7 Family Friendly Ways To Rock Your Ocean City Vacation!
Whether you are an Ocean City veteran or this is your first time to visit, check out these tips for how to rock your family friendly Ocean City vacation!
Confession time: I have lived in Maryland over 10 years and this summer was the first time we visited Ocean City in the summer. I know, what was I thinking?
Actually, we had such a blast that the entire time I was thinking, ‘Why did it take me so long to plan a summer trip to Ocean City?!’ We (me– the solo adult– along with my 6 year old daughter and two teenage-nieces) spent 4 days in Ocean City recently and I have some great tips for how you can totally rock your Ocean City vacation, even if it’s your first time too!
Related: Check out the Kid Friendly Maryland comprehensive resource for parents: Things To Do In Maryland With Kids!
1. Go to the Beach!
Ok, I know this sounds obvious, but since there are so many fun family activities, you could easily over-schedule yourselves. Every family has a different tolerance for being out in the heat. However, even if you would prefer to go at the beginning or end of the day, make sure you block off a few hours each day to play in the sand and surf!
The great thing about Ocean City is that the entire island is basically one block away from the ocean. That’s means you are either on the beach, or merely a block away. Also, every block or so there is beach access, which means you can basically park at your hotel and walk to the beach.
Even though we are not experienced beach vacationers, we did stock up on all the best beach gear (umbrella, beach chairs, etc…). But, if you a) don’t want to haul all your beach gear to the beach yourself or b) don’t want to dig the hole for your own umbrella, there is a solution for you! Ocean City hires seasonal entrepreneurs to rent umbrellas and beach chairs. The best part is if you rent from them, they will set your umbrella up wherever you want! How cool is that?
2. Next Stop– The Boardwalk!
Just like the beach, no Ocean City vacation would be complete without at least one trip to the famous Ocean City Boardwalk. If your hotel is further north, just park in the huge inlet parking lot and explore! The boardwalk is considered one of the best in the U.S., with 2.25 miles worth of fun. Here are some must-do boardwalk experiences:
First off, if you visit Ocean City you have to snag an order of Thrashers Fries. But don’t stop there! Dumser’s Dairyland serves up delicious ice cream.
You can also satisfy your sweet tooth with a made to order decadent gourmet donut from The Fractured Prune. Or, pop into Dolle’s Candyland for salt water taffy, fudge, or other treats that are sure to give you cavities.
Dip into an arcade!
The boardwalk is also home to tons of arcades. Many of them offer a wide range of games, including multi-player games, retro arcade games (Pac Man!), and many games that pump out tickets (like skee ball).
The arcades are fun any time. However, make sure you have your arcade card stocked in case of rain, or if it is just too hot to be outside.
Amusement Park Rides
There are numerous options for amusement park rides in Ocean City. On the boardwalk Trimpers Rides offers indoor and outdoor amusements. The indoor rides are best suited for younger kids (and are open year round). The outdoor rides are a mix of family friendly and thrill rides.
Jolly Roger Amusement Park has two fun locations. The location at the Pier offers seasonal outdoor amusement park rides, including the iconic Ocean City Ferris Wheel.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
Yes, it’s completely cheesy. But oh my goodness we had a blast at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Where else can you get cozy with the world’s tallest man, escape a shark, and see a completely blinged out car. Note for parents: There are some questionable exhibits here (ie: scary and gory) but you can easily avoid them. Basically just blast through the entire section of torture implements and a few photos of capitol punishment (it’s a small section) and you will be good to go. There are so many super kid friendly exhibits though you will definitely want to check this place out.
Also, if you get tickets for the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, you can also enjoy getting lost in the mirror maze and race your family to see who can get the best time in the laserace maze.
Here are some more family travel planning ideas!
- Best things to do in Boston with young kids
- Here is what you should do in Philadelphia with your kids!
- Check out all these free ideas for fun in Washington DC
3. So Many Awesome Restaurants With Playgrounds!
Ok, I am not going to lie. This was one of the things I absolutely LOVED about Ocean City. There are so many family friendly restaurants with ginormous play areas. Your kids will not go stir crazy at these restaurants. These are the ones we tried out on our first trip:
Dead Freddies Island Grill
What’s not to love about a kid’s drink with a big shark head? Ok, the kid’s menu is decent (my daughter is on a strict macaroni and cheese diet… Dead Freddies did not disappoint). The regular menu was tasty too! I ordered the Chicken Jennifer; two grilled breasts topped with lump crab & diced tomatoes with creamy lemon butter or creamy tomato basil sauce served over smashed red bliss potatoes, rice pilaf or linguine. It was phenomenal.
But for real. Check out this playground. Actually they have two playgrounds. The smaller one is actually decent sized; bigger than many park playgrounds. But the main playground will knock your socks off. Wow!
Another highly rated family friendly restaurant that did not disappoint was Fish Tales, a sprawling casual dining restaurant on 22nd street. Fish Tales claims to have Ocean City’s largest enclosed playground. I don’t know about that, but I can vouch for the fact that it is pretty awesome. One of the best things is you can request a table literally in front of the playground. And, the entire dining area near the playground is a big sandbox. That means even at your table, kids can play in the sand.
When we visited, Fish Tales even had free face (or arm) painting. My daughter loved that!
