What started out as a hobby for three Delmarva men has turned into in a coastal treasure: the Delmarva Shipwreck and Historical Museum.
Located in a small building on Route 611, a few miles south of U.S. 50, the museum is the newest among several museums that can be found in and around Ocean City.
"It's been lifelong dream of ours to open a museum to show people what is literally found in their back yard," says Keith McCabe, an avid shipwreck hunter and one of the owners.
The back yard in this case is the Atlantic, and McCabe and his partners have amassed a virtual treasure of coins, pottery, weapons and other relics culled from shipwreck explorations along the Florida and Delmarva coasts.
"About 85 percent of the relics are from local wrecks," says Dale Clifton, also one of the museum's owners.
The museum features an extensive collection of Indian artifacts, a cannon recovered from a sunken 1733 fleet, gold bars and assorted jewelry.
Besides exhibits, visitors can watch a short film about a shipwreck exploration off the Florida coast. The owners also invite visitors into their lab, where they clean and restore relics.
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; it is closed Wednesdays. Admission is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. Call (410) 641-3848.
A must for all beach visitors is the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum on the boardwalk at the inlet.
Housed in a former Coast Guard station, the museum features a fascinating history of shipwrecks and life-saving rescues off the Delmarva coast.
Additionally, the museum contains enlarged photographs of the resort town before and after two major storms -- in 1933 and 1962.
The 1933 storm, which created the inlet, has been considered a "godsend" because it made the ocean more accessible for sport and commercial fishermen.
Visitors also can take a stroll down memory lane with exhibits of old-fashioned swimsuits, memorabilia from the boardwalk of yesterday and miniature models of famous hotels.
The museum is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission: $1.50 for adults and 50 cents for children. Call (410) 289-4991.
Nearby is the Ocean City Wax Museum, a fun diversion from more serious museums along the shore.
Inside, visitors will find wax look-alikes of Elvis, Lucille Ball, John Wayne and John Travolta.
There's also a chamber of horrors, as well as displays of fairy tale characters and historical figures such as Thomas Edison and Francis Scott Key.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to midnight. Admission is $4.95 for adults, $3.95 for ages 13 to 17 and $2.95 for children ages 6 to 12. Call (410) 289-7515.
In nearby Berlin, the Taylor House Museum offers visitors a pleasant step back into the decades before the Civil War.
Built in 1832 by Isaac Covington, the Federal-style house features furniture and other items from the era donated by town residents. Covington also owned plantations near Snow Hill and schooners that traded in the West Indies.
The museum, though, is named after Calvin B. Taylor, who purchased the two-story house in the 1890s and built an addition and made improvements, such as the stained-glass windows.
A teacher and lawyer, Taylor eventually founded Taylor Bank.
The museum serves as a history of Berlin, featuring exhibits about local families and businesses.
Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is a $1 donation. Call (410) 641-1019.
Housed in a former schoolhouse, the Nanticoke Indian Museum in Millsboro, Del., features cases of relics from Nanticoke and other Indians.
"We wanted to share with the outside people information about the natives that live here," says Odette Wright, a Nanticoke Indian and the museum's curator. About 500 Nanticoke Indians live in and near Millsboro.
Visitors will find war clubs, pine-needle baskets, a Nanticoke beaded dress, feather headdresses, peace pipes, arrow heads and stone tools. The other half of the school serves as a community center, where visitors can view videos of Indian dances and browse through the museum's collection of books.
The museum is about 30 minutes from Ocean City. Take Route 113 north to Route 24. Follow Route 24 about 6 miles east of Millsboro.
Hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $1 for adults, 50 cents for children. Call (302) 945-7022.