By Logan Dubel
As 2021 comes to a close, people in Ocean City, Maryland are reflecting on yet another challenging, yet equally exciting year. Believe it or not, the Eastern Shore resort town has become a year-round destination, and the calendar no longer stops after Labor Day. Rain, snow, or shine, Ocean City brings a sense of relaxation and serenity to all its residents and visitors.
Despite an ominous ending to this year, as Covid-19 metrics surge once again, one thing is for certain. People never stopped coming to Ocean City during the pandemic, and we know they will be back for more merrymaking and memories in 2022.
Looking ahead to the new year, there is always something different and engaging happening in town. However, we never forget the local staples that define the Ocean City experience. Using input from our annual Best of Ocean City® contest as well as our editors’ choices, here is what’s out and what’s in for 2022.
Ocean City Boardwalk
As the crown jewel of the resort, no trip to Ocean City is complete without a stop on the world-famous Boardwalk.
What’s In: The Original Thrasher’s French Fries
Although many businesses come and go in the competitive resort environment, it is no mistake that Thrasher’s remains an Ocean City staple after nearly a century. It’s not just a craving, but a timeless local phenomenon that has spanned generations.
Thrasher’s hard-working employees, who work together to deliver 42,000 pounds of French fries each week during the summer while maintaining the secret recipe, are why we believe the local staple will continue to thrive as it enters its 93rd year in operation.
What’s Out: Old Boardwalk Decking
Every 10 years, the Boardwalk gets a facelift, and visitors can anticipate fresh southern yellow pine from 27th to 15th streets by April. It’s time to remove the old decking, which has been the site of countless footsteps over the past decade. Come 2023, there will be new decking from 15th street to the pier.
Rainy Day Activity
What’s In: Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
When planning a trip to the beach, most families do not worry about their daytime activities because they plan on soaking up the rays. However, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, families need somewhere to take their children!
In recent years, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, located at the south end of the boardwalk by the inlet parking lot, has become a true local hotspot. With renewed interest in the history of our resort, this interactive, hyper-local museum is a place where family members of all ages can take part in free programming and gain appreciation for Ocean City.
What’s In: Beach Bonfires
Thanks to the pandemic, people have continuously searched for outdoor activities that are safe and enjoyable. Bonfires are now quite popular in Ocean City and on Assateague Island, where families can sit under the stars beside a burning fire. The town benefits greatly from bonfire permit revenue, making it a success that will continue beyond the pandemic.
What’s Out: Arcades
Arcades remain a timeless activity that are certainly perfect for a rainy day. However, as people seek to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, especially after months of quarantine, it seems that arcades may not be the hottest topic in the new year.
What’s In: OC Parasail & Hot Air Balloons
We all know Ocean City is beautiful, but there is nothing better than seeing it for yourself, high in the sky. Parasailing is the perfect combination of a thrilling experience as well as breathtaking views. Many businesses in the area provide parasailing, including OC Parasail, OC Bayside Rentals, and Paradise Watersports.
In the same realm, we expect hot air balloons to be popular amongst visitors in 2022, as Mayor Rick Meehan has recently suggested adding them to the weekly Sundaes in the Park series.
What’s In: Cafe Mirage
Longtime visitors are used to hearing about Fish Tales, Seacrets, Dead Freddies, and the Dough Roller, but as we enter a new year, it’s time to expand your vacation appetite. There are few places considered undiscovered in Ocean City, but Cafe Mirage, situated in the Montego Bay Shopping Center on 128th Street, is a hidden gem that continuously provides wonderful service and delicious modern cuisine.
What’s Out: Buffets
There is no question that buffets have been a casualty of the pandemic. While many have moved on from initial fears surrounding the virus, people across the board have a new perspective on germs and cleanliness in the “new normal.” Locally, the Paul Revere Smorgasbord and Embers closed permanently following the pandemic. However, new restaurants will soon open at both locations. Cabanas Bar and Grille will take over Paul Revere’s and construction has begun for new dining and shopping options at the old Embers property.
What’s In: Pier 23
When Mad Fish Bar and Grill suffered a fire in 2019, the Taustin Group had no clue what would come next for the property. However, in 2022, the site will reopen to the public with a brand-new idea.
As the first waterfront container food port in Ocean City, the concept behind Pier 23 is unlike anything ever seen before. The new outdoor experience will include three different real containers, previously used for shipping freight, each offering varied foods. Nearly the entire restaurant is made of reused cargo containers. From burgers and tacos to ice cream and an extensive bar, Pier 23 will have it all. Another container will feature live bands and entertainment.
Can’t Miss Events in 2022
As a premier destination, there are major events happening every weekend in the summer and even in the offseason. Mark your calendars because there are a few things you simply cannot miss.
Cruisin’ OC – May 19-22, 2022
No, the tram isn’t our only mode of transportation in Ocean City! This nationally recognized event takes place at the inlet lot as well as the convention center, bringing more than 3,000 classic cars, live music, and even burnt rubber with it. The car show includes hot rods, muscle cars, vendors, entertainment, and more. Check out cruisinoceancity.com for more.
Ocean City Air Show – June 2022
The Ocean City Air Show kicks off the busiest part of the summer with a bang – literally. Each year, thousands of attendees and even tourists strolling by along the Boardwalk experience the magic in the sky, as unforgettable spectacles such as the Air Force Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor Demo Team, and GEICO Skytypers take flight.
With professional announcing and premium viewing options, the two-day event allows visitors to see an outstanding presentation all while propping their feet in the sand. Visit ocairshow.com for more information.
White Marlin Open – August 8-12, 2022
It is not called the world’s largest and richest billfish tournament for nothing. Awarding a grand total of $9.2 million in prize money last year, the White Marlin Open hosts hundreds of boats and thousands of anglers each year, as tourists gather at multiple locations to catch the exciting weigh-ins. Founded by Jim Motsko in 1974, the White Marlin Open has evolved but stayed true to its mission of world-class fishing over its decades-long history.
Now preparing for its 49th year, the event has recently added Marlin Fest, which creates an exciting festival atmosphere at the 3rd Street Park on the bayside, expanding upon the culture of the tournament for spectators. Visit whitemarlinopen.com for details.
The Jellyfish Festival, which debuted in 2019, offers everything from craft beer, live entertainment, sports, and shopping. The festival is located at the south end of the Boardwalk right off North Division Street and includes the Shore Craft Beer Fest.
While the event took place over Labor Day weekend in 2020, promoters are seeking a shift to the end of June for 2022. It is unclear when the next festival will take place, but nonetheless, you won’t want to miss it!
There is no doubt that there is something to keep everyone occupied in Ocean City. We can’t wait to see you in 2022. Happy New Year!