Ocean City, Maryland: A Family Vacation Mecca

Ask many people about a beach trip they remember fondly and a number of them will most assuredly answer Ocean City, Maryland. It may not be the biggest or ritziest Atlantic resort town, but that gives it a homey quality and makes it more appealing to vacationing families. You certainly won’t have to worry about boredom during your trip to Ocean City; from kids and teenagers to adults, there is something that everyone will want to write home about. This family-oriented atmosphere has helped make “OC” the wonderful oceanside city that it is today.

Let’s start with the most striking attraction: The Atlantic Ocean. It is a fascinating thought to walk along the shore and know that the same body of water we are looking at today was here thousands of years ago. It is a calming, peaceful experience when we are able to catch the sunrise over the water; be prepared to have many identical photos of this magnificent orange ball slowly stretching up over the horizon.

The ocean isn’t just to look at, however. In all kinds of weather you will find surfers, swimmers, fishermen (and fisherwomen!) as well as beach-dwellers and boaters. One of the best activities for those who don’t like the “wild” attractions of the ocean is using a metal detector at the ocean’s edge, especially after a big storm or huge waves. If you’re lucky you might find something actually worth keeping (and if not, at least pick up some fantastic seashells).

On to the Boardwalk. This path is a must-see for all Ocean City visitors. On one side you will find an endless array of shops selling everything from tie dyed t-shirts to old fashioned photographs where you can pose in Victorian garb. Neat little restaurants and huge buffets sit side by side, and the windblown architecture of the oceanfront hotels is pleasing to the eye as well. You certainly won’t go hungry on the Boardwalk (unless you choose to!) You can get boardwalk fries, pizza, sandwiches, fudge, or even ice cream for dinner. Anything goes. You can pick up something to munch as you walk along, or sit down to a huge dinner like Paul Revere’s Smorgasbord.

Of course there is more to Ocean City than the beach and the Boardwalk, though they are the main attractions. Say you want to go shopping but aren’t in the mood to trek all over the neighborhood looking for a particular store. Ocean City’s shopping centers will help eliminate that problem. Ocean City Factory Outlets is the place to do your finer shopping, away from the cheap souvenirs that seem to run roughshod over some local stores. You can find some great apparel here as well as home decor and other beautiful items. This isn’t your kind of mall? Fear not. A short distance away from Ocean City, over the Delaware state line, you can find the Rehoboth Outlets, featuring even more shopping choices.

Most families are afraid of children whining about being “bored.” It isn’t a family vacation unless there are things to keep little ones happy as well. There are lots of choices for families to “break loose” in Ocean City. For some tame but still exciting rides and attractions, try Baja Amusements, located along Route 50. This park features what many people would call “kiddie rides,” but is still fun for adults and older kids. There are various miniature golf places around town, too.

Another great idea for a family adventure is a cruise. There are few things more relaxing than a cruise along the Atlantic Ocean or the bay on the other side of town. To get a little history into your kids, try the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum on the end of the Boardwalk. This is a two-story museum with everything from pictures of Ocean City’s first days to shipwreck artifacts. One of the most interesting attractions is the huge boat you can visit on the first floor (you might want to warn kids not to climb inside, though; security would not appreciate their enthusiasm!)

You certainly don’t have to be afraid that there aren’t enough hotels from which to choose. Be assured that there is a hotel to suit your needs. All along the Boardwalk and along the shopping district of Coastal Highway, there are hotels and motels from the small to the huge. There are inexpensive oceanfront hotels and massive accommodations and condos on the more upscale end of the city. You shouldn’t have trouble finding an ocean-front room. If you don’t want to stay oceanfront and would like a hotel or motel along the Bay, however, you can find many choices there as well.

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