Dreaming of swapping winter doldrums and icy temps for some feet-in-the-sand fun? We gotcha covered. And you don’t have to pull out your passport, drain the savings account or travel afar for a sandy oasis. Look to Maryland’s coast for one of the best off-season destinations. Pack up the fam, the significant other, the gal/guy pals or hit the road solo—stat. Here, we give you seven reasons why you should already be packing for your winter or spring sojourn to this Worcester County paradise on Maryland’s beautiful coast.
1. Love on Tap Craft Beer Festival
Level up your vacation (and your leap year) with a Feb. 29 beercation. What better way to spend 2020’s extra day then sampling super tasty local craft beers on the majestic Maryland shore? Maxing out on life’s most perfect pairing, world-class brews and world-class views collide in “FeBREWary” (so dubbed by locals as the playful name for Maryland’s Craft Beer Lovers Month) at the local-brew-only Love on Tap Craft Brew Festival at Ocean City Convention Center (12:30-4:30pm). Serving as the finale to fun-filled FeBREWary, the fifth annual fest features 20-ish breweries and unlimited tastings of over 40 brews—think Evolution Brewing Company, RAR Brewing, 3rd Wave Brewery, Burley Oak and many more.
2. Wild Horses and Hiking on Assateague
Not only can wild horses not keep you away—they are one of the top reasons you should be booking your getaway to Worcester County this spring. The charming beach town boasts plenty of fun outdoorsy options, including the naturally beautiful and untamed Assateague Island, where wild horses run free. Just over the bridge from Ocean City, Maryland, the postcard-perfect 37-mile-long barrier island, your Insta-perfect moment awaits as the island’s most famous residents (wild horses have been here since the early 1700s) freely graze grass and splash about in the waves. Add selfies to your Insta-story as you wander along the 37 miles of salt marshes, maritime forests and sandy beaches via paved or unpaved trails. Or hike one of three established circular trails. The two half-milers: wheel-chair accessible Life of the Marsh and Life of the Forest; or the most challenging three-quarter-miler: Life of Dunes. Grab trail guides marked with numbered stops from the Visitor Center to ensure you don’t miss any double-tap-worthy highlights!
3. Ice Skating at Carousel Hotel
Up your chill factor, literally, with an epic winter moment as you show off your skating skills at Carousel Hotel’s indoor ice rink—where you can simultaneously live on the edge (get it, ice skates?) and chill out with locals and tourists alike in this cozy temp-controlled indoor winter playground. Be sure to stay and play in the adjacent game room for all the warm-and-fuzzy childlike feels. Then kick back at the Carousel Ice Cream and Candy shop for some icy treats—or cozy up with hot chocolate, espresso and more.
4. Delmarva Discovery Center & Museum
There are more than a few reasons to visit the Delmarva Discovery Center & Museum this spring. In addition to expected draws like local history and interactive exhibits, the fam-friendly must-see museum plays host to a Children’s Room, an Accessible Touch Pool, a two-story 19th century steamship, and a Native American culture exhibit (you can even crawl inside a wigwam), to name a few. Then there’s Mac and Tuck, as part of the ever-popular ongoing Walley Gordon River Otter Exhibit. Housed in a 6,000-gallon aquarium and huge land area connected by water slide, North American River Otters Mac and Tuck’s daily noon feeding program is must-see during your off-season stay on Maryland’s coast. That, and the real, reconstructed Discovery Lounge Beaver Lodge, where you can also crawl inside. And don’t leave without a token to treasure from the gift shop.
5. March Film Festival
Film buffs will want to mark off March 5-8 for a retreat to Maryland’s coast for the Ocean City Film Festival. Hosted by Ocean City Center for the Arts, the fourth annual fest will showcase 100 flicks of wide-ranging genres by local, regional and international filmmakers of vast backgrounds. Check the official site for the 2020 OCFF schedule, slated to be announced early February.
6. St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 5K and Celebration
Dust off your kilts and shamrock and roll to Worcester County this spring for an unforgettable St. Paddy’s weekend where their epic St. Patrick’s Day tradition marches on. Whether you post up at the 2020 Worcester County St. Patrick’s Parade (led this year by Grand Marshal Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr.) or pound the Paddy’s Day pavement and run for green with fellow leprechauns (er, runners) at the St. Patrick’s Day 5K 2020 in Ocean City on Saturday, March 14, it promises to be a lucky—and memorable—weekend. A popular spring selection, last year’s race attracted 1,200 runners, and for obvious reason: If you’re gonna run a 5K, where better to run than on the Ocean City Boardwalk? That, and then there’s the epic postrace shenanigans at, well, Shenanigan’s Irish Pub on 4th Street. See you there!
7. Berlin Spring Celebration in April
They had us at pancake breakfast with Peter Rabbit at Rayne’s Reef! Pack up the crew in the crossover and roll over to the coast for this can’t-miss annual Berlin Spring Celebration on April 11. One of the most adorable small towns you’ll ever see, walk through downtown while trying delicious food, games, live tunes, crafts, a moon bounce, face-painting, a cupcake walk, an epic egg hunt—and a Madhatter Parade finale, of course.