The Best Things to Do in Ocean City NJ: America’s Greatest Family Resort

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Ocean City, New Jersey is the calmer, gentler Jersey Shore experience. The focus in this beachside community is family friendly. If you’ve got children in tow, OCNJ should be your destination. These are the best things to do in Ocean City NJ this year.

This town likes to think of itself as “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” It is perhaps best known being a dry town. Officially, there is no alcohol served within the town’s borders, although there are loopholes.

And while the ‘dry town’ thing is a bummer for nearly all adults, there’s still a surprising amount of fun to be found here.

The Boardwalk

Ferris wheel above businesses on the boardwalk in Ocean City NJ
The Boardwalk is the place to be!

Among the best things to do in Ocean City, New Jersey, is visiting the Boardwalk. These famous wooden boards span close to 3 miles of shoreline. The boardwalk hugs the sand and runs parallel to Wesley Avenue.

There’s plenty of activity happening here. The Boardwalk has amusement park rides, various shops, and restaurants. It’s really the focus on life in OCNJ! When combined with the variety of family-friendly activities on this remarkable destination, the Boardwalk is highly recommended.

Food is a key part of visiting. Various snacks are available along the Boardwalk, such as ice cream, pizza, caramel corn, funnel cake, fried Oreos, popcorn, and taffy, to mention a few.

It’s 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.

Ocean City Beach

Beach and fishing pier
The beach and fishing pier

This 8-mile stretch of coastline is Ocean City’s main attraction and stretches along the island’s eastern side. This is one of the top beaches in the area. The most popular section is to the north of the Ocean City Boardwalk, near the sand dunes.

The beach’s pleasant weather and family-friendly policies attract people searching for a relatively tranquil way to spend quality time with family and friends. Overall, Ocean City Beach is a child-friendly destination with a fantastic atmosphere. You can be assured that this is among the safest beach to visit as there are lifeguards vigilantly on patrol.

Bring your sunscreen and book and lounge out on the sand all day long. Or maybe, cue up some Jersey songs on your phone. It is rumored that this beach inspired a hit by the Beach Boys (“The Private Life of Bill and Sue”).

Beach tags are available for purchase at information centers and other nearby lifeguard venues. Lastly, this particular beach has public restrooms along the promenade visitors can use. Note: alcohol, smoking, and vaping are forbidden.

Gillian’s Wonderland Pier

Exterior of Gillian's Wonderland Pier
For rides, 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 tourist destinations in Ocean City NJ. The park is located between 6th and 7th Streets on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

The park first opened in 1929, following a fire on the Boardwalk. Since then, this pier 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 that are ideal for adults too. The famous Giant Wheel, a massive Ferris wheel tower over 140 feet in the air, is a municipal landmark in town. From the top of the Giant Wheel, you can see Atlantic City on a clear day.

Seated swing ride at amusement park
The seated swings at Gillian’s

However, 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.

Kohr Brothers

Frozen custard in front of Kohr Bros store
A frozen custard from Kohr Brothers makes a tasty treat

Whenever you visit Ocean City, and want to have a tasty soft frozen custard and hard ice cream, go to Kohr Brothers. Founded in 1919, this company is renowned for having one of the best ice creams in New Jersey.

Since 1923, soft frozen custard served in napkin-wrapped cones has been a summertime tradition at Kohr’s ice cream booths on the Boardwalk. It is indeed a mouthwatering summer treat and irresistible to children young and old.

Low on fat and sugar, Kohr Brothers ice cream is also smooth and light, ideal for taking on the go. Flavors range from traditional vanilla, distinctive chocolate, to a vast choice of natural fruits, which come in single flavors or twist combinations.

There is also a wide range of shakes and malts, invigorating smoothies, and seductive sundaes. Kohr Brothers is the place to be regardless of age. There’s always a frozen custard to match every taste.

Manco and Manco

Exterior of Manco & Manco Pizza
Grab a perfect slice to take on the Boardwalk

Going to Manco & Manco is another popular place to visit. Going to Manco and Manco is like getting dinner and show since they make the pizzas right in front of you. 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 head down the Boardwalk on a hot summer day.

