What to See and Do During the Off-Season in Ocean City, New Jersey
Discover the charm of Ocean City, New Jersey, during the off-season. Stroll along serene beaches, relishing the tranquility without the bustling crowds. Explore the quaint downtown area, including boutique shops and local eateries. Immerse yourself in cultural attractions like museums and art centers. Tee off at the golf courses or take a nature walk in the nearby parks. The off-season offers a chance to savor the town’s essence and appreciate its quieter side.
Ocean City is a popular vacation spot for many along the East Coast. In the summer, the area is alive with visitors enjoying the many beaches and Boardwalk activities. With lots of entertainment options, this town is an excellent spot for a getaway with family or friends. It is more than a spring and summer destination — fall and winter seasons also have plenty to offer. Whether you form a plan or make an impromptu decision to visit, you can enjoy the beauty of this beach town and its many activities.
Off-season in Ocean City offers lots for visitors to do, even in the absence of the summer sun. From October to February, Ocean City transitions from mild autumn to chilly winter. The autumn season is pleasantly crisp, with some residual warm temperatures from the summertime. In November, temperatures dip some more before the wintertime chill sets in during December. Ocean City gets some snow during the wintertime, and the ocean breeze adds some chill to the air.
In addition to its summertime fame, Ocean City is an ideal vacation spot for those who love feeling the fresh autumn air or bundling up for a wintertime adventure. During the off-season, visitors can still enjoy stunning views, cozy restaurants and an array of outdoor or indoor activities. Brush off your boots and dig the winter coat out of the closet for a fall or winter trip to Ocean City!
There are plenty of things to do in Ocean City during the winter, even outdoors. You can look for washed-up shells on the beach, explore downtown or appreciate the natural beauty of a hiking trail. If it’s a little too cold for swimming, there’s still tons of fun to have. Get inspired with our list of some of the best off-season Ocean City attractions.
Explore downtown Ocean City:Asbury Avenue, which sits between the bay and the beach, is home to more than 100 shops and cafes. You can stroll the blocks from 6th Street to 14th Street and peruse some of the city’s locally owned businesses. It’s not all beach tees and trinkets, either. The avenue has everything you’ll need and want, from surf supplies and gifts to massages and apparel. Even if you aren’t looking for anything in particular, the shopping district provides a pleasant stroll through the city.
Take a bike ride: With a rental bike, you can go on a self-guided tour of Ocean City. Since fewer visitors come to Ocean City during the off-season, you can ride up and down the Boardwalk and enjoy the ocean views. The city also has designated biking trails. The OC1 is easy for the whole family to ride and spans the island’s length, totaling about 7 miles. You can also ride the art tour route, taking you past beautiful murals and sculptures in town.
Walk the beaches: You can still enjoy the sea breeze even if you aren’t looking to swim. Many of Ocean City’s beaches are open during the off-season, so you can always go for a relaxing walk on the beach — without the crowds of sunbathers. It’s an excellent place to practice photography, play with your dog, enjoy a moment of peace, or bring friends and family.
Kayak or paddleboard: If you’re motivated to get out on the bay during the off-season, you can buy a kayak or paddleboard for some watersports fun.
Miniature golf: While miniature golf may seem like a summertime activity, in Ocean City, it’s year-round entertainment. Several courses remain open and active throughout the winter, in rain, shine or snow. If you want to get some practice in and sharpen your putt-putt skills, the off-season is the perfect time to go. If you’re more interested in the conversation than the strategy, you can take your time — there won’t be any lines forming behind you. You’re free to score over par without worry!
Corson’s Inlet State Park: Weather permitting, the scenic beauty of New Jersey’s last undeveloped oceanfront land will surely be a hit with the whole family. It’s the perfect tranquil escape along the Jersey Shore and offers opportunities for hiking, boating, crabbing and fishing. If nature exploration is the ticket to your happiness, Ocean City is the place to be.
Ocean City is beautiful during the winter months, but only some enjoy the colder weather of the Mid-Atlantic. For those who’d rather spend their quality time indoors, there are many places to visit in the area. Some of the best attractions include the following.
Boardwalk arcades: The Ocean City, NJ, Boardwalk is open during the off-season and home to some of the most fun places to visit. There are several arcades proudly open year-round, offering hundreds of games and machines to play. You can test your skill on Skee-Ball lanes, play old-school games like Pac-Man and Asteroids, or try your hand at a classic pinball machine. Whether you’re an adult visiting for nostalgia or a kid looking to make it onto the leaderboard, the Boardwalk arcades are fun for people of all ages.
Public library: If you or a member of your family needs a book for cozying up during the chilly evenings, visit the local public library to pick up a new read. From fantasy and science fiction to romance, there’s a story waiting to be found for everyone!
