It’s been about a month since I spent a week on the Boardwalk in Ocean City with my family and another family from South Carolina. The “staycation” was a great opportunity for some field research on Ocean City. Some of my takeaways included:
- We stayed on the Boardwalk at 4th Street in an Airbnb the week of Aug. 12. Our friends wanted to stay on the Boardwalk near the Pier and amusements. There were eight of us and we needed some space. That was not an easy request. We wanted a house, condominium or apartment. We ultimately found a quality AirBNB on the Boardwalk for an acceptable rate. In the interest of full disclosure, we split between two families the $2,500 fee for six nights at an oceanfront, three-bedroom, two-bath, third-floor apartment.
I found that fee to be reasonable for an oceanfront place. Two hotel rooms or a large suite to accommodate our party came in about double the expense because it was peak season.
Speaking of expenses, though it was certainly not cheap, I didn’t find the vacation to be any more expensive than the weeks we have spent in Vermont, Deep Creek Lake or other vacation destinations. It was much cheaper than a Disney World or Universal trip or Disney Cruise. The fact of the matter about a vacation is it’s what you make of it. We didn’t cook in our unit one time, so three meals each day out for eight people is bound to be much more expensive than being at home.
- The Boardwalk in the morning is chaotic. It’s always been a mix of pedestrians, runners and bikers, but there’s just more of them in compact areas these days. In fact, during our mid-August week, the mornings were much more of a safety concern than the evenings.
As far as the nights go, not much has changed since I was in my teens hanging on the Boardwalk most every summer night. We were out and about most nights till 11, and I never once worried about safety. Rather, my takeaway was how crowded it was late in the evening. It’s important to remember our stay was in mid-August, and I would have expected a different feel in June when most of the trouble occurs on the Boardwalk.
Back to the mornings, I watched one day around 9 a.m. as the line at Dunkin Donuts on 4th Street numbered more than 50. The line came out to the Boardwalk, making a jammed section of the boards even more so. On two occasions, and maybe it’s just a coincidence, I saw two people nearly barrel through the line on Segways. One individual got through the line without hitting anyone, but was so out of control only a gray bollard at a street end could slow him. A few minutes later, thanks to the bollard, another man was able to jump off his rented Segway, which went flying into a nearby vehicle. I had to feel for that car owner who was paying handsomely for his oceanside parking spot.
- Around midnight one evening, we had to call the police on the karaoke street performer who set up shop each night about half a block from our place. I know enough about the laws to know the noise law was being broken. Within minutes of the call, police were on the scene and the “performer” was gone. On the street performer front, I counted 37 performers one night in a 15-block stretch.
- While sitting on the Boardwalk one evening, I was interested to observe smoking. It was noteworthy I didn’t see anyone smoking on our block for about a half hour. I did eventually see several groups vaping on the sea wall and another man smoking as he walked the Boardwalk. I also saw a couple leave the Tap House on 4th Street and walk off the Boardwalk to the smoking receptacle off the boards.
- One of the biggest takeaways I had from our week in Ocean City is our incredible beach. It’s our best asset.
I woke up each morning as the city’s public works crews made their rounds on the beach. Hours later, we were traversing the incredibly wide beach. From the sea wall to the ocean is about the width of a football field. It’s an incredibly wide beach, and we are lucky to have it.
- Over the years there has been much conjecture on whether Ocean City is still a family resort. I personally don’t even know what this means anymore because it’s such a subjective thing. Families are built in many different ways these days, and they don’t look the same as they did 30 years ago.
Nosy by nature, I enjoy striking up conversations with strangers. One morning while sitting on the sea wall with Carson watching the sunrise I struck up a conversation with a guy my age from southern Maryland. Since he was clearly still inebriated from the night before, I was anxious to speak with him. He was up for it since he rightly decided to sit out the family biking session. There were nine people in his family and they rented a condominium nearby. He had his first child when he was 18 years old. His daughter was now 26 years old and has a toddler and another one on the way. This man’s family consists of that adult daughter and her husband (and soon to be two children) and his three younger kids with his wife of 15 years.
While he easily had 20 visible tattoos, wore baggy shorts and had face jewelry, he was a family man. He didn’t look like me or talk like me, but we were the same in that we were family men. If I had passed him on the Boardwalk and judged him by his appearance, I would have never known that and maybe wondered what was becoming of this place.
In my opinion, Ocean City remains a place for families. However, with that comes tremendous diversity in values and appearance.