Ever since I was little, my family has gone to Ocean City, Maryland, and since we began traveling as a family last year, we have continued the tradition and have begun to take Carter on the scenic two to three hour drive down to Ocean City from the Philly suburbs. There are so many great and family-friendly things to do in Ocean City, Maryland and each year we find new fun, great things to do. It was just a few years ago that I learned of all the events and activities in Ocean City that take place during the Fall and early Spring seasons. If you’re looking to end the summer on a high note be sure to add the Oceans Calling music festival to your list! The 3-day festival is at the end of September and will includes performers such as the Lumineers and John Mayer.

Ocean City, Maryland is filled with laid-back beaches, amusement parks, unique dining hot spots, special events, and nearly a 3 mile boardwalk. Over the years Ocean City earned the nickname of “America’s greatest family resort” because the location just has so much to do for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re visiting with your family, taking a girl’s trip, or doing a couple’s getaway,  you’ll find unique activities to fill your days. In this post, you’ll find a full itinerary for a family vacation filled with things to do in Ocean City, Maryland.


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Traveling to Ocean City is quite easy – especially if you live on the East Coast. For those who live in Pennsylvania or the surrounding states, it’s as easy as jumping in the  car and driving a few hours to reach the beautiful beaches. Many people in Philadelphia and New York City, who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, tend to simply rent a car and drive through the Delaware beaches until they arrive in Ocean City. 

If you’re not one for driving, flying in is an option. I personally recommend a road trip, riving it’s a part of the experience of vacationing in Ocean City. But if driving is really not what you’re looking to do, you can also jump on Amtrak and book a seat on a train with typical ride times being 5-6 hours from the Philadelphia area.


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View from hotel balcony in Ocean City MD

Though staying close to the boardwalk has its perks when staying in Ocean City, I’m one who typically likes to stay off the boardwalk in the bay area. For a great family and pet-friendly hotel, I recommend Residence Inn Ocean City. On Seabay Lane, you’ll find this Marriot Bonvoy hotel tucked in a picturesque spot right along the bay. With great amenities such as complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool, water activities, daily events, and an amazing outdoor pool with a bar, you’ll find yourself wanting to just relax at the hotel during one of your days staying in Ocean City. 

During our stay, we stayed in the King Suite which was equipped with a kitchen, living room, large bathroom, and king-size bed. It was so comfortable for our family and it allowed us to bring food back, relax, and even make meals in the room, while relaxing, if we needed to. Additionally, if your little one is still napping, this suite is perfectly set up, because you can put the little one in the bedroom, close the door slightly, and lounge in the separated living room with access to the bathroom. 


An Ocean City Airbnb is also a great option for your vacation to Ocean City. If you’re visiting Ocean City with a large family that wants to stay together in one house instead of multiple rooms, going with Airbnb is a great option. There are so many great options close to the boardwalk, along the main strip, as well as quite a few across the bridge within a 10 minute driving distance from Ocean City boardwalk. 

One year, we stayed in an amazing Vacasa Maryland property listed on Airbnb. There are so many Vacasa Maryland properties around Ocean City, so it comes down to where you want to stay, how many people are in your party, and the amenities you are looking for. We previously stayed at the Brooklyn Estate and Cottage in West Ocean City and it was a house filled with everything that we needed including a large outdoor pool and hot tub. This Vacasa Maryland property is great for large families and bachelor or bachelorette parties in Ocean City.


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As you are driving to the beaches of Ocean City Maryland, you’ll drive past Hooper’s Crab House and Sneaky Pete’s. Hooper’s Crab House is known for having the best Maryland Blue Crabs and fresh seafood. But when Hooper’s is not open for lunch, you can head to the docks behind Hooper’s to Sneaky Pete’s. This restaurant is one that you have to experience because, when attending, you dine within a docked boat. Sitting outside on the boat eating the amazing seafood offered is something that you won’t get in many places that you travel to. The menu has great options for everyone, including the kids, and if you’re looking for some recommendations, I highly recommend their signature crab cake sandwich and one of their amazing margaritas.


A big family favorite restaurant is Alley Oops. Connecting to its name the restaurant is surf themed and not only is it a restaurant but it is also a duckpin bowling alley and arcade. If you come during the summer, try to get a seat outside on the sand, so that you can enjoy the summer air and munch on some of the great options from the menu. For recommendations, I recommend their tacos which you can get with some very crunchy fries. We visited the midtown location, there is also one in uptown!


Looking for a great breakfast or lunch spot? Well, Bad Monkey is where you want to go. Though there are two locations in Ocean City, you’ll want to get there early as seating fills up quite fast. Make sure to try some of their signature plates such as the Big Bad Monkey Pancakes or the Oh! Sweet Nutin’ and pair it with a Bad Monkey brew. It’s a great way to wake up and start your morning and get yourself off to a great day.


