Everyone knows how awesome Ocean City, Maryland is during the summertime. Endless events, activities, amusements and shows captivate hundreds of thousands of vacationers, day trippers and locals when they aren’t lounging on the beach or sitting on a barstool at their favorite watering hole. If you ask most people, the “off” season in Ocean City is a different story. An inexperienced onlooker may see cooling weather predictions and the closings of many businesses around town and think a full hibernation is in effect for the fall and winter months. If you fall into this category, you are mistaken. Ocean City may not be the action-packed tourist town it is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but from homemade beer to discount shopping to extravagant Christmas lights, there are plenty of reasons to visit Ocean City between Labor Day and Memorial Day as well.
Here is a look at some of the best Ocean City has to offer this off-season:
Celebrate at a fall festival – Fall is festival season in Ocean City. Sunfest, Ocean City’s most popular festival, brings great national recording acts to the inlet stage September 21-24. Next comes Endless Summer Cruisin’ weekend, which brings thousands of custom cars and trucks to Ocean City for one last car show celebration of the season, October 5-8. The culinary experience known as Restaurant Week takes over town for much of November (5-19 to be exact), bridging the gap to Ocean City’s nationally acclaimed winter celebration. Winterfest of Lights is a town-wide holiday extravaganza that runs from November 16 – December 31 and sees OC covered in more than 1,00,000 light bulbs and hundreds of mesmerizing displays. Whatever your pleasure, Ocean City has a fall festival that will make any off-season trip to the beach a memorable one.
Visit the local breweries – Ocean City is home to an ever growing number of craft beer breweries, many of which are open year round. Look for Backshore Brewing Company on 10th St and the Boards for mild, drinkable brews that will make your journey into the craft beer world an easy one. When you’re done near the ocean, try pairing some fresh steamed Maryland crabs with some “obscenely fresh hand crafted ales” from West Ocean City’s Hooper’s Crab House’s own Fin City Brewing Company? If you want to venture just a little more west, Burley Oak Brewery in nearby Berlin offers some of the most unique flavors and styles of beer in the entire region. Whether you love IPAs, brown ales, stouts, or all of the above, Ocean City has enough craft beer to make a vacation out of.
Hit the links – Ocean City and the surrounding areas are home to over 20 world class golf courses, and it’s no surprise that the links are packed from sun up to sundown during the summer. Less crowds and cooler temperatures, however, make fall and spring the best times for tee times in Ocean city. Whether you’re looking for a course near the beach, along the bay, or nestled within the quiet confines of an Eastern Shore forest, there is an Ocean City golf course perfect for your skill level and preferred style of play. Check out our golf page for the best tee times and golf packages the area has to offer to help get your off-season golf getaway underway.
Save big at the outlets – If you’re a savvy shopper searching for exceptional savings, the Tanger Outlets are the place for you. With dozens of your favorite brands, including American Eagle, Coach, J. Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, the Gap, Under Armor, and many more, you are sure to find the clothes, shoes, and accessories you’re looking for. When you’re ready to refuel after a long day of fitting rooms and full-length mirrors, stop by Mione’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant or the Original Smith Island Cake Co. for the quintessential Eastern Shore dessert experience, also located in the Tanger Outlets.
Watch a Baltimore Ravens game at the Greene Turtle – There may be fans from many teams here, but, make no mistake about it, Ocean City is a Ravens town. If you’re a member of Raven Nation, what better place to watch the 2012 World Champions then at the world famous Original Greene Turtle on 116th St? Enjoy great food, great drinks, and great friends at Ocean City’s original sports bar for the ultimate football experience. If you happen to find yourself in West OC on gameday, you can also find a plethora of purple jerseys and an awesome atmosphere at the Original Turtle’s sister location on Route 611.
Experience Assateague without the tourists – Assateague National Seashore is a national treasure right here in our own backyard. Its amazing beaches, breathtaking wildlife, and serene landscape make it a widely popular tourist destination during the summer. And rightfully so, but sometimes it’s nice to view Assateague the way it was intended to be viewed, uninhibited by humans. If you think Assateague is beautiful full of beachgoers and campers, you will be blown away at its isolated beauty in the off-season. Come for a day. Come for a week. Just make sure a trip to Assateague is on your off-season itinerary.
Hang Ten during hurricane season – While we don’t recommend paddling out if a major storm comes through the area, the fall season produces some of the best surf on the East Coast as hurricanes and tropical storms make their way up the eastern seaboard. Ocean City is a surfers paradise this time of year with bigger swells for bigger rides. Before you head out to catch some waves, follow the surf report and check out phenomenal photos from pro Body boarder Brian Stoehr and professional photographer Nick Denny in OceanCity.com’s surf section.
Enjoy cheaper hotel rates – Ocean City is an amazing place to visit during the summer, but wintertime is just as relaxing, just as beautiful, and remarkably less expensive. With tourist numbers down for the season, many hotels run special pricing and packages to help cash in on what influx of visitors there are. This gives you a great chance to get a gorgeous room at a fraction of its summer rate, and give yourself another, much deserved, beach getaway before you set your sights on next year’s vacation. Visit our hotels page to get the best rates and reviews to plan the perfect off-season Ocean City vacation.