Ocean City museums: If you want to learn about the area’s history, Ocean City and its surrounding areas have several museums and historical societies full of artifacts, photos and exhibits to explore. The various displays show the city’s timeline, beginning before its founding in 1879 and expanding to the present day. You can get to know the founding family, see the start of the famous Ocean City Boardwalk, look at recovered artifacts from a nearby shipwreck or discover the many shells that wash up on the beaches. The local museums are educational and intriguing, and visiting any of them makes for a perfect family outing. The Ocean City Historical Museum, for example, has an extensive collection of artifacts and heirlooms to explore.
Ocean City Arts Center: Discover creativity at its finest through a variety of exhibitions, classes and workshops. Art programs often span multiple weeks, but you can also find single-day classes on the arts center’s calendar. The facility boasts a music room, dance studio, pottery room and reference library, with new exhibits getting featured every month. From painting to pottery and photography to performing arts, there is a space for every passion at the Ocean City Arts Center.
Visit a lighthouse: Visit one of many lighthouses in Ocean City. Lighthouses are a classic beach attraction that gives you some breathtaking views of the ocean and adjacent town from the observation deck.
Ocean City in the winter months still boasts a highly active community. There are many events in the last few months of the year, from holiday celebrations to annual shows and other attractions. Some of the most popular off-season events include the following.
Corvette show: Each year in September, Ocean City hosts one of the largest Corvette shows on the East Coast, where collectors and enthusiasts alike come to celebrate their favorite cars. The display vehicles date back to Corvette’s first model in 1953 and extend to those of the present day. Owners line their precious cars down the Boardwalk, stretching from 6th Street to 14th Street, and visitors can walk along and check out over 350 unique cars. The show also includes an awards ceremony for top models, so if you own a Corvette, you can register to show it and potentially take home a prize.
5K runs: Over the fall and winter months, Ocean City holds multiple 5K runs for various charities and celebrations. In October, the John R. Elliott HERO 5K aims to raise awareness for drunk driving and promote designated drivers. At the end of the month, the annual Trail of Two Cities 5K spans from Ocean City to Somers Point, offering beautiful views throughout the route. In November, the city hosts the Fast and Furriest 5K Turkey Trot, sponsored by the Humane Society of Ocean City. These are only a few of the runs, and you can either compete for a top placement or take it easy and walk with friends.
Surf fishing tournament: If you’re an avid fisherman or even an interested novice, the off-season is an excellent time to be in the area. The Ocean City Fishing Club has held an annual surf fishing tournament for over 50 years. You can register for the event or watch as skilled locals and visitors compete for the best catch. The club awards trophies at the end of the event, but winners also get to go home with bragging rights.
Carriage rides: Ocean City becomes a holiday destination throughout the winter. The whole area gets into the spirit, and you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing the collective joy of locals and visitors. Throughout November and December, the city offers free horse-drawn carriage rides departing from the front of City Hall. The driver will take you downtown, passing through all the shopping centers and busy sidewalks. It’s a romantic and seasonal way to view the best of the city.
HSOC ‘Howl-O-Ween Parade: The Humane Society of Ocean City hosts the “Howl-O-Ween” Parade and dog costume contest every year. Anyone can enter their pets and dress up in fun Halloween gear.
Beach Polar Plunge: Join locals and visitors in this annual New Year’s Day tradition. Brave the cold temperatures to take the year’s first plunge into the ocean. Some participants wear comical costumes, while others come to cool down after participating in the New Year’s Day 5K.
Spend the Holidays
The off-season offers many Ocean City events, especially through the holidays — the city blooms with a series of exciting events from October to February. In October, come to the Fall Block Party and Fireworks Spectacular to shop local vendors and witness dazzling fireworks. During the holiday season, you can look forward to family-friendly events and festive cheer, with even more breathtaking fireworks displays. Ocean City’s calendar is full of entertainment options throughout the off-season. Some of the fun city events in fall and winter include the following:
Fall block party: Ocean City starts the fall season with its annual block party. In early October, the city designates several blocks of Asbury Avenue for the event, which hosts over 400 vendors and entertainers. There are live performances from bands along the street, merchants and artists set up to sell their items, and even a seafood festival on the pier. At the end of the evening, you can enjoy a spectacular fireworks display from the Boardwalk.
Halloween parade: For the first fall holiday, Ocean City puts on its yearly Halloween parade, which has been a town tradition for over 70 years. It travels through several blocks of Asbury Avenue, where you can stand and watch the procession. The parade includes large floats, local cheerleading teams and antique vehicles.
