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Visiting Ocean City, Maryland on a Budget

From Thrasher’s French Fries to Jolly Roger Amusement Park, most Maryland families have a favorite Ocean City, Md., hangout. One of the summer’s hottest vacation spots, Ocean City has hundreds of activities for families. These low-cost activities and money-saving tips can help your family make the most of a vacation without breaking the bank.


While hotel or other accommodations will likely be the most expensive part of your vacation, there are ways to reduce the cost of your stay and make your money stretch farther. Donna Abbot, Ocean City director of tourism, has some great tips for families looking to save money.

“If families are flexible in their travels, there are many ways to save,” Abbot says. “At most hotels, the more nights you stay, the less each night costs. But, if you are not staying an entire week, I would recommend staying in the middle of the week; weekends in the summer season are prime time. Also, some condos offer discounted mini weeks.”

Also, keep in mind that inland and bayside hotels are just a short walk from the beach, but tend to be much less expensive than those with an ocean view.

Abbot also recommends visiting the town’s website to learn about hotel specials.

“OCocean.com has a list of deals called ‘Rodney Rates,’ which are posted as they become updated,” she says.

Booking your hotel stay through OCisFree.com can earn you free restaurant or entertainment vouchers. After reserving your hotel room, choose the vouchers you want and then pick them up when you check in to your hotel.


Choosing thrifty entertainment options and activities can also save your family a lot of money on vacation. Many Ocean City entertainment options can be rather expensive, but luckily for budget-conscious families, many free events are held in the summer as well.

Abbot says for the past [several] summers, Ocean City has held free activities every night of the week.

“It’s basically a thank you for choosing Ocean City,” she says. “The activities include movies on the beach four nights a week, free concerts on the beach and Radio Disney’s ‘Sizzlin’ Summer of Stars.’ This year we have a new thing called Sunset Park Party Nights on Thursday nights.”

“Between the free beach and the free evening activities, families have something to do every night,” Abbot says.

Make sure you also look out for deals on other popular Ocean City activities, such as mini-golf and Jolly Roger Amusement Park.  If you’re willing to drive a few miles out of Ocean City, Frontier Town Waterpark and Golf is just a five-minute drive from the city and offers unlimited mini-golf from 6 to 10 p.m. At only $4 per person, it is about half the price of a single game of mini-golf at most other places in Ocean City.

If your family is planning to visit Jolly Roger Amusement Park on the boardwalk or at their new 30th Street location, you may want to consider purchasing an armband for $16.99. This unlimited ride pass  also includes unlimited games of treasure golf, and there is a printable $2 off coupon on their website, JollyRogerPark.com.

Another way to save money throughout your trip is by purchasing an OC Family Discount coupon book. It can be purchased online for $10, and includes many “buy one, get one” savings. Ocean-City.com lists the deals in the book so you can check out the offers and see if purchasing the coupon book would benefit your family.


The most obvious way to save money on dining is by limiting the number of times your family goes out to eat. However, if you are going to a restaurant, Abbot says Ocean City’s diverse dining options are great for families looking to save.

“You don’t have to go out for the fancy seafood dinner,” Abbot says. “There are a range of other restaurants like burger places, or families can go out for pizza, pack a lunch or have a picnic on the beach.”

Abbot says there are also early-bird specials at some restaurants, so call around to see where you can get a discount for dining earlier in the evening. Another way to save money on dining is by visiting Restaurant.com, where you can buy discounted restaurant gift certificates for several Ocean City eateries. Some of the gift certificates have minimum purchase requirements so be sure to pay attention to the restrictions. Also, The Greene Turtle North, the original Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, has a free kids meal deal where kids eat free every day of the week with the purchase of a regular price sandwich or burger.

For more information on specific programs, visit OCocean.com.

OC Events:


June 27 – Aug. 8: Movies on the Beach at 27th Street Beach. 8:30 p.m. Bring a blanket.  410-250-0125.

July 4  – Aug. 22: Family Programs at OC Life-Saving Station Museum. 410-289-4991.


June 28 – Aug. 9: Family Beach Olympics at 27th Street Beach. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  410-250-0125.

July 5 – Aug. 23: Family Programs at OC Life-Saving Station Museum. 410-289-4991.


June 15 – Aug. 24: Movies on the Beach at Carousel Resort Hotel, 118th Street Beach. 8:30 p.m. Bring a blanket.  410-250-0125.

July 13 – Aug. 24 (except July 27): Boogie on the Beach concerts at N. Division St. Beach. 8 to 9:30 p.m. 410-250-0125

July 6 – Aug. 24: Free Family Programs at OC Life-Saving Station Museum. 410-289-4991.


July 7 – Aug. 26: Movies on the Beach at Princess Royale, 92nd Street Beach. 8:30 p.m. Bring a blanket. 410-250-0125.

July 7 – Aug. 25: Sunset Park Party Nights at S. Division Street and Bay. 7-9 p.m. 410-250-0125, 800-626-2326.

July 7 – Aug. 25: Family Programs at OC Life-Saving Station Museum. 410-289-4991.


July 1 – Aug. 12: Movies on the Beach at 27th Street Beach. 410-250-0125.

July 8 – Aug. 26: Family Programs at OC Life-Saving Station Museum. 410-289-4991.


July 9 – Aug. 27: Family Programs at OC Life-Saving Station Museum. 410-289-4991.


July 10 – Aug. 24: Sundaes in the Park at Northside Park, 125th St. bayside. 6-8 p.m. 800-626-2326.

Other Free Events:

Radio Disney’s Sizzlin’ Summer of Stars at N. Division St. Beach. Includes concerts by Radio Disney stars Coco Jones, AllStar Weekend and The Ready Set. Visit OCocean.com for dates and other information.

June 4: Council of Baltimore Ravens Roosts Annual Parade. Starts at 19th Street and Baltimore Avenue. 10 a.m. 443-618-5130.

June 11: Berlin Village Fair. Main Street, Berlin, Md. Old time village fair with children’s playland, Berlin Idol singing contest, bathtub races and more. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 410-641-4775.

June 11 – 12: Ocean City Airshow. Premium viewing area tickets are available, but the show can be seen from most areas of the beach and boardwalk for free. Noon – 3:30 p.m. 888-695-0888.

June 18 – 19: Art’s Alive at Northside Park. Ocean City’s 11th annual fine art festival featuring more than 100 artists. Children can even create their own works of art for free.

July 4: 4th of July Celebration, downtown at N. Division Street beach or uptown at Northside Park. A free concert followed by fireworks starting at 8 p.m. on the beach.

By Hannah Anderson, Assistant Editor at Chesapeake Family

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