I’m back from a short (but very sweet) vacation at Ocean City, Maryland. It’s about a five hour drive from home, so I’ve gone there many years. This time felt different, though. First of all, I had a toddler with me. That changes everything. I spent a lot of time making tracks in the sand for Carson’s cars to run on and chasing him around in general. I had to coax him to stand where the waves would just barely touch his toes, and each time, he would say, “splash!,” which was adorable to a mommy’s ears. We swam in the condo rental pool every day, and we went through a lot of swimmy diapers (apparently the pool is really relaxing). Our condo rental overlooked an M.R. Ducks and a Billy’s Subs Shop on 140th Street. I ended up buying a cute, bright pink M.R. Ducks sweater to wear on the chilly days, and we frequented Billy’s Sub Shop (yum!). I highly recommend both businesses. Since we were not near the boardwalk, we rode the bus (only $3) when we wanted to stroll the boardwalk, and Carson loved that. If you’re going to Ocean City, especially with a toddler, here are three spots off the beaten path I found that you might enjoy too.
1. At the intersection of 94th Street and Coastal Highway, you’ll see a big blue water tower that has and advertisement for the Art League of Ocean City’s Center for the Arts. At some point each day, my husband and I liked to stop at the Coffee Beanery there (the iced white mochas were great) and then take Carson to the little playground directly behind the water tank. I know it sounds cheesy to tell you to look for the playground behind the water tank, but it’s a really good one for little guys, and the water tank makes the spot shady. We sipped our mochas as Carson played, and I consider that to be pretty relaxing. Just beyond the playground is the actual Center for the Arts museum, and the art is wonderful! If you are into art like me, you’ll like this spot tremendously.
2. Northside Park. I recommend walking the long dock. We saw a lot of people catching crabs there. One guy was using raw chicken neck in his trap, which seemed interesting… but it was bringing up a lot of crabs. Now that you have the image of raw chicken neck in your mind, just know that the spot is really beautiful. There’s lots of room to run, rent kayaks, or play on different playground equipment.
3. Bring a baby-sitter if you can! My husband and I had my parents around to watch Carson one evening so that we could go out on a fishing boat in the bay (the Tortuga at Bahia Marina near 21st Street). I caught five flounder (none big enough to keep) and several crabs that I had to throw back, but I had a really good time. The boat went near Assateague, so we could see the wild ponies, and at the same time, we saw a couple of dolphins.
Another piece of advice: seriously, do not bring food on the beach with you at Assateague. My son had a sealed bag of pretzels that one of the wild ponies stole! I was so busy organizing everything that he needed on the beach that I didn’t even think about the pretzels. The pony decided to stand on our blanket awhile and also chew on my Redbook magazine. Lesson learned!
Finally, besides plenty of playground, sand, and swim time, Carson especially liked the boardwalk shop that lets customers Photoshop their own faces onto iconic photos and then get the image printed on a t-shirt. Carson immediately chose to have his face put on Ryder from Paw Patrol. It’s hilarious seeing him wear that t-shirt now. He really likes it. He keeps saying, “Chase!!” For those of you not in the know, Chase is one of the dogs on Paw Patrol.
Hopefully I gave you a few vacation ideas or at least made you feel a little closer to the beach!