A Bayside Best: Northside Park
Less than 10 blocks away from Carousel 601 is the perfect, and best of all free, destination for all generations: Northside Park. This 58-acre complex includes both indoor and outdoor facilities, making it the largest park in Ocean City, Maryland. Although the beach is an obvious, tough to beat activity, we visit this beautiful park 2-3 times a week whenever we are down in OCMD because it’s so beautiful, well-maintained, and is one of my daughter’s favorite activities.
Sport enthusiasts can catch tournaments or local games, or start an impromptu game at one of the three lighted softball/baseball fields, the lighted soccer field, or multipurpose fields. Northside also includes outdoor fitness equipment, which is located underneath a large asymmetrical canopy, with a water fountain and clean bathrooms just a few steps away.
As parents, we are always on the lookout for free places that keep our daughter, Allie, entertained and Northside Park certainly doesn’t disappoint! It has two well-maintained playgrounds side by side on a bed of mulch. The smaller one is suitable for younger children and includes tubes, a slide, and walking bridge. There is a spring car and plane to rock back and forth on.
Next door is a larger, multi-level playground for older children that has many tubes, various slides, interactive stations, and a small rock-climbing wall. Nearby is a picnic pavilion for parents to sit beneath while watching the little ones at play.
Since Northside Park is located on the bay, beautiful views abound as visitors and children alike walk over the footbridge, down one of the two piers, or step inside the gazebo which are part of the one-mile walking/jogging path. Although we have never utilized the fishing lagoon, concession stands, or the little lending library ourselves, these amenities are also available.
On our to do list is to check out Northside’s indoor facilities which are located at the Community Center, which include a 14,200 square foot gymnasium, a kitchen, community room, conference room, patio, various sitting arounds, and a sports center annex with 21,000 square feet multi-sports arena.
Northside Park also hosts a variety of activities for Ocean City visitors. During the summer there is Sundaes in the Park, where every Sunday evening free live music from a variety of genres can be enjoyed. Children are offered a variety of free activities and entertainment. The best thing of all is the create your own sundaes (thus the name) stations, where for a small fee, visitors can enjoy a cool, yummy dessert (beverages too) as the literal and figurative cherry on top to a great day at the beach! If it’s a rainy day, Sundaes in the Park is still on! They just move it to the indoor complex. Kick back and enjoy the sunset over the bay and end the evening at Northside with a beautiful fireworks display. Don’t want the crowds? If you decide to stay in for the evening, you don’t need to miss the fireworks! Just look out Carousel 601’s bayside windows and you’ll be able to watch the fireworks from air-conditioned comfort.
In the wintertime, Northside Park becomes a joyous celebration of the holiday season with the Winterfest of Lights. From November to early January, the park is closed for normal activities and for becomes a mile-long, musical ride of Christmas lights. Previous displays have included The Wizard of Oz, the Twelve Days of Christmas, Santa’s workshop, and a massive sparkling Christmas tree that’s the perfect holiday family photo opportunity. A huge tent is setup where participants can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and browse for that perfect holiday gift. Children will be amazed at the lights, will smile at Mrs. Clause, and can have a photo taken with Santa. Tickets last year were $5 a person and could be purchased ahead of time. As this is a very popular event, our personal recommendation would be to go early or late in the holiday season, perhaps at an off-time of the evening, and be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time.
Not much on the holiday festivities and looking for a more adult activity? Purchase tickets for Northside Park’s New Year’s Eve celebration, where there’s a DJ, giveaway, and fireworks. Or, you could always dine at the Carousel’s Reef 118 Restaurant and watch the fireworks from inside 601.
With so many activities, I’m sure Northside Park will soon become a favorite destination for all of Carousel 601’s guests.