8 reasons to visit the other Ocean City
Summer is coming to a close, but there's still time to squeeze in a beach weekend. Some Jersey Shore vacationers are no doubt drawn by tradition: Who doesn't know someone whose family has been going to Wildwood or Sea Isle City for generations? Others may be drawn to the South Jersey coast out of a passion for a particular locale. Or mere convenience.
Summer is coming to a close, but there's still time to squeeze in a beach weekend.
Some Jersey Shore vacationers are no doubt drawn by tradition: Who doesn't know someone whose family has been going to Wildwood or Sea Isle City for generations? Others may be drawn to the South Jersey coast out of a passion for a particular locale. Or mere convenience.
But if our closest oceanfront real estate has no particular claims on your heart and mind (and wallet), you might consider Ocean City, Md.
The other Ocean City has a lot to offer if you're looking for something a little different. And it has a lot of what you already like about an Atlantic Coast beach resort. To that end, here are eight reasons to visit what the folks down there like to call OCMD:
Ocean City, Md., is about 150 miles southeast of City Hall as the SUV rolls. Which means that, barring traffic hassles, you can be there in three to four hours, depending on your starting point.
OCMD lies well below the Mason-Dixon Line, which means there is more than a hint of the South in the air. (Or maybe it's the smell of all those hush puppies - a local culinary staple - in the deep fryer).
A great beach
Jersey Shore chamber of commerce types may not want you to know this, but OCMD's strand equals (and arguably exceeds) any in the Garden State. The wide, clean stretch of sand was ranked the 25th best beach in the U.S. in a tripadvisor.com poll.
Not impressed? It was one of only three north of Florida to make the top 25 (the others were Ogunquit, Maine, and Provincetown, Mass.).
OK, the Garden State won this category when National Geographic magazine named Atlantic City's Great Wood Way the nation's best seaside promenade. But OCMD placed a none-too-shabby fourth in the survey, ahead of Rehoboth Beach, Del., (6) and Wildwood (10).
Crabs, crabs, crabs
Ocean City is on the eastern edge of Maryland's Eastern Shore. That's great news for those who worship at the altar of steamed hard-shell crabs.
While the taste-bud-pleasing crustaceans - steamed "Maryland-style" in Old Bay seasoning and often with fiery cayenne
pepper - are not unknown in Jersey, they are to OCMD what cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia. They just taste better down there. And, best of all, many places offer all-you-can-eat deals.
While this is just a conspiracy theory, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that Eastern Shore crabbers sell their best, most meaty crabs to local restaurants and send their rejects north.
No, not the German metropolis (or the Camden County burg), but the quaintly funky Victorian hamlet (pop. 4,500) some seven miles west of Ocean City. Its Main Street is lined with antique shops, boutiques, bars, and restaurants, and its designated arts and entertainment district is the site of numerous summertime events and festivals.
Vacationing in the other Ocean City doesn't mean you'll miss out. The Casino at Ocean Downs (10218 Racetrack Road, Berlin, Md., 410-641-0600, oceandowns.com), a "racino," is in Berlin. It boasts 800 slot machines and a horse-racing track.
For those who still need a little N.J. in their vacay, OCMD might feel a bit familiar.
Ocean City, like the most popular South Jersey resorts, is on a barrier island, thus giving it a familiar look.
There are two Wawas there (12001 Coastal Hwy. and 12502 Coastal Hwy.).
The best part? The oldest (southern) portion of the resort's main drag is called Philadelphia Avenue.