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Making memories to last a lifetime at Dunes Manor

The postcard in the image above depicts Dunes Manor, just past the Ocean City Boardwalk on 28th street, in all its glory. It’s a simple souvenir, but it’s one that you’ll want to keep in a photo album or in a child’s memory box. There it’ll be safely tucked away, waiting for the day you feel nostalgic for OC, MD and all the memories  you made there with your family — memories that are guaranteed to be bright ones when vacation days are spent at the Dunes. 

In fact, Family Vacation Critic just named Dunes Manor #14 on their list of 16 Best Family Resorts That Don’t Charge Hidden Fees, which the Dunes’ Guest Services & Marketing Manager Tracy Rice attributes to, what else? The hotel’s abundance of family-friendly events throughout the year. 

Dunes Manor back porch
So take a seat on a rocking chair on the back porch, and let’s talk about all the ways you can make memories at the Dunes this summer…

A summer packed with things to do, for everyone

Some people like to spend their vacations lazing around, sleeping in and soaking up the sun wherever the wind has blown them. Others prefer more structure. Dunes Manor is an answer to those on either end of the spectrum, and everyone in between: their summer calendar is jam-packed with activities that families can simply drop in on or plan an entire vacation around. And this applies to every week of the summer, because jam-packed is not an understatement. 

“Last year we added about five new activities,” Rice said. “This year we added about 27.”

For vacationers who want to keep a workout routing and don’t mind breaking a sweat, the Dunes is offering Tai chi classes, a gentle form of martial arts that any individual of any physical ability can take part in. There’s also an on-the-beach workout called Beach Body Fitness that’s new this year, in addition to Mind & Body Yoga now being offered twice a week. Work up an appetite, then hit the Barefoot Beach Bar to enjoy a frozen drink special offered daily within the first hour of opening.

Also down at the Barefoot Beach Bar? Madame Esmerelda. An employee of the Dunes set up a Tarot card reading station for just an hour last summer, and her readings were so wildly popular that she ended up staying for four. 

“It was unbelievable,” Rice said. “She’s not a real gypsy fortuneteller, she works here, but the way she interprets [cards] is very whimsical and cool.”

There are piano sing-a-longs held in the lobby for all to enjoy Wednesday through Sunday, which will often be followed by the Sweet Dreams Cookie Cart — kids get cookies, milk and a bedtime story read to them in the lobby a few nights out of the week. Speaking of the kids…

Crafts, mermaids and more

Arts and crafts for kids of all ages that were once just offered one day a week will now be offered for four days. “They’re really quality crafts, not just silly little things you make and never even take home,” Rice said — kids have made crafts ranging from pinatas to sea bead jewelry to mermaid paper dolls.

And mermaids especially are a hit amongst the littler crowd: last year the hotel began offering Swim With a Live Mermaid once a week, which will now be offered for two. Women come dressed up in mermaid tails and all to play with the kids, do facepainting and give out favors. “People have been emailing me, ‘What day are you doing the mermaids, ‘cause those are the days we’re coming!'”

Saturday nights are fun for everyone with the Family Beach Scavenger Hunt, which Rice says has really taken off since it started in the winter. Families are sent all over Ocean City — for example, to the Boardwalk to get an arcade ticket or to a local surf shop to take a selfie. More beach fun can be found during the week at the Sandcastle Club (digging tools and buckets provided!), and Cornhole & Croquet is another activity for the competitively-spirited on Thursday nights. 

That might seem like a lot going on — the hotel had to hire more employees this year just to keep up with all the events and activities happening this summer — but the ones listed above are really just the tip of the iceberg.

“I think that’s why we’re very unique,” Rice said. “A lot of hotels do activities, certainly, but I would say that we have the most. We’re really trying to be #1 in that area.”

Check the Dunes’ summer calendar online to see absolutely everything. 

The facelift of 2018

If you’re coming back to the Dunes Manor for the first time this year, you’ll probably notice that it looks a little different. (By the way, here’s a hot tip for those who frequent the hotel: repeat guests can join the Dunes Circle Loyalty Program and get 15% off their stay. There’s more info on specials like this one here.) 

Dunes Manor is known for exuding an old Victorian sort of charm, and that will always ring true. However, the hotel did receive a mild facelift over the winter, including new carpets throughout the entire building, new furniture in the lower lobby and reupholstered furniture elsewhere, new walk-in showers in the deluxe rooms and a fresh navy-and-gold look for the Victorian Room restaurant. 

Victorian Room
Even the employees of the Dunes are always having fun, and sometimes posing for pictures, as seen here in the remodeled Victorian Room restaurant. 

So come spend at least a piece of your summer vacation at Dunes Manor. Admire the old Victorian charm and new upgrades around the hotel, take part in a few of their activities at your leisure, and send your own postcards to those friends and family members who weren’t lucky enough to vacation at the Dunes with you. 

Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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