Top Family Travel Spots on Maryland's Eastern Shore
Sure, Maryland is home to some of America's most beautiful beaches, but on a road trip across the Eastern Shore you'll also encounter cool small towns, forward-thinking cuisine, and some funky off-the-beaten-path must-sees.
I recently wrangled some of the closest people in my life for a travel adventure along Maryland's Eastern Shore. Bringing together multiple generations in today's busy world is a challenge in itself, but add in a group of tech connected, urban worker bees and it gets more complicated. The fact that we were filming the adventure for Budget Travel and the upcoming PBS TV series, Travels with Darley, meant we were bringing along a full film crew, which made for even more challenging scheduling.
We pulled it off and loved our time along the Eastern Shore! Our group consisted of my two best friends Ellen Schmidt of Baby Meets City fame (and her daughters, Vivian and Millie ages 3 and 5) and Chad Davis. We all hail from the Washington, DC, and New York City areas, meaning the Eastern Shore was just a train ride and car ride away. To make matters easier, we secured a campsite by the beach for our RV in Assateague State Park, a useful jumping off point to explore nearby Ocean City, Berlin, and, of course, Assateague Island.
If you've always wanted to take a road trip adventure and are wondering where to go, keep reading for ten top spots along Maryland's Eastern Shore that are accessible and fun for your family or travel group.
Cow to Cone Ice Cream Farm
A great family destination, Chesapeake Bay Farms (4111 Whitesburg Road, Pocomoke City) was one of our favorite stops. This pretty, diverse dairy farm produces a multitude of yummy ice cream flavors right on the farm. It takes a little less than 40 minutes to drive from Assateague Island National Seashore to the farm. If took me a bit longer, as I was driving an over 26-foot RV and on vacation... why rush!
The farm's donkeys, horses, cows and adorable puppy, keep kids entertained, engaged and enjoying rural life both before and after ice cream. Best of all, the ice cream is delicious, and even better in a homemade waffle cone while rocking on a peaceful front porch. Creative flavors include espresso ice cream with chocolate covered coffee beans, fresh blueberry, strawberry shortcake, princess pink and beyond.
For a small town, Berlin offers a lot to do, especially for families. After walking Main Street, our group enjoyed a lesson in glass blowing at Jeffrey Auxer Designs. Millie made three ornaments, a truly memorable vacation memento. Jeffrey himself gave us glass blowing instruction and tips. He has a lot of experience teaching kids, something you definitely want when you have a child nearing an over 1,000° F furnace! His work is beautiful, so even if you don't take a lesson in glass blowing, his shop is worth a visit.
While Ellen and her girls went to the Berlin playground, we adults headed over to Burley Oak Brewery (10016 Old Ocean City Blvd.) for a special tour and tasting with owner and brewer Bryan Brushmiller. Being an entrepreneur and someone who enjoys supporting small businesses, I liked hearing Bryan's story of losing his job and following his passion from brewing in his garage to his beautiful, sustainable brewery. We taste tested the Happy Pale Ale and finished just in time to see how popular Burley Oak is with locals and travelers alike. The place was hopping on Saturday at around noon when we departed for lunch and to taste some of Berlin's sweet side.
If you want to sit outside or just enjoy some local farm to table food, try lunch or dinner at Blacksmith Bar & Restaurant (blacksmithberlin.com, 104 Pitts Street). Our group sat outside in the shade enjoying rock fish tacos topped with fresh pico de gallo, homemade hummus and Caesar salad sprinkled with zesty parmesan. Another top lunch pick is Drummer Café at the historic Atlantic Hotel (2 N. Main St., Berlin). The Islander sandwich will definitely keep you full until dinner with its fresh roasted turkey. Seafood lovers may gravitate toward the grilled wild salmon BLT. A must-have dessert when visiting this cool, small town is the peach dumpling, the official dessert of Berlin. The Berlin area was once the home of major peach orchards, and the peach dumpling celebrates this sweet legacy. Stop by Baked Dessert Café (4c Bay Street) to get your fix.
After you've done all of that, relax. Berlin may have a lot to do, but one of the best things to do while you're here is kick back and take in the ambience of this cool small town. (Berlin was voted Budget Travel's 2014 Coolest Small Town in America.)
The OC (that's Ocean City)
Being from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I have a soft spot from boardwalks and know that they can be great excursion for kids. With haunted houses, arcades, amusement park rides, candy galore, and more, what's not for a kid to love! On the Ocean City Boardwalk, stop by Dolle's Candyland (dolles.com, 500 South Atlantic Avenue), a family-owned candy shop that has been making candy for over 100 years. You have to try the saltwater taffy (chew carefully), which comes in surprising flavors including root beer, peanut butter, cinnamon, lime and molasses mint.
Kids will love some of the rides along the boardwalk, including a giant Ferris wheel and the carousel at Trimper's Amusement (S. First Street and The Boardwalk), a family-owned boardwalk fixture that has been welcoming riders since 1912. While riding the carousel is mainly an activity for kids, we adults hopped on to "supervise", marveling at the craftsmanship and detail on each of this mounts on this historic merry-go-round. I rode by Millie, who chose a horse. We went around a few times before walking down to stroll along the beach, another must-do when in Ocean City.
SEE THE EASTERN SHORE
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