Bringing your children to Ocean City, Maryland is something that generations of beachgoers have looked forward to each year. Luckily, more than its nightlife or opportunities for R&R, Ocean City is known as a family-friendly resort town with so many activities and events geared towards children that it’s nearly impossible to hit them all. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed – now’s the time to relax, after all. Just peruse our suggestions below and decide for yourself what festivities you’ll treat the kids to this summer.
Choose Your Location
We put together a guide for you to choose one of the main areas of Ocean City to ensure that your vacation is exactly what you want it to be.
Downtown Ocean City
As a quick summary, if you want to be near the amusements and rides, Thrasher’s Fries, many ice cream shops and the famous Fisher’s Popcorn, then you might want to stay on the boardwalk or in the downtown area which runs up to the end of the boardwalk at 28th Street.
Mid-town Ocean City
If you are looking for a quieter place as home base, then check out the many hotel, motel, and rental options in mid-town which runs from 28th Street to the Route 90 bridge at 62nd Street. Jolly Roger’s Splash Mountain and Speed World are located at 29th Street and if you don’t want to drive everywhere, the Town’s bus runs up and down Coastal Highway all day and well into the night.
North Ocean City
Also known as “condo row,” this area of Ocean City runs from the Route 90 bridge at 62nd Street to the Delaware state line. You can definitely find thousands of places to stay in condos, but there are some really nice hotels as well. If you are coming for sports activities at Northside Park, you might want to stay close. Kids classes at both the park and at the Art League, also in North Ocean City, are available.
Food was always the highest priority for my kids and we found the restaurants that worked the best for us were the ones where the kids could entertain themselves while we all had a healthy and delicious meal. My children’s favorites were Macky’s because they have tables in the sand on the bayside where the water is very shallow and will provide endless entertainment for the curious – or the overheated. You can sit at your table and sip on a tropical drink or eat your shrimp salad and the kids will love playing in the water just feet from your table. Pets are allowed outside at this restaurant too so if you are coming with the entire entourage, Macky’s is fabulous. Fish Tales is another favorite because they serve their kids meals on frisbees that your children can take home with them as a memory from Ocean City. Seacrets, during the day, was my son’s favorite place to go to celebrate his birthday. I’m not sure they offer the free birthday cakes anymore, but it’s definitely an adventure. Before you judge me for recommending Seacrets for your children, you should know they have a strict child policy and you must keep your children with you at all times and only certain areas of the restaurant are open to families. That’s a good thing and I certainly wouldn’t recommend taking your kids there after dark. The Angler Restaurant has great local seafood, fabulous Goombay Smashes, and will sell you a $5 ticket for a sunset cruise with your purchase of dinner. This allows you to go on the best 45 minute boat ride around the harbor , out the inlet, and up the beach with at least three departures each night. You will hear squeals of delight as your children and you glimpse the ponies on Assateague or the dolphins playing along the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever been on this cruise without seeing the dolphins.
Rides and amusements
Surely the first thing that comes to mind when you picture your kids having a blast in OC is Trimper’s Rides on the boardwalk, or Jolly Roger Amusement Park on the boardwalk and on 28th street. But besides those boardwalk staples, there are limitless other entertainment options for kids: for the fantasy-loving adventurers, there’s the gold-mining, zip-lining, train-riding fun of Frontier Town, and the swashbucklin’ good time of Pirate Adventures. If your kids love to learn, take a trip to the boardwalk’s Life-Saving Museum or discover all the weirdness of the world at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. And for the thrill-seekers, fear not: you’re certain to find something you love at Baja Amusements, Speedworld Go-Karts, Under the Bridge Watersports or OC Screams. By the way, on 90-degree days, don’t forget that Jolly Roger’s and Frontier Town both have waterparks, and you can also venture out to Fenwick for Thunder Lagoon. The OC Bay Hopper has boat rides through out the summer with a variety of themed options, from ice cream cruises to Assateague explorations. You can find lots of things to do in Ocean City here.
We love the word “free” so much that we have an entire page dedicated to the free events happening year-round. During the summer, you can catch some Movies on the Beach throughout the week at 118th and 27th Streets, cheer on your team at the Family Beach Olympics every Tuesday evening, or bring the kids out to play in the spotlighted sand during the 100 Nights of Lights. Keep your eyes peeled for free events throughout the rest of the year, too – the city is pretty good about offering free family entertainment, you just have to know how to find it (and we’ll always keep you updated).
Ocean City is a kid-friendly place no matter what the season. In the summer, for a small fee, you and your family can enjoy weekly Sundaes in the Park, or if you’re in town in mid-September, end the season with Sunfest and the subsequent Sunfest Kite Festival. Once the leaves start changing color, come hang out at the Family Bonfire on the Beach, celebrate All Hallows Eve at the Halloween Spook-Out Party and then bring your dog along to the annual Howl-O-Ween Parade. Take a winter vacation in OC to enjoy the Christmas Parade, Pizza with Santa and, of course, the Winterfest of Lights. Then get right back into the warmer-weather spirit with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Springfest.
Rain or shine
There’s always something to do here. If you throw a rock down Coastal Highway, there’s a good chance you’ll disrupt someone’s mini golf game at one of the many themed courses, where dinosaurs and aliens and cavemen abound. On sunny days, the beach and boardwalk are always free, and if you’ve got a wild pony-lover in your family, Assateague Island is the perfect place to sunbathe and watch the wild ponies graze in the marshes or gallop on the beach. Sports fanatics are welcome to release some energy with a game of beach volleyball or catch a Delmarva Shorebirds minor-league baseball game.
And even when the sun doesn’t shine, there’s no need to worry – instead, catch a movie at the Sun ‘n Surf theatre or, if you’re stranded on the boardwalk, get the family to say “cheese” for an Old Time Photo, or take shelter at the Fun City Arcade or Marty’s Playland.
For information on Ocean City businesses, check out our directory, and click here for details on events year-round.