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Pets are allowed in Ocean City's 15 area parks even though they aren't allowed on the beach during the summer.
Pets are allowed in Ocean City's 15 area parks even though they aren't allowed on the beach during the summer. (Jessica Waters / HANDOUT)

In the off-season, animals like Pip the Beach Cat (Instagram: @imfeelingpipsy) frolic along the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City. But between May 1 and Sept. 30 they’re not allowed. What can pet owners do with their furry friends during the high season?

Animals and their humans are not out of luck. Ocean City offers a number of places where they can take in the views and enjoy the summer weather.

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“Ocean City is a family resort town and some of our favorite family members are furry ones so we try to make sure everyone feels like they’re welcome,” said Jessica Waters, communications manager for the Town of Ocean City. “I’m a dog lover and Ocean City is definitely one of my favorite places to bring my pet.”

The Ocean City Dog Playground on 94th Street allows Fido to get off the leash and socialize.
The Ocean City Dog Playground on 94th Street allows Fido to get off the leash and socialize. (Ocean City Recreation & Parks / Handout)

Play around at the doggy playground

The Ocean City Dog Playground on 94th Street offers four-legged friends the opportunity to get off the leash and socialize.

There are two sections at the playground: a small dog area for 28 pounds and under, and a large dog area for those over 28 pounds.

“It’s right off of the bay, which makes it a great and convenient option for pets and and their owners,” said Waters.

Access cards give pet owners entry into the playground from dawn to dusk seven days a week, weather permitting. An annual pass is $50 for an Ocean City resident and $100 for a non-resident.

For dogs that like to take a dip, Matapeake Dog Beach provides a place to romp in the sand and swim in shallow waters on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay.

A half-year pass (after July 1st) is $30 for Ocean City residents and $60 for non-residents. A seven-day access pass is $10 for vacationers. All packages are $5 for each additional dog. For more information, go to oceancitymd.gov.

Spoil your pet with a shopping trip

Pick up a cat or dog treat or a new collar from the only pet store in Ocean City this summer.

Sandy Paws (443-664-2658. sandypawsoc.com), on the bay side at 12823 Coastal Highway, is also a self-serve dog wash where owners can clean the sand out of Fido’s coat.

“We encourage our customers to bring their dogs in to shop,” said Jill Richardson Paquette, owner of Sandy Paws. “Right behind our store is Northside Park, which is a great place to walk dogs.”

For an after-shopping snack, Cafe Mirage (443-664-5687, mobile.cafemirageocmd.comcastbiz.net), located in the same shopping center, allows dogs in its outside seating area.

Take your dog for a hike

There are roughly 15 parks for pets and their owners to explore in Ocean City, ranging from wooded trails to bayside water views.

Northside Park on 125th Street is Ocean City’s largest and most popular, with 58 acres of land including a multipurpose field, a footbridge, a fishing lagoon, two piers, a gazebo, walking and jogging paths and more.

“It’s definitely a hidden gem in Ocean City and should be on your bucket list,” Waters said. “At sunset, it’s one of the most beautiful places to take your pet.”

For a more woodsy feel, Fiesta Park, on 141st Street bayside, features nature trails in a shaded setting. There is also a picnic area so pet owners can enjoy a lunch with the whole family.

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Leashed pets are welcome in parts of Assateague Island National Seashore, eight miles south of Ocean City.
Leashed pets are welcome in parts of Assateague Island National Seashore, eight miles south of Ocean City. (Kelcie Pegher / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Visit a pet-friendly beach

Looking to let your pet splash in the water this summer? Try Sunset Park (oceancitymd.gov) on South Division Street in Ocean City. In addition to a small pet-friendly beach, the park has restrooms, a stage with performances, exhibits, crabbing and fishing. Native shore planting areas offer a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Assateague Island, Sinepuxent Bay and the Ocean City Commercial Harbor.

Called “stinky beach” by locals, Homer Gudelsky Park (worcesterrecandparks.org) at the end of Route 707 on Old Bridge Road in West Ocean City, offers casual access to the waterfront and makes it possible to find a place to fish from the shore. The park is located directly across from the Ocean City Inlet of the Sinepuxent Bay.

Here’s what’s new in Ocean City, Maryland in 2019.

Leashed pets are also welcome in parts of Assateague Island National Seashore (nps.gov/asis/index.htm), eight miles south of Ocean City. The undeveloped area is full of sandy beaches, salt marshes and coastal bays.

Stroll through a farmers market

Don’t leave your pet at home when taking a trip to the local farmers market.

Located at White Horse Park at 239 Ocean Parkway in Ocean Pines, the Farmers and Artisans Market (oceanpines.org) is pet-friendly. The year-round market brings together fresh, local and seasonal offerings including sweet corn, cantaloupe and tomatoes. There are also story times for children and performances by local musicians.

Market shoppers are urged to bring along their own tote bags, market baskets or pull-along carts when they pop by with their pets for a trip.

When the weather doesn’t cooperate or you’re just sick of the sun and sand, try one of these activities.

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