GETTING THERE: From the Beltway, take Route 50 east all the way into Ocean City.
WHERE TO STAY: Ocean City has a wide range of hotels. During high season, expect to pay at least $200 a night on weekends and $125 on weekdays. The city's tourism Web site, http:/
PLACES TO PARTY: Once you've had your fill of food, you may want to drink a beer or hear a band. Several boardwalk poolside bars are hopping during the day, including Riptide, at 26th Street, and the Caribbean Bar & Grill, just off the boardwalk at Second Street; both offer live music and attract a mostly 20-something group. Surfin' Betty's Beach Bar, at 17th Street, serves up "seven kinds of frozen libations" and $1.50 Bohs (National Bohemian beer); it's a popular happy hour hangout. The Bad Ass Cafe, at 12th Street, features walls covered with incredibly realistic airbrushed likenesses of famous folks.
For a Guinness and Irish entertainment, go to Shenanigan's Irish Pub, at Fourth Street. The Cork Bar, at Wicomico Street, was rebuilt this year after its half-century-old building was torn down, but locals are still coming for the cold beer (plus, the bathrooms are much nicer). The Purple Moose Saloon, between Talbot and Caroline streets, features classic rock-and-roll, with live entertainment every night during summer; prepare to stay up late because the music doesn't get cranking before 10 p.m.
WHAT ELSE TO DO: The boardwalk has the usual array of rides, arcades, attractions and T-shirt/souvenir stores. Favorite stops include the 106-year-old carousel at Trimper's, at South First Street; Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum at the southern end of the boardwalk, which offers free daily programs at 10:30 a.m.; free concerts on the beach at North Division Street most Wednesdays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 20; and free family activities and movies on the beach at 27th Street on Mondays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. through Aug. 15.
INFORMATION : Ocean City Tourism,800-626-2326, http:/