Another Summer, Another Visit

Resort keeps drawing you back

Ocean City

May 16, 2007|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,sun reporter

Familiarity breeds vacations. Comes another summer in Ocean City, comes another 300,000 people on any given summer weekend.

This is Ocean City:

Maximum miniature golf. Languid sunsets over Sinepuxent Bay. Pool bars, actual phone booths and riptides. Owl decoys peering from Boardwalk balconies. Bottles of Coronas with lime wedges caught in their throats. Secrets and Seacrets. Tacky T-shirts and conventional amusements.

And the beach itself: Kites, Crocs and Boogie Boards. Gulls leaving claw marks in the sand. Jet contrails scratching the sky in sunset purple.

Again, you tell yourself you made the haul for the kids.

But this is your place, too.

Hotels

Ocean City has about 9,500 rooms in too-many-to-list hotels and motels. Two Web sites can help sort through the options: oceancityhotels.com and oceancity.com. Here are just two accommodations: one a splurge and the other a more sublime accommodation.

Holiday Inn, 1701 Atlantic Ave. 410-289-7263; holidayinn.com. Not your father's Holiday Inn. This towering, blue-roofed, all-suite behemoth features a $425-a-night oceanfront suite (peak summer rate) with private balcony, full kitchen and two-person Jacuzzi. Golf packages available. There's an ambitious "activity pool" for kids. Summer rate: $425.

An Inn on the Ocean, 1001 Atlantic Ave. 888-226-6223. Only one name came up in the search for a bed & breakfast in Ocean City. The six-bedroom and Jacuzzi-tubbed Inn on the Ocean is considered the only B&B in town, as well as the only center-gable Victorian house. Summer rates: $245-$350.

Restaurants

Ocean City Restaurant Week. June 2-9. Participating restaurants will offer a fixed-price, three-course dinner for $30 and/or a two-course meal for $20. (Alcohol, gratuity and tax are not included.) For more information, oceancityrestaurantweek.com.

Fausto's Bistro, at Howard Johnson at 12th Street and the Boardwalk, 410-723-3675; Ristoranteanti pasti.com. From the folks who brought you Ristorante Antipasti and Fausto's Antipasti, the new bistro opened in March and boasts brick-oven pizza from $9-$14. Homemade pasta dishes also are offered. Entrees range from $18-$35.

The Shark Restaurant, 46th Street and the Bay, 410-723-1221. The new Leopard Shark Lounge is open on the first floor, and on the third floor, there's the rooftop Hammer Head Bar. Menu includes $15 pastry-wrapped brie stuffed with crab, mako bites for $12 and a half-pound Bass Ale shrimp for $12.

The Marlin Moon Grille, on the south side of Route 50 in West Ocean City just before the bridge, 410-213-1618. Located in the Francis Scott Key Motel, the restaurant offers $11 backfin crab dip and fresh fish of the day. (The motel is sponsoring a YouTube contest. Just make a two-minute, family-appropriate video of favorite Ocean City scenes or memories and put it on YouTube. Winners will be announced in October. For more information: fskmotel.com.)

Kathy's Olympia Country Kitchen, 710 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-1200. Owner Kathy Whit- mer might exuberantly hug you hello or goodbye. The other owner, Walt Everett, is busy making breakfast and lunch - maybe the $6.25 Kathy McMuffin or one of Walt's 18 specialty omelets, perhaps the $6.95 South of the Border omelet.

Big Tuna Grill (formerly The Wharf), 128th Street and Coastal HighWay, 410-250-1001; bigtuna oc.com. The new grill offers full seafood fare, including its signature dish: the $22.99 cedar tuna, cooked on a cedar plank.

OC Frog's Grill and Bar, formerly the Red Eye Frog Saloon, 410-289-2850. Tucked away off the Boardwalk in the Inlet Shopping Village, OC Frog's offers penetrating views across the inlet to Assateague Island. Burgers and steamed shrimp.

Shopping

Few new businesses have opened up so far this year in Ocean City. But here are some existing crowd favorites:

Sea Quest, 76th Street and Coastal Highway. 410-524-0076. Super-sized selection of beach swimwear. Caters to pre-teen to women's size 24. "We can fit anybody - almost anybody," says owner Marsha Howarth. Shoes, accessories, too.

Raggamuffin, 2401 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-3311. West Coast-styled casual beach wear on the Eastern Shore. Handbags - and jewelry from sterling silver, natural gemstone and vintage designs.

Coconut Kids, 8001 Coastal Highway. 410-723-0391. In a word, Crocs. The $30 rubber sandals are big sellers at this children's boutique - as are the $2.50 Jibbitz designs for your Crocs. Store also carries Roxy and Quicksilver surf wear.

Nightlife You know the usual suspects - Seacrets, the beach sand-floored bar complex at 49th Street and the Bay, and Fager's Island at 60th Street and also on the Bay. Here are two other places.

Jive, 8203 Coastal Highway. 410-524-1111. Ocean City doesn't scream or scat jazz, but Jive offers jazz and blues acts - and a martini bar, a feature that can enhance one's listening pleasure. "Half-priced martinis on Sundays" is mentioned on the club's answering machine.

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