Loved and hated, Ocean City will always be, well, Ocean City. If you want to avoid the hysteria that is beach week, plan a vacation later in the summer. But don't be afraid to indulge in some of the seediness of this beach town. It's part of what makes it fun. Distance from Baltimore: 145 miles Summer events/activities: Just a short drive inland across the Delaware/Maryland line, the Freeman Stage (31750 Lake View Drive, Shelbyville, Del.; freemanstage.org or 302-436-3015) hosts a number of high-profile summer concerts, including Sheryl Crow (July 14), Darius Rucker (Aug. 8) and Michael McDonald (Aug. 10). Cool lodging: In such a popular destination as Ocean City, you'll be hard pressed to find that warm, inviting bed and breakfast near the water that won't devour your wallet. Get caught in a seedy motel, however, and the horror stories of bed bugs and filth can ruin your trip. Don't be afraid to shell out a few extra dollars and stay at a higher-class hotel, such as Hilton Suites Ocean City Oceanfront (32nd Street and Oceanside, oceancityhilton.com or 410-289-6444). Eat here: A restaurant right on the dock, Fish Tales (2207 Herring Way; ocfishtales.com or 410-289-0990) offers the nostalgia of an original dock bar, with the relaxed atmosphere of a beach town eatery. Grab a drink and sit on the beach or watch the expert fish cutters clean the day's catch -- whatever floats your boat. Don't miss: If you're young, you like to party and you're in Ocean City, you have to make the trip to Seacrets, a Caribbean-themed mega beach bar and grill, which turns into a water bar/dance club at night. If you've heard some crazy stories about Seacrets (117 W. 49th St.; seacrets.com or 410-524-4900), they're probably true. But it's something you need to experience at least once.
Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun
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