CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION: PLEASE BEAR WITH US AS WE FINISH THIS VERY LONG ARTICLE 🙂
Hey everyone! Pip’s mom here! We’ve gotten some emails recently asking what we recommend, as locals, for everyone coming to Ocean City to do, so I wanted to put together an ultimate list of ideas! Now to take the guesswork out of your vacation, and let you enjoy your time here, we are going to pin-point very specific things you can do at specific places- but of course they offer much more than we are highlighting! We’re also going to let you in on a few little-known things about our town’s beloved places!
I love to read through the vacation and visitor’s guides that are out there, and see what they recommend. While they are amazing resources, and have awesome coupons, and some even feature Pip!- I think it goes without saying that the things you see in those books are mostly there because they paid for ad space. What I would like to do with this article, and all of Pip’s website is provide an opinion that is not affected by money in any way. All of the businesses that Pip visits or recommends, aren’t because he has been paid, but because we just happen to be going there as a family, or he has been personally invited by the owners because they believe in Pip and his mission. If we don’t have a good time, we’re not going to tell you about it! So Pip and I are going to put our heads together for this one, and come up with an ultimate bucket list for Ocean City, both his, and my favorites all rolled into one amazing experience- from his few short months on this earth and my almost 30 years as an Ocean City native.
In no particular order here are 10,000 (just kidding- we’re not going to number them) things to do in Ocean City, Maryland, separated into categories… of course if you prefer this list in illustrated form, many of these appear in Pip’s Guide to Ocean City Volume 1– just sayin’….
Things You Must Eat when in OCMD
Snack, Candy, Dessert Edition
Thrasher’s has been around since the late 1920’s, and was a pretty unheard of concept at the time. Mr. J.T. Thrasher, who came from Georgia, wanted to open up a food stand that only sold one thing. People thought he was crazy, but he persisted, with the only goal being to produce the best french fry that there ever was or will be. Interestingly enough the operation was originally run by a group of young girls. Legend has it that even though there are now 3 locations, only the original Thrasher’s at the Pier produces the best tasting french fry in the world. Which is why there is almost always a line there, while the other two locations (at 2nd street and 8th street) rarely have a wait.
I told you we’re going to take the guesswork out of the specifics right? Sure Dolle’s has amazing candies, caramels, chocolates, and more. But one thing they’ve always done better than anybody else, is Salt Water Taffy. A couple of years ago, if not just last year, they came out with a new flavor, Vanilla Sea Salt, oh boy, I’ll tell ya, it’s the best salt water taffy you’ll ever have in your life. You’ll find a sprinkle of salt inside each piece of homemade vanilla taffy, resulting in something even better than salted caramel. The Dolle’s family first came to Ocean City in 1906, looking for somewhere to put their hand-carved carousel, by 1910 they had bought a small salt water taffy stand and Dolle’s Candyland was born. And guess what the Dolle family still owns and operates the company to this day, and are an amazing part of our local community! While the flagship location on the boardwalk is the most iconic, there are several other locations that might better suit someone that is specifically just going to Dolle’s, as these other locations offer free parking lots. The flagship store is on the boardwalk, just across from Thrasher’s, on Wicomico Street. And the other locations are in West Ocean City, 120th Street, and the 67th street town center.
We can’t pinpoint when Jessica’s first emerged onto the scene, but it had to of been when I was a kid, while I also love Dolle’s fudge, Jessica’s has always our go to fudge place. So for nostalgia purposes, this is who we recommend, we won’t tell you which flavor to get, they’re all good!
Candy Kitchen’s endless displays of sugary confections, let’s you mix and match your favorite gummies into the perfect paper bag full of sweetness. Sour Patch Fruit Salad or Red Laces are our go-to choices, but I’m sure you have your favorites as well. From classic choices like Swedish Fish, to ocean themed gummy octopuses or sharks, let your little pink cardboard box runneth over. I’d list the locations, but I don’t think WordPress gives me enough room, you’ll find one, I promise. And just like many of the other businesses we highlight here, the business is still run by the original owners some eighty-two years later.