Christmas parade: Besides the whole town preparing for the Christmas holiday, the city also holds an annual parade. For an evening in December, floats glide, groups march down Asbury Avenue and people line the street to watch. The parade includes live music from marching bands, floats from organizations around the city, dancers and acting troupes, and an appearance from Santa Claus himself.
New Year’s Eve: Most people enjoy celebrating the end of the year and welcoming the beginning of a new one. Ocean City hosts a New Year’s Eve party called First Night. The celebrations begin in the early evening, with performances by live entertainers and musicians. The city puts on a huge fireworks display as the clock strikes midnight. The next morning is a continuation of the event called First Day. There’s an annual Boardwalk 5K run and the First Day at the beach.
First Day Shopping Extravaganza: If you plan to spend New Year in Ocean City, prepare for some great bargains in Downtown Ocean City on Asbury Avenue, between 6th and 14th Streets. These deals are only available on New Year’s Day, so make sure to come prepared with your shopping list!
What Beaches Have Lifeguards?
You can still enjoy Ocean City’s beautiful beaches during the off-season. You can put in some practice on a surfboard, take a walk along the water or try your luck at fishing. You will be in good hands whatever you choose to do with your time at the beach.
Lifeguard stations are strategically positioned along the coast, offering beachgoers a reassuring sense of security. These professionals have the necessary training to handle various water-related emergencies, providing swift and expert assistance. Families and individuals can relax and enjoy the fresh air, knowing that lifeguards are on duty and ready to respond to most potential hazards.
Whether you are taking a cold plunge or just strolling along the beach, Ocean City’s lifeguard services offer peace of mind and an added layer of protection to visitors. If you want to bring along a furry friend, the city’s beaches are open to dogs between October 1 and April 30.
Many beaches will still have lifeguards on duty during the off-season, including:
What’s Open in Ocean City, NJ, During the Off-Season?
Despite what many people think, Ocean City is still lively once the summer heat has faded into an autumn chill. Even during the off-season, most of the city’s stores, restaurants and attractions are open for business, including those on the world-famous Boardwalk. From restaurants to arcades, the Boardwalk is open for business every day throughout the winter. As long as the weather is pleasant, you can stroll and window shop, play a few rounds of video games or enjoy some sweet treats.
Find a unique coastal treasure, shop at one of many souvenir havens, or grab a scoop of locally made ice cream. You can do some retail therapy by browsing through handcrafted jewelry or stocking up on nautical-themed decor at one of Asbury Avenue’s selections of open shops. Ocean City has no shortage of restaurants and businesses to visit. During the holiday season, you can purchase gifts for your family and enjoy the colorful Christmas displays many businesses create. You’ll have your pick of places to go at any time of the year.
Why Visit During Fall and Winter?
While the summer months are more popular for making the trip to New Jersey, there are plenty of reasons to visit during the Ocean City off-season. Experience the town’s warm hospitality during the cooler months and enjoy a more intimate experience when you shop at local businesses. You can delight in the festive atmosphere over the holidays, where the community celebrates the seasons. You can also indulge at your leisure in seasonal treats from local eateries and savor the flavors that autumn and winter inspire. Whether you need some solitude to reset by the sea or the camaraderie of seasonal festivities, Ocean City is welcoming all year round.
If you decide to visit in the fall or winter, you will enjoy the following benefits.
Fewer crowds: Ocean City is a hugely popular vacation spot during the summer, but things tend to quiet down during the off-season. With fewer visitors to contend with, you’ll have the benefit of a quieter weekend and a nearly empty beach. It’s an excellent time for families, fishers and surfers to spend some time on the sand.
Discounted rentals: While rentals can be expensive during the summer due to demand, you can get a great deal through the winter months. Some of the prices even drop by as much as 50%, allowing you to have fun without breaking the bank.
Shorter wait times: No lines, no problem. Since there are fewer visitors, you won’t have to worry about wait times to see attractions, get a table at a restaurant or play your favorite arcade game. And when you don’t have to wait, you can do more in your free time.
More holiday celebrations: Ocean City has many different events and festivals in fall and winter. From the annual Corvette show to the city-wide New Year’s Eve party, you will likely catch a weekend with plenty to do.
Amazing autumn sunsets: An autumn sunset over one of the many beautiful beaches is an amazing way to spend your evening.
Visit Ocean City, New Jersey
Whether spring, summer, fall or winter, Ocean City, NJ, has activities for any occasion. If you miss the sounds of the ocean or want to escape to an exciting vacation spot, the Ocean City, New Jersey off-season has everything you need for a few fun days. From award-winning restaurants to vintage arcades to weekend events, it’s easy to see why we’re “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” There’s something for everyone in Ocean City at any time of year. Plan your next trip to Ocean City and save with our members’ weekly specials. You can look forward to significant discounts on activities, accommodation and dining experiences.