Living in Philly, we’re Jersey shore folks when we want to go to the beach. Hubby grew up going to Long Beach Island and we love visiting there and various other towns along the shore in New Jersey.
But we were looking to check out something different this summer and since my husband has lots of Marriott points, we booked a 5 night stay at the Courtyard Marriott in Ocean City, Maryland. The hotel is situated right on the boardwalk in a really great location. It’s about a 3-hour trip from our house outside of Philly so we hit the road with no expectations.
Here’s a shot of the Courtyard one night at dusk after a thunderstorm had blown through:
The one mistake we did was not packing beach chairs. I just kind of assumed that the Marriott would have them but they didn’t; you can rent from independent chair and umbrella renters each block but they aren’t cheap. We ended up buying another pair of beach chairs just to save the rental money.
We didn’t get oceanfront but we had a partial oceanfront view only one room back from the beach; we loved sitting here each night having a cocktail on our tiny balcony:
See the striped umbrellas to the right in the photo? That was a bike rental spot. They have those too about every couple of blocks. You can use bikes and other ride-on vehicles on the boardwalk each morning until 11. We definitely took advantage and rented a bike or surrey almost every day!
My favorite rental day was this day:
Jon and Cole rode on a tandem bike, Nate was in that yellow “banana bike” you see off to the left. I ran. We covered 4 miles on the boardwalk that day!
Our hotel was right next to a Grotto Pizza and Fractured Prune (photo stinks because I took it from the surrey ride one morning). I blame these two places for the 4 pounds I gained while on vacation. I don’t even eat pizza normally but the Grotto Pizza (which is a chain in DE and MD) is outta control good.
And The Franctured Prune is a donut chain that I had heard about for years and people were not kidding. I’m not even a donut person normally but these things were DANGEROUS. I’m hard-core back at the gym this week thanks to these two restaurants & all the fun drinks I had on vacation.
We ate out most days and had a couple of favorite restaurants.
Fish Tales was just a few blocks from our hotel. It’s situated on the bay and a really family friendly restaurant with a playground out on the sand for the kids to play on and good food and drink for the adults. You can find it at 22nd Street.
A much smaller but another favorite of ours is Hammerheads On the Beach – it’s at 10th on the boardwalk and Cole was the one to first discover it & suggesting we try it. We ended up going back a second time we loved it so much! They have fun drinks with entertaining names – pictured above is Jon’s Sand In Your Butt drink and below Cole is drinking the Virgin Sharknado.
I should mention too that the food was great both days. Sometimes you find a restaurant that may have an awesome view or locationbut the food is just okay… or the restaurant with the best food doesn’t have great ambiance… Hammerheads has it all! This was Cole’s Ahi Tuna Tacos (he got these both days he loved them so much – I got them the second day too.)
It’s a tiny place – maybe only 15-20 tables outside or so, so definitely plan accordingly.
Riding up and down the boardwalk each day was most certainly entertaining. There’s a dinosaur statute that my kids played on each day along with a dozen other kids every time we passed it:
And then this epic Jesus series of sand castles is about a block away from the dinosaurs. Every few days whomever built them would come, knock down 1-2 of the 3 in the series and builda new biblical scene sandcastle. Regardless of religious belief, I don’t think anyone can deny how talented the artist is. My friend Zareen tells me that these sandcastles are in this same spot every summer:
The boardwalk itself was pretty much what you would expect of a boardwalk. Good people watching, cheesy stores. Nate took to counting tattoo and piercing stores on our bike rides each day for entertainment (there are A LOT! Are people really getting that many tattoos while on vacation?!)
And of course you can see in the photo that there are rides and amusement park goodies down at the end of the boardwalk. Amazingly, my kids never asked or had any desire to check them out: we’re just all about the beach. But there’s plenty to do down there for the thrill-seeker.
There’s also a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum on the boardwalk. We kept meaning to go but ran out of time, but it looks to be a good option if you’re visiting and it’s a rainy day.
One more tip on something to do: another thing we wanted to do but ran out of time to do was this Assateague Adventure boat ride. You can catch a boat at the end of Ocean City and it goes over to Assageague where you can see the wild horses and interact with some marine life. Definitely something for next time.