Drive time: 3 hours
The Atlantic Hotel. When you leave the Ocean City beaches, leave the merry mayhem behind, as well, and sleep in serenity at this Victorian period hotel in nearby Berlin. If you’re a fan of the movie Runaway Bride, ask for the room Richard Gere occupied during the filming. Summer rates begin at $195 weekdays, $245 weekends. 2 N. Main St., Berlin; (410) 641-3589, atlantichotel.com.
Carousel Resort Hotel. The quintessential family seashore experience. Comfortable rooms (some with ocean views), a heated indoor pool, tennis courts, an indoor skating rink and a professional ice show nightly in July and August. $198- $328 weekdays, $248-$348 weekends. 1700 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City; (410) 524-1000, carouselhotel.com.
Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore. Just the basics. More than 300 bayside, oceanside and backcountry sites are available. Some are tents-only; none have RV hookups. Leashed pets permitted. $20/night. (410) 641-1441, nps.gov/asis.
Drummer’s Café at the Atlantic Hotel. Have your fresh catch of the day any way you want it, from broiled to blackened, or even topped with crab imperial. 2 N. Main St., Berlin; (410) 641-3589, atlantichotel.com.
Rayne’s Reef. Build-your-own burgers, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, French toast and more. 10 N. Main St., Berlin; (410) 641-2131, raynesreef.com.
Ayers Creek Adventures. A range of guided kayak and canoe trips, plus eco-tours for all ages. For grownups only: a full-moon paddle with wine, cheese and desserts. 8628 Grey Fox Lane, Berlin; (888) 602-6288, ayerscreekadventures.com.
Jeffrey Auxer Design. Make a blown-glass ornament, paperweight or flower. 19 Jefferson St., Berlin; (443) 513-4210, jeffreyauxer.com.
Paradise Watersports. Take in the most stunning views of Ocean City and Assateague Island. Parasail ($55-$75) or rent a jet ski that holds up to three riders ($85/hour). 12913 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City; (410) 213-SOAR, paradise-watersports.com.
K-Coast Surf Shop. Grab a board and ride the waves. Two-hour lessons $80. 3505 Coastal Highway, Ocean City; (410) 524-8500, kcoast.com.
Decatur Diner. Early risers (Monday-Friday, 7-8 a.m.) get a big breakfast bargain: two eggs, two slices of bacon and a pair of buttermilk pancakes for $2.22. 9609 Stephen Decatur Highway, West Ocean City; (443) 664-6779, decaturdiner.com.
Liquid Assets. It’s a strip-center packaged-goods store in the front and a cool, cozy eatery in the back. Get a two-course lunch for $8. The wine and cheese selections are also outstanding. 9301 Coastal Highway, Ocean City; (410) 524-7037, la94.com.
Ocean City. There are no fees to access its 10 miles of sand. Other free stuff: family beach Olympics, strolls on the three-mile boardwalk, Ocean Bowl Skate Park, movies on the beach, Sundaes in the Park, beach bonfires on Thursdays and art programs for kids. Parking is free—and for $3 a day, you can ride the bus along the Coastal Highway from the inlet to the Delaware state line.
Assateague Island National Seashore. Sun on the beach and swim with the wild horses. Kids’ programs include biological beach combs and scavenger hunts. Rent kayaks ($15/hour), canoes ($10), bikes ($6), clam rakes ($3) and paddle boards ($25). Bring plenty of bug spray. $15 admission covers seven days. (410) 641-3030, nps.gov.
Kite Loft. It’s the largest retailer of its kind in the country. Fifth Street and the Boardwalk, (410) 289-6582; 131st Street and Coastal Highway, (410) 250-4970; kiteloft.com.
Berlin. Downtown is a treasure trove for lovers of the antique and nostalgic. Be sure to spend some time at Town Center Antiques (1 and 113 N. Main St., 410-629-1895), Stuart’s Antiques (5 Pitts St., 410-641-0435), Culver’s Antiques (106 N. Main St., 410-629-0110, culversantiques.com) and Toy Town Antiques (110 N. Main St., 410-641-9370, tophatz.com/toytown).