Hoping to suss out the best places around? Ask a local. We quizzed eight in-the-know folks who live and work in Worcester County, aka Maryland’s beach, about their favorite hangouts. Their revelations showcase both well-known and little-known gems. Fair warning: Visit once and you may want to stay because it’s easy to fall in love with our area’s natural wonders, friendly environment, vibrant social scene, and delicious bounty.
Lapped by the Atlantic Ocean, Sinepuxent Bay, and Pocomoke River, Maryland’s seashore is a spectacular beauty that’s rich with possible adventure. “We have so many totally different environments,” says Kerrie Bunting, executive director Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce. “Definitely, my favorite thing is to get outside, whether it’s swimming in the ocean in Ocean City, relaxing on the beach on Assateague Island, or kayaking Ayers Creek.”
“I love our outdoor water environment,” says Suzy Taylor, co-owner of Ayers Creek Adventures. “Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding is what I do for work, but it’s also how I have fun.”
“I love looking at the water, boating, and that at any given time you can see wildlife without too many people around,” says Snow Hill Mayor Gary Weber, who also works in real estate and owns Blue Dog Café. “The Pocomoke River is pretty pristine and unspoiled; canoeing and kayaking are wonderful to do.”
Wild horses run free on this untamed barrier island. “I love Assateague Island,” says Ann Hillyer of OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com. “It’s such a fabulous wonder! I’m addicted to the beach! I love to go with my dog, get coffee and sit looking out at the ocean, bike the trails, go kayaking and bird watching, even do a bonfire on the beach. It’s so amazing and unique!”
“Assateague is so private and quiet!” says Sarah Tilghman, Ocean City elementary school teacher, who enjoys beach combing and searching for sea glass. Relaxing on the beach, clamming, swimming, driving on the beach, and hiking count among many locals’ favorite beach pastimes.
For helpful maps, introductory movies, informational displays and touch tanks, plus park rangers who can answer questions, don’t miss the Assateague Island Visitor Center.
Ten miles of pristine beaches may be the area’s biggest draw, but locals rave about their hometowns. “The people here are friendly and wonderful to be around which makes the place special,” says Josh Nordstrom, Worcester County Commissioner. “There’s great scenery, beautiful nature, and so many fun things to do. It’s a more rural area but you can stay very busy going to community festivals, dinner shows, and engaging in activities. It’s never boring: No matter where I go in the county there’s something fun to do.”
“I enjoy dining in and strolling around our three Victorian towns of Pocomoke, Snow Hill, and Berlin,” says Weber. Park your car: These towns are walkable, though flat roads also make them bike-friendly. “I love that I can ride my bike in town and that the business owners are also my neighbors,” says Ivy Wells, economic and community development director for the Town of Berlin.
Maryland’s beach is famed for its three-mile Boardwalk in Ocean City, which is as popular with locals as tourists. “The Boardwalk is great for all ages,” says Nordstrom. “Play games”—like putt putt at Old Pro Golf—“grab some Thrasher’s French Fries, pizza, caramel corn, go on rides, shop, and there’s always interesting people watching.”
Bunting agrees: “We can spend hours people watching while enjoying great weather and salt air.”
Food & Drink
From haute cuisine to beach-side Americana, it’s easy to satisfy cravings in Worcester County. Locals love to dish up their favorite eateries.
“The Hobbit Restaurant in Ocean City has been around forever (at least since I was a teenager),” says Taylor. “It’s right on the bay and there’s always a seafood option, vegetarian option, and meat options.”
“I love Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City for margaritas and live music,” says Hillyer. “Fins Ale House & Raw Bar in Berlin has really good prices on beer plus great happy hour specials. The Globe Restaurant & Bar in Berlin has happy hour specials and great music. Angler Restaurant & Boat is one of my favorites in Ocean City—take a sunset boat cruise, have drinks, appetizers or dinner, and you’ll almost always see dolphins.”
“Elliott’s Tavern is a brand new restaurant in Snow Hill and it’s really lovely,” says Weber. “On Sundays Fager’s Island Jazz Brunch is a cool thing.”
“So many places have outdoor seating with great views of the sunset and great bands with so much variety of music,” says Bunting. “I especially like the Marina Deck Wild Pony Bar, Bad Monkey West, Fager’s Island, and Seacrets.”
“XO Beanery & Bites in Pocomoke is a coffee shop with excellent baked goods,” says Nordstrom. “One of my favorite lunch places is Surfside Rooster Bar & Restaurant in Ocean City—the food is delicious, I eat there as often as I can. I also think Blue Dog Café in Snow Hill has great dinner and live entertainment on weekends. Burley Oak Brewing Company in Berlin is a local microbrewery doing interesting things.”
“Dockside in Pocomoke City has something for everyone and a good kids menu,” says Karah Lacey, events and downtown coordinator for the Pocomoke City.
“We regularly go to Braddah Barney’s in Ocean City, a real small place with Asian food,” says Tilghman. “We also like The Shark on the Harbor, a great farm-to-table restaurant with organic ingredients.”
For great food served alongside some live musical entertainment, Wells recommends Berlin’s Sisters Wine Bar, Burley Oak Brewing Company, and Blacksmith Bar & Restaurant, which showcases local, seasonal ingredients and is reliably delicious.
Shopping & Attractions
There’s never an excuse to be bored on Maryland’s seaside! “You could spend a whole day shopping and being fascinated by things in the Classic Collections at The Vault in Pocomoke City,” says Nordstrom. The store stocks estate jewelry, art, antiques, furniture, silver, and one-of-a-kind treasures.
Prefer boutiques? Head to downtown Berlin where eclectic shops stock interesting items—plus have awnings to help keep you dry as you dart between shops on rainy days.
The Art League of Ocean City at Center for the Arts boasts a gallery, art classes, and gift shop.
A new state-of-the-art movie theater in West Ocean City is already a big hit with locals. “It’s great to have Flagship Premium Cinemas nearby, plus it’s right by White Marlin Mall,” says Taylor.
Learn area history and ecology at the Delmarva Discovery Museum. Children especially “love the otters, the touch tank, and the Lego room,” Lacey says.
Frontier Town offers a campground, water park, miniature golf course, high ropes adventure course, nature trails, arcade, and Western theme park with Wild West shows and a Native American Village, plus a fishing pier and charter fishing trips.
The Julia A. Purnell Museum in Snow Hill exhibits many aspects of Worcester County’s history including handcrafted needle art. “There’s also a flea circus in the museum,” says Weber. “It’s a crazy something that was pretty popular back in the day and kids love it.”
Furnace Town Historic Site once produced iron. Take a trip through time exploring the blacksmith shop, farm implement building, one-room schoolhouse, print shop, and more.
For live performances, head to the Ocean City’s Roland E. Powell Convention Center. “There’s usually something going on every week,” says Weber. “It’s a good venue.”
Ocean Downs Casino hosts harness races among other amusements including slots and table games.
Homer Gudelsky Park (also referred to as “stinky beach” by locals) in West Ocean City is a beautiful sandy beach on Sinepuxent Bay that allows leashed dogs year-round, plus offers water access and fishing from the shore.
Cypress Park and Nature Trail “offers a nice trail along the Pocomoke River,” says Lacey. Whether you’re on foot, bike, or horseback, trail options abound across the county.
Come to Maryland’s Beach & Beyond and discover your favorites.