Top 10 Things to Do in Ocean City, NJ

top 10 things to do in ocnj

The skies are blue, the sun is shining and the temperatures on the thermometer are slowly creeping up. Spring is finally here. And that can only mean one thing — summer is right around the corner. Have you planned your summer vacation yet?

Whether you’re looking for a week-long beach stay or you’re in the market for a quick weekend adventure, Ocean City, New Jersey is teeming with options. Dubbed the number one family vacation spot by the Travel Channel, Ocean City is a one-of-a-kind seaside destination you won’t want to miss. What makes it unique?

Besides offering an extensive list of family-friendly activities stretching along our eight miles of sandy beaches, we strive to make sure family members of all ages can enjoy themselves. We’re one of the few “dry” resort towns along the Jersey shore, which means you won’t find any of the hustle and bustle that often accompanies nightlife at other seaside locations.

What you’ll find when you visit us is a peaceful, relaxing resort atmosphere offering your family a true chance to relax and create memories together. While you’re here, you can take on a round of golf, do some shopping, try your hand at surfing or, if that all sounds too busy for you, kick back on the beach with a good book and a cold drink.

If you’ve visited us before, welcome back! If you’re considering your first trip but aren’t sure what things you can do in Ocean City, New Jersey, allow us to tell you about some of our favorite ways to spend a lazy summer day.

Table of Contents

1. Amusements

While we realize the beach is probably the main reason you decided to vacation in Ocean City, we know that at some point, you’ll need a break from all of that sand and sun. One of the great things about Ocean City is the number of amusements and activities we have to offer during the summer months.

ocnj has a number of amusements and activities

Spend the afternoon at one of our amusement parks, riding roller coasters along the boardwalk and spinning around in the tilt-a-whirl. In addition to some of the more traditional thrill rides, you’ll want to check out some of the adrenaline-pumping options unique to our two local amusement parks.

If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, you’ll be happy to find a number of arcades and mini-golf options along our boardwalk as well. After a round or two of mini golf, be sure to snag a taste of one of our outstanding boardwalk confections. Grab a slice of pizza or sausage. If your sweet tooth is calling your name, enjoy a locally made ice cream or fudge. Whatever you prefer is perfect — just don’t leave hungry.

When you want to get out of the summer sun for a few hours, we’ve got plenty for you to do. The Ocean City Free Library located on Simpson Avenue is a great place to visit. Find a quiet corner to read a book or flip through a magazine. Or, check out one of their many events, including movie screenings, concerts and classes for all ages.

If all these options aren’t enough to entertain everyone in your family, we also recommend a trip to the Ocean City Historical Museum. Our town has a long and proud history that we love to share with our visitors. While you’re there, find out when the name “Ocean City” began to be used, ask questions about the infamous Sindia shipwreck just off the coast or simply peruse our many displays and artifacts in celebration of our town’s unique story.

2. Beaches and Bays

In Ocean City, our beaches are our pride and joy. With eight miles of sand and surf to choose from, there’s a spot for everyone, whether you’re surfing, paddle boarding or simply napping in the sun. And all of these spots are safe. All ocean-side beaches are presided over by lifeguards from the last week in June until Labor Day. And since we realize that the call of the beach isn’t limited to that short timespan, a few of our beaches have lifeguards posted in the off-season.

If you’re looking for a guarded beach during the off-season, three of our beach spots are ready and waiting. So that we can maintain the beaches and pay for the services needed to keep them clean and safe, beachgoers in Ocean City are required to purchase tags for beach access. Seasonal passes are $25, weekly passes are $10 and daily passes are $5. Tags can be purchased at one of four locations around town or from city employees stationed on the beach to make sure everyone has a tag.

eight miles of sand and surf to choose from in ocnj

If eight miles of ocean-side beaches isn’t enough for you, head over to the other side of the island. A favored spot of fishers of all abilities, the bay is also a great spot to enjoy nature from the seat of a kayak or Hobie Cat sailboat. One of our best-shared secrets is the large numbers of birds and monarch butterflies that congregate along the bayside during the spring and fall months. If you’re lucky enough to make it ahead of the summer season, the nature lover in your family will surely want to investigate.

3. Boating and Marinas

Sometimes the best way to enjoy the water is to head out into the middle of it. Whether you’re looking to explore the salty ocean waters or enjoy a peaceful ride on the bay, we always recommend that our visitors experience Ocean City from the water. While you’re here, you can enjoy a pleasure cruise, rent a small craft or hop on a charter boat. Take a few lessons and try your hand at jet skiing, windsurfing or kiteboarding. Whatever your interest, there’s a place to pursue it in Ocean City.

experience ocnj from the water

One of our town’s most exciting summer traditions is the annual Night in Venice boat parade. Scheduled so that it takes place during a full moon, this magical evening event features elaborately decorated boats floating along the bayside coastline. Homeowners along the bay also decorate their homes to join in the festivities.

