The popular East Coast beach town of Ocean City lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wright Bay in Maryland. What’s more, it’s a fantastic place to visit around the year. Its main attraction is the three-mile boardwalk full of beachside eateries and souvenir shops selling everything from local trinkets to funnel cake and French fries. Besides, there are many other fun best things to do in Ocean City, Maryland, including lush and peaceful parks, water activities, carousels, arcades, and what-not. So, whether you’re a couple or a bunch of friends or family, Ocean City doesn’t disappoint.
Even nightlife enthusiasts have the scintillating beachside nightlife to look forward to here! If that wasn’t enough, the city and the region also boast a rich history, making it a favorite with culture vultures. To that end, here are the 13 top and best things to do in Ocean City, Maryland.
Table of contents
- Oceanic Fishing Pier
- Ocean City Sunset Cruise
- Parasailing Adventure
- Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
- Ocean City Boardwalk
- Ocean City Beach
- Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery
- Northside Park
- Assateague Island National Seashore
- Frontier Town
- Art League of Ocean City
- Jolly Roger Amusement Park
- Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park
- Cool Facts About Ocean City, Maryland
- Get Some Culture in Ocean City, Maryland
- Grab A Bite in Ocean City, Maryland
Oceanic Fishing Pier
For keen anglers, fishing at the Oceanic Fishing Pier is one of the best free things to do in Ocean City, Maryland. When it comes to anglers, no trip to town is complete without casting their line at the Oceanic Fishing Pier. No matter the time of the day, you can hook countless types of shimmering fish. The wooden boardwalk, which lies at the southern end of the coastline, sees numerous anglers of all abilities and ages lining the sides. What’s more, bait, nets, and rods are available for rent easily from the store. However, if you’re an ardent angler, pack your fishing kit, including the best ice-keeping coolers. Besides rockfish and flounders, you’ll also find horseshoe crabs and bluefish. And as you fish, you can soak in the spectacular views of Ocean City and the sand and the sea.
Ocean City Sunset Cruise
There’s nothing like Ocean City sunsets, and when you get the opportunity to watch them from the water, the experience is extra special. And you’ll have that wonderful opportunity with this Ocean City Sunset Cruise. Hop onboard a lighting speedboat for an hour and admire the sunset and the skyline. What’s more, the crew even plays music onboard, along with entertainment. Moreover, the knowledgeable tour guide will keep you entertained with essential tidbits about the city. You can even carry your snacks and beverages to enjoy during this lovely evening cruise. Finally, you might even get the chance to see bottlenose dolphins!
Parasailing is not for the faint of heart! And yet, if you’re intrepid enough, a parasailing adventure off the coast is one of the most thrilling things to do in Ocean City, Maryland. And that’s exactly what you experience on this Atlantic Coastline Parasailing Adventure. Soar hundreds of feet in the air and take in breathtaking views of Ocean City, Assateague Island State Park, and the gorgeous Maryland landscape. Your adventure begins with your captain giving you an overview of the parasailing procedures and quick safety instructions. Then, you’re strapped into your harness and rise slowly in the air above the dark blue Atlantic waters behind a high-powered speedboat. Usually, the flights last for around 8-10 minutes, depending on the number of people. You even get to dip your toes into the cool waters mid-flight!
Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
Are you a history buff? The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is a great place to begin your exploration of the town. The now-museum structure was part of the coastal system established by the US Treasury Department for saving distressed vessels and lives in peril out on the water. While the actual life-saving station now lies inland, this museum building dating back to 1878 is a fabulous museum where you can read about the city’s maritime history. In fact, the original color scheme of the green trim, red roof, and white walls dates back to when the Coast Guard operated the structure. Step back in time with the exhibits featuring everything from artifacts to stories of the heroic surfers of Ocean City. Moreover, there’s an entire wing dedicated to genealogy, where one can look up their ancestral history!
