By Lydia Woolever

Illustrations by Josefa

Photography by Christopher Myers

Travel & Outdoors

Greetings from Ocean City: Coming and Going

Pull over for these pit stops on your way to and from the beach.

By Lydia Woolever

June 2024

A big, beachy love letter to going Downy Ocean.

An insider’s field guide for traveling to and from the beach.

A big part of any excursion to Ocean City is getting there—and back again. Baltimoreans well know that navigating traffic, from the Bay Bridge through the single-stoplight towns of the Eastern Shore, is a part of the package deal, and navigating it all has become a sort of art form. But this stretch of the state is made for slowing down, with its wide, flat countryside, winding rivers, and ample roadside attractions. Be sure to pull over for a few pit-stops along the way.


The State of Maryland’s toll-free 1-877-BAYSPAN hotline can give you up-to-date information about any backups near the bridge. There’s no perfect system, but it’s best to travel at off-hours, which typically means before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m. on weekends.


Yes, you’ll pass a million Royal Farms on your way to and from the beach, but for the long drive, recharging at Rise Up Coffee is a requisite. The small-batch, organic certified, Easton-based coffee roaster now has locations up and down Route 50, from Annapolis to Salisbury to West Ocean City. Get an iced cup of joe, a house burrito, and a free whipped cream for those who brought their pups.


Nothing says summer on the shore quite like those rickety stands hawking locally grown sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, and peaches. Stock up on what’s in-season. Some even sell other regional delicacies, like soft-shell crabs, Smith Island cake, and scrapple—the much-debated (and most delicious, we’d argue) breakfast meat of Maryland.


As soon as you cross over the Chesapeake, handwritten signs for LIVE CRABS begin to pop up along the roadside, and seafood shacks are a dime a dozen for the first leg of your trip. If you’re taking Route 50, stop at Ocean Odyssey in Cambridge, a locally loved, family-owned restaurant with those coveted crustaceans hauled in fresh from nearby waters each day.


Just a few miles from your final destination, Berlin was voted the best small town in America, and for good reason. A historic Main Street. Victorian architecture. An adorable farmers market. We love a pop into Gilbert’s Provisions for house-made kimchi and hella-good tacos. Just note the owner sometimes closes the shop when the surfing’s good. (For small-town stops along on the way, see Skateworld in Laurel, Wilderlove Vintage in Greenwood, and the Clayton Theatre in Dagsboro, all in Delaware.)


Right off Route 404, swing into the Adkins Arboretum in Ridgley for a stretch of the legs. Back on Route 50, have a last pint at Ten Eyck Brewing in Queenstown. And at the last exit before the Bay Bridge— that final threshold before returning to the real world—don’t miss the brisket at Bark Barbecue Café in Stevensville, which should carry you all the way home.

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