13 Fun Things to Do in Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City, New Jersey, is the calmer, gentler Jersey Shore experience. The focus in this beachside community is family friendly relaxation. Accordingly, there are lots of arcades, rides, and generally wholesome fun among the things to do in Ocean City.

“America’s Greatest Family Resort”–as OCNJ calls itself–fills with crowds from Memorial Day to Labor Day as new visitors and long-time regulars enjoy the sand and attractions. Here’s a look at what we enjoy most in this South Jersey town.

Wander the boardwalk

Ferris wheel and rides in the background with businesses and people walking on the boardwalk in Ocean City NJ.
The boardwalk is the place to be

The Ocean City boardwalk is the place to be. The famous wooden walkway spans close to 3 miles of shoreline and hugs the sand parallel to Wesley Avenue.

There’s plenty of activity happening here. There are amusement park rides, shops, and restaurants. Food is a key part of visiting. Various classic snacks are available, such as caramel corn, fried Oreos, popcorn, and taffy. Don’t miss the funnel cake at Tater’s Fries (add the strawberry sauce!).

The boardwalk is accessible at any hour of the day. You can walk, run, or bike here while enjoying the view. It’s especially popular with walkers and runners early in the morning before everyone else has rolled out of bed. (Note that there was an 11pm curfew for those under 18 and a backpack ban for everyone after 8pm in 2023. Rules for 2024 are TBD.)

Hang out on the Ocean City beach

Beach and fishing pier at sunset.
Beach and fishing pier on a June night

The 8-mile stretch of coastline that is the city’s beach is the main draw. One of the top beaches in the area, the most popular section is to the north of the boardwalk near the sand dunes.

There is no smoking or alcohol allowed on the beach, so the environment is generally family friendly. Beaches are guarded June through Labor Day, and beach tags are available for purchase at information centers and other nearby lifeguard venues (they’re discounted before June 1).

All you need to do is grab a towel, cue up a soundtrack on your phone, and enjoy the breeze.

Take a ride at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

Exterior of a white building with red turrets and a sign for "Gillian's" with arcade games visible inside.
For rides and games, head to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

Tourists unfamiliar with the town will have little trouble finding indoor and outdoor entertainment parks. Gillian’s Wonderland Pier is among the top places for amusement rides in Ocean City. The park is located between 6th and 7th Streets on the boardwalk.

First opened in 1929, Gillian’s has grown to include over 25 rides for visitors of all ages. Although the rides at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier are geared toward children, there are plenty of rides for adults, too. The famous Giant Wheel is our favorite. The massive Ferris wheel towers over 140 feet in the air and is a municipal landmark in town. From the top, you can see Atlantic City on a clear day.

Kids spinning on a seated swing ride at an amusement park.
The seated swings at Gillian’s

The two most popular rides are the carousel, which dates from the early 1900s and is ideal for kids, and the Canyon Falls Log Flume, which will definitely give you an adrenaline rush.

Gillian’s is a “pay-as-you-go” park, which means that each attraction or ride requires a specific number of tickets, but you only pay for things you want to do. Tickets are available in the winter and early spring at a substantial discount in anticipation of the rides reopening in late spring. The arcade is open year-round.

Try a Kohr Brothers frozen custard

Hand holidng a cone of frozen custard in front of Kohr Bros store.
A frozen custard from Kohr Brothers makes a tasty treat

Since 1923, soft frozen custard served in napkin-wrapped cones has been a summertime tradition at Kohr Bros. ice cream booths on the boardwalk. Flavors range from traditional vanilla and chocolate to a vast choice of natural fruits. There are four different local stores to choose from, so you’re never too far away from a treat.

We’ve stopped at Kohr Bros. from Ocean City to Cape May and even down to Rehoboth, and we always opt for peanut butter and chocolate twist. (We may have a slight addiction.)

See a show at Music Pier

People beside a white building with pink accents and arched windows just off the boardwalk.
Music Pier on the boardwalk

The Ocean City Music Pier has been a key part of summer in the city for nearly 100 years. Opened in 1929, it still welcomes notable comedians and performers along with musical productions like The Sound of Music and Broadway on the OC Boardwalk.

From July through October every year, Music Pier hosts a concert series by the Ocean City POPS, performing music from different genres and featuring special guests. It’s a special part of every season at the shore. Every seat in the house is excellent, and there are ocean views on three sides, which makes it even more pleasant.

Grab a slice at Manco & Manco

People in a restaurant with open garage-style doors below a sign for "Manco & Manco Pizza."
Grab a perfect slice to take on the Boardwalk

Going to Manco & Manco is a highlight any time of year. This pizza joint is a great spot to have hot pizza during a cold winter day at the shore or when you’re looking for a slice to eat along the boardwalk on a hot summer day.

Over the years, Manco & Manco has made a name for themselves as one of the best spots serving the tastiest pizzas in town. Some of their signatures include cheesesteak pizza and the Philly Special, named after the legendary Eagles’ Super Bowl victory play. Don’t miss it! You can find them at three spots along the boardwalk at 8th, 9th, and 12th Street.