This homemade hand-scooped ice cream is you best bet if you’re in town. It’s flagship location is of course on the boardwalk, but you can now find Dumser’s Dairylands all over town! It’s been around since 1939 when Gladys Dumser opened that first store, and the Timmons family has owned every location since, preserving the family tradition of homemade ice cream. Get hand-scooped, add some hot fudge, and peanut butter- heck, if I’m really being honest here, I’d make sure you are at one of the locations where you can sit down (I prefer 49th street because you can sit outside)- and get a banana split! I’m not sure if you can get a banana split outside, but I know you can inside, and since I’ve already let most of you super into my life already, I’ll go ahead and give you my banana split order. Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream with Hot Fudge; Banana Ice Cream with Peanut Butter sauce; and oreo crush with Crushed Oreo Cookies. Also did you know that if you go to Dumser’s with your Pip or your Pup (ha!) you can get a free Pip Cone! It’s ice cream for dogs! Or as we like to call it, a Pip Cone 😉
Kohr Brother’s Custard
I’m not saying that you should binge on dairy while you’re in town, butttttt can we really tell you to get Dumser’s Ice Cream, and then just leave out Kohr Brother’s Custard? I think not! So while I recommend going hand-scooped at Dumser’s- that’s not an option here, so get that soft-serve custard in a homemade waffle cone, and get that thing dipped in sprinkles!!!!!!! I mean you don’t even need to eat it, just put it on your Instagram. [Full disclosure, Kohr Bros. originated in Coney Island, not Ocean City.]
You may not know this, since they have so many locations now, but The Fractured Prune was born in Ocean City back in 1976. We actually know the people that started it, but they have since sold the business and it is now a franchised company. Get a dozen different donuts if it’s your first time and try them all. But if you are only going to get one, OC Sand, the classic, all the way. Like I said there’s a lot of different locations, so just find the closest one to you. You’ll order and they’ll give you a playing card, when they call your card that means your order is ready. It’s an old-school, but highly effective way to organize! And they make each donut fresh to order, every time, there’s nothing like it!
Fairground food like funnel cakes and deep fried oreos from King’s
If you’re looking for that greasy deep-fried fairground food, like funnel cakes or deep-fried oreos or twinkies, then King’s is the place to be! Get a funnel cake and have a seat on the boardwalk to people-watch all night!
If there’s one thing on this food list that we actually go out of our way to get ourselves a few times a summer, it’s Julia’s Cannolis! What more can I say, they’re the best cannolis I’ve ever had, and I’m going to tell you the truth here- I’ve gone to Julia’s on more than one occasion to get cannolis for my family as a surprise, and they didn’t make it home! Sorry fam! They really are that good.
This cute little stand is technically in Berlin/Ocean Pines, but trust us, it’s worth the drive. From the insane flavor list to the impeccable customer service- just go. I have so much trouble making up my mind about which flavor to get that I often get one mini size to start, and another one after that! Tiger’s Blood with Marshmallow or Black Cherry with a Dash of Almond and Marshmallow are my go to order. But classic rainbow never disappoints either. And if you think Almond is a weird flavor, don’t knock it until you try it- it’s like a summery almond spritz cookie!
Now if you can’t make it to Ocean Pines (but again- just go) You can always stop by Noah’s Sno Ball Shack. Or heck, do what we do and stop at both in one day! Seriously we’ve done that. What’s great about Noah’s is that they’ve come up with a bunch of really fun recipes that combine lots of different flavors.
Is it even summer if you haven’t had a snowball yet?
Those 1930’s were a good decade for Ocean City! Fisher’s has been making popcorn since 1937 when Everett Fisher opened the first store on the corner of Talbot Street and the boardwalk. It’s still family run by the Fisher’s- only a select few know the full recipe, and while they still specialize in their original caramel popcorn made in special copper kettles, they now also have tons and tons of other flavors. And unlike most of the food on this list, you can actually have it delivered to your house!