Spectators are invited to watch the spectacle from a position on bleachers that are erected at the street ends. They can also watch from the Bayside Center, where a small fee is charged for use. The parade concludes with an elaborate fireworks display that you won’t want to miss.

4. Boardwalk

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people travel both near and far just so that they can visit Ocean City’s Boardwalk. Spanning 2.5 miles along the beach, for many, it’s a family tradition that’s filled with excitement. The Boardwalk is always bustling with activity because there’s something there for everyone. Ride a few roller coasters, play a game or two at one of our arcades, ride a bike or just sit and take in the breathtaking seaside views.

ocean city is a family tradition that's filled with excitement

If you’re going to grab a bite to eat while you’re there — which we strongly recommend — you’ll be able to pick from countless great options. In fact, you may have trouble choosing from among ice cream shops, candy shops, pizza joints and some of our nicer “sit down” options. Whether you’re looking for an ice cream cone or an elaborately prepared meal, we guarantee you won’t leave hungry.

During the summer months, we have a number of family-friendly events you won’t want to miss. If you’re visiting in July or August, don’t miss out on “Family Night.” Held on Thursdays, this event means the boardwalk is filled with live entertainment and activities like face painting, a yo-yo demonstration and magicians. While Family Nights are held during the summer months, there are several other opportunities for your family if you visit Ocean City during other times of the year.

Check out the Music Pier, our historic boardwalk auditorium that hosts concerts of all kinds throughout the year. We also offer a parade of vintage and classic cars as well as the Annual Auto Show. Our Family Fun Fests occur every spring and fall, and our regular Citywide Yard Sales are held on various weekends throughout the year. The best way to find out what’s happening during your stay is to check out our Calendar of Events.

5. Biking

Ocean City loves its cyclists. With several trails available, as well as the boardwalk, summer is a great time to explore on a bicycle or a surrey (multi-person bike). There’s nothing quite like feeling that salty ocean breeze against your skin while you take in the beautiful views of the island.

If you own your own bike, you’re welcome to bring it with you, but several local businesses also rent bikes and surreys for visitors who don’t have them or just don’t want the hassle of bringing theirs from home. If you’re new to the island and not sure where to start, you can check with a local bike shop or use our online tool to help you plan your island biking adventure.

6. Downtown

There’s not enough space on this page for us to list every single thing we love about Ocean City’s Downtown area. Visitors and residents alike love Ocean City’s shopping district because it offers so much more than the traditional beach souvenirs and t-shirts, although there are plenty of those too.

visitors and residents alike love oceean city's shopping district because it offers so much more

Located along historic Asbury Avenue, the island’s shopping district is home to more than 100 businesses — mostly small, local options. Besides souvenir shops, you’ll find clothing boutiques, art galleries, housewares, flooring stores and more. If you get tired of shopping, stop for a massage, pedicure or even a new hairdo at one of our local salons. This part of town is also home to a number of churches, local business and our city government offices.

If you get hungry while you’re shopping, you’re in luck. The Downtown area is home to a number of delicious cafes and restaurants. Grab a donut or coffee to go, or sit down to a fantastic seafood meal. Scarf down a slice of pizza, or enjoy an Italian feast. You’ll find that most of our restaurants are locally owned and operated, meaning the food is fresh, delicious and worth coming back for again and again.

Come for the beach, stay for the shopping!

7. Fishing

Whatever kind of fishing you’re in the mood for — in whatever setting you prefer — we’ve got it. Ocean City is a year-round fisher’s paradise, whether you fish for fun or you’re into a more intense sport.

whatever kind of fishing you're in the mood for, ocean city has it

Along the ocean side of the island, anglers have had success with landing sea bass, bluefish, flounder, tautog (blackfish), striper, striped bass (rockfish), kingfish and shark. The area is known to be an excellent spot for striper when the schools are running through — sometimes by the thousands. If you’re here in the off-season, bluefish feeding is frenzied off the coast. Spring and fall fishermen love this time of year because of the abundance of fish.

Along the bay side of the island, fishers will find weakfish (sea trout), sea bass, snapper blues, flounder and croaker. If you’re interested in venturing a few miles out of town, Ocean City is also in close proximity to the Delaware Bay, which is home to drumfish, sheepshead and channel catfish, among others.

