On The Town

The Best Places to Drink in Ocean City This Summer

We round up a handful of can’t-miss beach bars from the boardwalk to the bay.

Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a quick weekend escape, it’s finally time to pencil in a requisite road trip to Ocean City this summer. Of course, our beloved sun-soaked locale is chock-full of things to do during the day, but the nightlife scene—with its enticing drink deals, lively dance floors, and diverse musical performances—provides plenty of fun after dark. And while we love the big-name bars (Seacrets, Mackey’s, Fager’s Island, and the like), we’ve compiled a few off-the-beaten-path pleasures to try during your next getaway. So throw on some sunscreen, buy yourself a bus pass, and explore these watering holes scattered everywhere from the boardwalk to the bay.

Bad Monkey

You can’t miss this brightly colored building off of Coastal Highway at 58th Street, which is known for its overstuffed subs and sizeable craft beer selection from The Brewer’s Art, Heavy Seas, and Evolution Craft Brewing. The spot also serves breakfast (think tacos, egg sandwiches, and Big Bad Monkey banana pancakes) if you’re searching for a hangover cure. When to go: The bar offers a two-for-one happy hour special on craft drafts, bottles, domestics, rail drinks, Monkey Punch, sangrias, and Crushes from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays and 3-5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 5801 Coastal Highway, 443-856-2885

Barn 34
Three summers ago, the former owners of the now-closed Pirate’s Den on 32nd Street switched gears to open this spot two blocks up. Set in a barn-shaped building with a wrap-around porch, the restaurant features coastal-rustic décor, a menu of refined fare, and a bar program featuring an array of American whiskies and a top-shelf rum collection from across the Caribbean and South America. When to go: Enjoy specials including $3.50 rail drinks, $4 glasses of wine, and $1 rotating shooters every day from 5-8 p.m. 3400 Coastal Highway, 410-289-5376

Backshore Brewing Company
Stroll along the boards to arrive at this laid-back brewhouse from Fells Point local Danny Robinson, which boasts chalkboard menus, reclaimed-keg barstools, and trendy tables made out of old surfboards. Not only does the spot churn out signature beers like the Boardwalk Blonde Ale and Fly by Night IPA, but it’s also the home of Hoop Tea—a boozy tea blend that comes in flavors like white mango, watermelon mint, and peach lemonade. When to go: Hoop Tea is billed as the ultimate day-drinking cocktail, so we suggest snagging a seat for some afternoon people-watching along the boardwalk. 913 Atlantic Ave., 410-289-0008

Burley Oak Brewing Company
Reminiscent of a cozy living room with strung lights and casual furniture, this Berlin taproom is an ideal space to kick back after a long day in the sun. Customize your own flight of Burley Oak’s small-batch brews like the Aboriginal Gangster IPA, Sorry Chicky dry-hopped sour ale, and the citrusy Argyle Socks IPA. When to go: Head to the brewery on Friday nights to enjoy a fresh-poured pint while bobbing your head to live music. 10016 Old Ocean City Blvd., Berlin, 443-513-4647

Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon
The relaxed tavern vibe at this bayside bar is enough to make us overlook the fact that it pledges allegiance to Steeler Nation. Buxy’s is a great spot to dig into hefty burgers and orders of crinkle fries while downing drafts of beer. When to go: Tip back $2.25 domestics, $3 rails, and $3.50 imported drafts during weekday happy hour from 3-6 p.m. 2707 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-0973

Guido’s Burritos
Decked out with Mexican murals, colorful strung lights, festive sombreros, and sugar skulls, this roadside cantina is a go-to if you’re in the mood for a strong margarita. Try a classic on the rocks, fruity flavor (Swedish Fish is a favorite), or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, order the 60-oz. house “Monsterita.” When to go: The 33rd Street location hosts weekly “Bombs Away Thursdays” featuring live DJs and $2 bombs, beers, and tequila shots. Multiple locations including 33rd St. and Coastal Highway, 410-524-3663