Now I’m not saying you have to eat a Wrapper late-night, but if you find yourself on the boardwalk a little late, and a little hungry, oh boy does a wrapper taste good! Don’t know what a wrapper is? Well- it’s a soft pretzel wrapped around a filling of your choice! There’s sweet, there’s savory, and we can never decide which one! The peanut butter and jelly has always been one of our favorites; as well as, the cheesesteak or ham and cheese options. The Wrapper is between Somerset and Dorchester Streets on the Boardwalk.
Things You Must Buy in Ocean City, MD
Of course, our must-eat snack list is also a complete list of edible souvenirs to buy– many of which travel quite well, so definitely think about taking some home with you!
For those non-edible items, we have put together our personal favorite list. These are things we have actually bought either as gifts for people visiting us, or for our own home. As with everything on our website, no one has influenced our decisions and we were not compensated in any way for our recommendations.
We’ll go ahead and get the obvious out of the way. Of course we recommend taking home a Pip the Beach Cat souvenir! From Pip’s book series to his custom designed stickers, t-shirts, stuffed animals, and more (all coming soon!)- there is something for everyone. Growing up in Ocean City, I am extremely aware that as one season ends, we often don’t know what will be around when the next season begins. There have been so many summers when I say, “Oh I wish I had gone and done that this year,” just to find out that the next year what I wanted to do is gone and I’ll never be able to again. I always think back on the mini-golf that was downtown and resembled Antarctica. If I had known the last time I played there, was going to be the last time ever, I would have cherished the moment more. So with “Pip’s Guide to Ocean City” we have sought to immortalize our favorite things and places in illustrations forever! As the book went to print, we realized that something we had written about might already be gone! The vintage Photo Booth at Sportland is broken, and they may not be getting it fixed, which means Pip was one of the last people to have his picture taken in it! Of course we will always love Ocean City as it is where we grew up, but we don’t know what the future holds for Pip, so as Ocean City is constantly evolving, so is Pip, and as he grows older he may start exploring other towns, making these souvenirs a limited-time-only piece of Ocean City history.
Lee and family at Malibu’s are some of the nicest people in Ocean City- and their surf shop has been a part of Ocean City for over 20 years. This is one of our main spots for shopping in town, and we always try to get things from Malibu’s for our families. Of course we love the t-shirts, many of them are designed for the shop by Woody Harrington a well-known illustrator, working out of Philadelphia now, but related to Lee, he just did art direction for the Oscars!!!- So you know his pieces are awesome. Every year they have new designs, and every year we try to get as many as we can! They also have amazing coffee! They partnered with Rise Up! Coffee to make a Beach House Blend, that is out of this world. It’s so good that they are often sold out. And their coffee mugs are equally as cool. Come over to our house, and we’re most likely going to serve you a hot beverage in a Malibu’s coffee mug. Their surf wax candles, also sold out sometimes, are the best way to make your house smell like the beach year-round! Or grab an Ulu surf wax air freshener for your car. 8th Street and the Boardwalk- tell them we sent you 🙂 Oh and don’t forget that if you’d rather have an experience as your souvenir- they also offer surf lessons!
Our first surfboard, the one we actually still use, came from Chauncey’s on 30th street, but there is also a location with expanded apparel up on 54th street. While the Sunshine House Surf Shop of Ocean City (circa 1970) is gone, Chauncey’s has always been the place in town to continue buying their old-school cool designs. So think about getting a Chauncey’s shirt, or a re-created Sunshine House shirt. The slogan “Surf Naked” has been around longer than me, and is a huge shoutout to the surfing culture of the 1970s- we still have t-shirts from then that we wear, courtesy of Pip’s Grammy! Chauncey’s has lots of cool stuff that combines surfing and Ocean City, even if you don’t know how to surf yourself!
This clothing company started last year, by a local we actually went to school with. It has now changed hands, and we are curious to see how they continue the original mission. A slogan that we can totally get behind, “Raised by Tides” is exactly how we feel about our childhood, but it’s also inspired by a shipwreck off of Assateague that became exposed after a storm. The water has and will always be a part of our being, and this is an awesome way to show that. If you don’t want to order directly from them, K-Coast Surf Shop is the exclusive retailer in town!
