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Ocean City in the Winter

One part beach, two parts winter wonderland

While it’s true that most Ocean City businesses and amusements are closed in the dead of winter, there are plenty of reasons to plan a winter vacation in OC. The first one that comes to mind is the beauty of a beach town in December and January–from the snow-covered sand to the twinkling lights that decorate Coastal Highway. Here’s writer Nicasio’s take on the end of one 2010 winter in Ocean City: 

“I have spent the last several mornings grabbing a coffee at the Starbucks on Coastal Highway and then heading across the Route 50 Bridge into Ocean City.  Yesterday, I arrived at the inlet parking lot to see a low red glow along the horizon.  It seemed to brighten and just when I thought the best was over and headed back across the bridge to Berlin, I noticed that not only the horizon was red, but that the sun was illuminating the entire sky over the ocean with ribbons of brilliant red, pink, and gray.  Needless to say it was spectacular and I turned around.  Arriving at the Ocean City Boardwalk sign with the sky continuing to lighten, I snapped a few pictures.  The workers were already on the beach, moving sand and preparing for warmer weather and the beachgoers that come with it.  One of the big sand-moving vehicles had mellow beach music playing while they stood around and discussed their next move.”  

A winter walk on the Boardwalk – OceanCity.com

If you’re not too afraid of the cold, it’s a great time to get out and explore the nooks and crannies of the Ocean City Boardwalk. The place just looks different when there are fewer people. As part of my latest Ocean City photo adventure, I started in the Inlet parking lot and then worked my …

A snow-covered boardwalk is the best kind of boardwalk.

A festive holiday season

When you think “Ocean City,” the first word that probably comes to your mind is “summer.” But there’s still things to do in the wintertime–most of them are just holiday-oriented! Winterfest of Lights is one long-standing Ocean City tradition that turns Northside Park into more of a North Pole. There’s also a Christmas parade, fun family events like Pizza with Santa and opportunities to presents shop at the Holiday Shoppers Fair. Be sure to check out our events directory to see what other special events might be happening when you’re in town.  

A guide to winter surfing – OceanCity.com

Surfing is a lifestyle for many Ocean City locals who have grown up in the water. Surfers line the coast during the summer trying to sneak in a few waves in boardshorts before the winter waters come back, and given that the water is only warm enough for boardshorts three to four months out of the year, its truly a race against time.

What’s still open?

Again, most boardwalk businesses and outdoor amusements will be closed for the season. But there are still some fun non-holiday-related things to do in town. Old Pro has two indoor golf courses where you can play a game of mini golf no matter what the weather. Planet Maze, with all of its laser-tagging fun, is usually still open, and so is the Life Saving Station Museum, just with limited hours. (And it’s always a good idea to call ahead in the winter to make sure a business is still open, whether it’s a golf course, museum or restaurant.) 

A Winterfest Excursion – Things to Do in Ocean City Maryland

It was a cold night as we drove along the Route 90 into Ocean City. From the bridge, you could see the array of lights set along the coastline, illuminating the buildings all around town.

A few “pros” 

Okay, you already know the cons: some places aren’t open, some have limited hours and it’s probably pretty cold outside. Not exactly beach weather. But there are also plenty of pros to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether you want to take that wintertime trip. Here are just a few:

  • Ample parking! Seriously, there’s so much parking and it’s almost always free. 
  • No traffic. Unless there’s a major accident blocking the 50 bridge and Beyoncé happens to announce a surprise New Year’s concert at the Inlet, you’re not going to face any traffic coming into Ocean City. 
  • Cheap lodging. Hotel and motel rates are always way cheaper in the off-season than they are in the summer, so you can stay a night or two for next to nothing.
  • We already talked about the beautiful wintery landscape and the holiday festivities, right? 

If you love Ocean City in the summertime, you just might love it even more in the winter. Book your trip and find out.

Dog friendly Winter Activities – OceanCity.com

Last Wednesday, The conversation in my house went like this: T: “What do you think? Should we go down to the beach this weekend?” A: “Well, there’s not much going on but the weather looks like it will be nice. I’m sure we can find something to do with the dogs.”

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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  1. There have been some absolutely stunning sunrises in OC for the last month or so. Some mornings, the ocean looks like it is on fire.  To see some more beautiful early morning pics, check out the Carousel’s FB page.  They send their photographer out each morning to snap a few pics for us “landlocked” ocean lovers.


    Thanks so much for sharing your story today.  What a different way to view the city we all love so much.


  2. Thanks.  I spend many a morning on the Boardwalk taking pictures of sunrises.  In the evening I head over to the Bayside to take some more.  I’ve accummulated thousands of them now and have them set up as a slideshow. Every one is completely unique unto itself which makes it even better.


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