Ocean City, MD is a quintessential, hyper-busy, northeast Atlantic Coast tourist beach. Think of a beautiful beach with a great boardwalk that is within easy driving distance of Baltimore, Washington, DC, the entire states of Maryland, Delaware, most of New Jersey, and southwest Pennsylvania. It is the destination for spring break for high school seniors and colleges within a 400-mile radius.
With that kind of popularity, you can count on a few things. First, traffic can be terrible, particularly from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. It's busy almost everywhere all the time. Expect waits at most restaurants, especially during peak hours and accommodation, including RV parks, can be booked solid for months in advance. The popularity of the area tends to drive prices up as well so it is a relatively expensive place to visit. On the plus side, all the popularity does lead to there being a lot to do here. You would have to try very hard to be bored here. Also, there are places of solitude you can visit, and some affordable places to stay if you know where to go.
First, the busy stuff. Ocean City lies on a narrow peninsula along RT-528 between RT-90 at the north end and US-50 on the south side. These will be the busiest roads in town. In Ocean City, at the southern end of town, 528 becomes one way and forms a loop with 378 a block to the east. This is the heart of the city and where you'll find most of the resort hotels, restaurants, the boardwalk, beach access, the Jolly Roger Amusement Park, and a lot of piers that offer water sightseeing tours of the area.
On the slower side, if you take RT-611 south off of RT-50 about a half mile before the bridge into Ocean City then you'll head into the quieter part of the area. It's along this stretch of road that you'll find many great places to visit and stay. All of which are close enough to downtown Ocean City that you can easily go visit on a moment's notice. Here you'll find Frontier Town Waterpark and the adjoining Frontier Town RV Resort and Campground. This is a great little waterpark for a day out with the kids, and the frontier area has Wild West style shows which can be entertaining as well.
If you continue down 611 for a few miles you'll cross the bridge to Assateague Island. There you'll find the Assateague Island State Park which has numerous RV and primitive campsites. They are water/electric only, but you can't beat the price or location right on the ocean. Further south on the island is the Assateague Island National Seashore. Both the state and federal parks have great, less busy beaches. There is also a wild horse population on the island which you can watch from a safe distance (yes, they are wild).
Most of the restaurants in this area are along RT-611 closer to RT-50. If you want to grab some fresh seafood to cook at your campsite try The Shrimpboat Restaurant and Seafood on RT-611 or Waterman's Seafood on RT-50. For BBQ, Smoker's BBQ Pit on RT-611 is awesome (make sure you try the brisket burnt ends). The granddaddy must-hit restaurant here is Hooper's Crab House. It's located on the north side of RT-50 just before the bridge over to downtown Ocean City. You can't miss it (nor should you) with its big red roof. It's the best place in town for a classic Maryland blue crab feast.
The best place to stay in the area in an RV is at Castaways RV Resort. It's located behind the airport off of RT-611 in the quieter part of the area. This campground has awesome amenities including a waterfront tiki bar and it's close to everything in the area.
The road trip to Cincinnati is fairly straightforward. If you're staying at or around Castaways, take RT-50 west out of town to Annapolis, MD. There, you'll change to I-97 north to 695 around the west side of Baltimore. There, you'll pick up I-70 west. Then switch to I-68 west to Keys Ridge, MD, where you'll take RT-40 west to Uniontown, PA. Take RT-119 around the southwest part of town and pick up RT-43 west which will take you back to I-70. Take I-70 west all the way to Columbus, OH (You can bypass Wheeling, WV by taking I-470 west around it). In Columbus, you'll switch to I-71 south which will take you to Cincinnati. This route does cross the Appalachian Mountains and it does get hilly in that region. However, there are no major steep up or downhill sections along this route like you may find out west.
Baltimore's National Aquarium is a great place to stop in and see some sea life. Located on Pier 3 in Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor area, the aquarium is located in one of the safer touristy sections of the city. The facility is known for its extensive collection of animals which includes a lot more than just fish. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, coral, monkeys, dolphins, bats, sloths, and fish all call this place home. In fact, this aquarium has some of the finest live coral reef exhibits you'll find at any aquarium in the US.