Ocean Gallery has been a part of Ocean City history for over 50 years, first opening in 1965. The owener, Joe Kro-Art, is a visionary. His unique marketing and ability to bring fine art to the masses has made Ocean Gallery a landmark of our town. The Gallery itself has a piece of art for anyone, not just beach motifs, and the price points will meet anyone’s art budget. What better way to remember your time in Ocean City than by getting something you can hang on your wall and see every day. Plus it’s an official meet-and-greet spot for Pip the Beach Cat all summer long!
We love Marc Emond’s prints and designs. In fact we have one we wake up to everyday- it’s a seal popping out of the water saying “I like the Offseason” But Marc has created endless prints related to Ocean City, including his infamous Stinky Beach collection. The Emond’s own and run Ragamuffin Boutique, so while we personally love his artwork, Ragamuffin is a great place to pick up clothes and jewelry for yourself or to give as a gift. And if you’re in Berlin, Maryland for a little day-trip, you can get many of Marc’s pieces at The Dusty Lamb!
The Surf Club sometimes sells their stuff online, although there isn’t anything currently listed, but your best bet is to find one of their events and purchase something there because they often have limited edition prints only available at an event. That’s where we got our “Adopt Your Beach OCSC” long-sleeve tee, and where we get our Annual Surf Competition shirts from every year. The annual surf competition is June 7th, 8th, and 9th this year and we highly recommend going and grabbing some merch! We’ll be there buying it for ourselves for sure!
A Crab Mallet
I’m always one for a useful souvenir that you can actually use- which is why I always love getting crab mallets to take home and actually use for crab feasts! At some point in time almost our whole family has worked for Phillip’s Crab House, so we’re partial to the mallets they sell at the carry-out side of their 21st street location or the ones at Mug and Mallet on the boardwalk!
The Ocean City Life-Saving Museum showcases many books about Ocean City or Maritime history, including Bunk Mann’s 7-years in the making, “Vanishing Ocean City” title, that is a massive coffee table book covering anything and everything Ocean City history.
Our favorite thing to do in Ocean City since we were a kid- the arcade! Get the whole family together and have a Skee-Ball Tournament! Then trade in those tickets for a matching friendship bracelet for everyone! Or see if the photobooth is working at Sportland and get a strip printed- a one-of-a-kind image to take home!
Everyone now a days is always snapping photos away on their phone, but when you only go on vacation every once in a while, it’s awesome to have a family portrait done. Go the high-end route and get a portrait session by a local photographer like Vickie; get the family together and have some fun getting dressed up for an old-time photo; or go old-school and get some telescope pictures taken!
Owned and operated by Christina Lawson, who also grew up in Ocean City, this store offers extremely unique and beautiful pieces for your home, jewelry, and apparel. It’s nice to take something home from vacation that you actually want to have displayed in your home, instead of something tacky, right?
Things You Must Eat when in OCMD
After working in restaurants for YEARS, we rarely got to go out on a summer night, but when we did, we always chose the same places- Belly Buster’s and OC Wasabi. I’ve added in my three favorite breakfast places, because they each have something super unique to offer and are worth a try. And a place that I haven’t been to since I was a kid, but think it’s one of the cooler experiences you can have in town. Plus ya know- crabs, duh, an all you can eat buffet (because what better way to taste all of our seafood!), and a throwback to another era. Of course, these aren’t necessarily pet-friendly places, so we’ve covered those here.
The absolute best breakfast you will ever had. Why? Because it’s made from scratch, with love. No seriously, even the Creamed Chip Beef is made in-house. They slice the Beef themselves and make the creamy gravy from scratch. This homestyle diner is where it’s at. The vibe is cool, the food is phenomenal, and the space is cozy and small, which is an indicator that they really have the time to make everything themselves. In a day and age when high-volume Ocean City restaurants are often serving pre-made dishes this spot right across the route 50 bridge and down Route 611 in West Ocean City, is your best bet for a home cooked meal. They’re only open during the day, but you can get breakfast or lunch from open to close. And those guys standing over the grill making your food, are the owners, making this family-run establishment even more special… which, speaking of….