Ocean City Boardwalk
The Ocean City Boardwalk is, undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Ocean City, Maryland. With some of its best restaurants and bars, arcades, amusement rides, and spectacular views, the boardwalk makes you feel like a local in this lovely seaside town. Additionally, this 1902-built lively hallowed wooden walkway is the heart and soul of Ocean City and is lined with all kinds of businesses, boutiques, and bars. Besides exploring Ripley’s “odditorium” and riding the rollercoasters, you can also enjoy food from various restaurants and stands.
In fact, one of the best ways to explore the Boardwalk is this Downtown and Boardwalk Foodie Walking Tour. This guided walking tour allows you to explore the boardwalk by digging into many local dishes and learning about local history. It might be touristy and kitschy, but exploring this cultural landmark shining with vibrant neon lights is one of the best free things to do in Ocean City, Maryland.
Ocean City Beach
What’s a vacation in Ocean City without a visit (okay, multiple visits) to the beach? Behold the beautiful Ocean City Beach, which runs alongside the boardwalk, hugging the island’s eastern side. The wide, golden sands stretch an impressive 10 mi (16 km) in length. During the sun-kissed summer months, you’ll even find lifeguards on duty here. While some parts of the beach around the boardwalk and piers could get crowded, many other scenic sections are calmer and quieter. Besides lounging lazily on the beach, you can also indulge in surfing, kayaking, and swimming.
The beach also appeals to holidaymakers because it’s lined with countless tourist attractions, restaurants, and shops along the boardwalk. So, you really get the best of both worlds; the fun of the boardwalk and the serenity of the beach and the sea. It’s one of the free things to do in Ocean City, Maryland.
Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery
Visiting the Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery is one of the more unique things in Ocean City, Maryland. Besides a picturesque vineyard, the winery has a unique addition perfect for chilly Maryland winds – igloo dining! These “igloos” are actually padded white tents and don’t feature real ice, but they’re beautiful and make for a unique experience. What’s more, they’re heated on the inside for a cozy and warm dining experience and are even strung with twinkling lights. If that wasn’t enough, they offer amazing views of the surrounding scenery.
Moreover, there are many other things to do at the vineyard, including a regular farmer’s market, tasting events, and tours. Finally, we recommend this Gastronomic Bus Tour with Winery Visit, which takes you to the Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery to uncover the secrets of winemaking.
Are you traveling to Ocean City with your family? Aside from staying at one of the best Ocean City family hotels, why not indulge in some good family fun? And one of the best places to do that is Northside Park, one of Ocean City’s largest and most popular parks. This 58-acre complex boasts not just walking/jogging paths but also a gazebo, concession stands, picnic areas, and two playgrounds. What’s more, it also has two piers, a fishing lagoon, a footbridge, a multi-purpose field, three lit softball/baseball fields, and a lit soccer field. Whew! If that wasn’t enough, the park even has a massive 14,200 sq.-feet-huge building with a patio, a kitchen, sitting areas, a conference room, a community room, and a gymnasium. Furthermore, families can relax by the waters, enjoy walks and picnics on the grounds, and even participate in many sports.
Assateague Island National Seashore
The Assateague Island National Seashore is one of the most gorgeous things to do in Ocean City, Maryland. The pristine and uninhabited barrier island landscape lies just 15 minutes from downtown Ocean City. In fact, it’s so long that it stretches right down into Virginia! The 37-mi-long (60 km) is renowned for its intact ecosystem and encompasses marshes, lush woodlands, and miles of absolutely gorgeous and stunning beaches. Aside from hiking, swimming, and sunbathing, outdoor enthusiasts can also camp, kayak, or fish at one of the 150-odd campgrounds in the park. If that wasn’t enough, you can get to indulge in birdwatching and watch herds of majestic wild ponies, and snap pictures of a lifetime.
This Private Speedboat Cruise from Ocean City takes you on a fun speedboat ride in the waters around Ocean City while also offering breathtaking views of Assateague Island.
