Aloft Ocean City
4501 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, Maryland
Put down that fork and change out of those sweatpants. With the holidays over, it’s time to get your ass moving around and get out of town for the weekend. Leash your two- or four-legged kids and head east to Aloft Ocean City for some off-season fun without the crowds.
Aloft Ocean City is the latest addition in the middle of OC, overlooking a beautifully scenic part of the Assawoman Bay and still only a block from the beach. Its hip, lifestyle concept is kid-, pet- and couples-friendly, perfectly situated to quite a few things happening year round. Watch the waves from the heated indoor pool. Have a drink with some Korean pulled pork tacos at the WXYZ Bar while being mesmerized by the glorious sunsets. Watch your favorite team in Aloft’s lounge (which might be more comfortable than your living room). There is even a separate game room for kids of all ages stocked with a pool table and a variety of games. The Friday night “Sip & Shop” in the lobby area brings local artisans to you while also benefiting the local Humane Society.
In warmer months, the outdoor pool and Liquid Therapy Tiki Bar is as inviting as the beach. The adjacent beachhead even has kayaks and light up paddleboards available to explore the bay day or night. Rosie, my English bulldog, wants you to know that this pet friendly environment has plenty of space to walk your fur baby on and off the beach.
When not taking advantage of Aloft’s many amenities, there are a variety of things to do in and around town. The nearby 62nd Street bridge will take you across the bay to the town of Berlin. This little town squeezes in a lot of big things. Try your luck at Ocean Downs Casino, where you may hit big playing table games or robbing the one-armed bandits. Off-season events like the Ocean City Casino Getaways will even give you a couple hundred in casino cash to increase your odds of winning. Downing a crab cake and pub fries from Poseidon’s Pub seemed to be my good luck charm to winning at the Wheel of Fortune slot machine.
Berlin has a few other gems beyond the antique shops. Try the moist chocolate bourbon cake at Baked Dessert cafe and gallery. Grab some cured meats, cheeses and fermented goods at Gilbert’s Provisions. Make sure you stock up from both spots before catching some great music shows and drinks in the surrounding farm-to-bottle establishments. Burley Oak Brewing Company hosts live music Friday nights and awesome beers and sours that pair well with the Burn Wood Fired Pizza next door. If fermented juice is more preferred, Salted Vines Vineyard & Winery offers some of the best wines on the Eastern Shore along with some lively local musicians on Saturdays.
Back in town, be sure to check out events happening at the Art League of Ocean City Center for the Arts. Music performances, art shows, film festivals, and fun classes to develop your inner artist are regular occurrences. The convention center is a quick walk away from Aloft, hosting an eclectic mix of events including an annual beer festival and concerts for all ages. When those hungry moments strike, indulge in some big ass homemade meatballs and chicken parm at Ripieno’s just south of the hotel. The Italian cold cuts are packed with savory flavor and the cheesesteak subs put anything in Philly to shame. Rosie gives their balls and the 28-inch pizza four paws up (PSA: Do not try to transport a 28-inch box on top of your convertible in high winds).
For the first time in many years, Aloft has made me feel like Ocean City is starting to reinvent itself for the better. The environment was lively at a historically quiet time of year. The winter months offer many new experiences you might otherwise not try in the warmer months. With so many discounts and specials happening this time of year, take advantage of the lack of crowds, pack your bags and bond with the coast.
- Michael Ritmiller is a Baltimore native and foodie whose professional career spans across a variety of research & development initiatives in addition to serving local non-profits that benefit the community. An avid believer in supporting small restauranteurs, Michael began writing for Baltimore OUTloud in 2018 with the intent of identifying who offers the “best of” dishes around town.