Today is the first Monday in August of 2020 and with summer winding down I wanted to make sure to share and reflect on our first family summer getaway during the pandemic that we had just the other week. Starting the month off in this way, fills my happiness bucket. With every blog post I intend to share something that is relatable to other moms so that you know, you’re not alone, something to inspire you for your own motherhood journey and something helpful for you and your family. For this post there’s a little bit of everything I’ve just mentioned.
For us, it was really great to just get away. I am still missing the ocean waves and warm sandy beach and ocean views from our hotel. Our children had such a great time jumping in the water and strolling down the boardwalk with us every day we were there.
Before we left my husband and I were dealing with some major developmental leaps my kids were and still are having, to be honest. What comes with that are major meltdowns and tantrums. Nothing appealed to us more than to take us out of our home for a few days to reconnect, especially during the times we are living in. My husband and I were completely at our wits end.
The good thing about booking a getaway during the pandemic is that we booked only 3 weeks before we left which typically isn’t a lot of time for planning anything as a family of 4. It turned out to still be affordable for our budget which was great! Of course I booked with hesitation, but I used Expedia.com and the refund policy was great in the event we needed or we wanted to cancel the trip.
The night before and the day that we left we struggled as we normally would with time management and I was packing like a mad woman and cleaning the house to make sure we didn’t come back to a complete mess. How did this happen again, when I’ve been working from home for months and still find myself late, was the negative self talk I inflicted upon myself. Again, I wiped myself out before we left and woke up feeling hungover! The trip did not start off well.
We didn’t leave early in the day like I had hoped, but we weren’t going far, it would take us 3 hours to get there and our check-in time at the hotel we booked wasn’t until 5 pm. I always am anxious before leaving for a trip, it’s something I need to work on, but this pandemic surely doesn’t help. Usually as a family we aren’t early birds anyway, but for some reason when it comes to vacation I feel the need to be on top of it all and be early (this has yet to happen lol).
I say all of that to say that even though our preparation for this trip was a literal hot mess and the morning didn’t work out as planned either, once we hit the road I instantly felt better.
Side bar. Back in my 20s I always wanted to make this quick trip to Ocean City, Maryland (OCMD). I’ve traveled a bit in my 20s. I’ve been out of the country a number of times having gone to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Puerto Rico, Canada and more; and also traveled to multiple states within the U.S. as well. However, I absolutely love local trips to places I haven’t traveled to (even more so than traveling abroad) and not being able to get to OCMD in my 20s boggled my mind lol. I had heard good things from friends back then. Boardwalk bars, the famous Seacrets Bar and Grill, a good place for bachelor and bachelorette parties, etc. However, I had no idea how cute and fun it was for families too until I finally decided to go when we were a family of 3 and my first born was 10 months old back in the summer of 2016.
This made the choice of picking OCMD as a place for our family getaway during the pandemic a little easier. I have this urge to make everything fair and even for my kids so I thought since my second born hasn’t been there and my first born doesn’t remember going, it would be a good logical choice for a short drive somewhere fun.
The past two years we’ve gone to Orlando, Florida to visit Disney with the boys, beginning when my second born was 8-9 months and my first was nearly 3 years old. We created amazing memories in Disney and had booked our family vacation there again for May of this year. Of course, it was canceled. When it got canceled I thought this was it. We’ll be home FOREVER! Which is why I didn’t even bother looking up a getaway until what felt like the last minute/ second half of the summer anyway.
I’m so glad I decided to make the effort to put it together. Local family trips are something I have loved planning since we became a family. For the bigger, take-a-plane kind of trips, my husband has predominantly handled those. Not because I can’t do it, but because I don’t want to do it. Something about taking a plane and renting a car and figuring out logistics in more unfamiliar places are just not as appealing to me than planning local getaways and overnight family trips.
When I initially thought about becoming a mom blogger I had hoped to review local family friendly spots, OCMD being one of them, so I’m excited to share how our trip went and hope to inspire you to take a trip if you haven’t and visit too.
Day 1 – We arrived at 3 pm and parked at the hotel for free. We stayed at the Hyatt Place, Ocean City. Our room wasn’t ready yet, but to be fair check-in wasn’t officially until 5 pm which is oddly late anyway, but it was fine. We were still able to park onsite for FREE and they would text us when our room became available. It was an extremely hot and sunny day and we purposely were already in our bathing suits so we went straight to the beach after we parked. We went on a Wednesday so the beach was not packed at all around 3 pm. After we set up our large family towel and beach cart, cooler with snacks etc., we then hit those beach waves. My kids who are 2 and 4 years old LOVED the water! On that particular day the waves weren’t too strong and we could get in the water pretty significantly and still felt safe. We stayed 2 ish hours which was definitely long enough! Between the prep and the ride there, the beach and everything else we were pretty pooped. That night we picked up food at the Captain’s Table from the Marriott Courtyard for dinner which was the hotel next door to us. It was DELICIOUS! I ordered the shrimp and grits with asparagus, yum! It was a fancy little place. We waited for our food there, I had an Orange Crush drink and I was very happy to then head to our room, eat and call it a night. By the way, safety measures were taken pretty seriously everywhere we went. Our hotel was pristine. This made us happy!