Frontier Town is one of Ocean City’s best family-friendly attractions. This Old West-style theme park lies a mere 10-minute drive from downtown on the mainland. Here, you can live like you’ve seen people in old westerns do; watch thrilling shows and old-fashioned duels, ride ponies and even pan for gold. As costumed Native Americans and cowboys prowl and traipse across the town, it feels like you’ve gone back a whole century – or two. What’s more, authentic-looking paddocks, stockades, and old buildings with gift shops and restaurants add to the experience. If that wasn’t enough, you can cool off in a fantastic waterpark, enjoy zipline rides, and even camp here overnight. With all this, plus ice cream stands and arcades on offer, it’s no surprise that many flock to Frontier Town during summers.
Art League of Ocean City
Art enthusiasts, this one is for you. The Art League of Ocean City is one of the most fun things to do in Ocean City, Maryland. This non-profit organization was established for people who are inspired by, create, and appreciate art. You can explore this wonderful two-story gallery which houses stunning and striking works and exhibits from local and regional artists. What’s more, the exhibits are updated every month with new works and are open to the public. Additionally, each new exhibit kicks off with a reception on the first Friday of every month.
Visitors who wish to get their hands dirty can book work in one of the five working artist studios, take an art class by one of the many artists, or even book time in the pottery studio. Finally, there are community events, art camp programs, and workshops for people of all skill levels and ages.
Jolly Roger Amusement Park
Family fun in Ocean City doesn’t get any better than at Jolly Roger Amusement Park, a combination of four discrete parks. Besides amusement rides, it has everything from games and rides to waterslides, mini-golf, and even a petting zoo! Visitors can visit just one park or all four too, especially if they have time on their hands. Slide down the waterslides at Splash Mountain with the entire family. What’s more, families with older kids will love the exhilaration of speeding around the go-karting tracks at Speedworld. Do you need to re-energize between rides and attractions? There are many concession stands and onsite restaurants, including the classic Thrasher’s French Fries. Finally, other activities include the Ferris Wheel, a classic carousel, carnival games, and a fantastic pier where you can relax.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park
History buffs will love the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, one of the best things to do in Ocean City, Maryland. You can experience the rich history of Ocean City and the surrounding region at this historical park that’s dedicated to the brave Harriet Tubman. She risked her life to emancipate and guide enslaved black people to the north to find freedom via the historic Underground Railroad. This park preserves the paths that she employed to help the enslaved people escape. What’s more, the park is also home to the canal she used to float timber on, the plantation where she lived, the Harriet Tubman Museum, and the Harriet Tubman Byway. Finally, the park also has activities for children to learn more about the courage of this amazing and inspiring woman.
Cool Facts About Ocean City, Maryland
- Ocean City is famously the “White Marlin Capital of the World.” In fact, fishing enthusiasts across all experience levels try to hook the biggest fish. Even if you aren’t fishing, you can cheer for the biggest fish and watch the weigh-ins.
- Thrasher’s is a household institution in not just Ocean City but all of Maryland. This 1929-opened fries shop has changed owners just twice, and still, the fries are the same now as they were then!
- Whether you’re in Ocean City for a budget or a luxurious vacation, you’ll find digs that suit your preferences and budget. Check out both the best cheap Ocean City hotels and the best luxury hotels in Ocean City.
Get Some Culture in Ocean City, Maryland
- Oceans Calling Festival: This amazing three-day festival, which takes place in September-October, partners with famed American band O.A.R. What’s more, it features more than 30 performances across 3 stages, all of which take place on the classic and amazing Ocean City Boardwalk.
Grab A Bite in Ocean City, Maryland
- Harrison’s Harbor Watch: This waterfront restaurant with high-quality oysters and a full-service raw bar is the perfect place to enjoy seafood. The oyster stew is famous, as are swordfish, mahi-mahi, and flounder dishes.
- Dumser’s Dairyland Boardwalk: Soft serve reigns supreme on the Ocean City Boardwalk, and Dumser’s is the king. In fact, it has multiple other locations up and down the entire Coastal Highway. So, ice cream is a sureshot nightly ritual during a beach trip to Ocean City.