a long-time favorite of visitors and locals. They make one thing, and they make it right – for almost a century now. Freshly cut potatoes fried perfectly then tossed into a bucket = perfection. Thrasher’s has two locations on the boardwalk – one right at the pier, and another further down near the hotels. If you’re going off-season, you’ll need to visit the one at the pier because the other isn’t open yet. When you get there, there will be a long line of french-fry-hungry guests waiting for their beach treat. Don’t let the long line intimidate you; Thrasher’s knows what they are doing and those lines move quickly. When you get up to the counter and get your bucket of fries, make sure you sprinkle some malt vinegar on them for the best experience! So yummy.
You’ve probably learned by now that any trip of mine is incomplete without a trip to a new restaurant and a local brewery. The restaurant I enjoyed most in Ocean City was not along the boardwalk, but a little further north across the street, named Bad Monkey. The first floor offers take-out and a shop, so head upstairs to get to the restaurant. It’s not surprising to find a restaurant that offers you fresh bread and butter while you are waiting for your meal, but Bad Monkey offers you monkey bread. Yes, monkey bread – chunks of freshly baked bread coated in cinnamon sugar. So yummy! I’d suggest a visit to Bad Monkey for breakfast or lunch – get yourself an omelette or a burger. The restaurant also serves a long list of craft beers from nearby breweries.
As far as a local brewery, I suggest a visit to the little gem Backshore Brewing Company located along the boardwalk, about halfway down. It would be easy to miss if it weren’t for the 70’s style minivan outside the bar. (Yes, you can sit in it to take a picture!) The brewery is small, but has the perfect beach atmosphere and very friendly staff. Help yourself to a flight served on a mini skateboard, or take a crowler or growler with you!
Ocean City has a little something for everybody, so it makes for a great weekend getaway. If you’re looking to be a little more adventurous (and spend a little more money), there is a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and amusement rides at the southern point of the boardwalk. Venture a little further south and you can see the wild horses at Assateague State Park. No matter what you choose, you’re sure to enjoy your trip!