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A gift guide for the Ocean City lovers in your life

There’s always that one person — a distant cousin, or a sibling who’s personal taste refuses to be summed up by a sweater or scented candle — who’s really hard to shop for.

That’s where the Ocean City Gift Guide comes in!

There’s a surprisingly large variety of unique gifts that are from/related to Ocean City, Maryland, and they not only make thoughtful stocking stuffers, but they also serve as a reminder that summer vacation isn’t too far off now. After all, once New Year’s comes and goes, it’s smooth sailing through winter’s short remaining days to the onset of spring. Before you know it, it’s time to load up the car and cross the Bay Bridge to America’s favorite mid-Atlantic beach town once again. 

For the reader: So many books

Lots of books have been written about Ocean City, especially in recent years, which means you can take your pick from a regional library of sorts and find one that’s best suited to each member of the family. 

For example, for someone who’s really into local history (or someone who’s most often found at family gatherings glued to a recliner reminiscing about the good ol‘ days), Bunk Mann’s Vanishing Ocean City is an almost-exhaustive history of an Ocean City lost to time: People and events of note, restaurants and hotels that once lined Coastal Highway, vintage postcards from days gone by. It’ll look good on the coffee table but it won’t gather dust, because it’s also just a fascinating read. 

Anyone who loves going to Trimper’s and finds the antique amusements to be one of the coolest parts of the Boardwalk will love flipping through the pages of Trimper’s Rides, an Images of America book filled with old photos that are hard to come by anywhere else. The book tells the story of how the park, one of the oldest in America, came to be, and how it “rebuilt after storms, endured wartime challenges, and experienced periods of rapid growth and prosperity” over the years. Brandon Seidl (who, in the name of transparency, also writes our enthralling Ocean City Oddities column) and Monica Thrash are excellent storytellers. You can almost hear the sounds of kids screaming down the Tidal Wave coaster and the music of the merry-go-round as you thumb through the pages of the book.  

I could probably go on for days about history books, coffee table reads, and bound photo-and-postcard collections of Ocean City (I have a not-so-modest collection myself), but I’ll stop myself and give you just a few more ideas: Mary Corddry’s City on the Sand is a comprehensive story of the town’s early days, beginning with the Atlantic Hotel’s opening in 1875. For those who love ghost stories and being just a little creeped out, Mindy Burgoyne’s Haunted Ocean City and Berlin is as ghostly as it gets. For kids, Good Night Maryland depicts characters saying goodnight to the Ocean City Boardwalk, and B is for Blue Crab also highlights some Eastern Shore traditions.

Most of these books can be found on Amazon (links provided), and the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum additionally features a wide selection of Ocean City books for sale in their gift shop.

Here’s another, because there’s just so many books and so little time.

For the beer connoisseur: Local brewery gift cards

If there’s someone in your life who loves beer as much as they love Ocean City — well, first of all, their pint glass collection is probably big enough already, so you can just skip that gift this year. Gift cards to local breweries are the best because they’re essentially the gift of an experience, plus maybe the opportunity to try out a new place, and of course, good beer. If you’re lucky, they might even bring you along with them (some of the best gifts are just a little bit selfish). 

The Shore Craft Beer store has discounted gift cards to a few breweries and craft beer-friendly bars, and you can also find gift cards on the sites of popular local breweries like Dogfish Head and Evo

One of Ocean City’s most popular annual beer festivals, Shore Craft Beer Fest: Love on Tap at Seacrets, is also coming up this FeBREWary, and it takes the idea of ‘giving an experience as a gift’ to another level entirely. This experience includes 3-4 hours of sampling local craft beer, live music, and all the fun times/beautiful bayside views you’ve come to expect from Seacrets (plus a few material goods too, including a t-shirt and that obligatory collectible pint glass). The only caveat here is that no one wants to go to a beer festival alone, so you’ll have to take one of the team and buy a ticket for yourself, too.

Gift cards galore in the SCB store.

For the collector: Chachkis (of the not-too-corny variety)

Many of us just really like collectibles — which is how some stores, not to be named here, have managed to stay in business for so long. But most of these stores, are now closed for the season, so in the spirit of the holidays, here are some items from online shops that don’t also sell dehydrated hermit crabs and puffer fish-turned-light switches a la The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

And none of them are more than $20!: Vintage Ocean City ornaments from Plak That (I’ve got one hanging from a ceiling fan). A collectible Ocean City spoon from the 1980s. A handmade map pendant. 24 dark chocolate Old Bay crabs. A sampler of four Maryland-themed soy candles. A Greetings from Ocean City mug, because it’s not Christmas until you get someone a coffee mug. A 90s Purple Moose Saloon sweatshirt that will bring up lots of fond old memories, or a lack thereof. 

For the friend who loves to moose around.

For the artiste: Handcrafted items by local artisans

Unique, handcrafted gifts can be hard to come by, but if you’re local or plan on visiting Ocean City before the holidays arrive, the Art League of Ocean City’s gift shop is a one-stop shop for handmade jewelry, prints and cards, pottery, wood and metal trinkets, self-published books, and fiber arts. The Center for the Arts also has two floors of galleries, and many of the original artworks on display are available for sale, too.

Buying from the Art League’s gift shop supports art in the community and the local artisans that make it all possible. Even if all your gift shopping is already done, they also feature a wide selection of handmade cards that are perfect to send to faraway loved ones during the holiday season.   

Inside the ALOC gift shop.

For the decorator: Framed prints to beautify any room

In some cases, this also requires a physical presence in Ocean City: The Art League has tons of art and photo prints for sale, as does — of course — Ocean Gallery. Like the Art League, Ocean Gallery is open during the off-season (on select dates and times, however, so it’s best to call ahead), and there you’ll find all kinds of artistic gifts, from condo-friendly beach scenes to college dorm room posters to beautiful photos of the Ocean City skyline that can be framed right there in the on-site frame shop. 

If you’re not able to be physically present in Ocean City this holiday season, there’s another way to go about getting picturesque prints to frame and hang: By supporting local photographers! A quick Google search will present to you a wide swath of those who sell prints in their online stores. Secrets of the Eastern Shore is one of many examples. 

It’s nearly impossible to not find something you like in Ocean Gallery.

For the adventurer: Gift certificates to new places

…Or old favorite places that you can enjoy with your favorite person when your long-awaited summer vacation rolls around. 

Like breweries, gift cards can be found on the websites of many of your favorite restaurants, hotels, mini golf courses, galleries, museums, watersports businesses, etc., but before you go searching for those, see if you can get a discounted gift card in our store first. There you’ll find certificates to restaurants like The Greene Turtle and Billy’s Sub Shop, and watersports rentals like Bayside Boats, Odyssea, and Ayers Creek Adventures. Excuse us if it looks a bit barren these days — we’ve been getting wiped out as the holidays approach, and when we do get new gift cards in, they don’t tend to last long!

Good luck with all the shopping this season entails. When it comes to navigating the crowded malls, long lines in superstores, and overstuffed parking lots, I think we could all use a little luck and a sizable injection of holiday cheer. At the time of this writing there’s about two weeks left until Christmas, which should give you plenty of time to order all your popcorn tins, coffee mugs, fuzzy socks, and the Ocean City memorabilia you know your friends and family will love. And then, with just a little more luck, summer won’t be too far off…

Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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