I know someone out there must be thinking, “Why the hell would you go to a place like Ocean City, Maryland in December?” Well, I’ll admit that’s a fair question. I have been coming to this location since I was a child. It was our family’s place every single summer until I was about 13 years old. Then we discovered Gettysburg and that became the go-to family trip. My parents have since been back, but I have not. I have so many great memories of various things at Ocean City: staying at Howard Johnson’s, swimming at the beach, eating at Phillips Crab House, and playing mini golf, among other things.
But now, at the ripe old age of 25, I am not a beach-person. I work on the beach for one of my jobs. I love it, but I’m not one to bring a blanket and roast in the sun. I don’t have the patience for mini golf and I hate crowds. If living on the Jersey Shore since I was four has taught me anything, it’s that the last place I want to be in the summer is anywhere near a beach. All that being said, you can understand why going to Ocean City two days after Christmas is not so bizarre to me. There are plenty of things to keep us busy…and no crowds.
Hilton Oceanfront Suites
One of the perks of staying anywhere in that place’s off-season is getting a great price on a room. A suite at this Hilton with excellent views of the ocean and in which every room is a luxury suite can range anywhere from $400-800 a night in the summer. A corner version of this same room fetches $1,000. The price I am paying each night during our two night stay? $112. For those of us whose money does not grow on trees, this is an opportunity to experience luxury at a bargain-basement price, and I am going to take it.
Winterfest of Lights
This is a light display set up in Northside Park. You pay only $5 and they drive you around the course on a tram. It lasts for about 15-20 minutes. For the price, you really cannot go wrong. There are many similar set-ups all over the country, but the addition of the tram really ups the quality a notch. Each car also has a speaker which plays Christmas music with sporadic, quirky narration. The crowd was in the hundreds tonight but they managed to get everyone through rather quickly. They seem to have the lines down to a science. The displays will not blow you away but it is a fun activity that will keep you in the holiday spirit. If you have the chance, it lasts until January 1st.
Only 40 minutes outside of Ocean City is Salisbury, site of the “best little zoo in America”. When they say little, they aren’t lying. But the location is free and the exhibits are pretty good. It took us about 45 minutes, and we walked pretty slowly actually looking at each animal. Nothing we hadn’t seen before at other zoos, but I must recommend it for the economical factor. It’s perfect for families. After that, we went in to the downtown area to check out the Season’s Best Antique Store. A nice selection, with prices much cheaper than in my previous antiquing experience in Pennsylvania.
I hate the heat. I was expecting it to be in the high 40’s during our stay, but today seemed unusually warm. I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit 70. I mean, it’s December and I’m sitting out on the balcony at 10 PM overlooking the ocean wearing just a t-shirt and I feel comfortable.
The rest of the trip over the next two days will include a trip to Assateague Island as well as the town of Berlin. We also hit up the Casino at Ocean Downs tonight. We both ended up breaking even, which is a win in my book.
Restaurant reviews coming soon!