My last three visits to Ocean City have been in the off-season (December, March, November; in that order). Now I’m starting to wonder if I ever want to go back in the summer. Sure, there are more attractions open and the amount of people down there makes it seem like one big party, but there are also loads of traffic, long waits in restaurants, and the inability to come and go as you please because of the sheer number of visitors. No problems like that in the spring and winter months. And honestly, the place is far from being a ghost town. Most of the hotels still open have full or nearly-full parking lots. People like us taking advantage of ridiculously cheap hotel rates. I wrote about it last December, how our $120-a-night room might have eclipsed $800 in the summer. This was an oceanfront suite at the Hilton, where I stayed this past weekend as part of a short getaway.
Most of the stands on the boardwalk are open as well, and all of the arcades. Then there’s Thrasher’s. It’s nice to be able to walk around at your leisure playing almost any game you want without tripping over people. Same can be said for mini golf. In the spring, we hit every single Old Pro location that was open, and this weekend, went to two of them. In both cases we had the place to ourselves.
There is also the Ocean Downs Casino, open year-round, of course. I don’t think the time of year determines how crowded they are, though they appeared to be in the midst of a renovation. Like most casinos of their nature, this place has a mix of tourists wandering around playing penny slots for fun like Will and I, and die-hard gamblers putting in $50 bills trying to hit it big. I did take advantage of the smoker’s room. Being from New Jersey, where you can’t smoke anywhere, it was great being able to sit with a cigar and a whiskey indoors while playing some slots.
Our first night was a fun one. We started out with dinner at one of our favorite (and best-named) restaurants, Tequila Mockingbird. I had a killer shrimp and crab burrito and a couple of margaritas while Will had a fish bowl margarita and nachos. We then headed out to the Casino to lose our customary $20 before bowing out. (But hey, on the second night, we left ahead $9.76!)
On the way home, we were somehow hungry again. So I decided to take us to BJ’s, located waterfront on the bayside. Not only are they open until 1:30 AM, but they have a full-service kitchen until then as well. It seemed as if all of Ocean City was partying at BJ’s that night. The place was packed at midnight for live music. We headed toward the back for a few more drinks and “snacks”, which consisted of an out-of-this-world crab imperial pizza and potato skins. We left stuffed.
Earlier in the day, we went to nearby Berlin for some antique shopping and lunch at the Globe, a review of which is coming soon. I’ll give you a spoiler alert and say we have another 5-star rating coming. The next morning, we had breakfast (more like recovery) at the Decatur Diner (no “pipeline” this time) and then over to Assateague Island for some shell collecting. The wild horses were out and about. Also that night was a stop at the Winterfest of Lights, which had just opened. This was a tram drive-through a decorated park. Though I am not in the holiday spirit this year, it was a nice way to kill 20 minutes. Admission was only $5 per person.
As you can tell by this brief post, there is a lot to do in Ocean City in the winter months. Many of the restaurants even offer better dinner specials. The Crab Bag (another favorite) where we went on Saturday had an all day Happy Hour ($2.50 rail drinks) and $20 crab steamer pot specials. You can’t beat that.