Boardwalk renovations

The first phase of the Ocean City boardwalk renovations was completed in April. (Town of Ocean City, Baltimore Sun / May 18, 2012)

Whether it's a wedding on the beach, a White Marlin fishing tournament, muscle car shows or ocean baptisms during the annual Jesus at the Beach festival, Ocean City isn't afraid to mix things up a bit. The resort offers an ample dose of tradition, yet just enough novelty to keep things fresh.

Ocean City has officially declared the summer of 2012 the "Summer of Thanks." As a way for the town to show appreciation to all who have supported the resort throughout the years, look for a bevy of fun, discounts at hot spots, and town-wide promotions for vacationers. (ococean.com/thanks)

"We truly appreciate our visitors as they have made Ocean City the great destination that it is today," said Mayor Rick Meehan. "We hope that families will take full advantage of the Summer of Thanks and discover the many wonderful attractions that Ocean City has to offer."

One new thing visitors will certainly notice will be right under their feet. The first phase of the boardwalk renovation, between the inlet and Somerset Street and 15th and 27th streets, wrapped up last month. The new boards are the first phase of a $6 million project that's scheduled to be completed next year.

As you plan how you'll spend your time in Ocean City, here's a list of what's new, along with what's tried and true, on the shore.

What's new

Dining

The 45th Street Taphouse Bar & Grille recently opened in the 45th Street Village, which is expanding. The bar will offer some three dozen brews on tap and the grill menu includes Natty Boh cheese, Guinness beef potpie, and assorted dishes that feature beer as an ingredient. The restaurant is situated on the bay with indoor and outdoor seating. And coming soon to a building next to Taphouse will be a seafood restaurant called OC Steamers. It's scheduled to open by Memorial Day.

Kim's Cafe & Marketplace (1503 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-2841) has opened on the bay side. "My wife grew up here, and I'm from Detroit, we met in the military" says Hollis Smith, who owns the restaurant along with his wife, Kim, the eatery's namesake. "Her family has a farm. We'll use local produce and ingredients. We squeeze our own lemonade and O.J., and the meat will be hormone and antibiotic free." The cafe and marketplace offers smoothies, wraps, $2 tacos on Tuesdays, Caribbean grilled chicken, and more.

Galaxy 66 Bar & Grille is adding a new kitchen to its rooftop Skye Bar (galaxy66barandgrille.com).

Adolfo's has moved from its longtime downtown location near the Inlet to the Beach Plaza Hotel on the Boardwalk at 12th-13th streets.

Grotto's Pizza is opening on 125th Street in North Ocean City, formerly the Old Mill crab house. (grottopizza.com/ocean-city-md)

Embers Restaurant on 24th Street owners, the Taustin family, are busier than ever these days. For starters, they're adding an outdoor deck bar to the popular buffet style restaurant, and also opening a second restaurant – the Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar. It will feature outdoor dining overlooking the Bay. (http://embers.com/home.php).

Hooter's is opening a third location in West Ocean City. (hootersofoc.com). Also in West O.C., Sunset Grille recently expanded its kitchen and has added additional outdoor dining options. (ocsunsetgrille.com)

Dead Freddie's, which launched a few years ago, has expanded its outdoor playground for kids and dining area for parents. Look for a Dead Freddie's "express" – a carryout fronting the main restaurant – to open this summer. (deadfreddiesoceancity.com)

Chipotle and a Chick-Fil-A, respectively, are opening new restaurants on Route 50 just over the Bay Bridge.

Activities

Gran Ville Train Station at Trimper's. Just in time for summer, Trimper's Rides and Amusements has updated its bumper cars and shooting gallery, and unveiled a new ride with a Wild West theme. Dubbed the Gran Ville Train Station, the ride features a mountain waterfall, and a chance to mine for hidden treasures. And of course, you can't miss the historic, beautifully restored carousel, or classic rides such as The Matterhorn," and "The Whip."

Jolly Roger Amusement Park, added a zip line last year, and new for 2012 is the Aqua Loop.