When it comes to family-friendly destinations, few destinations rival Ocean City, New Jersey. Wherever you turn, you’ll find attractions that go out of their way to make the entire family’s vacation easier and more enjoyable.
Ocean City boasts a pristine waterfront backed by an action-packed pier. Travelers will enjoy a beach manned by lifeguards, soft white sand, and pleasant swimming. The boardwalk is fun to walk and lacks the raucous atmosphere of other beach destinations. With an abundance of amusement parks and great eats, it’s a joyful place to explore.
Beyond the popular downtown area, renting a bike, kayak, or go for a scenic drive are other fun things to do in Ocean City. This will help you discover undeveloped coastlines and historic buildings.
In this post, we'll cover:
11. Music Pier
One of the best parts of Ocean City Boardwalk is Music Pier. In the summer months, the pier comes to life with a packed calendar of concerts with several performances every week.
Music Pier first opened in 1929 and quickly became a popular attraction. Back then, the Municipal Orchestra wowed local crowds 14 times a week. Now, the venue hosts a wide range of touring musicians, local acts, and stand-up comedians. You can also see the 21st century iteration of the orchestra thanks to the Ocean City Pops concert series.
After your show is done, you’ll be steps from great eats, including Manco & Manco Pizza, mini golf, and multiple amusement parks.
10. Play Mini Golf
It feels like everywhere you look in Ocean City, there’s a mini golf course. They’re one aspect that makes this area such a family-friendly destination. Families, couples, and friends will have a blast putting their putt-putt skills to the test around a variety of challenging courses.
Some of the popular options include Congo Falls, Medieval Fantasy, and Haunted Golf. All three can be found along the Ocean City Boardwalk and are a great way to enjoy time with your loved ones that don’t involve terrifying roller coasters. Any time of day is fun, but if you want to mini golf on the boardwalk, come back at night when the atmosphere kicks up a notch.
9. Rent a Jet Ski or Kayak
Lazing on the sand and swimming in the Atlantic is enough for a lot of travelers. But if you want to explore the coastline in more depth, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in Ocean City. Two ways to do this exist on separate ends of the spectrum, kayaking and jet skiing.
DAKS Kayaks and Harbor Outfitters will get you kitted out for a day of kayaking. You can choose between half and full day rentals, or even a week. This is a great way to explore the creeks and back bays of Ocean City.
For a faster, more adrenaline-pumping experience, get your hands on a jet ski. There are over ten rental outfits in town, including Totally Tubular (below) that will have you exploring the waterfront at immense speed.
8. Trip To Cape May
Around 40 minutes south of Ocean City is Cape May, which marks the end of the New Jersey coast. After a few days in Ocean City, Cape May offers the opportunity to enjoy a fun day trip to experience a different part of the state.
Highlights of Cape May include the local lighthouse. The lighthouse, which was built in 1859, is open daily in the summer months. Visitors will be able to enjoy amazing views from the top, but only after climbing 199 steps.
Traveling families should also stop by the Cape May County Park and Zoo. Here, you’ll find a great variety of animals from around the world. These include giraffes, bears, monkeys and lions.
7. Totally Tubular Aqua Park
Theme parks in Ocean City aren’t just restricted to dry land. At Totally Tubular Aqua Park, you get to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean in a whole different manner. The highlight of the complex is the inflatable aqua park that is packed with obstacles that will have you slipping and sliding all over the place. After a few tries, compete against friends and family to see who can complete the course the fastest.
After defeating all your foes, discover what else is on offer at Totally Tubular. The park can take you out into the ocean on tubing and banana boat adventures. You can also go wakeboarding or water skiing. Newbies will have the opportunity to sign up for lessons.
6. Rent a Bike
A fun and efficient way to explore Ocean City is on two wheels. Around town, you’ll find a number of bike rental companies that will kit you out and get you riding in no time. In fact, there are three just on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
After picking up your set of wheels, ride along the 2.5-mile boardwalk and enjoy the sights and sounds of Ocean City. But there’s more to riding here than just the boardwalk. Cyclists can explore downtown on a trail that takes you to the barrier island’s best public art pieces on the Art Tour.
You can also ride all the way down past Crook Horn Creek to reach the island’s southern tip and Corson’s Inlet State Park.
5. Corson’s Inlet State Park
Protecting a rare piece of undeveloped coastline is Corson’s Inlet State Park. The sprawling park preserves a variety of flora and fauna you’ll be hard pressed to find along the New Jersey coast, plus a series of distinct ecosystems.
After spending plenty of time along the boardwalk and at the theme parks, Corson’s Inlet promises to be a welcome change of pace. You’ll find hiking trails to guide you through the park, taking you beside rolling dunes, estuaries and maritime forests. The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail is a great example.
Kayaking and boating is a popular way of exploring the parts of the state park you can’t reach on foot. Fishing is also permitted.
4. Gillian’s Wonderland Pier
Since opening in 1929, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier has been a destination for travelers, especially families. It’s become an institution and a great place to visit at any time of year, regardless of weather.
With over 30 different attractions, covering indoor and outdoor fun, it’s a thrilling way to spend time as a family. You’ll find the pier along the Ocean City Boardwalk with its famous Giant Wheel visible from a vast distance.
Budget travelers will be happy to know that Gillian’s Wonderland Pier is a pay as you go theme park. This means you’ll pay only for the rides and experiences that take your interest. But you’ll want to ride the 140-foot tall wheel, before going go karting or enjoying the Balloon Race.
3. Playland’s Castaway Cove
Another amusement park to add to your itinerary is the classic Playland’s Castaway Cove. The cove was one of the original theme parks along the waterfront and its iconic Ferris wheel has been lighting up the skyline for decades.
With almost three dozen rides, there’s plenty to keep the entire crew entertained for hours on end. There is a great blend of heart-in-mouth experiences and relaxed kid-friendly rides. For an adrenaline-pumping time, jump on board the GaleForce roller coaster. This is the quickest in the park and will have you coming back for another try.
If you want something that won’t have you screaming, check out the stocked arcade of the cove’s two mini golf courses. There is also a go-kart track for some competitive fun.
2. Ocean City Beach
The barrier island of Ocean City provides locals and travelers with eight miles of beautiful oceanfront. But it’s Ocean City Beach, which runs the same length as the island’s iconic boardwalk, that is the most popular spot.
Beachgoers will have 2.5 miles of white sand to claim with grand ocean views and convenient access to nearby attractions, food and shops. Ocean City has built a family-friendly reputation thanks to a lack of alcohol, beach bonfires, and smoking. This has created a calm atmosphere that belies the beach’s popularity.
Between Memorial Day and mid-September, Ocean City Beach is manned by lifeguards for much of the day. Beachgoers will also have access to restrooms and the boardwalk to explore the coast.
1. Ocean City Boardwalk
Spanning two and a half miles, the Ocean City Boardwalk is the place to be, day or night. In the morning, you can grab a coffee and walk along the oceanfront, enjoying a picturesque sunrise. Slowly watch the adjoining Ocean City Beach fill up with plenty of attractions and restaurants to visit on the other side.
The boardwalk has remained much the same since being rebuilt after a major fire ripped through town in 1927. As the atmosphere around the boardwalk grows throughout the day, you’ll have easy access to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, while street performers thrill crowds and play live music. There are also regular concerts during the summer.
At night, bright lights fill the boardwalk with color and excitement, leading you to many fantastic restaurants and fun at Haunted Golf.