Buy a sweet treat at Shriver’s Taffy

Exterior of a corner store with a sign: "Taffy Shrivers Fudge."
Saltwater Taffy is a shore tradition

Several shore towns have a classic saltwater taffy spot that’s not to be missed, and Shriver’s Taffy is that incredible anchor in Ocean City. The oldest business on the boardwalk, Shriver’s was founded in 1898 as a restaurant, ice cream shop, and candy store.

Today, this brightly lit corner store focuses on all things sweet and welcomes thousands of visitors every day during the summer. Shriver’s Taffy serves a variety of delicious confections such as fudge, macarons, chocolates, mint rolls, and 47 kinds of saltwater taffy. We’re partial to the chocolate nut fudge and orange taffy.

Play around at Playland’s Castaway Cove

Pirate and parrot at Playland's Castaway Cove entrance.
Head to Castaway Cove for games and amusements

Playland’s Castaway Cove stands out on the boardwalk with more than 32 rides. At over 65 years old, the amusement park has entertained generations of visitors to Ocean City with nostalgic rides like Tilt-A-Whirl and the classic Ferris wheel as well as more cutting-edge options. While it’s always busy, we never have to wait too long for a ride. The one exception to that is Gale Force, a 125-foot-tall coaster with a 90-degree drop, which is one of the biggest attractions for daredevils.

Castaway Cove also has an indoor arcade, two minigolf courses, and a go-kart track. It is open daily from late March to early October, so a visit here is what to do in Ocean City even if you’re not visiting in summer. If you have the luxury of planning far in advance, ride tickets are half-off from late March through early April–they never expire and can be used year after year, so it’s a good opportunity to stock up.

See a ghoul at Haunted Golf

People standing on the boardwalk outside a storefront with a sign for "Haunted Golf."
Haunted Golf is one of the popular local activities

One of the top attractions in Ocean City, Haunted Golf is an 18-hole indoor minigolf course filled with equal parts haunting and humor. Spread over 5,000 square feet, the course includes a haunted wedding reception, a macabre piano player, talking skeletons, and lots of surprises. The course is open year-round and is rated PG, so it’s great for kids and adults.

Visit JiLLy’s Arcade

People playing foosball at an indoor arcade.
Games galore at JiLLy’s Arcade

JiLLy’s Arcade is another year-round spot that’s always full of fun. It showcases more than 100 old and modern arcade games, such as crane games, pinball machines, air hockey, driving games, pool tables, and more. Video game options range from classics such as Pac-Man and Asteroids to highly sought-after titles such as Jurassic Park and Star Wars.

At nearly 50 years old, visiting JiLLy’s is a tradition for many families, whether it’s piling into the photo booth for the annual silly pictures or simply playing games for hours at super-reasonable prices. Skeeball, a mainstay of JiLLy’s Arcade, is just 20 cents to play.

Enjoy nature at Corson’s Inlet State Park

Sand dunes on a beach.
The dunes at Corson’s Inlet State Park

Corson’s Inlet State Park, which spans a little more than 340 acres, was established in 1969 to conserve and safeguard this section of land along the New Jersey coast. The park’s natural habitats support diverse wildlife and include sand dunes, upland areas, marine estuaries, and coastline over wash. Basically, this is undeveloped, pristine coastal land.

There are plenty of outdoor recreational activities visitors can enjoy, such as boating, saltwater fishing, hiking, and kayaking. Just make sure to bring your mosquito repellent!

Go bird watching at Stainton Wildlife Refuge

The Stainton Wildlife Refuge is a spectacular destination for naturalists. This bird paradise is the perfect spot to see numerous wading and shore birds surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

This refuge is home to the endangered Least Tern and Black Skimmer–birds that are avid hunters in the freshwater marsh in the summer and spring. Additionally, during spring and fall, the refuge draws many migrating shorebirds.

The sanctuary is also home to ducks, geese, and cormorants that are especially easy to find when the tide is high. However, Sandpipers, Herons, and egrets love it when the tide is low, and the area is virtually a giant mudflat. So, whether the tide is in or out, there is good birdwatching.

In a nutshell, the Stainton Wildlife Refuge, is ideal if you want a tranquil destination away from the crowds and to be close to nature.

Greetings from Ocean City New Jersey mural along the Boardwalk
The famous Ocean City mural

Explore the Ocean City Historical Museum

Another fun activity is visiting the Ocean City Historical Museum. History buffs will enjoy seeing the collection of shipwreck items, religious history items, and artifacts related to the city’s unique cultural heritage.

While Ocean City was founded in 1879, the history museum tells the story of the town from well before that date and continues to present day. From Native American history to Grace Kelly’s love of the city, the museum features a little bit of everything.

Have you visited Ocean City NJ? Do you have a favorite memory from your childhood or a favorite activity?

3 thoughts on “13 Fun Things to Do in Ocean City, New Jersey”

  1. Pictured Barefoot Trading Company in the first picture and i highly recommend you stop in. Great clothes Jewelry and trinkets from Bali and beyond at great prices.

  2. I remember a summer when Santa was on the boards having his picture taken with kids across from the Christmas Shop. While we were waiting in line, my husband snuck up and told him our girls names, and when it was their turn and Santa greeted them by name, their jaws dropped! They are now 20 and 17 and still talk about it!

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