Ocean City

It's still a Baltimore favorite

Resort is changing but isn't forgetting its past

May 19, 2006|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,SUN REPORTER

Ocean City is one of those beaches that can be all things to all people - unless you're looking for a quiet beach in high season. It's where Baltimore goes to catch some rays, play in the surf, build sandcastles and eat saltwater taffy. Those who have been going back every summer since childhood can still get a bad sunburn, eat too many Thrashers fries and lose at mini-golf to their 5-year-old. (Ocean City may well be the mini-golf capital of the universe.)

But O.C. is also changing. It's becoming more worldly and more affluent, and it's also shoring up its past (no pun intended) with the rehabbing of downtown. The boardwalk has never looked better, with new lights, new benches and new boards interwoven with the old weathered ones

Where to stay

Ocean City has too many hotels and motels to list (about 10,000 rooms), so we'll just mention a few. For more complete listings, go to the many online sites such as oceancityhotels.com, oceancity.com and about a thousand others.

The new Breakers (Third Street and the boardwalk, 800-283-9165, ocbreakers. com) has an indoor atrium pool, fitness center, two-room oceanfront suites, and perhaps best of all, its own Dough Roller restaurant. Rates: $119-$329.

In May, the Hilton Suites Oceanfront (3200 N. Baltimore Ave., 410-289-6444, hilton.com) will open its doors with luxurious appointments like granite countertops in the kitchens and flat-panel TVs. The 12-story all-suite resort will have the largest beachfront in town, not to mention two elevated pools overlooking the ocean. Rates: $249-$439.

The Coconut Malorie Resort (200 59th St. on the bay, 800-767-6060) has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. The resort includes 85 bay-front suites with marble baths and Jacuzzi tubs. There's a fitness center, game rooms and heated outdoor pool. Rates: $275.

It's not new, but it's definitely worth a mention. An Inn on the Ocean (1001 Atlantic Ave., 888-226-6223) is an anomaly in Ocean City: a quiet oceanfront B&B. For all their quaint charm, the six rooms are very comfortable, with excellent beds, color TVs (hidden in armoires) and Jacuzzi tubs. Rates: $135-$350.

Restaurants

Ocean City is known for its all-you-can-eat buffets and, most famously, for Phillips Seafood; but it has restaurants to appeal to almost every taste. There will be a new Ruth's Chris this summer in the GlenRiddle Clubhouse just west of Ocean City, and several other new places have opened their doors:

Blue Ox (127th Street and Coastal Highway, 410-250-6440) is a steakhouse and raw bar with lots of seafood. Entrees: $14.95-$35.95.

Booty's Bar & Grill, (2706 Coastal Highway, 410-289-2020) opens this spring, promising a sports bar and pirate-themed restaurant.

Chop House at Embers (24th Street and Coastal Highway, 410-289-3322) features traditional steaks, chops and seafood. Everything is a la carte. Entrees: $20-$45.

Liquid Assets Wine and Martini Bar (9301 Coastal Highway, 410-524-7037) has become extremely popular with year-round residents -- so popular, in fact, that this winter it expanded into the restaurant next door. Expect hip food and trendy decor. Entrees: $10-$23.

Sakura (12741 Ocean Gateway No. 603, West Ocean City, 410-213-7711) is a Japanese steakhouse that some locals say has the best sushi in town. Entrees: $15-$30.

Tutti Gusti (3322 Coastal Highway, 410-289-3318) has new owners. They promise to keep the restaurant as it's been: a bistro serving northern Italian food with an emphasis on wine. Entrees: $14.95-$28.95.

Shopping

When people think of shopping in O.C., it's always for beach gear or great outlet finds. These shops will give you some idea of what else is around:

Kendall Home Furnishings (12319 Ocean Gateway, West Ocean City, 410-213-2520) opened last fall with upscale furniture and bedding for year-round residents and those furnishing a vacation home.

Monkey's Trunk (11809 Ocean Gateway, West Ocean City, 410-213-9303) has unusual gifts, occasional furniture and home accessories.

Looking for real jewelry as a souvenir of the beach? Park Place Jewelers (between Second and Third streets on the boardwalk, 410-289-6700) has 14-karat gold crabs, gold flip-flop charms and its popular O.C. hook bracelet, with rings representing the 10 miles of the peninsula.

Nightlife

Ocean City is filled with loud clubs, rowdy bars and upscale nightspots. By now, everyone must know about the two most famous places to party: Seacrets, a huge bar complex and the granddaddy of nightlife in O.C., and Fager's Island, the popular restaurant that has dancing on its deck nightly. Here are a few other places to get your groove on:

Local acts like Tom Larson and Pompous Pie play at BJ's on the Water (75th Street and the bay, 410-524-7575).

Locals and tourists alike love the outdoor bar at Harborside (12841 S. Harbor Road, 410-213-1846), where the juice for the infamous orange crushes is squeezed while you watch. Decent local acts and good bar food are almost as much of a draw.

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