But to make sure potential visitors aren't discouraged by the price at the pumps, some Ocean City hotels are offering vouchers good for up to $50 in gas for guests who book for multiple days.
AAA predicts that 719,400 Marylanders will go on vacation this holiday weekend, roughly the same number as last Memorial Day.
Of those expected to travel 50 miles or more, 644,000 people will be on the road, a decline of 0.7 percent, attributed largely to gasoline prices. AAA noted Tuesday's average price of $3.88 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline in the region, down from this year's peak of $4.04 on May 12.
Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan said the resort has seen a big increase in advance bookings for this weekend and throughout the summer, encouraging him to expect a record number of visitors this year.
"All indications are that it is going to be a great success," he said. Meehan said the resort's message this year is: "Don't let the gas prices get you down. Fight back."
Air travel was expected to increase by 11 percent, with 60,800 Marylanders expected to fly.
About 500 fewer Marylanders were expected to travel this year than last. Nearly 90 percent of Maryland's holiday travelers will go by car, 8.5 percent will fly and the rest will use rail and bus, AAA said.
AAA issued its summer travel forecast at its customary location on Kent Island, with the Bay Bridge as a backdrop.
The group's prediction of brisk summer travel hinges largely on its expectation that gas prices will continue to decline after coming within a penny of the June 2008 record earlier this month. Barring a new crisis, AAA is forecasting that prices will ease to $3.25 to $3.75 for most of the summer and said the recovering economy is apparently having more of an impact on travel decisions than the price of gasoline.
"It would be fair to say we expect hordes of travelers to be coming across this beautiful span behind us," said Mahlon G. "Lon" Anderson, AAA Mid-Atlantic's chief spokesman.
Anderson said the survey on which AAA based its forecasts was conducted April 19 to 23, when gas prices were soaring. With prices now dropping, he said, the forecast could be low.
"It wouldn't surprise us a bit if those numbers are low-ball as far as what actually happens," he said.
According to AAA, Marylanders are expected to spend slightly less on travel this holiday weekend — $813 compared with $826 in 2010.
Meehan said Ocean City typically does well even when gas prices are high because it is close to three major population centers: Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. In addition, he said, the resort has increased its advertising to the north and is seeing a surge in visits.
"More and more and more we're seeing license plates from New Jersey and New York," the mayor said.
About 10 Ocean City hotels are seeking to make sure visitors show by offering, in effect, to pay roughly the cost of a tank of gas for visitors who book for enough days.
Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Maryland Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Association, said fuel-related promotions weren't on her group's agenda until local retailer Joe Kro-Art started to promote the idea of free gas for visitors in the media.