So you're heading into summer with bright eyes and a plan to travel. One great destination, especially for students, is Ocean City, Maryland. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, covered in activities (many of which are free!), doused in the bright colors of fun and spontaneity, all while embracing their natural roots and ecotourism attractions. Ocean City is favorably affordable for students as well, making it an easy choice of a destination for your next student group trip!
The interesting thing about Ocean City is that they allow teens to check into hotel rooms unaccompanied (at least during Senior Week every June). Many if not all hotels in the Ocean City area cater to incoming seniors, regardless of parental accompaniment. The parents do, of course, have to make all the prior arrangements and you still need a credit card to officially check into a hotel room, but it offers less hassle and more freedom for traveling students. Some of the best, and most affordable, of these hotels include the Admiral, Spinnaker Motel, Burgundy Inn, Thunderbird, and Tidelands. Prices will go up per occupant in the room, and they will skyrocket around holidays, even Senior Week. However, if you split the cost four ways (which is often the max occupancy for rooms), it becomes more manageable.
Lucky you, Ocean City is a very walkable city, not requiring a lot of out-of-pocket transit cash. It's on a peninsula, long and thin, and many of the city's attractions are congregated in one area so it's easy to hike around town. One fun activity, which also doubles as transportation, is the Cape May Lewes Ferry ($) which runs from New Jersey to Delaware and back. They make stops at Ocean City and other destinations along the way, but it's a cheap and interesting ride where you might catch a glimpse of a whale or dolphin.
Admission Charging Attractions
Almost all of the most popular attractions in Ocean City are free, or pay what you will depending on how much you buy. There are, though, a few great attractions which charge a small entry fee.
- Ripley's Believe It or Not ($$) - This is the most expensive attraction on this list, but who doesn't love the good fun of Ripley's museums? The Odditorium, aka their main museum, is a separate fee from the Mirror Maze and the Impossible Laser Race, though each of those are pretty inexpensive to do on their own.
- Furnace Town Living Heritage Museum ($) - The Nassawango Iron Furnace worked diligently from 1828-1850, feeding into the community industrial identity. Today, the park maintains the Iron Furnace ruins as well as living history demonstrations of 19th century duties and archaeological digs.
- Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum ($) - This attraction is insanely cheap, only a couple bucks, and preserves the history of the life station which rescued people from the treacherous waters. You can see shipwreck finds, over 200 types of sand from around the world, and even mermaids...is this still Ripley's?
Free Things To Do!
There are so many free things to do in Ocean City, it's ridiculous, and ridiculously awesome for you!
- Ocean City Boardwalk - Probably the most popular attraction in Ocean City, and free to explore.
- Sundaes in the Park - Free fireworks every Sunday in July and August.
- Ocean City Air Show - June 18-19, 2016
- The Beaches - Free and open from 6 am to 10 pm, the beaches around Ocean City are perfectly scenic and wonderfully fun.
- Northside Park - Perfect for simple recreation like hiking and biking or birdwatching.
- Assateague Island National Seashore and State Park - Home to the famed feral horses as made notable by the children's book, Misty of Chincoteague. It's also a full state park and national seashore for ecotourism activities and beach relaxation.
- Sunset Park Party Nights - Free concerts and fireworks, Thursdays July 7-August 25, 7-9 pm.
- Inlet Park - A natural urban park with access to the beach and fishing piers, Inlet also has a history as well as observation points overlooking Assateague Island.
- Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge - A waterfowl sanctuary for migrant birds, this is a beautiful stop.
- NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitors Center - First established as a research facility in the 1940s, Wallops is now a learning facility with exhibits on a number of NASA related topics.