Day 2 – We came here for the beach, so we woke up, picked up Starbucks, and then hit the OCMD beach waves again. We also purchased a little boogie board for my 4 year old son after he saw all the big people on them the day before. He was really excited about it and TBH it was completely manageable and awesome to see him have so much fun with it. I personally had so much fun in the water with the kids because I felt like a kid again! I also let Dad handle the sand castle making for the most part.
We took to the boardwalk that evening and ate outside for dinner. We then attempted to walk all the way to the Jolly Rogers Amusement Park, but where we stayed it was a 20 minute walk, which usually isn’t so bad, but with kids in tow this became like almost an hour. Eventually the kids fell asleep in the stroller and mom and dad parked the stroller and ordered some take out adult beverages, sat on the boardwalk with a beach view and people watched which was SO MUCH FUN! With this pandemic we’ve had only one date in nearly 4-5 months! So this was a treat. Disclaimer: there were moments on the boardwalk that felt crowded. When they felt too crowded we simply moved into a better distanced area.
Day 3 – We were supposed to leave, but we added another night at the last minute. This is very unlike us, but it was a casual easy going beach trip that we didn’t want to see come to an end just yet and luckily we could stay in our room for the same price as if we had paid for the trip as a 3 night stay instead of 2! We were happy. That day we could not do the beach again! My husband and I burned our backs. Rookie move, but we haven’t been to the beach in so long we forgot protocol for ourselves. Although you know our kids were completely rubbed down with the highest amount of SPF Sunscreen of course! On this day, we decided since the first two days we never made it too far down the boardwalk, we will take this adventure on earlier in the day. So we did. We played boardwalk games and hit up Ripley’s Believe it or not. We did two different attractions, their infamous museum and added on their mirror maze. Oh what fun!
It’s almost as if they turned the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum to a Please Touch Museum for kids. There were so many fun little exhibits for our kids to touch and experience. This was a risky move for us I’ll admit because it was an indoor activity. Masks were required and it was fairly early on a Friday so the crowd was small and we felt safe. My kids did keep their masks on the entire time and we sanitized frequently, PHEW!
Later that evening it decided to rain and we picked up pizza from the place below our hotel and brought it up to the room to eat. We watched some kid friendly TV, thank you Hyatt! And when the rain stopped we made ourselves back on the boardwalk to see what we could get into. We stopped for Ice Cream at and it was divine (Dumser’s Dairyland made it to my recommendations list below)! Once again, before we could make it to the Jolly Rogers Amusement Park our sons fell asleep in the stroller! My oldest kept begging to get on the Ferris Wheel. While I was disappointed we couldn’t see it through, I was happy to have the evening again with my husband. So we did what we had done the night before. Parked the stroller on a boardwalk bench, ordered adult beverages and appetizers and people watched as we talked the night away!
Day 4 – This was our official last day there and so I wanted to end it with a bang. This time we headed straight for the Jolly Rogers Amusement Park and immediately went on the Ferris Wheel. The Amusement park that early on a Saturday again was empty. We felt pretty safe the entire time, thankfully! They also had hand sanitizing stations before each ride from what I could remember. My two kids got on about 4 rides each (the airplane ride was their favorite) and we went on two with them. We played some more boardwalk games where it was my two boys against each other and the friendly boardwalk game rep, allowed each of my sons to win a prize. While it was hard to leave, that would be our last fun stop before the drive home. Until we realized we never got to make it to the Original Fractured Prune for donuts so that was our official last stop before the car ride back home to Philly.
So as a mom, I am very conscious of our time limits. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this post. If you’ve made it to the end, THANK YOU! Also, if you skimmed through and want to get some bulleted ideas of how we made the best of this vacation, here you go, see my lists below! For your convenience and time constraints, lol. You’re Welcome! Hope this helps you plan through whatever your next family getaway might be. Thanks for being here!
Tips for a Successful Mini Getaway and a trip to OCMD
- Pack earlier than the day before like I did if you can control it – my kids had decided they wanted to help me and then packing never ended LOL.
- Plan the goals for your trip and stick to them. When I hit the beach and boardwalk no matter where it is, I know I need more than one beach day and always need to do the boardwalk rides. Everything else is a bonus!
- With Covid out there there I made sure to make a packing list that included sanitizers, disinfectant spray and our masks (kids included)
- Pack beach snacks. We packed the smucker’s PB&J’s, Veggie Straws, Bananas, Grapes and Granola bars as well as water and we never had to leave the beach until we were ready to eat dinner.
- For the road trip we packed up the kids tablets and coloring books and I made sure to keep a bag of snacks in the front seat with me. Although they slept pretty much both ways the entire time, thank goodness!
As for OCMD we hit up and I recommend the following places:
- Dumser’s Dairyland for Ice Cream
- The Original Fractured Prune for Doughnuts
- Captain’s Table for Dinner at the Courtyard Marriott
- Shotti’s Point Boardwalk Cafe
- Outdoor dining at Coastal Salt
- Adult Beverages from Hammerheads Bar and Grill
- Jolly Roger 30th Street Amusement Park for Boardwalk Fun!
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and Mirror Maze for interactive kid fun
- The Dinosaur Bones Playground on the Beach for easy going beach play
- Accomodations at the Hyatt Place Ocean City, Oceanfront