Running on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland

This past weekend, we went down to Ocean City, MD. One of my wife’s friends got married, so we went to the wedding Friday evening and then stayed the rest of the weekend.

I had my eye on the weather leading up to the trip, and it was supposed to rain all day, all weekend. But, by some stroke of luck, it ended up being beautiful. It rained on the way down Friday and overnight, but it cleared up Saturday and Sunday was warm and sunny.

That meant that I had some great weather to run and explore. So let me tell you a little bit about our trip and running through Ocean City, Maryland.

Where We Stayed in Ocean City

This was my first time going to Ocean City, so I wasn’t familiar with the geography. The wedding was on the mainland, at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club, so I looked for a hotel that was close to that.

First, I checked my usual go to options – Marriott brand hotels. But now that summer and the beach season has started, they were going to be $4-500 per night. I then went to the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to see if I could get a good deal with my points, and I found the Bonita Beach Hotel.

If you’re interested in using credit card rewards to fund your running travel, check out this post about the different credit card rewards programs that I use.

It was much cheaper (~$200/night), and it was a fine hotel. Nothing special. It was a little dated, but the bed was comfortable and there was a kitchenette. It was also a block from the beach, and there was a small balcony looking west over the bay. It was your typical, low budget shore motel.

I didn’t realize it until I started scouting out running routes, but the boardwalk starts further south – around 27th street. If I were going back to Ocean City, I’d probably look for a hotel in that area. But then again, there’s something to be said for being away from the crowds. So if that’s your goal, stick with the northern half of the island.

Where We Ate in Ocean City

Friday night, we had dinner at the wedding. The Ocean Pines Yacht Club was a nice venue, and the food was good. The following morning, the family hosted a breakfast at the hotel they were staying at – the Cambria Hotel Ocean City Bayfront.

But the rest of the weekend, we were on our own.

After resting up a bit late Saturday morning, we hit the boardwalk. We had some typical boardwalk fare – pizza and fries at one place, ice cream at another. On the way back, we ducked into a Mexican place (Guido’s Burritos) for a drink and some tortilla chips.

Saturday night, we needed a real dinner, though. I scouted around and settled on Victoria’s Sea Food and Crabs. It had great reviews, and best of all it was literally across the street from our hotel. It’s technically a takeout joint, but they have picnic tables so you can eat there if it’s a nice day. If you do that, note that it’s BYOB, and there is a small liquor store right across the street.

We got the food to go and ate back at the hotel. My wife got the crabs – and she loved them. I went for the crab cake platter. I wouldn’t say it was quite on par with the amazing crab cakes we had in Baltimore, but it was very good. I would definitely recommend.

Sunday morning, we stopped for breakfast on our way out of town. I picked the Bayside Skillet, which had good reviews and was only a couple blocks from our hotel. And I figured a breakfast joint like that would be perfect after a long run.

When we got there, the parking lot was packed. I was afraid there’d be a long wait. But they were able to seat us immediately if we sat outside. There were umbrellas at the tables, so we were out of the sun, and the weather was nice. Service was excellent, and our food came out seemingly right after we ordered it.

I got the crab and cheese omelet. It was huge, and I enjoyed it. The omelets also came with a crepe on the side. My wife had the spicy seafood frittata, and she loved it. The rest of the menu, including a large assortment of savory and sweet crepes, looked amazing. I would definitely hit this place up if you want a good breakfast in town.

Running through Ocean City

There aren’t that many options when it comes to running routes in Ocean City. The island is only a couple blocks wide, so you’re going to north-south one way or another.

On the northern end of the island, everybody runs along Coastal Highway. Further south, there are a couple side streets that run parallel to the highway. But once you get down to 27th street, everyone is on the boardwalk. It’s about two miles from the northern end of the boardwalk to the southern tip, and then it wraps around briefly to the west.

My hotel was too far away to run to the boardwalk, so I drove a little bit south. I also just got an electric car, and I needed to charge it. So I parked at the convention center parking lot and ran from there. I took Coastal Highway south to Baltimore Ave, and then I cut in at 27th street to get on the boardwalk. I ran down and around until I had hit 4.5 miles – then I turned around and re-traced my steps.

Sunday morning, I planned to run 14 miles. It was hot – the sun had come out. So I did a 7 mile loop from my car at the convention center, stopped for some water, and then ran the loop a second time. It worked out perfectly.

It was late June when I was there, and a ton of people were out running and riding bikes. The highway wasn’t very exciting, but the run along the boardwalk was great. There’s a bathroom at the north end of the boardwalk, and there are several more as you go south.

The board starts coming to life around 8 or 9. If you want to avoid the crowds, get out early. On Sunday morning, I made my first pass along the boardwalk around 7:30. It was starting to wake up, but it wasn’t crowded. By the time I finished my second lap around 9:30, the place was getting crowded.

A quick note about Atlantic Ave. On Google Maps, it looks like there’s a trail that runs along the beach up and down the island. It’s called “Atlantic Ave.” In reality, it’s a strip of sand that runs between the buildings and the dunes. I had originally thought that I might be able to run along that to get from my hotel to the boardwalk, but I quickly realized that wasn’t a good plan.

Should You Visit Ocean City, MD?

If you like the shore, then Ocean City is a nice place to visit. The boardwalk was nice, and it reminded me of being down at the Jersey shore. There’s good food in town, and there’s plenty of space along the beach to hang out. It’s crowded on the southern half, but more quiet up north.

I really enjoyed running along the boardwalk – my only complaint is that it’s a bit short. When I’m in Atlantic City, I love that I can do a whole run along the boardwalk. It’s 5-6 miles long. But in Ocean City, you only have about two miles of boardwalk. It’s fine for shorter runs, but you need to loop around a few times for a longer run.

While I was there, I noticed an ad for the Ocean City Running Festival in October. If you’re looking for an excuse to visit and run, you might want to check it out. It looks like the 5k and 8k races run along the boardwalk, which should be great. The half marathon and marathon races cross over to the mainland, though, and head down to Assateague State Park.

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