Which is the best route into Ocean City?
Ocean City is a peninsula; surrounded by the inlet at the southern tip, the bay on the west, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. You can enter Ocean City by crossing the Route 50 Bridge, by crossing the Route 90 Bridge, or through Delaware via Route 1.
Coming across the Route 50 Bridge brings you into the heart of downtown via a 2 lane highway. Here you will find the typical hustle and bustle of a resort community, with bathers, boardwalk visitors and automobile traffic all vying for their turn at the road.
Crossing further north at the Route 90 will bring you into Ocean City at 62nd Street. Here you will find low to mid-rise hotels and condos on the Ocean side and a mixture of condos, low-rise hotels and commercial facilities on the bay side. There will be less traffic but keep in mind that Route 90 is a single lane highway with no option to pass.
For visitors from the north, entry into Ocean City is best accomplished via Route 1. Here you will enter Ocean City at the northern end, which has the least amount of traffic. You will find low-rise hotels and condos on the Ocean and along Coastal Highway and homes and low rise hotels and condos on the bay side, with commercial facilities lining both sides of Coastal Highway.
Where should I stay?
This is a loaded question with no answer being the same for everyone. Let’s start by breaking Ocean City into 4 areas.
Downtown; this for my purposes will include everything from the inlet north to 27th Street. This includes the entire length of the boardwalk. Choose this area if you like to be in the middle of the excitement. Boardwalk shops and entertainment are open until midnight or later during the summer season and is right at your door. Staying in this area is best for the young or the young at heart. It is also ideal for families with teens that feel their children can go off exploring on their own. The boardwalk is well lit and maintains fairly heavy foot traffic until late at night. My personal recommendation is the HOTEL MONTE CARLO located at 216 N Baltimore Ave.
South Center; this for my purposes will include everything from 28th Street to 84th Street. This area includes low to mid-rise hotels and condos on the ocean and bay with commercial facilities lining Coastal Highway. You will also find some good deals on hotels and condos on and around Coastal Highway. Keep in mind that Ocean City is not that wide in most areas so walking to the beach is not a major ordeal. I consider this area to be the best mixture of convenience and quiet for most families. The QUALITY INN OCEANFRONT hotel located on 54th Street is well suited for families and couples alike and is only 1/2 mile from the convention center.
North Center; this for my purposes will include everything from 85th Street to 118th Street. This area is the same as South Center except hi-rise hotels begin lining the ocean. From 100th Street to 118th Street the ocean is virtually lined with hi-rises. For those singles, couples and families that like to be pampered with room service, saunas, etc., this is your area. On the bay side you will find townhouses for larger families, many with your own boat dock. Large families, families sharing a vacation, and boaters will find the largest selection of rentals in this area. The CAROUSEL RESORT HOTEL & CONDOMINIUMS is located ocean front on 117th street. A little history for those new to the area: the Carousel was the first hotel built on the north end of Ocean City, it was built by Bobby Baker (a reputed member of the (“mob”). Needless to say everything is here, including an indoor ice skating rink, a deli, an ice cream shop, indoor and outdoor pools, jetted tubs, room service and much more. Other than a trip to the boardwalk there’s not much reason to leave the complex. This is probably my favorite hotel in Ocean City and worth a visit even if you don’t stay here.
North; this for my purposes will include everything from 119th Street to the State line at 146th Street. This area resembles South Center except it is less congested with several homes on the bay side. Walking to a restaurant or store is less likely in this area. For those guests that like to be in a quiet area yet close to the “action” this is the best choice for you. Hotels in this area are not as plentiful but a good choice is the FENWICK INN.
Special recommendation; just before entering Ocean City from Route 50 you will see the Francis Scott Key Motel on your right. This hotel is located on 14 acres and has plenty of room for children (of all ages) to play. The indoor pool is used by many local families in the off season for birthday parties. There is plenty of shopping nearby and even has it’s own restaurant and bar. No need to drive into Ocean City, a free shuttle is available during the season that runs every hour from 10:00am to 10:00pm.
As you can see there is something for almost everyone in Ocean City. I don’t believe you will be unhappy with any of the areas, but offer this guide as a general outline of what each area offers for those guests not familiar with Ocean City.