The new year brings new opportunities to visit Maryland’s coast. From one-of-a-kind annual events to charming towns with booming arts scenes to beautiful beaches and cultural sites, you’ll find it all here. Start planning your trip today and come see why Maryland’s coast is your next destination to discover in 2018.
Unique Annual Events
Splash into 2018 with a dip in the Atlantic Ocean! On Jan. 1, the Penguin Swim will take place at Princess Royale Oceanfront Hotel in Ocean City. It’s a spectacle to behold, with individuals and groups parading around in their craziest costumes before jumping into the water. If you’re not up for the jump, there will be plenty of fun activities for the whole family. The 24th annual event benefits Atlantic General Hospital, a local nonprofit community hospital.
Rubber ducks are optional at the 29th annual Berlin Bathtub Races. On June 23, teams in modified tubs will race down Main Street in downtown Berlin. It’s an entertaining yet competitive affair, with rigorous training for teams and winning streaks at stake. Speed is key as the fastest team will win a trophy and major bragging rights, but creativity is important, too. There must be a rider and only one person pushing, but the style of tub, number of wheels and decorations are up to the teams. Music, games and food begin at 10 a.m., and the race starts at 5 p.m.
The first Saturday in August is the Blessing of the Combines in downtown Snow Hill. The 19th annual event is Aug. 5, with a parade of combines leading up to the “throttle thrust” to kick off the ceremony. Following the blessing, local musicians will perform for the crowd. The celebrated event will also have craft vendors, hayrides, a petting zoo and old-fashioned children’s games.
September brings another long-standing tradition to Maryland’s coast—the 26th annual Berlin Fiddler’s Convention. From Sept.21 to 23, the sounds of bluegrass and old-time music will permeate the streets of downtown Berlin. The highlight is the competition, which features fiddle, banjo, flatpicking guitar and mandolin players and bands showing off their skills for the chance to win cash prizes. The Berlin Fiddler’s Convention draws thousands of people each year.
Art and Festivals
Check out Maryland’s coast thriving arts scene at a Plein Air event. A French term meaning “in the open air,” the Plein Air event is the art of painting outdoors. Events are held in Snow Hill in April; Ocean City in August; and Berlin in September. Dozens of artists, who are inspired by the local scenery, create works of art as people admire their pieces. If you find a painting you love, purchase one to take home with as many of the paintings are for sale.
Make your hotel reservations now for the can’t-miss event of the spring. Ocean City’s Springfest returns for its 28th year in May. The free four-day arts, food and live music festival is May 3-6 at the south end of the Ocean City Boardwalk. It’s one of the biggest arts and craft shows in the country, with more than 250 vendors showcasing their work. The event will also have evening concerts featuring world-renowned performers. Purchase your tickets for the concerts to hear some of your favorite musicians. Country singer Trace Adkins will headline Friday night.
Returning for its 18th year in 2018, Art’s Alive is Ocean City’s annual fine arts show. The two-day event, June 23-24, brings a range of artists to picturesque Northside Park. Browse the works, dine in the artists’ café and listen to live music. Children can bring out their creative flair and make their own keepsakes with the free art activities. Art’s Alive is a juried fine arts show with cash prizes awarded in categories, including ceramics, furniture, glass, photography, jewelry, sculpture and wood.
Another celebrated art show is Sunfest, from Sept. 20 to 23 in Ocean City. The four-day arts, crafts and music festival is free, with the exception of nighttime musical performances. Stroll through the tents at the end of the Boardwalk and browse the works of hundreds of artisans and vendors. Plenty of food will be available, so bring an appetite when you come!
During the summer, Berlin hosts a celebration of all things peach. The Berlin Peach Festival marks its 10th anniversary, Aug. 4. If you’re a peach lover, this is your chance to feast on this delicious fruit. The event will include peach pie baking, peach pie-eating contests as well as peach-themed demonstrations, games, music, food and gifts for sale. The event is held at Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, a restored early 19th-century house.
A trip to the beach is a must when you visit Maryland’s coast. Come enjoy the celebrated state and national parks, beginning with the wild horses of Assateague Island National Seashore. More than 300 wild horses roam the beaches, salt marshes and pine forest. Explore Assateague by foot, bike or kayak. It’s also a bird watchers’ paradise, with more than 300 resident and migratory species.
Another natural beauty worth exploring is the Pocomoke River State Park by boat. The calm, flat water of the southwest flowing river offers a relaxing and scenic journey. In Snow Hill, you can rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, or take a tour by pontoon boat. The Pocomoke River stands for “black water” and is surrounded by cypress swamps. Keep an eye out for wildlife!
For even more outdoor adventures on Maryland’s coast, check out these scenic trails.
With both the river and the ocean, Maryland’s coast has plenty of fishing opportunities. Yellow and white perch, sunfish, catfish, bluefish and largemouth bass are some of the fish you’ll encounter. These places provide information on licenses, equipment and guides.
You can also cast a line in one of Maryland’s coast fishing tournaments. The annual White Marlin Open in Ocean City is the world’s largest and richest billfish tournament. Spectators can catch the exciting weigh-ins each afternoon. Ocean City has some of the best billfish and was proclaimed the “White Marlin Capital of the World” by former President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. The 45th annual White Marlin Open is Aug. 6-10. Throughout the year, Ocean City’s marinas and fishing clubs host tournaments for marlin, bluefish, tuna, flounder and rockfish.
Maryland’s coast is home to a number of museums and heritage sites. Learn about the history and ecology of Maryland’s coast at the Delmarva Discovery Center & Museum in Pocomoke City. The museum is located in a 1920s-era building along the Pocomoke River in downtown. It’s open year-round, but if you plan your visit for spring, except to see cherry trees in full bloom. The museum has plenty of interactive exhibits, including a 19th-century wharf and life-size steamship that takes you into the past. You can study Native American culture, crawl through a real beaver lodge and get hands on with Chesapeake Bay sea creatures at the touch pool; don’t miss seeing Mac and Tuck, the resident river otters. Continue your exploration of Pocomoke City with a walk on the nearby Discovery Nature Trail.
Go back in time at Furnace Town Living Heritage Museum. The historic site near Snow Hill is dedicated to the preservation of the Nassawango Iron Furnace and its importance to the local area. Approximately 300 people lived and worked in Furnace Town during its heyday, from 1828 to 1850. Today, you can see the iron furnace, a recreated blacksmith shop, woodworker shop, print shop, schoolhouse and more. Watch artisans in period clothing work with tools and equipment from the era. You can also purchase handcrafted items in the gift shop to take home memorabilia from your time on Maryland’s coast. For an even more immersive experience, Furnace Town Folk School offers classes and demonstrations in a variety of historical trades. Last summer, the Folk School debuted Bluegrass, Brew & BBQ, an Americana concert series that showcased the musical style and its history in the mid-Atlantic.