Take a break from the routine of city life and get outdoors to enjoy the sun the bask in the glory of Mother Nature. Worcester County has a bucolic natural beachside setting that makes it your adventure playground on Maryland’s shore. Social distancing doesn’t have to ruin the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Surfing and sunbathing are obvious musts, but you can easily explore the area by camping, paddling, hiking, biking, fishing, crabbing, horseback riding, golfing and more. Known for wild ponies roaming the sand, unpolluted skies and wide-open spaces, Maryland’s beach towns are a haven if you’re looking to spend your summer vacation outdoors surrounded by the ocean.
Treat yourself to this stunning coastal landscape and take advantage of these top outdoor activities.
1. Go Camping
As we’re all busy reconnecting with what’s important, getting outdoors has been an incredible respite and comfort to many who are self-quarantining and social isolating during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you’re an outdoors lover, camp overnight in Worcester County’s many parks—including Assateague Island State Park, where you can bring your own tent or rent a candy-colored small cottage on the shore.
Set snug on Sinepuxent Bay, Castaways RV Resort & Campground also has the cutest cottages and space for personal tents and RV parking. The campground has plenty of outdoor hangout spots including Bay Breeze Café open for breakfast through dinner; Jackspot Tiki Bar for a frozen drink; Bark Beach where your pooches can play; and The Sweet Spot for ice cream as well as space for fishing off the pier.
Folded among the shady hardwoods is Fort Whaley Campground, a sprawling resort with 200 campsites only 15 miles from Ocean City. More like a compound, this property has 18 holes of mini golf, a private pool, dog park, basketball courts, a general store and a catch-and-release lake all on-site.
The family-owned Island Resort Campground is also close to Ocean City and overlooks two beautiful lakes stocked with fish. After sticking your toes in the sand, head over to their pool for a change of scenery. The property has full hookups for RVs as well as cabin rentals with big windows and screened-in porches overlooking the water.
The area is a camper’s paradise with other spots to escape from the city, such as Whaley RV Resort & Campground, Frontier Town RV Resort & Campground, Bali Hi RV Park and more.
2. Enjoy Your Meal Al Fresco
Meals are served with a gorgeous view on Maryland’s Eastern shore, with many restaurants having outdoor patios and lakeside locations. Take-out and to-go options are available, as well as dining outside in beautiful, wide-open spaces.
Blacksmith Restaurant, a farm-to-table favorite in Berlin, has contact-free curbside takeaway as well as outdoor seating on its deck. Chef Justine Zegna keeps close relationships with local farmers and bakers for the freshest of foods. Sit outside under the trees with a glass of wine or cold brew and devour its crispy shrimp tacos, indulgent cheese platter or an Eastern Shore Oyster BLT with house tartar sauce.
Hooked in Ocean City is another local favorite. It has outdoor seating overlooking the water, as well as carryout. Its Off the Hook Crab Dip, Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Chesapeake Cobb salad with jumbo lump crab already have our mouths watering.
Consider one of the area’s top picnic spots to unwind and enjoy a meal with an incredible view in front of you. One of the most relaxing spots to have a picnic is at Pocomoke River State Park, which sits on 15,000 wooded acres filled with cypress swamps. Views of the Pocomoke River surrounded by loblolly pine make for the perfect backdrop. You may spot wildlife on your hike such as river otters, bald eagles and dozens of species of fish. Bainbridge Park in Ocean Pines and Isle of Wight Nature Park in Bishopville both have picnic tables if you want to grab some of the area’s haute cuisine and set up a meal al fresco.
3. Enjoy the Water
The allure of wild ponies roaming sandy beaches are always a big draw to Assateague Island. But the Bayside Recreation Area with its gentle and shallow waters is what parents of toddlers love. Your family won’t worry about strong waves with little ones, and everyone can relax and relish in the refreshing waters. A private waterway allows for kayakers, stand-up paddlers and canoes to go out on the calm water. You’re allowed to fish from this area, so bring a few poles and see if you can hook some dinner!
If you’re seeking a bit more adventure, surfing on Ocean City Beach is where the action is at. The busiest beach in the area, with 10 miles of sand, Ocean City Beach’s famous 7th Street is the home of countless surfing competitions and locals catching waves alongside tourists. There are many board rentals, gear and surf lessons offered at the plethora of surf shops along the boardwalk. Surfing at Assateague Island is equally enjoyable and die-hard surfers often roam its shores to see if Federal Park is breaking at the moment or if they need to find another spot.
Anglers come from far and wide each year to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to fish in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. But if you’d like to cast your line from the seashore, Homer Gudelsky Park in Ocean City is an ideal stretch of beach for a casual fishing excursion. Likewise, Isle of Wight Nature Park has 12 acres of pristine nature abutting the Bay, perfect for catching flounder, striped bass and speckled trout at this warmer time of year. Crabbing is also plentiful at this park off its 550-foot pier and you can grab all your crabbing gear at many local stores. Some of the best places to drop your pot is also at Assateague Island State Park, Pitt’s Creek Boat Ramp, George Island Landing, Gum Point Landing and Mason Landing.
4. Connect With Wildlife
Longtime birders know the coastal bays and skies of Worcester County are chockablock with winged wonders. But whether you’re a newbie or veteran, Delmarva Birding Weekends are a great way to stop, slow down and tune into wildlife during the guided Sunset Bird Safaris. July and August are incredible times to spot tanagers and flycatchers. If you can’t take advantage of one of Delmarva’s private birding tours with your family, it has put together a self-guided list of 10 birding hot spots in the area.
5. Tee Off
Looking to hit the links this summer? Worcester County has 10 golf courses that offer nine, 18 and 36 holes. Take in the views of either the marsh or bay as you tee off at the Links at Lighthouse Sound or Ocean City Golf Club. The nearby Ocean Resorts Golf Club’s links are designed to accommodate all ages on its Par 72 Champions Golf Course, while the Scottish-style Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links is the only property in the area with bent-grass on the fairways and greens. However, you like to tee off, or if putting is more your style of play, there’s a course for you.
6. Get Out in the Landscape
The elevated wooden walkways and floating boardwalks through Cypress Park in Pocomoke City create a beautiful untouched landscape for visitors to stroll through. A 57-foot pedestrian bridge is a stunning spot to take in the exquisite scenery all around. Get a fabulous view of Stevenson’s Pond from the winding trails, hang out on the 260-foot fishing pier or launch a canoe out onto the water and enjoy the forest scenery from a different point of view.
There are plenty of other ways to connect with nature in Worcester County. From hunting to horseback riding and everything in between, explore this stunning coastal area only a short drive from the hustle and bustle of city life from Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and northern Virginia.