A primer for the Ocean City novice

Getting There

May 23, 2004|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff

You're ready to dip a toe into Ocean City for the first time. But how will you get a room at the last minute? What should you avoid? What's not to be missed?

Here are a few tips before you go, culled from frequent visitors and year-round residents:

* Book beach accommodations in advance when possible, and be aware that some hotels require a minimum stay. A database of hotel and motel offerings, with maps and other information, can be found at www.oceancity.com. You can book online, too. A visitors' guide is available by calling 1-800-OC-OCEAN.

* If you've truly pushed it to the last minute -- you're almost to the beach and you still haven't got a place to stay -- stop at the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce's Welcome Center at the intersection of routes 50 and 707. The center is open Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 888-626-3386.

* Before you go, learn the rules for everything from sleeping on the beach to surfing to drinking alcoholic beverages. A summary of local ordinances can be found at www.ococean.com.

* Bringing Fido? Think before you do -- animals aren't allowed on the beach or the boardwalk from May to September. Elsewhere, dogs must be on a leash. If you're looking for a kennel or a motel that welcomes pets, see www.oceancity.com.

* Parking can be tough near the heart of Ocean City, and meters in town parking lots must be fed 24 hours a day. The West Ocean City Park and Ride, however, offers more than 700 free parking spaces.

* If you're looking to dive headlong into the see-and-be-seen scene of Ocean City, head for the beach during the day and the boardwalk at night. If you prefer a little more tranquillity, hit the boardwalk during the day and the beach in the early morning or evening. The beach is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

* For a morning overview of the boardwalk, ride a bike. Rental outlets along the boardwalk offer hourly rates for two-wheelers, and frequent visitors say it's a great way to check out the offerings along the three-mile stretch. Just make sure you've returned your bike by 10 a.m.

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