I am just going to start by saying I am a very lucky girl. Ocean City, New Jersey has been my summer home for my entire life and is the ideal refuge from everyday life. My summers are typically spent getting tan (or sunburnt) on the beach, working on a “pizza only” diet, and sleeping in with the sun as my only alarm.
A lot of people do not have the opportunity to live at the beach and be able to leisurely explore every nook and cranny of OCNJ, so I have tried to compile the best activities to do if you are down for the weekend.
After a 2+ hour family drive to the shore, tensions can be pretty high. To prevent this hostile group dynamic from diffusing into the rest of the trip, your first stop should be pizza. There are countless places to grab an incredible slice of pizza in OCNJ:
- Express Pizza
- Where: 719 Battersea Rd
- What: This pizza place is about 3 blocks away from the beach and is where a lot of the locals head to eat. The slices are moderately sized, with bread crumbs covering the bottom for an extra crunch, and there is a deal, my family calls it the “meal deal,” which serves up two slices and a large soda for $6.
- 3 Brothers Pizza
- Where: 944 Boardwalk
- What: 3 Brothers Pizza’s claim to fame is “The World’s Largest Pizza,” and they are not kidding around. One slice of pizza from here is the equivalent of three slices of pizza from any other place, which means you get a lot of bang for your buck. PLUS the pizza is delicious.
- Manco and Manco’s Pizza
- Where: literally every 5 seconds on the boardwalk
- What: Manco and Manco’s, formerly Mac and Manco’s, is Ocean City’s most famous pizza place. The pizza is delicious, however it is fairly expensive and the slices are not very large.
Notice Manco and Manco’s genius strategy of layering sauce then cheese, therefore the taste-buds are not overwhelmed by one flavor.
It will probably be pretty late by the time you finish your pizza, so the best move after that is to take a late-night beach walk. There are curfews on most beaches which are only strongly enforced on the beaches next to the boardwalk, so a beach walk on the streets before the boardwalk is the move.
The most obvious activity to do on a Saturday morning down the shore is sleep in. The beach is about all things relaxing, which includes taking a break from the screeching blare of an alarm at 8 AM.
After a great night’s sleep, it is time to head out to breakfast.
Ocean City has about as many breakfast places as pizza places, but the best are as follows:
- Brown’s Restaurant
- Where: 110 Boardwalk
- What: Brown’s has some of the best donuts you will ever taste. They cook them directly in front of you and there are several options of flavors, including cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, and honey. The line can get pretty long so be ready for a wait unless you go super early. My favorite flavor is vanilla, dipped in the cinnamon that fell off another one of my donuts.
- OC Surf Cafe
- Where: 715 E 8th Street
- What: This adorable cafe has a surfer theme and a wide variety of freshly-made breakfast dishes, with many seafood options. I would recommend the pancakes or the Eggs Benedict, which comes with crispy home fries that are the best part of the meal. They also have a very evenly distributed fruit cup with blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, and watermelon (a highly underrated side dish).
- Ready’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant
- Where: 415 E 8th Street
- What: Ready’s is a quaint breakfast spot that is by far Mama Price’s favorite and she has been going to OC for over 30 years. They offer the quintessential breakfast foods, like pancakes and omelettes, but their milkshakes are the best.
After eating a hardy breakfast, it is crucial to head right to the beach in order to make the most of your day in the sun. Ocean City technically requires beach tags, which are sold on the boardwalk for a $10 weekly tag and $5 daily tag. A little beach checklist should include:
- towels and chairs
- water bottles with ice
- Coca-Cola (nothing better than an ice cold Coke on the beach)
- toys or games like paddle ball, Kanjam, Spikeball, etc.
- sunglasses or a hat
Once you arrive on the beach, make sure to angle towards the sun to get the best tan possible, but also check the UV index to avoid burning to a crisp and judge how often you should reapply lotion.
Even after eating a big breakfast, your stomach will start grumbling at about 2:30 PM, which means it is time for lunch.
Some groups may want to do a DIY lunch, and if that is case for you there is an ACME Grocery store (800 West Ave) with a wide selection of foods and deli meats.
If that is not the case and you would rather keep ballin’ out with delicious OC food, I would highly recommend getting a sub from Voltaco’s Italian Foods. Normally, I get meatball or sausage subs, but my mother and aunts who worked there as teenagers would always eat turkey and Italian.
