From its humble beginnings in the late nineteenth century to the booming resort getaway of today, Ocean City Maryland has been known throughout the eastern seaboard as the Mid-Atlantic’s premier family resort. The emphasis on family fun has been the mainstay of the town and its diversity of age appropriate activities has allowed it to thrive even as neighboring resort destinations lost sight of the family ideal.
You have only to ask a few senior citizens in the region about Ocean City, and you’ll most likely be told of summer after summer with the entire family from Grandma and Grandpa to the grand-kids set up on the beach; the kids at play by the waters edge, mom basking in the sunlight in her chair as daughters build sand castles and dad playing beach football in the sand with his sons. You will be told how some of the finest family memories were made at the resort, and how they in turn now take their grandchildren in the summers. It is amazing with all the life changes and new technology that time at the beach can still bring generations together happily like no other past time.
Ask a child about last summers trip to Ocean City and you’ll most likely have a torrent of enthusiasm unleashed on you with all kinds of details about waterslides, amusement parks and how “ cool “ it was watching the dolphins leap out of the ocean waves. It is this family ideal, the family tailored vision, that has made Ocean City what it is today and that has allowed it to thrive even as other resorts faltered.
For the kids attractions include miniature golf galore, a huge water park with myriad zigzagging slides and moats and tunnels, and some very nice arcades at the southern end of the boardwalk. There are several go-kart tracks throughout the town, offering everything from kiddie carts to high power speed machines and slick tracks. There are three amusement parks with a large selection of rides, everything from slow-moving spinning teacups to bungee rides that launch you 300 feet in the air –for you thrill seekers out there.
The boardwalk has always been a hit with the kids and adults alike with over 30 blocks of attractions. There is the Famous Ferris Wheel at the boardwalk’s inlet area where the kids can squeal with laughter as it rounds the top while the older folks enjoy panoramic views of both the ocean and the bay. In addition, do not forget the roller coasters of all shapes and sizes while you are here; there is a ride for every level of daring.
The kids can munch on some of the resorts famous sweets when they get hungry, as the boardwalk is home to many vendors of some hit local goodies like our world renowned salt water taffy, boardwalk- style fries (you will never find any better then in Ocean City), caramel apples, gyros, popcorn, and some excellent ice cream; just to mention a few.
One of my favorite things to do in ocean city as a child was to grab tight on to my fathers back as we whipped through the bay on a rented jet-ski. When you are seven that is something you will never forget. Parasailing is a blast for the kids and adults with heights starting at 400 feet but all the way up to 1600 feet available for the adventurous.
If you like getting wet there are several large sea-going speedboats that run up and down the beach line but that also provide areas for those would like to complete the voyage dry or take pictures. There are many bike rental shops up and down the boardwalk that offer everything from four-seaters with the whole family pedaling at once to reclining speedsters where you are actually lying flat and are also quite comfortable.
Check out the carnival-like attractions at the inlet for those of you who like to win ridiculously large stuffed animals and carry them back to the hotel then home to display your triumph. As far as dining goes, most of the many of the restaurants in town have children’s menus, kid’s specials and in some places, the children even eat free.
There are several movie theaters in town, usually with several children’s features showing at each. If you want to see a bit of nature during your stay in Ocean City, head on over to Assateague Island, a short fifteen minute drive from Ocean City. The barrier Island is famous for its wild but docile ponies, always a hit with the kids, that escaped from a Spanish merchant ship four hundred years ago and have inhabited the Island ever since. Another indigenous animal you will see many of the sika deer, also known as the Japanese Elk. There are several nature trails, each featuring a different facet of wildlife and vegetation on the island. At the visitors center there is a salt-water tank where the kids can hold all different kinds of sea creatures. For those of you who have four-wheel drive the kids will have a blast off-roading down 40 kilometers of pristine beach.
Another great favorite with the younger crowd is Frontier-Town, a western theme park featuring an Indian village, mock stage- coach and train robberies, horse-back riding, water-slides, panning for gold, can-can dancers and gift shops full of old west toys. It is very authentic and was personally one of my favorite places to go as a child. For those who love to shop til they drop there’s the factory outlets in west Ocean City, featuring clothing, shoes, leather, jewelry, candy, baby and toddler stores, organic and health food, sunglass, and arts and craft shops.
With all these and many more attractions, there is never a dull moment during an Ocean City vacation. A trip to Ocean City is a sure fire way to make some of life’s best memories with your child. Ocean city is committed to its family-based ideals and for generations to come we will be here on the coast, making memories, one family at a time. Come to Ocean City and do as much… or as little… as you want; either way…. It is more fun here!