Run by the Lawson family, this fairly new breakfast spot is actually the legendary Pirate’s Den re-imagined. If you ever went to Pirate’s Den for breakfast you’ll recognize a lot of things on the menu at Barn 34, like the Captain Crunch French Toast. While they serve lots of basic breakfast items, we recommend you skip over those, and go straight for the specialties! One thing they do extremely well, is fresh fruit. No seriously, the guys and gals that work here hand cut strawberries, pineapples, kiwis, and more everyday. So get an Acai bowl for the table to share, indulge in a one-of-a-kind benedict, like the crabcake benedict or avocado benedict, and get a little Pipsy. Because guess what?! Unlike Decatur Diner, Barn 34 serves alcohol. Blueberry or Strawberry mimosa pitchers are where it’s at. But if you’re more of a bloody-mary drinker get a Barn Bloody with a double shot of Tito’s and fresh-peeled shrimp and bacon added to it! And if you’re lucky- you just might see Pip there! As it is going to be an official meet and greet spot for the summer of 2019! (Oh and don’t forget about Barn for dinner either– they’ve got a new chef and are really going to have some good stuff this summer!)
This is the crepe and omelette place- which means guess what, they only serve crepes and omelettes. So don’t ask for pancakes, and don’t ask for breakfast sandwhiches. Either way you go- crepe or omelette- you’re going to be happy. I prefer to get one of each and share with the person next to me. If you’re going to Decatur Diner for homestyle breakfast, and Barn 34 for fresh fruit and benedicts, then you’re going to Bayside skillet for fresh juice- squeezed to order, strawberries with fresh Chantilly, and like we said, crepes and omelettes. Let us know when you’ve been to all three breakfast spots, and tell us your favorite and why!
Lunch and Dinner
You know when people ask you what you want for your last meal? This would be mine. A chicken-cheesesteak wrap with lettuce, tomato, and ketchup. Don’t tell them I told you, but you can get any sandwich here as a wrap too. I also enjoy the Buffalo Chicken sandwich as a wrap. And they’ve got crabs and other seafood too! It’s been a local’s favorite for years.
If you ask Pip’s dad what he would want for his last meal- it’d be this. OC Wasabi is hands down the best sushi in Ocean City. Ask any local and they’ll agree. Just check out how many rolls are named after Ocean City legends, like Chuck Webb or Kevin Poole. My favorite rolls? Maria’s Purple Isle and Big Germ. One has mango, the other has banana!
Atlantic Stand and Alaska Stand
[Atlantic] Don’t hate me if the food isn’t good. I really haven’t been there in years- and I’m not sure, are they even open?! Some further investigating is needed with this one, but what I love about the Atlantic Stand is that you can sit on a vintage-style barstool right on the boardwalk to enjoy your meal. What a cool experience, that may not be around for ever. As we all know, Ocean City is constantly changing, and the Atlantic Stand was once supposed to shutdown forever; however, the stools are still there, and I just really like this old-school experience.
[Alaska] Okay okay, maybe you’re not obsessed with vintage stools like me, and don’t care about what you sit on to eat your meal. Maybe you even hate stools! So if we’re just talking about the food here, Alaska Stand is best, and you can sit on the boardwalk just the same, on picnic benches instead.
Mug And Mallet (Downtown), On The Bay Seafood (Midtown), Crab Bag (Uptown), Hooper’s (West Ocean City), Crabs to Go (Ocean Pines)- Where’s your favorite spot???
Crabs. The end.
If you have never indulged in all the types of seafood that our area has to offer, your best bet is to go to one of our many seafood buffets. We recommend Embers, they’re the first, and the largest seafood buffet in town, and because they are still family owned locally, and haven’t turned into a global empire (like Phillip’s) their quality is still really good. Be smart and don’t fill up on the filler foods. Indulge in the fresh seafood, Snow Crab Legs, Raw Oysters and Clams, Steamed Clams, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Steamed Mussels, etc.. Of course if you have non-seafood lovers, there are tons of options for them as well. Just check out all their offerings here.
If you’re just in it for the views….