After lunch and any remaining beach time, the post-beach nap is a must. I don’t know what it is about falling asleep next to the ocean with salty hair and sandy feet, but I always feel more refreshed than any nap I take in my bed at home.
After your siesta, it is time to get kickin’ for a night out.
You have more than a few options for dinner. There is always the strategy of waiting to get food until the boardwalk, but most of your choices there will be pizza, pizza, and more pizza.
If you would like to go out for dinner or pick up something yummy, a couple options include:
- The Island Grill
- Where: 100 Atlantic Ave
- What: This restaurant is mostly seafood, but if that is not up your alley it also offer steaks, pasta, and burgers. There is outdoor seating so that you can watch the sunset while eating some delightful food.
- Charlie’s Bar
- Where: 800 Shore Road, Somers Point, NJ
- What: This place may be in Somers Point, but I couldn’t resist putting it on the list because it makes the best wings I have ever had. The ideal meal from Charlie’s is an order of wings and potato skins.
- Cousin’s Restaurant
- Where: 104 Asbury Ave
- What: Cousin’s is a small sit-down restaurant that serves Italian food and is a little bit cheaper, therefore a good spot to take a big family.
- Rojo’s Tacos
- Where: 601 Ocean Ave
- What: Rojo’s Tacos is an authentic Mexican restaurant right off the boardwalk. If you are are Mexican food connoisseur like myself, this place will be your saving grace on an island with no Chipotle.
A big part of Ocean City’s fame comes from its boardwalk: a 2.45 mile long stretch, jam-packed with activities, food, and a great view of the beach.
At this point, you can find just about anything to do on the boardwalk. There are now escape rooms, surf malls, amusement parks, and a music pier. For an ideal night on the boards, I would highly recommend starting with a game of semi-competitive mini-golf.
My favorite mini-golf courses include:
- Seaport Village Golf
- Where: 936 Boardwalk
- What: This spot has a nautical theme and is one of my favorite courses of all times. At the end, there is a free game hole where, if you make it, a giant shark will pop out.
- Tee Time
- Where: 7th and boardwalk
- What: This course is an Ocean City classic and also the cheapest available on the boardwalk. Be warned: the holes can be very frustrating for the impatient soul. When I was younger, I felt so personally offended by a hole that I smashed my club into it (don’t worry, my weak arm strength prevented any real damage).
- Golden Galleon
- Where: 1124 Boardwalk
- What: A pirate-themed course with two options of rounds, each one similar in difficulty. A pretty run-of-the-mill mini-golf course.
If mini-golf isn’t really your thing, or you know that it will likely cause a rift between your family, I would recommend go-karting. If spending money isn’t your thing, a nice walk on the boardwalk with family and friends can be just as fun as anything else (and there will be lots of free samples of fudge.)
Your final day at the shore can be bittersweet, but you still have a couple choices.
You can choose to go to the beach once more, which is a wonderful option, or you can head down to “the Avenue,” Ocean City’s version of Rodeo Drive. The Avenue has all sorts of quaint home decor shops and surfer clothing shops that are hard to resist.
Most of my shopping time on the Avenue is spent at…
- Where: 744 West Ave
- What: Heritage is the quintessential surf shop of Ocean City and has clothes, surfboards, shoes, sunglasses, and more for both girls and boys. Every year towards the end of the summer they host a giant sale before their fall shipment, so be on the lookout for that.
- 7th Street Surf Shop
- Where: 720 Asbury Ave
- What: Another trendy surf shop with a wide range of gear. Brands include: Free People, OBEY, Hurley, and more. They have a lot of accessories that are pretty cheap, as well.
- Where: 810 Asbury Ave
- What: This mega-store has anything and everything you could ever need. It is broken up into little sections with work from different artists, interior designers, jewelers, and more. One time, I even went to a drama camp in the upper-levels of Stainton’s.
These are just a few of my favorite spots on the Avenue, but you will find yourself wanting to stop and look at every store. If you forgot beach toys, the Avenue has a shop for that, as well (Hoy’s Toys).
There are endless things to do in Ocean City, New Jersey, which I am not even going to try to cram into just one weekend. One of the most important things I am going to remind you to do while you are there is to relax. The shore is such an amazing place to escape the stress and anxiety that is rooted in everyday life, and OCNJ will give the gift of a quiet environment to listen to the waves and lift your head away from your phone for a beat. Enjoy!
For all you beach-goers, did I miss any of the best spots or activities? Do you have a favorite beach trip you have been on? Comment below.