What to See and Do During the Offseason in Ocean City, New Jersey

What to See and Do During the Offseason in Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City, New Jersey, is a popular vacation spot for many along the East Coast. In the summer months, the area is a lively place filled with visitors enjoying the many beaches and Boardwalk activities. With so many forms of entertainment, Ocean City is an excellent spot for a getaway with family or friends. But it isn’t only a spring and summer destination — fall and winter have plenty to offer as well.

The offseason in Ocean City is perfect for those who want to avoid the crowds, but still take a trip to the area. Whether you form a plan or make an impromptu decision to visit, you can enjoy the beauty of the beach town and its many activities.

Table of Contents:

Outdoor Activities

There are plenty of Ocean City activities to enjoy in the offseason, 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 offseason 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 Sixth 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 there are far fewer visitors in the offseason, you can ride up and down the Boardwalk and take in the ocean views. The city also has designated biking trails. The OC1 is easy for the whole family to ride, and spans the length of the island, totaling about seven miles. You can also ride the art tour route, which will take you past beautiful murals and sculptures in town.
  • Walk the beaches: Even if you aren’t looking to swim, you can still enjoy the sea breeze. Many of Ocean City’s beaches are open during the offseason, 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 offseason, you can buy a kayak or paddleboard for some water sports 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’re looking to get some practice in and sharpen up your putt-putt skills, the offseason is the perfect time to go. Even if your score is well over par, you can take your time — there won’t be any lines forming behind you.


Indoor Activities

Ocean City is beautiful in the winter months, but not everyone enjoys 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: Even in the offseason, the Boardwalk is 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 skeeball 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 the nostalgia or a kid looking to make it onto the leaderboard, the Boardwalk arcades are fun for people of all ages.
  • Ocean City museums: If you want to learn about the history of the area, the city and surrounding areas have several museums and historical societies full of artifacts, photos and exhibits to explore. The various displays show the timeline of the city, 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, NJ, 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 a visit to any of them makes for a perfect family outing.


Annual Events

While Ocean City may have fewer visitors during the fall and winter months, the community is still highly active. 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 offseason 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 Sixth 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, there’s the John R. Elliott HERO 5K, which aims to raise awareness for drunk driving and promote designated drivers. At the end of the month, there’s the annual Trail of Two Cities 5K that 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 offseason is an excellent time to be in the area. The Ocean City Fishing Club has been holding 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: Throughout the winter, Ocean City becomes a destination for the holidays. 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 through downtown, passing through all the shopping centers and busy sidewalks. It’s a romantic and seasonal way to view the best of the city.

Spend the Holidays

The offseason offers many Ocean City events, especially through the holidays. From Halloween to New Year’s Eve, the city knows how to put on a celebration. Some of the most exciting city events throughout the fall and winter include the following.

  • Fall block party: Ocean City kicks off the fall season with their annual block party. In early October, the city designates several blocks of Asbury Avenue to the event, hosting 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 their 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: In addition to the whole town preparing for the Christmas holiday, the city also holds an annual parade. For an evening in December, floats glide and 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, as well as 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. As the clock strikes midnight, the city puts on a huge fireworks display. The next morning is a continuation of the event, called First Day. There’s an annual Boardwalk 5K run, as well as the First Day at the Beach Polar Plunge, where participants run into the waves. It’s a two-day party open to visitors and locals alike.

What Beaches Have Lifeguards?

Even during the offseason, you can still enjoy Ocean City’s beautiful beaches. You can put in some practice on a surfboard, take a walk along the water or try your luck at fishing. Whatever you choose to do with your time at the beach, you’ll be safe. Many of the areas will still have lifeguards on duty, including:

  • St. Charles
  • Brighton Place
  • 8th Street
  • 9th Street
  • 11th Street
  • 12th Street
  • 14th Street
  • 26th Street
  • 34th Street
  • 44th Street
  • 57th Street

If you want to bring along a furry friend, the city’s beaches are open to dogs between Oct. 1 and April 30.

Which Stores Are Open?

Despite what many people think, Ocean City is still a lively area once the summer heat has gone. Even during the offseason, 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.

You can also stroll through downtown — Asbury Avenue has plenty of shops that remain open. Throughout the city, there is no shortage of restaurants and businesses to visit. During the holiday season, you can purchase gifts for 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 Ocean City, New Jersey, there are plenty of reasons to visit during the offseason. If you decide to visit in the fall or winter, you’ll 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 offseason. 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 with your free time.
  • More holiday celebrations: Throughout the fall and winter, Ocean City has many different events and festivals. From the annual Corvette show to the city-wide New Year’s Eve party, it’s likely you’ll catch a weekend with plenty to do.

Visit Ocean City, New Jersey

Whether you miss the sounds of the ocean or want to escape to an exciting vacation spot, the Ocean City, New Jersey offseason has everything you need for a few days of fun. 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 during any time of year.

Start planning your offseason trip today — if you have any questions about events or your visit, feel free to contact us.

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