There’s nothing quite like taking those first few steps onto the beach, even before the waves are visible—the pleasing sting of the salt air, the breeze whipping around, the sand beneath your toes. Life at the beach—whether you happen to be visiting for a weekend, a week, or are just lucky enough to live close by—is quite simply, enviable to most people. In just a few short days, Labor Day will bring along with the crowds, the official end to the summer season. And while people will still visit Ocean City, MD during the time of year known as the ‘shoulder season,’ and locals will be able to venture out and enjoy the area without the crowds, there is still a sense of longing as summer is about to conclude. So what is it that makes us long for summer and the 8 million visitors return year after year?

Ocean City has nearly 10 miles of oceanfront sand, from the vast beaches at the inlet to the dunes upwards to the Delaware line. On any given day, children can be seen splashing in the waves or boogie boarding to the shoreline. Kites are flown, footballs thrown, games played, picnics eaten—it really is like one big playground. Ocean City is home to the eastern shore’s largest waterpark: Jolly Roger. With plenty of massive slides, a wave pool and a lazy river, it’s a welcome escape from the heat. The Boardwalk has been an Ocean City staple since 1902—it’s a real piece of Americana, an area where the progression of history is visible. Trimper’s carousel from 1912, one of the oldest still operational in the country, is still delighting children and adults, daily. People often say they return year after year just to have a bucket of Thrasher’s Fries. Dolle’s Candy is as popular now as it was in 1910. And all amidst these much-loved establishments, the next generation of favorites have popped up, all hoping to have that same kind of staying power. These things offer the quintessential beach experience.

Ocean City carries with it a sense of nostalgia as well as tangible excitement. These emotions and the traditions that keep people coming year after year are the reasons why the town has been heralded with so many distinctions over the years. Did you know that in 2001 Ocean City was named an All-America City by the National Civic League? Just recently, Sunfest was selected by the reader’s of Maryland Life Magazine as the 2012 Free State’s Finest Best Festival in the Lower Eastern Shore Region. Also this year, Ocean City was awarded a Reader’s Choice Award by SportsEvents Magazine. As Ocean City Director of Tourism, Donna Abbott said,

“Ocean City has received many accolades over the years and we are proud of each and every one of them."

For those who live here, these are distinctions to be proud of. For those who visit, these accolades offer additional incentive to visit. Abbott further explained,

“As locals, we know how wonderful Ocean City is, as do our many visitors. Rankings such as these give us increased positive coverage that you cannot put a price on.”

As we get ready for the last big weekend of the year, and pay a find farewell to summer 2012, ShoreBread is celebrating Ocean City, the little town that becomes the state of Maryland’s largest every week of the summer. From the less than 10,000 year-round residents, to the scores of individuals who come to the beach to work in the resort, those who live in the outlying areas, and those who choose to vacation here year and after, these distinctions are representative of everyone who call Ocean City home in one way or another. 

A few of the many distinctions given to Ocean City over the years:

America’s Most Affordable Fun City – Bloomberg Businessweek – 2011

Top 10 Best Boardwalks – National Geographic – 2011

Second Most Popular Beach in the U.S. – The Daily Beast – 2011

Yahoo Travel Top 10 Family Destinations – 2011

Top 10 Amusement Parks and Boardwalk in the U.S., Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice – 2011

OC Air Show – American Bus Association Top 100 Event in North America – 2011

Winterfest of Lights – American Bus Association Top 100 Events in North America – 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011

Sunfest – ranked number 1 Traditional Art & Craft Show in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine – 2011, 2010; ranked number 3 in 2006, 2009

Springfest — ranked number 10 Traditional Art & Craft Show in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine – 2011; ranked number 11 in 2009

Ten Best U.S. Boardwalks – Sherman’s Travel – 2010

Natural Resources Defense Council Five-Star Rating for cleanliness and safety of beach water. 2008, 2009

Top 50 Motorcoach Destinations, National Motorcoach Network Inc. – 2008

“Ten Best U.S. Beaches” by Woman’s Day Online – 2007

All-America City by the National Civic League – 2001

 Sunfest – Maryland Life Magazine as the 2012 Free State’s Finest Best Festival in the Lower Eastern Shore Region

Reader’s Choice Award – SportsEvents Magazine – 2012

To read many other Ocean City related articles, visit the Local Slice, then select Ocean City in the dropdown — or just click this link — Ocean City on ShoreBread.

All photos by Ami Reist.

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