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I'm from NJ and have been going to OC, Md. for most of my life as opposed to the Jersey Shore. I'm now bringing my children there as my parents did me.
Just wanted to start a thread to see what people's opinions are about Ocean City, especially those of you from Maryland. I love it there and although it gets crowded in the summers, first and foremost, it's not the Jersey Shore (thank God) and secondly, I've been to many places but the place I find the most peace and joy in is Ocean City...especially on the beach at night, with a chair, something to drink (not necessarily meaning alcohol) and a blanket.
The people are always nice whether it be in restaurants or on the boardwalk, beaches and stores...and I hope that people always enjoy and respect it as opposed to ruining the "resort" the way people here have ruined ours.
I think it "works" because OC was always considered a family place. Multiple generations of folks, especially from the Baltimore area, went there for a week in the summer. The whole famned damily would go, Mom, Dad, kids, dog, gramps, Aunt Mil. Rent a house. Make sand castles. Eat steamed crabs. Ogle people in swimsuits. Gossip. Make out. Drink cold beer. Walk "home" without driving.
An annual week in OC was a ritual for tens of thousands of Bal'mer households, a tradition still with many from Charm City. Maybe less so with our hectic lives in the US these days. The "good old days" of the 1950's and 1960's was one of steady work in manufacturing (lots of which is gone) and that lifestyle had a rhythm all it's own. And you could afford a week in OC on the salary of a factory worker.
Another contributing factor were the "bay beaches" that sprung up in the 1920's and 1930's south of Baltimore. Kurtz's was one I recall, there were many of these. You could pile in the car at 9AM and leave your non-air-conditioned row home in the sweltering city and in 60-90 minutes you were on a beach looking at the Chesapeake Bay, cooling off in waters that had nets up to keep out the sea nettles. For working folks it was a great time. Drink a cold beer and put nickels into silly slot machines - my favorite was the horse-race slot, I thought they were cooler than typical "3-cherries" slot machines still seen in casino's. In those days, 4 counties in MD allowed slots, the same counties fronted the Bay, especially Anne Arundel County. Lots of the old bay beaches were there. Stay at home Mom's in those days, if they had a car and a driver's license (my Mom did NOT) could take the kids to a bay beach for 4-5 hours and still get home to fix dinner for Dad when he got home. Those were the days. Point of all this is that these weekend day-trip excursions to bay beaches were a training ground for a BIG week at OC. Kind of like the minor leagues; you practice your beach stuff at a bay beach and then you went uptown to OC when Dad's week off work came along.
Mobility was a key factor. There were no interstates then, just local roads, all stop lights and no interchanges. Much manufacturing was for local consumption - every city had its' breweries, no mega-breweries shipped hundreds of miles, they didn't even exist. Fun was local too, thus bay beaches were the ticket. No bridge crossed the bay until 1952, you took a ferry boat to cross if going to OC, else you drove up around Dover, DE to get to OC. So the bay beaches were the hot item, a short drive. You only went to OC when you got a week off and could take a 5-6 hour drive via what routes were then available. Once the Bay Bridge came along, OC grew and Bay Beaches shrank. Jet travel started in the mid-1960's, and the interstate highway system came along and people wanting up-scale excitement went elsewhere, OC was left as a family resort - traditional, timeless, comfortable like an old friend.
Partly, it was a case of expectations. You go to OC to relax and lose stress, to NOT have a lot of excitement, to be carefree, to "press sand & eat" (PS&E) as my co-worker used to say. Sit in a beach chair, read a novel, nap, smell the coppertone, get a drink with a funny umbrella. For those who had to have "upscale" sophistication and razz-a-ma-tazz, they went to Atlantic City, spent more, saw "big name" acts, got caught up in keeping up with the Jones'es, etc. AC was/is the place for bored folks to pump it up. OC was/is the place for memories. Many of those families bought their own homes there to rent out or retire to. Having a house in OC was just about as good as it could get for many of our parents generation.
I enjoyed soft crabs at Phillips, drinking ice-cold Natty Boh Premium. I wish they'd bring back Premium, it was a fabulous crisp beer. But like the old manufacturing jobs, it's gone. I live in CO now, probably will never see OC again. I hope they keep the bumper cars.
