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Celebrate Thanksgiving at the beach

Missing the sound of the ocean as we approach the holidays? Maybe you should consider heading to the coast in Maryland or Delaware. Places like Ocean City, Md. have plenty of holiday and seaside fun over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Just because the summer crowds are gone, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. You could go caroling on the boardwalk and enjoy holiday lights on the bay. And maybe eat steamed crabs instead of dry turkey. But if you need another reason to spend Thanksgiving at the shore, it’s miles of beach to yourself.

“It’s surprising to a lot of people how appealing fall is here,” says Jessica Waters, Ocean City communications manager. “The weather is often very temperate.”

Most afternoons, it’s warm enough to fly kites, ride bikes and look for shells. Many shops and restaurants are still open, including some along the boardwalk. Yet, traffic and crowds are much thinner.

“It’s really, really relaxing,” says Linda Parkowski, director of tourism for the state of Delaware. “The off-season is phenomenal.”

What to do at Maryland & Delaware Beaches

Change up your holiday tradition and take the family to beach. Don’t worry if Black Friday shopping is a family tradition. The outlets are all open during the holiday weekend. And you won’t miss out on welcoming the holiday season with several charming events to choose from.

Here are a few activities to enjoy down the ocean Thanksgiving weekend 2022.

Holiday Events

Ocean City’s Winterfest of Lights

See how Ocean City, MD sparkles this winter and visit the Winterfest of Lights! This walking event will take you through thousands of sparkling holiday lights and many animated light displays located along a paved path in Northside Park. Sip hot chocolate, take a photo with Santa, visit the gift shop and walk through the array of holiday exhibits. Also see their 50-foot Christmas tree as it puts on a show.

Where: Northside Park – 200 125th Street, Ocean City, MD, 21842
When: Open Wednesdays through Sundays (closed Monday and Tuesday) November 17, 2022-December 31, 2022; 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. $6 for ages 12 and up, FREE for children 11 years and younger.
Website: ococean.com

Rehoboth Beach Tree Lighting & Hometown Sing-along

Families gather around the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand to sing carols and watch the annual tree lighting.
Rehoboth boardwalk and Rehoboth Avenue

Where: Rehoboth Beach Bandstand
When: Nov. 25, 2022
Website: cityofrehoboth.com

Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Boardwalk

Kids can climb on Santa’s lap and tell him their wishes at the Santa House on the Rehoboth Boardwalk at the end of Rehoboth Avenue. The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce sponsors the free opening, though donations are appreciated. Bring your camera.

Where: Rehoboth Boardwalk at the end of Rehoboth Avenue
When: November 25- 27, December 3&4, 10 & 11 and 17 & 18. Hours vary per day
Website: Beach-fun.com/holiday-fun

Dewey Beach Tree Lighting

Enjoy a tree-lighting, music and refreshments.

Where: Fifer’s Farm Market Cafe, 200 Cullen St.
When: Nov. 26, 2022
Website: deweybusinesspartnership.com

Winter WonderFEST

Be amazed by this one mile drive-thru Light Spectacular. This annual fundraiser also features Santa’s workshop and Christmas trees available for purchase.

Where: Hudson Fields, Milton
When: Open Nightly: November 19 – January 2
Website: wonderfestde.org/

Delaware Hospice Festival of Trees

Festival of Trees features a beautiful display of decorated trees and wreaths – all are sponsored and decorated by local businesses and individuals. This great fundraiser includes a Marketplace, Bake Shop, Musical entertainment and specialty trees such as the Remembrance Tree, Memorial Tree and New Hope Tree.

Where & When:
November 18-20 at Brantwyn Estates, Wilmington, Delaware
December 2-4 at Delaware Hospice Center, Milford, Delaware.
Website: delawarehospice.org

A Holiday Tour of Lewes

Experience historic Lewes, Delaware as homeowners open their doors to the community during the Society’s “A Holiday Tour of Lewes”. There will be a LIVE outdoor Holiday Village & Market

Where:Lewes, Delaware
When: December 2 & 3
Website: historiclewes.org

Outdoor Fun

The Salisbury Zoo

The zoo is open everyday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. See over 100 animals at the “Best Little Free Zoo in North America.” Admission is free.
755 South Park Dr., Salisbury; salisburyzoo.org


The beach is a great place to hang out and run around no matter what time of year. For a deserted feel, check out one of the state parks open during the off-season.

  • Assateague Island National Sea Shore
  • Cape Henlopen State Park
  • Delaware Seashore State Park

Rules on the beaches relax in the off-season. Kite-flying and other games not typically allowed in the summer are permitted. You can also walk dogs on many of the beaches in the off season.


Kids always want to play mini-golf at the beach and it’s still possible in the off-season. There’s an under-the-sea themed indoor course and an outdoor course open weather permitting at Old Pro Golf, 68th Street Bayside, Ocean City; oldprogolf.com.
Other courses are often open if temperatures are above 50 degrees.

Bike rentals

Take the family for a spin on the boardwalk when there’s actually room to ride. Several bike rental shops open in the off-season include:

Other rentals on the boardwalk are open weather permitting.

Indoor Fun


Escape from the cold and check out two museums worth a look:

  • DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum
    One of the largest collections of shipwreck and recovered artifacts in the Mid-Atlantic.
    708 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island
    October through December 8; Open Saturdays and Sundays; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
    Learn how Ocean City grew from a fishing village to a major resort and a lot more.
    Boardwalk at the Inlet
    Open Sat.-Sun. November through April, 10am-4pm; $3-$5 (11 and under free).
Ice skating

One of the quintessential shore holiday activities is ice skating at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City. The indoor ice rink and game room are open to the public.
118th Street, Ocean City
Open all week, various times.; $6 skating, $4 rental.

Holiday shopping at the shore

Start your holiday shopping at these fairs and outlets while visiting the beach.

  • The Holiday Shoppers Fair
    Crafters and gift shops sell handmade jewelry, ceramics, photographs and more. There are also children’s activities and a “non-shoppers’ lounge.”
    Ocean City Convention Center
    Nov. 25-Nov. 27, 2022
    Free admission
  • Tanger Outlets
    36470 Seaside Outlet Dr, Rehoboth Beach
    12741 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City
  • The Queenstown Premium Outlets
    441 Outlet Center Dr, Queenstown

Where to Stay

  • Princess Royale Hotel
    The family will love the arcade and huge indoor pool in the light-filled atrium. A breakfast buffet is offered and a spa is on site.
    91st Street Oceanside, Ocean City.
  • The Breakers Hotel
    With an indoor, rooftop pool, arcade and some space for family dogs, this Rehoboth Beach hotel is a popular off-season choice for families.
    Second St., Rehoboth Beach.
  • Fenwick Inn
    In addition to an indoor pool and hot tub, all rooms have refrigerators and microwaves. There are also several suites.
    138th Street, Fenwick Island.
  • Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa, and Marina
    Cozy up around the outdoor fireplace and roast s’mores, swim in the large indoor pool, or play ping pong in the game room. The Cambridge resort also offers golf, scavenger hunts, movies and more.
    100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge.

Thanksgiving Dining at the Beach

Many family-friendly restaurants will be open Thanksgiving Day. Some will serve traditional meals, but others will offer their popular beach menus. Here are just a few of the options:

Article by:  Laura Barnhardt Cech

Updated 2022

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