If you are looking for the best views in town, and that’s your main priority, consider Macky’s, Seacrets, or Fager’s (both featured later on our list for other reasons than sit-down meals), Tony’s Pizza on the boardwalk for a rooftop look at the ocean; Fish Tales, Lazy Lizard, or M.R. Ducks for beautiful bay views (Again some places we will feature later for other reasons!) But to be honest, they are all also perfect for a sit down meal too!
As kids we would go here every year for a nice meal followed by a boat ride! It’s $4 with the purchase of at least a $12 lunch or entree, but it has always left great memories for us. I don’t know if they still have it, since they renovated a few years ago, but they used to have one of those games where you would try to catch a metal circle on a hook– also known as the Bimini Ring Game. My cousins and I played that for what felt like hours. The boat ride is a really fun way to end an evening, and it’s simple and easy to do it all here at once.
They serve Steak-Umms. Literally. If you’re in the mood for a throwback go get one! They also have crabs.
Things You Must Drink when in OCMD
And the Best Bars to do it in!
(21 years of age and older only)
Ocean City, Maryland has long been known as the town you come to when you want to party, we can’t deny that. There’s more bars than blocks- with several on every corner! That can be overwhelming- so how do you choose where to go and when? And then when you get there, what in the heck are you supposed to choose to drink!
A Bucket from Macky’s Bayside
You’ll find Macky’s all over our website for lots of different reasons, namely because they are extremely pet-friendly. But they are also most people’s favorite spot to relax with a drink! What they do well are their crush buckets. If you’ve been to Ocean City before, you know how expensive an Orange Crush with fresh squeezed juice can be. So buy them in bulk! Haha just kidding, sort of.
Macky’s always offers their Original Bucket, which is a homemade rum punch. Be careful with this one, you’ll think it’s just a bunch of juices, and then you’ll stand up and realize it’s much more than juice! But they also offer grapefruit and orange crush buckets. (Fun Fact: if you think they’re too sweet ask for them with soda water instead of sprite, and no Triple Sec.) While you can get your crush in a single-order of course, you can also get them as a mini-bucket, or regular bucket! Not only does it save you money on your Crush habit, but you also get a fun little bucket to take home!
A real orange crush (although we prefer grapefruit)
A flaming blue Jesus from The Cork Bar (Heck you might as well turn it into a downtown divebar crawl)
A Pain in de Ass while floating in the bay at Seacrets
Chug a Duck!
Things You Must See and like, duh, take a picture of!
The White Marlin Statue
The Boardwalk Sign
The Batmobile and other crazy oddities at Ocean Gallery
The End of the Boardwalk Sign
The “Wedge” through the viewfinder at the most southern end of the boardwalk
Classic Banner Planes soaring through the sky
The Sunrise over the Ocean
The Sunset over the Bay
Things You Must Do
Walk Out onto the Ocean City Fishing Pier
Build a Sandcastle
Dig for Sandcrabs
Get Buried in the Sand
Learn How to Ride a Board (Surfboard, Boogie-Board, Beater-Board, Paddle-Board, pick any or all!)
Ride a jetski
Meet Pip the Beach Cat! (Duh!)
Take a bike ride (together, alone, or low to the ground)
Go to the Waterpark (subsequently checking off swim in a pool as well!)
Rent a Pontoon Boat and enjoy a day on the bay
Or for a more active experience, take out a kayak
Walk along the rocks at the Inlet and think about the history of this channel
Walk the Boardwalk or Ride the Tram
Go to the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum
Go to Assateague
Ride the Carousel, Whip, Tidal Wave, Haunted House, Tilt-A-Whirl, Freakout, Zipper, and Himalaya at Trimper’s Rides
Ride the Ferris Wheel at Jolly Roger’s on the Pier (or the Sling Shot)
Play Skeeball and Pokerino at Playland
Play Colorama and try to get your photo taken in the photobooth at Sportland
Go Crabbing or Clamming
Lay on the beach
Go Miniature Golfing
Things You Must Experience
B.J.’s Annual Canoe Race
Fish Tales Kayak Race
Macky’s Clam Jam
Poor Girl’s Open
The White Marlin Open
Frog Bar and Reel Inn
Little Known Facts and Secret Places