The Hollofield Area Campground is part of the Patapsco Valley State Park on the west side of town. It provides the closest camping option to the city and it is convenient to our route to Cincinnati.
The Antietam National Battlefield is located just southwest of Hagerstown, MD. On September 17, 1862, a 12-hour civil war battle was waged here, and when the smoke cleared nearly 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing in action, making it the bloodiest day in American history. It also had two major effects on the Civil War in general. First, it stopped the Confederate Army of Virginia's incursion into the north. It also paved the way for Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
Today, the site is maintained by the national park service. Here you'll find a visitor center with excellent historical exhibits on the battle. You can also take ranger-led tours of the site which provide great contextual insight to the battle as you walk the battlefield. You can also explore the site on your own via numerous hiking trails throughout the area.
Hagerstown-Antietam Battlefield KOA provides a good place to stay in the area. Make sure you get driving direction from the management; there is a tight bridge/corner over one of the possible routes that can't be made with an RV. They can tell you how to avoid it.
The Krugar Street Toy and Train Museum is one of those small, off the beaten path attractions which lets you relive part of your childhood. Located in downtown Wheeling, WV, this museum contains several sections with thousands of examples of toys from the past. This includes a transportation section that includes toy vehicles of every shape and size. The miniatures room houses everything from tin soldiers to action figures from Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars. They also have a doll room, a game room full of classic games, and a toy train room with several active operating layouts. While it may not be big enough to eat up a whole day, this is a fun stop that will put a smile on every kid's face, even the grown-up ones.
Barkcamp State Park has a campground a few miles west of Wheeling on I-70. This is the closest camping facility for an overnight stay in the Wheeling area.
Columbus is the largest city in Ohio and the capital of the state. There are many great things to do here and one of the best is the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This is a first-rate facility with outstanding indoor and outdoor plants and gardens to admire.
In addition to their extensive collection of permanent exhibits they also constantly rotating itinerary of temporary programs to enjoy. These have included Chihuly Glass art exhibits, live butterfly exhibits, amazing collections of bonsai trees, and more. The permanent exhibits include an incredible children's garden, indoor exhibits in the conservatory, and over 87 acres of beautiful outdoor gardens in Franklin Park. When night falls, the Light Raiment II exhibit starts up. This is a special display designed by artist James Turrell which illuminates the architecture of the Conservatory’s John F. Wolfe Palm House in a dazzling display of light.
The Buckeye Lake KOA is a great place to stay the night in the area. It's not far from the city and very close to I-70.
Cincinnati, OH is the third-largest city in Ohio by population. Located on the Ohio River, this city has been undergoing a recent resurgence. There are many things to do here starting with professional sports. Cincinnati is home to the Bengals NFL Team, and the Reds MLB Team meaning there are only a couple months out of the year where you can't catch a game here.
If you missed the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, or if you just love a great botanical garden then The Krohn Conservatory is a great stop. Located in Eden Park near downtown Cincinnati, the conservatory is an indoor botanical garden facility that houses a stunning array of plants and flowers from around the world. They also host a number of flower shows featuring different themes throughout the year. After each show, many of the plants are offered for sale and the onsite plant experts can instruct you on how to care for your new plant.
If historical museums are your thing then try the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. It features excellent artifacts and exhibits covering the history of slavery in the US and the efforts of those that participated in the Underground Railroad to sneak slaves from the south to freedom in the north.
Finally, if you're ready for some excitement in your life, Kings Island Amusement Park is just a few miles north of the city. This is a great park with some amazing rides including the infamous The Beast wooden roller coaster. The area around Kings Island has grown out to be a broader amusement area with water parks and other amusement activities. There is something to do here for just about any adventure seeker.
FMCA campground is a great place for a stay over to see the sights around Cincinnati. It is located just east of the city and is just a short drive downtown.