Ocean City

Walking the planks

Fun can be found from the Boardwalk to the beach

May 14, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,Sun reporter

Buy a tub of Thrasher's french fries, settle into a comfortable bench on Ocean City's boardwalk and watch.

On a recent day, empty-nesters walked their designer golden-doodle; a family pedaled a canopied quadricycle; a teenage boy sweated through his T-shirt during a game of Dance Dance Revolution; bikers in mean shades and leather chaps shared a jumbo bucket of Thrasher's; and grandma and grandpa took a post-lunch power walk.

Remember that when it seems as if there's nothing to do -- or that you've done it all year after year -- there are always people to watch.

Hotels

There's no shortage of Holiday Inns, Howard Johnson's and motels aglow in neon in Ocean City. Here's where to stay if you want a little more luxury:

The Breakers, Third Street and the Boardwalk, 800-283-9165; ocbreakers.com. Completely rebuilt three years ago, this hotel features a fitness center, indoor pool and Dough Roller restaurant. The rooms are clean and crisp, and the location is ideal for boardwalk lovers and children. Rates: $119-$359.

The Hilton Suites Oceanfront, 32nd Street on the ocean, five blocks north of the Boardwalk, 410-289-6444; hilton.com. The all-suite hotel opened in 2006 and offers the largest beachfront in town. Two outdoor pools overlook the ocean, including one with a large slide. The indoor pool is edged with lush tropical palms. Rooms sleep four to six, with penthouses holding 10, and feature a full kitchen. The 12-story resort also offers an upscale restaurant, 32 Palms; a lounge; and the all-important Starbucks. Rates: $219-$534.

The Coconut Malorie Resort, 200 59th Street on the bay, 800-767-6060; coconut malorie.com. This hotel also has been renovated. The resort offers 85 studio or one-bedroom suites, all of which include a mini-kitchen and pullout couch. The heated outdoor pool overlooks the bay. Rates: $160-$399.

For the ultimate in luxury, reserve suites at Ocean City's two "boutique" hotels at Fager's Island. The Edge (60th Street on the bay, 410-524-5400) is three years old and features 12 suites with modern decor and all of the little luxuries that matter -- robes, a daily newspaper, concierge service, down comforters and feather beds. Rates start at $259. Next door is the Lighthouse Club Hotel (59th Street on the bay, 410-524-5400), a three-story, octagon-shaped building with a replica of the Thomas Point Lighthouse on top. The amenities are the same, but the decor is "Caribbean." Rates start at $119.

Restaurants

Ocean City is famous for its chains -- The Dough Roller, Layton's and Phillips Seafood -- but here are three places to go for special occasions, even if you have to hire a babysitter.

Galaxy 66, 6601 Coastal Highway, 410-723-6762. This restaurant doesn't have an ocean or bay view, but it offers the only open-air rooftop bar and dining area in town. The decor features sleek glass mosaics and sculptures imported from Washington state. The food is equally inventive. The menu changes regularly and recently featured rockfish and crab. Entrees: $20-$35.

Liquid Assets Wine and Martini Bar, 9301 Coastal Highway, 410-524-7037. Next to a Sunsations T-shirt store in a strip mall, this place is "extremely popular" with locals, according to Sun restaurant critic Elizabeth Large. The dining area is elegant and isolated, while the wine bar is situated in the center of a packaged-goods store -- 7-Eleven-style beer refrigerators and all. The cheese list is extensive but also expensive.

Fager's Island, 201 60th Street on the bay, 410-524-5500. This is one of the best places to watch the sunset: Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" crescendos over the stereo system just as the sun dips below the horizon. The restaurant, more like an entertainment compound, offers something for everyone: outdoor pavilions, live music, dancing, a Sunday jazz brunch and two menus: one upscale, the other "light fare." Entrees (fine dining): $22-$43.

Nightlife

This category could begin and end with Seacrets (49th Street on the bay, 410-524-4900), a block-long homage to cheap beer and the fraternity party.

As Randolph Hoenes of Ellicott City explained, "It's a great place to arrive by water. There are lots of bars and great snacks. But you won't feel comfortable there at night unless you're under the age of 25, or feel like you're under the age of 25."

Here are two other options:

The Green Turtle, 11601 Coastal Highway, 410-723-2120. It's a chain, but one of the few true "sports bars" in Ocean City. It features sticky floors and a dizzying number of large, flat-screen televisions, all hallmarks of a true sports bar.

Peppers Tavern, 15th Street on the Boardwalk, 410-289-8444. Known for its Bloody Marys, which customers can concoct themselves from more than 80 mixes.

Fun

Having "fun" in Ocean City often requires good weather. Listed below are four backups for rainy days, followed by some staples for any vacation at the beach.

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