In addition to the beaches, there are plenty of great fishing spots in and around Ocean City. We recommend the fishing pier at the old Longport Bridge or the Ocean Drive/Rush Chattin Bridge, which was designed specifically for fishers. Or, if you’re looking for offshore opportunities, check out one of our many fishing charters and try your luck at catching some of the mahi (dorado), tuna, blue and white marlin, wahoo, shark and others located in our waters.

8. Golf

While the beach itself is very relaxing, there’s nothing like playing a few rounds to clear your mind. Golfing, like everything else in Ocean City, is a family affair at our public, 12-hole Ocean City Municipal Golf Course.

Open to players of all ages, this beautiful course located along Bay Avenue is open from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in the summertime. Each golfer is required to have their own bag, but clubs, bags and carts are all available for rent in the clubhouse. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Memberships are available for residents and frequent visitors.

Whether you’re looking to start your day with an early tee time or relax after a morning on the water, we’ve got you covered. In addition to the Municipal Golf Course, Ocean City, New Jersey is home to a number of private golf clubs that provide a variety of challenging courses for golfers of all levels. All you have to do is choose the view and the course, and you’re all set!

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for something the whole family can do regardless of skill level, you can always head down to the boardwalk for a round of mini golf. The views are equally spectacular, and you might be surprised at how hard it is to come in under par at one of several fun courses.

9. Restaurants

We know you’ll be hungry after spending hours in the sun and sand. Make sure you plan to visit several of our local eateries while you’re here. There are so many food options in Ocean City, New Jersey, that you could spend an entire vacation eating your way through town and still not get to them all. From subs and sandwiches to surf and turf, you’ll find the best restaurants and eateries in Ocean City — ranging from simple, traditional fare to local artistic masterpieces that would satisfy even the pickiest of foodies.

find the best restaurants and eateries in ocean city

If you’re looking for handheld options like pizza, ice cream cones or hot dogs, you’ll definitely want to head down to the boardwalk. Grab a piece (or two) of fudge, and head down for an afternoon at the beach. There are plenty of snacking options along the oceanfront, but you’ll also want to check out the wide variety of sit-down restaurants along the boardwalk.

The great thing about Ocean City is that our delicious food options reach far beyond the boardwalk. In the Downtown district, you’ll find a wide variety of coffee shops, bakeries, sandwich shops and more. Not only that, but there are also a number of fine dining options there featuring a variety of food types — including seafood.

No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something that mesmerizes your taste buds. Almost all of our restaurants are locally owned and operated too, which means a unique dining experience to top off a unique vacation.

10. Water Sports

Don’t tell your children, but there’s always something to learn in Ocean City. Ocean City businesses offer a variety of water sports lessons, including sailing, surfing, paddle boarding, parasailing and windsurfing. Or, try your hand at jet skiing and kitesurfing to add some excitement to your stay.

ocean city businesses offer a variety of water sports lessons

Many of our local water sports businesses offer child-friendly classes, so your children will receive specially tailored instructions designed to keep them safe and entertained on the water. If you’re already well-versed in your water sport of choice, you’ll be more than prepared to spend a few hours surfing at the beach or paddling a kayak along the bay. Several local businesses provide rentals as well as recommendations for places to go and the best ways to enjoy water sports in Ocean City.

If you want to spend a few hours on the water but aren’t interested in doing all the work, check out a dolphin-watching tour or explore a replica of a pirate ship — just be careful, or they might make you walk the plank!

Book Your Vacation Today

Families return to Ocean City year after year because of its family-friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. They know a vacation here will be relaxing, fun and memorable. During the day, they can’t get enough of our sandy beaches and salty ocean water. In the evening, they know there will be plenty of entertainment options along the boardwalk for the whole family to enjoy together.

families return to ocean city year after year

Unlike other resort areas, our nightlife thrives with fun and games for the whole family — no need for a babysitter to enjoy the boardwalk or Downtown after dark. After all, amusement parks, magic shows and mini golf are so much more fun when the whole family can enjoy them together.

That being said, mom and dad might still want to steal away one evening for a romantic dinner without their kids, and with our extensive dining options, we’re pretty confident that they’ll find somewhere to enjoy a memorable evening together. A babysitter might still come in handy for these times.

With a list like this one, there’s no way you’ll be bored in Ocean City, New Jersey. In fact, we have a feeling you might not be able to fit everything into one trip, which is great for us because it means you’ll have to come back again. And again. And again. We love seeing repeat visitors because it means that we’re doing something right, and we think you’ll agree.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!

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