Introduction to Ocean City

introduction to ocean city

Once you get here, the only noise you’ll hear will be the waves, bell-ringers and food vendor barkers and some great music. There will be plenty of energy and enthusiasm, but no stress.

There’s plenty to do, but it will be all on YOUR schedule.

The first stop is the boardwalk, a 2.5 mile long and 50 feet wide stretch, lined with shopping, amusements, arcades, ice cream parlors, sweet shops and restaurants. Go to a water park, ride a Ferris wheel that gives you a spectacular view of the beach, play miniature golf, listen to music by the Ocean City Pops, or just relax on the beach.

One of our best events is Family Night. It’s held every Thursday in July and August, so fire up your vocal cords and sing karaoke, get your face painted or attend one of our other great events. All is free, of course!

Since we’re so family-centered, much of our food reflects that, going toward budget-friendly casual, comfort and pizza. You’ll also find other cuisines, such as Greek, Chinese and Japanese. There’s lodging for every budget, from hotels and motels, to apartment rentals, family vacation resorts, bed & breakfasts and campgrounds.

Come by yourself, with a significant other, or with some non-romantic friends, and it doesn’t matter if it’s for just a quick getaway or a longer stay. Everyone has a blast. The boardwalk is abuzz until 10 or 11 PM. If you crave even more goings-on, go into town to take in a movie or historical tour, sightsee, visit the arts center, or do more shopping.

Tons and Tons to Do

Here are some additional points (please know that this isn’t a complete list, because there are just far too many to mention!)

  • Music Pier: Is there anything better than listening to live music while you’re sitting under the stars with the waves gently moving in the background? The music pier is right on the boardwalk and, like much of Ocean City, there’s a little history: The concert hall was constructed in 1928 when the community had lost part of the boardwalk to a fire. Nationally acclaimed musicians, such as the Ocean City Pops, call it home–not to mention pageants, like “Miss New Jersey.” Other musicians, such as The Beach Boys, Dave Mason and The David Bromberg Quintet have, or will, also perform there.
  • Boogie on down to a surf shop. For those who don’t know, boogie boarding is also sometimes called body boarding; some people do it just for recreation or serious sport. If your boogie board is broken, no problem, just visit a surf shop on our boardwalk.
  • Ocean City is known for once having one of the most thriving Italian populations, so it’s only fitting that you’ll find some of the best pizza at Manco and Manco–which also happens to be right on the boardwalk. The pizza is thin and crispy, and Manco and Manco uses only the freshest ingredients.
  • Bakeries Galore! In Ocean City alone, there are 9 that we list, from the right-on-the-boardwalk “Clancy’s by the Sea” to the “Fractured Prune Donut Shop. Munch away on donuts and other baked goodies on your vacation.
  • Enjoy all the great ice cream places at the Jersey boardwalk at Ocean City.
  • I Scream, You Scream We All Scream for Ice Cream! Clancy’s By The Sea, right on the boardwalk, offers breakfast, lunch, dinner AND ice cream. Everything made at Shriver’s Gelato includes imported Italian ingredients and flavorings. It’s only natural that one of the best family vacation spots has a family-centered ice cream parlor! Johnny B. Goode offers not only ice cream, but also family karaoke, sock hops and magic show. Enjoy all the great ice cream places at the Jersey boardwalk at Ocean City.
  • Do Dah Parade: For 30 years, Ocean City has held a Do Dah Parade in April. There are competitions and flamboyant marchers that include both humans and animals—one year, there were a couple of basset hounds marching. Typically, the Do Dah Parade ends at the Music Pier.
  • The Bayside Center: This is an activity, cultural and educational center housed in a vintage 1910 home with exhibits, displays and three floors of reconstructed bay front porches. It’s open to visitors in the summer months from the last Saturday in June until Labor Day from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.
  • A Night in Venice: This is an annual boat parade, typically held in July. Sometimes as many as 70 boats sail along the Bay and there are competitions. By the way, a bay front porch on one of the upper floors of The Bayside Center can be a great place to watch.
  • Johnson’s Popcorn: Since 1940, that famous red and white awning has been an icon of the Jersey boardwalk in Ocean City, and Johnson’s is just as famous for their caramel popcorn, whose smell has lured millions of visitors. All of the caramel popcorn is hand mixed in copper kettles.
  • Ocean City Arts Center: Their website statesOur Mission: ”To engage the individuals and communities of Southern New Jersey in the kind of participation in the visual and performing arts that leads to individual and collective fulfillment.”
  • The Ocean City Arts Center includes three large studios with northern light, important, because a sunny southern exposure can cause fading; a dance studio, pottery studio; music room; and library. Each month is a new exhibit that features both local and national artists.The center’s most popular annual events include the Juried Photography Show, Juried Art Show, and the Boardwalk Art Show; the most popular event is the Boardwalk Art Show, featuring fine arts from around the country and now even Canada, at the height of the summer tourism season. It’s truly an asset to Ocean City and Cape May County’s cultural tourism portfolio.
  • Skee Ball is a highly popular arcade game that’s similar to bowling, but the lanes are on inclines and the balls are smaller, closer to fist-sized. The object is to collect as many points as possible by rolling balls up the incline and into the designated point value holes.

Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

This is probably the best known landmark in Southern Jersey, and it’s right on our boardwalk! You’ll find rides for both the kids and the thrill-seeker, such as:

  • The Gillian’s Ferris wheel, which will give you a spectacular view for miles around the beach.
  • Gillian Wonderland Pier’s Carousel: Built in 1926, this is that classic “horsey ride.”
  • Runaway Train: This is the roller coaster that’ll make you scream and shout with delight and excitement—and maybe even a little of that “fun fear.”
  • Mini-Scooters: Just because your kid is too young for bumper cars doesn’t mean he or she has to miss out on all the fun. This is just a mini version of a bumper car, with a little added fun of a cat ‘n mouse chase
  • Jumbo: This features that favorite, and classic, elephant character, Dumbo. The kids hop on and then soar high.
  • Wacky Worm: This is a fun, slower roller coaster, great for kids who have never been on an adventure one, or adults who really don’t care to go on adventure rides.
  • Ocean City Water Park: Featuring slides, pool, rivers and more.
  • Adventure Golf: Part of the water park, the kids can get out of the water and have a ball shooting a hole-in-one!
  • Oves Restaurant: Family dining or private parties, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus you can even rent a bike and other equipment
  • Island Grill: Seafood and Steakhouse where you’ll find everything from fried and broiled fish to burgers.

A Fascinating History

The Jersey boardwalk at Ocean City is in Cape May County, and we’re a melting pot. The city of Ocean County has a population of a little over 11,000 and includes many different religions, ethnicities and ages, including a once-thriving Italian population. In fact, author and Ocean City native Gay Talese in his book, Unto the Sons, gives a vivid account of growing up in Ocean City’s “Little Italy.”

Ocean City itself was founded in the late 1800s by 4 Christian ministers. At that time, it was called Peck’s Beach, but the ministers renamed it “Ocean City” and set it up as a retreat, promoting it as a “Moral Seaside Resort,” in fact, up until the late 1980s the “Blue Laws”—regulations that prevented shopping and recreation on Sundays–were still in effect.

Want a trip down Memory Lane? Then just stroll through town! There’s a brick Tabernacle at 500 Wesley Ave. on the site of Ocean City’s first house of worship, which was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1940s. The 300 block of Central Avenue is lined with homes that are in architectural-keeping with those of 100 years ago. Want to see the “marrying house?” The Victorian-style New Brighton Inn, at 518 Fifth St., was built in 1882 by one of Ocean City’s founders, the Rev. William Burrell who performed hundreds of weddings there.

What About the Four-Legged Furry Family Members?

Ocean City Dog Park

Traveling with the pet can be fun for everyone and, after all, the pet is a beloved part of the family and, after all, we are considered to be one of the best family vacations spots in America.

Dogs are welcome anytime after September 30, but they do need to stay off the boardwalk from May 1 to September 30, because that’s peak season, the boardwalk is crowded and some kids and adults are just too fearful of dogs. But after September 30, Fido can enjoy all the fun he wants at one of the best family vacation spots. Just be sure he’s on a leash 6’ or shorter. To show you just how much we love those pets, please be sure to:

  • Always bring your dog to the vet for a checkup before any trip. Keep vaccinations and shots current and keep the health certificate on hand. Call ahead so you’ll always be able to find the nearest vet and animal hospital.
  • If you plan to stay in a hotel, motel or some other lodging, be sure to call ahead to make sure dogs are welcome. That goes for campgrounds, too, because there can sometimes be restrictions.
  • Avoid upset stomachs by keeping the food routine as unchanged as possible. Bring the dog’s regular food with some local, or bottled water, plus any needed medications.
  • If using a crate, be sure it’s large enough for your dog to sit, stand, turn and lie down. You may want to put a comfortable mat, some of his familiar toys or an article of your clothing in the crate. Make sure handles and grips are strong, that the bottom doesn’t leak, that it’s well-ventilated and that nothing sticks out that can injure or cause discomfort to your dog.
  • Identification is a priority! Leash and collar should be sturdy, and there should be identification tags with your name, your dog’s name, your address and phone number, as well as proof of rabies shots. Keep a recent photo of your dog in case you need it.
  • If you’re traveling by car, never let your dog hang its head outside the window, because that’s how eye injuries happen. Stop frequently so your dog can exercise and get his potty breaks (and please be sure to clean up after him!).
  • Needless to say, your dog should never, ever be locked in a hot car!

Even if he can’t come to the boardwalk, you can still give your dog one of the best vacations of his life. The Ocean City Dog Park features a controlled fenced-in, off leash recreation area in a clean, secure environment so he can exercise and play—and you’ll have peace of mind.

The water park at Ocean City has a gated entrance, an un-leash area that’s secure with electronic locking gates, pavilions, picnic tables and drinking fountains for both humans and animals. There are all kinds of activities, including a “Dog of the Year” contest, the “Do-Dah Parade” and even a canine swim fest.

Park hours are from 7 AM until dusk, all year round, 7 days a week, and you will need a Paw Pass. You can contact them here.

Come to the Beach!

come to the beach!

Let’s face it: Most of us lead crazy, busy lives. We multitask, are bombarded with technology and rush around from meeting to meeting. We constantly juggle personal and professional responsibilities and often feel concern that we’re not spending enough time with family.

Here’s your chance to spend some time at one of America’s best family vacation spots!

You’ll be able to take a deep breath of air at the Jersey boardwalk at Ocean City. With 8 miles of pristine and well-maintained beach, you can relax, explore or just wander and watch the tide roll in.

It’s a perfect place for escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and it’s a perfect place to spend quality, uninterrupted time with the family.

We think that’s what it’s all about, don’t you? That’s why we’re referred to as one of America’s best family vacation spots.

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