Mother’s Cantina
This Tex-Mex mainstay has become known for its generously portioned burritos, chimichangas, and quesadillas. The margaritas are also massive, in flavors ranging from prickly pear to pineapple jalapeño.  When to go: Aside from daily happy hour deals (think $3.50 margaritas and $1.75 tacos), the bar also offers nightly specials including $2 drinks on Tuesdays, half-off rails and draft beers on Thursdays, and $3.75 cherry and grape bombs on Fridays and Saturdays. 2810 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-1330

M.R. Ducks

Tucked away from the hustle of the highway sits this gazebo-style bar overlooking the bay. You can’t go wrong with a cold Orange Crush paired with an order of Old Bay wings while watching the sunset. The bar also mixes up aptly named signature cocktails like the “Duck Call” (coconut rum and pineapple juice) and the famous “Chug-a-Duck,” amaretto and Natural Light mixed together in a duck-shaped drinking vessel. When to go: The hangout has a jam-packed live music lineup planned during happy hour this summer, with daily specials like $3 rails and $4 imports. 311 Talbot St., 410-289-9125

Ocean City Brewing Company
Thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows, grabbing a beer at this brewpub provides patrons with a front-row seat to all of the action inside its adjoining production facility. The taproom projects a communal vibe with 10-foot Oktoberfest-style tables that are ideal for making new friends. When to go: Swing by on a sunny afternoon to get in on a round of corn-hole while sipping seasonal releases like the Orange Crush wheat beer and the Ogre Blood Orange IPA. 5509 Coastal Highway, 443-664-6682

Pit & Pub
If a hankering for barbecue strikes, head to this 28th Street staple to chow down on the classics (everything from fried green tomatoes to beef brisket) while guzzling down beers in the bar—which is decked out with stained wooden tables, vintage sports memorabilia, and plenty of flat screens. When to go: Every day from 3-6 p.m., wash down $6 sliders and tater tot nachos with $2.75 domestic pints and 16-oz. rails. Multiple locations including 2706 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-2020

Riptide Pool Bar
This boardwalk bar behind The Flagship Oceanfront Hotel on 26th Street might be small, but it draws plenty of crowds with its frozen cocktails, Jello shots, and summer-long live music lineup—which showcases bands including Annapolis ska and funk group Bumpin’ Uglies, College Park-based rock-reggae trio Higher Education, and Baltimore’s own Bond & Bentley this season. When to go: Take a break from the beach and treat yourself to a mid-day pick-me-up while listening to the live jams. 2601 Atlantic Ave., 410-289-3384

Ropewalk Ocean City

You might be familiar with Ropewalk’s Ronald Reagan-inspired bar in Federal Hill, but its Ocean City spinoff has a completely different atmosphere—featuring an outdoor patio with Adirondack chairs, sand areas, palm trees, fire pits, and a playground for kids. The drink menu bolsters the beachy vibe, with options like colorful boozy slushies and “Mermaid Water,” a lime green cocktail of coconut rum, pineapple juice, blue curacao, and lime. When to go: Hang out at the bar for buck-a-shuck oysters from 2-6 p.m. on weekdays, along with $2-off drafts, $4 slushies, and $5.50 Crushes. 8203 Coastal Highway, 410-524-1009


Relax after a long beach day at this no-frills dive complete with checkered floors, pool tables, and its claim-to-fame karaoke machine. Grab a group of friends and down some liquid courage before signing up to belt your favorite throwbacks. When to go: The late-night crowd provides the best entertainment, especially if you’re down for a good shout-aloud session to classics like “Sweet Caroline” or “I Want It That Way.” 3303 Coastal Highway, 410-289-1558

Tequila Mockingbird

Two words: fishbowl margaritas. At this cleverly named Mexican favorite, the signature 47-oz. bowls come in flavors ranging from Mango Tango to Hawaiian Punch and are topped with a handful of gummy worms. The bar menu also boasts a wide selection of imported Mexican beers and nearly 200 tequilas and mezcals. When to go: A late-night Taco Tuesday deal highlights $1.25 tacos, $3 Jose Cuervo shots, and $5 house margaritas. 130 th St. at Montego Bay Shopping Center, 410-250-4424