A little on the disappointing side, OC has grown significantly in just over the 20 years since I started going as a young teen...many more hotels, condos...you know, the usual...however, luckily it still has maintained that "family" atmosphere. Funny you should mention everyone jumping in the car for the BIG trip to OC...that's how we still act about it (you'd think we were exploring a new planet the way my family and I act about going)...but again it's because of that continuous family atmosphere. I remember when I first went it took maybe 6 1/2 hours or something like that and I thought to myself "where in the h*ll is my father taking us and what's wrong with Seaside Heights...is he nuts, Maryland is all farmland?!" Then after a long stretch of nothing there were those looming hotels!! He kept talking about this "futuristic" super-highway that was in the works. Now it takes no more than 4 1/2 hours for us, if that...funny how things change...however, I do miss the old route somewhat, I liked the scenery.
During the summer I turned 21, it was a huge deal to explore the bar scene down there and although a club is a club, the difference between that bar scene and the one in NJ is indescribable. We have "Joey's" surf club, everyone's muscles were bigger than the next guy (that should've been the motto). OC has Seacrets, all walks of life hang out barefoot, drinks in hand (some with the umbrellas) and listen to everything from disco to oldies to metallica straight to Jimmy Buffet. Can't beat that.
Now with my children, the worst thing on OC sand is jellyfish (actually, I don't know if we've ever even seen one there...you don't want to know some of the items we Jerseyans tend to kick up in our sand ).
Crabcakes???? Where else in the world would one go for those besides MD anyway? Thrashers fries have continued to hold the best fry record in our family since my dad introduced us...Dumser's ice cream...Phillip's...I could go on!!!
The people down there are great, they don't care what part of the world you came from, what state you live in, what your "accent" (y'all or you's) sounds like...they're just simply welcoming.
It's the only beach I've ever been able to sit on and videotape dolphins that I could probably reach in a short swim...simply amazing.
I've never gotten half my foot cut off by a boardwalk splinter in OC, as most people do on NJ's boardwalks...only witnessed one fist fight (about 15 years ago and it lasted about 2 minutes)...sat and watched policemen on horses NOT chasing anyone (as opposed to our usual arrests/fight breakups...or typical drunk girlfriend beating up her boyfriend for looking at another girl)...I only have two reservations about OC, they make only funnel cakes, not zeppoles and there are way too many Sunsations!!!!!!!!!!
As for your DE fans of Fenwick and further up...I agree, they're just as wonderful, pretty and relaxing (just a further drive if you go to the OC boardwalk).
Wow. I really find myself feeling nostalgic for Ocean City while reading this thread which is remarkable considering the fact that in spite of having grown up in Northern Virginia, I've NEVER been there! Not properly at least, having only driven through there once or twice on our way from the Delaware beaches south towards Assateague. To this day though, every summer I debate renting a room in some beachside hovel and just working some job down at the Boardwalk, just having a lazy sun-filled fun summer.
Then you must go there!!!!!!!! I say go for the room rental and summer job, lots of people do it. You can still go to DE, Assateague (we even take the kids to Chincoteague for the day every couple of years), but you MUST go to OC. The beaches are clean, the boardwalk is fun (and clean), the restaurants are great, the bars are fun, there's plenty of stores to shop in (although the "mall" isn't nearly like what we have here, but hey, you're on vacation), if you're single, it's a blast...if you're not, it's a blast...there's no reason not to go...you won't regret it!!!
I actually just returned from a 10 day vacation to OC on Sunday, and I have to say that I'm becoming disappointed with the turn the city is taking. I think in a few years, it will just be a town of large condos and hotels- and not much else. All the smaller hotels and condos are being torn down- those that give OC it's charm, such as the Nassau, along with some of the older restaurants like Libbys. Also shantytown is gone now. The pier is now an extension of Jolly Rogers.
I do still love to go, and enjoy the restaurants and mini golf, and old time photos. Unfortunately the boardwalk is so crazy crowded and expensive, I prefer to go to Rehobeth boardwalk instead. We took my 4 year old and he got to play lots of $1 games and do rides for less than half the price as OC. We walked away with an armload of prizes.
For food, I'd recommend Captain's Galley, off of rte 50- right before you drive into OC. The have some of the best crabcakes. Also, I loved Phillips buffet and Harpoon Hannahs. For ribs- Nick's is the best.
I agree, Nick's definitely has the BEST ribs!!!!! I'm rather shocked though about Shantytown (even though I haven't been there in a couple of summers)...how is it an extension of Jolly Rogers? It's really not even that close to it?! It is sad when things change, especially when they become built up and commercialized...I may be wrong, as our country in general is so overpopulated, however, as someone coming from NJ and knowing what our "resorts" are like, I think I may be way to old to even care by the time I could consider being unappreciative of the qualities of OC.
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