From watching wild ponies frolic in the waves to exploring an iconic boardwalk in the heart of a city, there are lots of different ways to have fun at Maryland’s seaside throughout the year. Best of all, you don’t need to dig too far into your wallet while visiting because it’s easy to find things to do that are cheap or even free! From big attractions to hidden gems, fun is affordable in Worcester County, Maryland. Here are 15 ideas:
Explore the famed three-mile Ocean City Boardwalk. There’s always something going on, since the award-winning thruway is open 24/7 from the peak of summer throughout the off-season. Stroll on foot or pedal a bike to enjoy the salt air and great people-watching at no charge, or play games, grab some snacks, go on rides, or shop as suits your budget.
Explore untamed Assateague Island National Seashore, a 37-mile barrier island famed for its wild horses. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Sinepuxent Bay on the west, the 48,000-acre island boasts multiple habitats to explore by car, foot, bike, and boat. Among the many ways to have fun on the island, a two-mile drive route is free, as are the abundant opportunities to snap photos. For helpful maps, introductory movies, informational displays and touch tanks, plus park rangers who can answer questions, don’t miss the Assateague Island Visitor Center, which is free to visit.
Take a self-guided historic walking tour around Berlin. The downtown area is a National Register Historic District and boasts dozens of structures on the National Register of Historic Places spanning two centuries of architecture. Stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a free brochure as a guide to enjoy the interesting, informative walk.
It’s free to visit the Art League of Ocean City at Center for the Arts and tour the two-story gallery, which showcases works by local and regional artists and displays new works each month. Free receptions, lectures, and demonstrations are also offered on select dates, check the calendar for event details. Art classes at various prices are also available.
The Julia A. Purnell Museum in Snow Hill is home to over 10,000 pieces that highlight many aspects of Worcester County history, including handcrafted needle art by the museum’s namesake. Exhibits showcase local beauty, whimsy, and oddities—including a flea circus. Admission to the museum, which is open all year, is $3 and free for children age 12 and younger.
Costen House was built in 1870 by Pocomoke City’s first mayor, Dr. Isaac Costen. To see how the Costen family and people in the area lived from 1870 to 1920, tour the historic house and the Hall-Walton Memorial Garden. They’re open by appointment for a $2 admission.
Head to the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum on the Boardwalk to learn how the predecessor to the Coast Guard on the Delmarva Peninsula saved 7,500 lives from 1878 to 1915. Located in a building that dates back to 1891, the museum also celebrates local history in attention-grabbing exhibits like aquariums as well as special events and programs such as a historic house tour, book signings, a 5k race, paranormal investigation, and more. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors/military, $3 for youths age 12 to 18, and free for children age 11 and younger.
Learn area history and ecology at the Delmarva Discovery Museum in downtown Pocomoke City. The living museum on the Pocomoke River has immersive exhibits including a touch tank, otters, Lego room, and nature trail through a cypress swamp. Tours and programs are regularly offered. Admission is free for children age 3 and younger, $5 for youths age 4-17 and military, $8 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults.
Tour Rackliffe House in Berlin where 18th-century coastal plantation life is interpreted through artifacts, film, an illustrated timeline, archaeological finds, and documents. Well-informed docents lead tours through the house and grounds, including the kitchen, spinning room, bedrooms, and milk house. New exhibits highlight enslaved people who lived on the property and Native Americans who lived in the area when Europeans arrived. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children age 4 to 12, and free for children age 3 and younger.
Relax in a recliner and watch a current movie at Ocean City’s Sun & Surf Cinema. Seasonal special events include monthly classic movies, Met Opera Live, Bolshoi Ballet, and Rifftrax. Tickets for shows before 5 p.m. are $9.75. On Tuesdays all tickets are $5.
Flagship Cinemas in Ocean City also has $5 tickets on Tuesdays. The first-run movie theatre offers self-serve soda with free refills among its various treats and deals.
The historic Mar-Va Theatre in downtown Pocomoke regularly has movies, live performances, and special events priced at $5 and $10.
Ocean City boasts over a dozen parks, including Little Salisbury Park, which boasts two tennis courts, a basketball court, playground, and dog play area. It’s free to visit.
Cypress Park and Nature Trail along the Pocomoke River in Pocomoke City offers trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Visits are free of charge.
Homer Gudelsky Park (also referred to as “stinky beach” by locals) in West Ocean City is a beautiful sandy beach on Sinepuxent Bay that offers water access and fishing from the shore. Leashed dogs are allowed year round. And it’s free!
Visit Maryland’s beach during the off season and you can save even more, since lodging and dining deals abound. Check hotel and restaurant websites to find lower rates, packages, and specials. To get started, visit beachandbeyond.org.