Ocean City is Maryland's number one summer holiday resort, with so many visitors during the peak summer months that it becomes the second largest city in the state for the season. It is not the place to enjoy a quiet holiday by the sea, especially on weekends or during the college holidays, when hordes of students looking for a party swamp the town.
With more than 10 miles (16km) of white sandy beaches and pounding surf, Ocean City presents itself as an attractive holiday resort, dominated by the famous old boardwalk that is lined with shops, bars and restaurants, flashing neon signs and holiday condos. Among the ice-cream stands and all-night fast-food franchises are hotels dating back to the 1920s. The fishing pier at the end of the Ocean City boardwalk has an amusement park with a huge Ferris wheel. There are plenty of activities including boating and deep-sea fishing, mini-golf courses, tram rides as well as the beaches.
To escape the holiday crowds in Ocean City, the Assateague Island National Seashore is a 37-mile (60km) stretch of wild and undeveloped beach and marshland that extends into Virginia. Little brown and white ponies are the only inhabitants that roam the dunes and graze in the grassy marshes. The main roads and paths can be crowded in summer with people coming to see the legendary wild ponies, but a short way off the main routes will bring the peace one may be looking for, but clouds of mosquitoes tend to plague even the most intrepid explorers.
For avid holiday shoppers, Ocean City's 20-block Boardwalk and the town's Gold Coast Mall are the stuff of dreams, bursting with speciality and boutique shops, as well as a number of brand name factory outlets. Souvenir shopping is particularly enjoyable with a host of fascinating things to seek out and take home. Golfers are well advised to check out the local golf shops where bargains are to be had.
Ocean City prides itself in tempting the taste buds of all ages and persuasions in keeping with its affordable family holiday image, but the gourmet's choice in this resort is irresistible fresh seafood including clams, mussels, oysters, crab and lobster. The city has more than 22,000 restaurant seats, most of them al fresco with views of the Bay, and that is without the take-away and delivery joints, many of the restaurants touting 'all you can eat' banquets, and dinner cruises.
Besides delicious seafood visitors can take their pick of a gamut of international flavours like Chinese, French, Italian and Mexican. Recommendations include Smoker's BBQ Pit for ribs and chicken, On the Bay Seafood for Maryland crabs, and the the award-winning Fager's Island Restaurant with its spacious outdoor decks.
After the sun sets, Ocean City's Boardwalk and the Ocean Highway lights up as party-seekers explore the hundreds of clubs, pubs and bars offering a wide variety of attractions from hot deejays to live entertainment and dancing.
You name it, you can do it on holiday in Ocean City. Activities as diverse as boat trips, paint ball fights, golf, go-karting, gambling, sailing and cycling are all on offer. Watersports of all sorts are available.
Ocean city is urbanised, a little noisy and can get extremely crowded during the summer months. Not the best holiday resort for those looking for some peace and quiet.