On the Atlantic coast 105 mi/170 km southeast of Baltimore, Ocean City, Maryland, is a glittering (or tacky, according to some) strip of boardwalks and high-rise condos along wide, white-sand beaches. It is known as the White Marlin Capital of the World, but the bay and ocean waters also offer sea bass, sea trout, flounder, shark, dolphin fish, tautog, bluefish, tuna, cod and wahoo. If you're going there to deep-sea fish, the best time is mid-April to early November.
But even those who don't like to fish will find this a good destination, especially for families. It has a 10-mi-/16-km-long beach and a 3-mi-/5-km-long boardwalk. It's lively, fun and crowded in the summer. Park your car in West Ocean City and take the US$1 shuttle to the south end of the boardwalk, where you can walk, bike or take the tram.
If you're not catching rays on the beach, choose from several amusement parks, the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum, the Costen House Museum and Garden and many other sights. Flea markets are held on summer weekends, and an outlet mall is located outside of town. And don't forget to sample the seafood—there's lots of it.
The Assateague Island National Seashore and State Park begins just south of Ocean City. Situated on a long barrier island facing the Atlantic Ocean, the northern part of the island is a preserve that contains a public park and is home to hundreds of protected wild ponies.
The southern end of the island, technically part of Virginia and known as Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, is the setting for the children's book Misty of Chincoteague. The ponies are herded across the channel each July for auctioning (just as they were when the book was written). The island is also an important migratory stop for snow geese.
The Christmas holidays bring Winterfest of Lights, a mile/kilometer of lights and animated displays, with crabs and marlins surfacing among the Santas and toy soldiers at Northside Park located on 127th Street. South along Coastal Highway is the Tunnel of Lights at the Inlet Lot where the white sandy beach is filled with lighted, nautically themed displays. The holiday spirit pervades with the Avenue of Trees located on Baltimore Avenue from 15th-32nd streets.
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