Overlooking the bay on 21st street, you’ll find Fish Tales Bar and Grill which is open daily from 11am – 2am which makes it a great place to have lunch, dinner, and late night drinks under the twinkling lights. This restaurant is unique in its menu items and family friendly aspects. If eating outside on the sand, you’ll also find a playground so that kids can run and play while you enjoy time eating and drinking and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. This is probably one of my most recommended places to get a frozen drink because their cocktails are just so delicious and uniquely made. Outside of the cocktails, I suggest their tuna dip, the seafood baker, or the Original Big Tale.


Another can’t-miss spot is Longboard Café – a casual dining location with space to eat both inside and outside. With so many great menu items, you’ll find it hard trying to pick exactly what you want. During the week, make sure to make it to dinner for happy hour where you can take advantage of some of their happy hour deals such as BOGO cocktails. As for recommendations for food, I recommend the ahi nachos to start and the seafood pasta for the meal.

Longboard Cafe
Longboard Café – a casual dining location with space to eat both inside and outside. Photo courtesy of Iesha Vincent


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Family Vacation in Ocean City, MD

It’s an obvious must to visit the Ocean City boardwalk when you visit Ocean City. The three mile boardwalk is outfitted with games, shops, vendors, restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks so you’ll always find something to do and eat. At the south end of the boardwalk,  you’ll find one of the Jolly Rogers location, Jolly Roger at the Pier, Trimper Rides of Ocean City, and Marty’s Playland – all great options for those looking for some fun and exciting family activities. You’ll also find the OC Fishing Pier  at the southern end that you can walk along and find fisherman and the most amazing views. 

If you head to the boardwalk earlier in the day, take advantage of renting a bike. There are quite a few vendors and options, and even if you have little ones, you’re able to strap them in securely and get yourself up and down the boardwalk. Lastly, don’t forget to grab yourself a treat from Kohr Bros., Thrasher’s French Fries, Fisher’s Popcorn or Dolle’s Candyland for the best saltwater taffy!

Ocean City BEACH

Another must is going to the beach in Ocean City. Whether you have a beach day or multiple beach days, you’ll have so much fun enjoying the day in the sun and the sand. If you’re taking a family vacation with little ones, make sure to bring plenty of beach toys and snacks. And no matter who you are traveling with, make sure to pack your sunscreen and food because you’ll want to be out on that beach for quite some time. Additionally, on breezy days or in the late evenings, head to The Kite Loft to pick up a kite to fly in the Ocean City sky. 

Depending on whether you have it or not, pack your beach chairs and umbrellas, but if you don’t have any, you can rent them right along the beach with prices for chairs and/or umbrellas ranging from $10 – $20 for rentals through 5pm. 

Tip: If you’re looking for a large parking spot to access the beach and/or boardwalk, travel all the way down South 1st Street to South 2nd Street. You’ll find a large parking lot, a beach that isn’t typically very crowded and direct access to the southernmost part of the boardwalk where the amusement parks are and the tram picks up.

Ocean City MINI GOLF

Whenever we travel to Ocean City, Maryland, we always take part in a competitive game of mini golf. A great place to pick up a game is at Nick’s Mini Golf. There are multiple locations around Ocean City with each location having its own theme. You can find 18 holes centered around a Jurassic world, beach club, and some other great fun and funny ones too.


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Who doesn’t love an amusement park!? Jolly Roger has two locations in Ocean City.. There is the smaller park on the pier and then there is the one you definitely want to visit on 30th street. Jolly Roger on 30th street has rides and shows for all ages and also has a water park. You can spend a good amount of time at Jolly Roger getting on the rides that the entire family loves. 

If you’re not one that really wants to go to the waterpark, I recommend visiting Jolly Roger at night where you can grab a wristband for around $30 a person which gives you unlimited rides until 11pm and also see the entire amusement park lit up in all its vibrancy.


Along the boardwalk and in other areas, you’ll find family arcades for everyone to enjoy. Among some of the epic ones, you’ll find Alley Oops (mentioned above) is a restaurant that houses an arcade and Fun City Arcade which is one of Ocean City’s most popular boardwalk arcades. We’ve visited the Fun City Arcade each year we have been there and I’ll tell you it never gets old. There are so many great games to play and the prizes are even more fun.


To learn the history of Ocean City, Maryland, you’ll want to head to Ocean City’s museum – the Life-Saving Station Museum. As you enter, you’ll find yourself walking into a gorgeous house next to a beautiful tower, and as you navigate through the museum you’ll learn about the various history of surfing, boating, marine life, and everything Ocean City.


Depending on who is with you and how much of an adrenaline rush you want, there are plenty of water sports around Ocean City including kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing, and parasailing. Many of the water sports can be done in the bay where the waters are a lot smoother. Either way, just make sure to book your adventure ahead of time because booking for these experiences fill up fast. 

This post is sponsored by the Ocean City Maryland tourism board. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make LivingLesh possible.