Over the years, Manco and Manco have made a name for themselves as one of the best spots serving the tastiest pizzas in town. Some of their signature pizzas include cheesesteak pizza and the Philly Special, named after the legendary Eagles’ Super Bowl victory location.

Lastly, this pizza place can also host birthday parties and large crowds of up to 100 people, making it an excellent place to spend time with loved ones, or throw a party.

Shriver’s Taffy

Exterior of Shriver's Taffy
Saltwater Taffy is a Shore tradition

Shriver’s Taffy is Ocean City’s oldest business on the Boardwalk. It was founded in 1898 by William Shriver as a restaurant, ice cream shop, and candy store.

Visitors are in for a treat as Shriver’s Taffy serves a variety of delicious confections such as fudge, macarons, chocolates, mint rolls, and saltwater taffies. Shriver’s sells over 47 different taffies and over 2,000 people visit every day! This is a popular place worth visiting whenever you want a mouthwatering dessert.

And be sure to pick up a box of that famous Shore saltwater taffy to take home. It will make your Shore memories last longer.

Playland’s Castaway Cove on the Boardwalk

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, including a Ferris wheel. This amusement park is located between 10th and 11th Streets on the Boardwalk. Playland’s Castaway Cove amusement park is open daily from late March to early October.

The Playland’s Castaway Cove amusement park has been operating for over 60 years and is known for its variety of fun, family-friendly rides. In addition to the roller coaster, Castaway Cove has an indoor arcade, two mini-golf courses, and a go-kart track. 

Playland’s Castaway Cove rides are affordable, when compared to other Ferris wheels in Ocean City. The other advantage is that Playland’s rides are flexible in terms of time. Additionally, your ticket to this amusement park never expire.

Playland’s is a roller coaster paradise because it has a wide range of rides that can accommodate visitors of all ages. The park’s entrance is usually free of charge; however, the rides aren’t.

JiLLy’s Arcade

Foosball table at indoor arcade
Games galore at JiLLy’s Arcade

JiLLy’s Arcade is another excellent unwinding spot along the Boardwalk. Everyone who visits is guaranteed to have an enjoyable time. This fantastic destination, which is open the entire year, has thrilled many generations over the years.

JiLLy’s arcade showcases more than 100 old and modern arcade games, such as crane games, pinball machines, air hockey, sit-down driving games, pool tables, and kid-friendly fun games that will spark both you and your child’s interest.

Some video games range from classics such as Pac-Man and Asteroids to highly sought-after titles such as Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Skeeball is, of course, a JiLLy’s Arcade tradition, and it still costs just a dime to play, the same as when it first opened its doors in 1976.

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.

This Corson’s Inlet State Park‘s natural habitats support diverse wildlife and includes both primary and secondary dunes, upland areas, marine estuaries, and coastline over wash. Basically, this is prime, undeveloped, and pristine coastal land.

There are plenty of outdoor recreational activities visitors can enjoy, such as boating, saltwater fishing, hiking, kayaking, and sunbathing, just to name a few. There are also plenty of natural trails. The park is also part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail, a heritage area administered by the National Park Service in New Jersey.

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. Tourists can also get up close and personal with nature as there is lots of pretty scenery.

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

The sanctuary is also home to ducks, geese, and cormorants, especially when the tide is high with little land above the ground. 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

Ocean City Historical Museum

Another fun activity is visiting the Ocean City Historical Museum. History buffs are going to enjoy seeing the collection of shipwrecks, religious history and the city’s unique cultural heritage.

This museum is situated at the the local community center. While the town itself was founded in 1879, the history museum tells the story of the town from well before that date and continues to present day. There is an educational program at the museum not just ideal for students, but for adults as well. Visitors can either participate in on-site or off-site programs at the historical museum, based on the core curriculum. There are also organized tours and exhibits, which are truly worth your time. Lastly, the museum has tea parties that can host large groups; however, booking in advance is necessary.

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

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