How Ocean City, Maryland’s Boardwalk Has Become a Summer Americana Icon

The boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland has become an icon of summer travel. Lined with restaurants and shops, miles of white-sand beaches, and a lively amusement park with a Ferris wheel that offers a birds-eye view of the entire town, this warm-weather getaway has become a favorite for weekends away with family and friends.

While Ocean City has been welcoming summer vacationers to its shore for nearly 120 years, many of the area's famed establishments popped up in the last half-century. The condo buildings and hotels that have spread from the downtown section of town, and all the way up the coast, sport bright, mid-century modern designs. Reminiscent of other multi-colored oceanfront vacation spots like Miami, the vibe is more akin to the Jersey Shore than the lively bar atmosphere of Florida's nightlife capital.

Vacationers can walk the nearly 2.5-mile-long boardwalk, stopping at any number of apparel stores, arcades, or restaurants serving up local favorites like softshell crab, crab cakes, and an array of boardwalk treats.

On the Bay Seafood has an extensive all-seafood menu and plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy your meal oceanside. Ropewalk offers an equally impressive selection of seafood from the bay side, and Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar is a bit more upscale but is best known for its "Crab Feasts," a wholesome spread of seafood, biscuits, and corn. And just on the other side of the bay you'll find Hooper's Crab House, which has served up heaping buckets of fresh, steamed seafood for over 40 years.

If you're looking for a quicker bite on the boardwalk, try Thrasher's French Fries. Known for their mile-high portions of fries served with only vinegar, the eatery has expanded to three locations since opening in 1929. There's also Atlantic Stand, which is great for burgers and hot dogs to go.

For those with a sweet tooth, there's more than a handful of options to choose from. Visit Candy Kitchen, which opened in 1937, where they offer an impressive array of fudge, chocolates, hard candies, and gummies. For fresh ice cream there's Dumsters Dairyland, which has been making all of their flavors daily since 1939. Fisher's Popcorn, which also opened in 1937, has a unique selection of popcorn flavors, including Old Bay, caramel, caramel cheddar, and kettle corn. Craving something sweet first thing in the morning? Fractured Prune serves up an array of uniquely flavored donuts from all of their seven Ocean City locations.

But it's not just about the food in Ocean City. The area is also home to Jolly Roger Amusement Park, with a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and a handful of other rides. At night you can see the attractions from miles around, and the boardwalk gets its second wind as visitors transition from sunbathing to enjoying beers and cocktails — with Seacrets and the Sandbar being two favorites.

Between the bars, attractions, restaurants, and beachfront, Ocean City has something to satiate everyone's travel palate. What once started out as a sleepy beachfront town has slowly transitioned over the past few decades into a nine-mile stretch of hotels, condos, restaurants, and shops, perfect for all types of weekends trips — from romantic getaways to family vacations.

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