But what about the food? Oh my goodness it was amazing. We indulged in the Duo- homemade guacamole, salsa, and guacamole chips. The salsa in particular was one of the best things I have eaten in a while. It was so fresh!
As for the main course, the Coconut Encrusted Cod was utterly delicious. It is served with a peach mango glaze and is very large (but you will be tempted to inhale it anyway. It’s that good).
The last family friendly restaurant we visited was Ropewalk. The first thing I noticed about this awesome restaurant was the view. It was spectacular. I bet the sunsets here are gorgeous. The kid’s menu was fun and they served lunch with a few Wikki Stix.
The restaurant is expansive but there are so many fun touches and photo ops (including a statue of Ronald Reagan). The playground is amazing as well. A fun pirate ship, plenty of sand, and other games.
4. Splish Splash at Splash mountain
Jolly Roger on the Pier has quite a few Amusement Park rides. Jolly Roger’s mainstay though is at 30th street, where they have four parks– miniature golf, Speedworld go karts, amusement park and Splash Mountain.
We would have loved to play at all four parks, but one of the things you have to be ok with on your Ocean City family vacation is that there is no way you can do everything. For real. But you can always plan a second trip to explore more!
We spent the day at Splash Mountain and it was AMAZE-BALLS! It doesn’t matter if you have toddlers, young kids, teens, or all of the above– there are tons of water features to wow everyone in your family. Younger kids (or pretty much anyone who wants to cool off) will dig the Rainforest Play Area, the Wave Pool, and the Kiddie Pirate Ship Play Area. For older kids, there are more than 10 water slides of varying thrill levels.
Plus, there are tons of food and drink options, as well tons of umbrellas for shade.
Trust me, your family will love spending the day at Splash Mountain!
5. Get out on the water
Ocean City is, in fact, on the Ocean. That means there are some great family friendly options for boat tours and cruises. Talbot Street Watersports has a few options your kids will love, including a pirate ship fun cruise. During our Ocean City vacation, we were hosted by Talbot Street Watersports to experience the Assateague Adventure Cruise and we had a fantastic time! I would highly recommend this boat cruise for families; especially families with young kids.
The tour lasts about 90 minutes and the route takes visitors to Assateague Island, where guests can try to catch small fish (catch and release) with nets, pick up other treasures like shells or crab legs, and dredge for clams. Because the boat is relatively quiet and slow, you have a decent chance of seeing all kinds of wildlife. We saw a few pods of dolphins, tons of birds, and even one of famous wild ponies!
During the cruise, guests get up close to marine wildlife like clams and crabs. This is a great cruise to get kids excited about nature and marine ecosystems.
6. Mini golf is the perfect family friendly activity!
There are so many amazing miniature golf places in Ocean City. It is hard to know which one to pick. Really, just find a location that has the features you think are fun and dig in!
Did I mention it was super hot during our Ocean City vacation? Yeah.. it was too hot to be in the blazing sun. So, we had a blast playing miniature golf at one of the only two indoor mini golf locations in Ocean City. Old Pro Golf has multiple locations, but the one at 68th Street has both indoor and outdoor courses. The indoor course is an undersea adventure, complete with a mermaid and submarine. The outdoor course is all about dinosaurs. RARRRR!!!!
7. Don’t forget About Northside Park
Northside Park is probably not a location you would think to include on your Ocean City vacation bucket list. However, it is perfect for low-key family fun. The park is gorgeous and right on the ocean (like everything else in Ocean City). There is a decent sized playground for kids, a picnic area, and a fishing pier that is great for fishing, but also has the best scenic views.
A great family friendly hotel recommendation
We were hosted at Home2 Suites By Ocean City Bayside but this review is my own opinion.
When we were researching Ocean City hotels, I had no idea what would be the best option for our family. Did we want to be near the boardwalk or would that be too loud? If our hotel was further north would that be too far away from the fun? Would it be better to pay to stay on the beach or did that not really matter?
I am happy to say that Home2 Suites By Ocean City Bayside was the perfect family friendly hotel. This is a new hotel (opened November 2018) and it still has that new hotel feel to it. It’s very clean and bright. We stayed in a 2 Queen Bed Suite and this was the perfect room for four people.
The beds were super comfortable and there is a great kitchenette that would enable families to bring food and cut down on expenses.
The living area is comfortable too and there is a privacy curtain to separate the sleeping and living areas. It is just enough of a separation that kids will be able to sleep while parents keep a light on for reading.
One of the best features of this hotel though were the amenities.
The indoor pool was a fantastic option if your kids want more water play but you are done with the beach. It even has a sand shower wash off area. There is a seating area in front of the hotel that boasts a fire pit feature every night. In back of the hotel there is a nice grill area which can actually accommodate a sizeable group of guests.
Home2 Suites offers free breakfast, a 24-hour gym, small business center, and they even put out lemon ice water every day!
The location for Home2 Suites is also fantastic. It is located at 67th Street, just a short 5 minute walk from the beach. Within a block of the hotel there are tons of shops and restaurants like the famous Longboard Cafe (it’a amazing by the way), Dolle’s Candies, Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt, a few beach shops, and the Indoor Old Pro Golf location!
You really can’t go wrong with Home2 Suites By Ocean City Bayside. I highly recommend this hotel for a family friendly vacation at Ocean City.
We didn’t see everything at Ocean City but we had a blast. Our Ocean City Vacation was totally rockin’– and we will be back!
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