Far from maddening crowds, spring activities in O.C.

April 11, 1993|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Contributing Writer

Unpredictable spring temperatures and rainy skies don't have to put a damper on a weekend of fun at the beach.

Preseason visitors who want to beat the summer crowds and enjoy lower rates will find plenty to do this time of year -- both indoors and out -- even when the weather's not at its best.

"Springtime is nice for strolling on the boardwalk," says Peck Miller, owner of Sailing Etc. on 54th Street. "It's also a good time to buy bathing suits. All of the hot suits are out now. For the more fashion-conscious, now is the time to buy."

It's also not too early to rent a pontoon boat, catamaran, windsurfer or sailboat, Mr. Miller says. Some hearty windsurfers use wet or dry suits so they can enjoy the sport no matter what the weather.

With the rising popularity of in-line skating, Sailing Etc. also rents and sells in-line skates. Occasionally, there is public in-line skating indoors at the Ocean City Convention Center. Scheduled sessions are from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. this Tuesday and again April 27, with rentals and lessons available.

For information, call the Ocean City Department of Recreation and Parks, (410) 250-0125.

In-line skating can also be enjoyed outdoors. Northside Park at 125th Street has a mile of paved paths, making the bayside recreation complex a popular gathering place.

Or skaters can roll along the boardwalk while crowds are thinner than during the summer and restrictions on skating as well as bicycling are more relaxed. Local ordinances permit bikes and ,, skates on the boardwalk from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays jTC through May 22; and from 6 a.m. until noon weekends and holidays through May 15. After these dates, hours are 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Many of the boardwalk shops are already open, and the boardwalk train has been in operation since the beginning of the month.

"This is just a beautiful time of year," says Johnnie Jett, secretary and office manager for Trimper's Rides. "Everything you can enjoy in the summer you can enjoy now -- without standing in lines."

Trimper's Rides will operate its year-round indoor amusements on weekends only, gradually adding more outdoor rides through April.

By May, the kiddie rides will be running weekday afternoons with Friday night openings for the outdoor rides.

The Ocean City pier games and rides will be open weekends through April and daily in May, according to Lionel Massey, head of group sales for Jolly Roger Amusement Park. Jungle Golf and Speedworld are now open daily, weather permitting.

Ocean City's miniature golf courses will be opening between now and Memorial Day. Herb Schoellkopf, primary owner of eight Old Pro Golf courses, expects to have all of them in operation daily by the middle of next month.

Also scheduled for next month is the grand opening of an indoor miniature golf course at the 68th street Old Pro Golf family fun center. The indoor course will have an undersea theme and will be open for year-round fun.

The Ocean City Princess and the Miss Ocean City fishing boats are beginning to make their runs out of Shantytown dock for mackerel and, later this month, for sea bass.

And Delmarva Downs has opened for harness racing with a post time of 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. Sundays.

If you're looking for something to do in doors, the arcades and movie theaters are open and bowling lanes are plentiful. The Carousel Hotel and Resort offers indoor ice skating when it doesn't need the space for a convention.

And on the boardwalk at the inlet is the Ocean City Lifesaving Station museum, which displays old-fashioned lifesaving equipment -- including a lifeboat and a surf car -- used by members of the Lifesaving Service who patrolled the beach and provided assistance to mariners in distress at the turn of the century.

Visitors to the museum can learn about major Ocean City storms, compare samples of sand from around the world, study shipwreck artifacts and look back through time at bathing suits and boardwalk souvenirs, according to Sue Hurley, the museum manager.

The museum is open weekends in April from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Next month, it will be open daily.

The new Delmarva Shipwreck and Historical Museum, which highlights artifacts recovered off of Ocean City by local divers, is open by appointment only. Call 641-3848 for information and directions.

The Art League of Ocean City showcases the works of local art ists each month at its Art League Gallery at 94th Street and

Coastal Highway.

This month, the theme of opposites and polarities will be explored through sculpture, oils, watercolors and pastels. In May, works about nature will be featured. The gallery is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

The Ocean City Health and Racquet Club at 61st Street on the bay welcomes non-members who may purchase half-price daily passes for $7.50 until the end of May. The club has an indoor track, an indoor lap pool and two free weight rooms as well as drop-in basketball and more than 30 aerobics classes weekly.

Children will enjoy visiting a new public playground recently completed at the Ocean City Elementary School in West Ocean City. The $80,000 community project includes tunnels, spiral slides and peaked roofs. From the westbound U.S. 50 bridge, turn right onto Golf Course Road and left onto Center Drive.

And at nearby Assateague Island, it's a fine time to hike on the nature trails, find unusual shells and sea horses, observe nesting birds and see the famous wild ponies while they're still wearing their fuzzy winter coats.

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