Ocean City, New Jersey offers a great getaway with gentle pleasures for families of all ages.
Ocean City, New Jersey is working hard to live up to its claim as “America’s Greatest Family Resort”. With a 2.5-mile-long boardwalk and 8 miles of beach, this barrier island’s charm continues to draw families by the score throughout the summer.
The boardwalk is certainly a big attraction and reflects the feeling of Jersey Shore boardwalks from years past. In the early morning hours, the boardwalk is relatively calm and peaceful. But as the day progresses, the boardwalk becomes engulfed by families strolling, jogging, riding bikes, pushing strollers and peddling surreys along designated lanes laid out on the wooden planks. Bikes, surreys and even strollers can be rented at various locations close to the boardwalk.
The wide and clean beaches do get crowded, but lifeguards are posted at each block to watch swimmers in the sometimes rough Atlantic, and public restrooms are kept clean. Beach tags are required and are sold by the day, week or season.
The amusement park may open at noon, but does not come fully alive and illuminated until the evening. For almost 90 years, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier has entertained families with rides and games for all ages. Their nearby waterpark is a compact maze of slides in all sizes. There is also a large toddler water play area where parents can keep watch their children while resting on chaise lounges. Other boardwalk diversions include miniature golf, go carts, arcades, movie theaters and other thrill rides.Additionally, on most weekends there are even art and craft shows
Memorable Dining at the Jersey Shore
No one will go hungry on the Ocean City boardwalk. There are countless places to dine including a large food court with plenty of seating. Mack and Manco Pizza (609/399-2548) pizza is excellent, as proven by the lines of people waiting for a table or for pick-up service throughout the day and evening. That’s true at all three of their locations, at 8th Street, 9th Street and 12th Street and Boardwalk. You will not find any bars or other places that sell or serve alcohol. Ocean City is a “dry” town, another great reason why it attracts so many families.
For those with a sweet tooth, you will not be disappointed with the bountiful choices of ice-cream, salt water taffy and other confections. Johnson’s Famous Caramel Corn even sells huge buckets that you can purchase and refill at a discount! Or head over to Shriver’s (877/668-2339), the oldest store on the broadwalk, for some salt- flavored and delicious water-taffy, fudge, mint rolls and macaroons. It’s at 9th Street.
Special Shore Summer Events
Ocean City also boasts a Music Pier right on the boardwalk where special events are held throughout the summer. The Ocean City Pops perform classical music, Broadway musicals and children’s concerts.
Other fun family events include a Night in Venice boat parade, antique car show, art shows, miniature golf tournament and a farmers market featuring the best Jersey corn and tomatoes you will ever taste!
Because Ocean City is conveniently located 30 miles north of Cape May and 8 miles south of Atlantic City, using it as a vacation base gives families a chance to explore more of the South Jersey shore area.
Family Lodging at Ocean City, New Jersey
Family-friendly accommodations are in abundance. Hotels, motels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts and old-fashioned inns give families a choice in e every price range. Keep in mind that summer weekends are the most expensive, and a time when many places require a minimum length of stay.
Our family enjoyed the Scarborough Inn (800/258-1558), conveniently located at 720 Ocean Avenue, Ocean City, NJ 08226. It’s just two blocks from the boardwalk and close to banks, shops and an ice cream parlor. This family-owned inn offers 24 rooms, suites, and one apartment, along with friendly service. A delicious hot breakfast is served in the sunny dining room and there are lounges with kitchen facilities for a snack. Afternoon tea includes yummy, fresh baked snacks. A quaint courtyard leads to hot and cold showers and a beautiful wrap-around porch welcomes all. Free parking is next to the inn, a plus in a town where parking is limited.
Despite the rapid growth in Ocean City, it is still a place that beckons families with fun, clean diversions – which is not so easy to find in today’s world.
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