One of the best things about Ocean City is that some things never change. Families visit the same restaurants, year after year. Kids experience the same rides their parents rode when they were kids. The wild horses of Assateague stay wild and the gorgeous ocean view never wavers.
But even the most stalwart lovers of tradition enjoy something fresh once in a while. This summer, thanks to tons of openings and events, both veteran beachgoers and O.C. newbies will find plenty that's new to love in and around Ocean City.
Dining & nightlife
Everyone has their favorite beach restaurants and bars – but it's fun to try new spots, too. This year, there are plenty of new places opening – and some major renovations to old favorites – making it easy to add a little variety to your dining schedule.
Backshore Brewing Company, 913 Atlantic Ave., 443-373-1224, facebook.com/backshore. Formerly called Shorebilly Brewing, Backshore Brewing Company specializes in local craft beers.
Barn 34, 3400 Coastal Highway, 410-289-5376, facebook.com/barn34oc. The old Pirates Den & Galley is getting a new name and a new home in the big, barn-like space formerly occupied by the Christmas Spirit Shop.
Bourbon Street on the Beach, 11604 Coastal Highway, 443-664-2896. As its name suggests, Bourbon Street on the Beach is an upscale New Orleans-themed restaurant, located at the Fontainebleau condominium.
Cowboy Coast Country Saloon, 17th Street and Coastal Highway, 410-289-6331, cowboycoastoc.com. Located in the former Paddock space, this country-and-western themed bar – complete with mechanical bull – is the first of its type in Ocean City.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries, 13601 Coastal Highway, fiveguys.com. The burgers-and-fries favorite has opened a new outpost on 136th Street. This is the fourth beach location – others include a spot in White Marlin Mall, on 64th Street in Ocean City and on Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach.
Guido Burritos, 3303 Coastal Highway, guidosburritos.com. The popular boardwalk Mexican joint (7 North Atlantic Avenue) is opening a second location on 33rd Street, in the space formerly occupied by Angelo's Italian Cuisine.
Jack's Lobster Rolls, 62nd Street on the Boardwalk, 410-390-3193, facebook.com/jackslobsterrolls. This new boardwalk eatery specializes in traditional Maine lobster rolls.
Martin Fish Company, 6701 Coastal Highway, 443-365-3050, martinfishco.com. For those who like to eat in at the beach, this family-owned fish shop, with its first location in West Ocean City, opened a new market, selling fresh seafood, in the 67th Street TownCenter Midtown Boardwalk.
Ocean City Brewing Company, 5509 Coastal Highway, 443-677-3075, ocbrewingcompany.com. This family-owned, full-service craft brewery and restaurant specializes in "brewpub favorites" like flatbreads and burgers and also promises to be family-friendly.
Sweet Frog, Sixth Street on the Boardwalk, sweetfrogyogurt.com. Frozen yogurt fans will be excited to visit the brand new Sweet Frog frozen yogurt shop at Sixth Street on the boardwalk, which joins its year-old sister location located in the 67th Street TownCenter Midtown Boardwalk.
Touch of Italy Trattoria, Salumeria, Pasticceria, 6600 Coastal Highway, touchofitaly.com. The Italian restaurant and catering company, popular at the Delaware beaches, opens its first Ocean City location at the Holiday Inn on 66th Street.
Blacksmith, 104 Pitts St., Berlin, 410-973-2102, facebook.com/blacksmithrestaurantberlin. Locals say this new restaurant, with its creative, locally-sourced food and specials like Soul Food Sunday, is worth the drive to Berlin.
Claddagh on the Shore, 1106 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island, 410-522-4220, facebook.com/claddaghshore. Canton hotspot Claddagh Pub is the latest in a string of popular Baltimore bars opening beach locations.
Harpoon Hanna's, Route 54 and the Bay, Fenwick Island, 800-227-0525, harpoonhannasrestaurant.com. Longtime favorite Harpoon Hanna's has undergone an extensive renovation and expansion, freshening up as it kicks off its 31st year in business.
Be among the first to stay in one of the brand new hotels opening in Ocean City.
Crystal Beach Hotel, 25th Street and the Boardwalk, 800-641-0011, crystalbeachhotel.com. This new hotel, owned by the Carousel Group, has a central location and plenty of oceanfront rooms.
La Quinta Inn & Suites, 106 32nd St., Ocean City, 410-289-5762, lq.com. A brand new La Quinta Inn & Suites will open in July, replacing the former Ocean Voyager motel, at the intersection of 32nd and Baltimore streets.
There's never any shortage of things to do at the beach. This year, with the opening of several new attractions, the addition of fun events and a few updates to existing events, promises to be as busy and fun as ever.
Caroline Street Stage Concerts on the Beach. Held Wednesdays, July 9 – Aug. 27, from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., outdoor concerts at the new Caroline Street stage are designed fun for the whole family. Bring chairs and blankets to sit and enjoy the show.
High Ropes Adventure Park at Frontier Town, 8428 Stephen Decatur Highway, Berlin, 800-228-5590, frontiertown.com/high-ropes. Just outside Ocean City, more than 800 feet of zip lines connect wooden platforms suspended in trees in Frontier Town's new adventure zip line course.
Ish Boutique, 3408 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, 410-534-1760, facebook.com/ishboutique. This fun shop has recently undergone a significant expansion, adding new clothing, décor and kids options.
OC Sandfest on the beach from 4th Street to the pier, ococean.com. This new family-oriented event features 10 blocks of elaborate sand sculptures. From Aug.18-22, master champion sand sculptors will create works of art in the sand, which will remain on display until Sept.1.
Ripley's Impossible LaseRace, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, Pier Building on the Boardwalk, 401 South Atlantic Ave., Ocean City, 410-289-5600, ripleys.com/oceancity. For rainy day fun, or a break from the beach, test your laser navigational skills in the new timed laser maze at the Ripley's museum.
Tall Ships, Aug. 1-Sept. 1, Third Street Park, Ocean City, tallshipevent.com. Ocean City is the next port of call for the Spanish Galleon Andalucia, a replica of a late 16th century merchant vessel, and her sister ship Nao Victoria, an exact replica of Ferdinand Magellan's ship that circumnavigated the globe. Tickets to tour the ships are available for purchase online at tallshipevent.com.
New rules and resources
Beach vacations aren't all fun and games. In and around Ocean City, officials have updated rules and infrastructure in an effort to keep the beach safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Comfort on Caroline: The old underground restrooms located at Caroline Street and the Boardwalk have been demolished, making way for a new facility including restrooms and a performing arts stage.
Keep it clean: Though it's not a law, new signage will encourage visitors to be courteous and respectful of others and to refrain from using profanity throughout Ocean City.
Ride carefully: A law passed earlier this year requires all passengers to be sitting in seats and wearing seatbelts when riding in unenclosed areas of cars or trucks. This means seatbelts are mandatory in jeeps and convertibles and riding in the back of pickup trucks is prohibited. Violators risk $250 fines.
Slow down: On the stretch of Coastal Highway between 32nd Street and 58th Street, the speed limit has been reduced from 40 to 35 miles per hour.
Walk Smart: The OC Walk Smart! campaign urges visitors to pay careful attention while walking, especially near busy roads like Coastal Highway. Keep an eye out for Crab the Lifeguard, who reminds walkers to use crosswalks and walk carefully.