I was raised in south Jersey. Philadelphians and South Jersey residents have a vast array of towns to visit along the Jersey Shore area. Some have more visitors and a bit less solitude than others, some are better known for their beaches, some are known especially for their boardwalks. Some for their cuisine. Some for entertainment. Some have a spectrum of all of these and more. Ocean City is one of these. Why do I think Ocean City should be classified as something special among all of these, even among such names as Wildwood, Brigantine, Tuckahoe, Avalon, Point Pleasant, Atlantic City, Margate, Ventnor, Absecon, Beach Haven, Long Beach, Ship Bottom, Harvey Cedars, Seaside Heights, Monmouth, and Sandy Hook? The truth is many lifetimes could be spent enjoying all of these places. They all have their own individual sights and sounds and atmosphere. To me Ocean City has a special blend and is suitable for any member of the family and a broad spectrum of tastes. It has golf and others sports, concerts, a boat parade, exercise centers, even an airport!
It is true that due to beach erosion, beach areas in the downtown section of Ocean City have shrunk a bit. Even then, the lovely soft, white sand far surpasses the beaches of many states, where construction-grade sand prevails. When you’ve spent the day on the beaches of Ocean City, you feel as if your feet were caressed, not sanded!
The boardwalk is 2.5 miles in length, and has just tons of stores, rides, eateries, marinas, hotels, penny arcades, gift shops, and so forth. Salt-water Taffy, molasses pops, and the best fudge can all be found there, as can stores such as Morrow’s Nut House. Why even the famous and undeniably delicious Taylor Pork Roll (originated in Trenton, NJ) is available.
Ocean City, New Jersey was rated the #1 Family Beach Resort in the entire country by the Travel Channel’s program The View, and not without reason.
What are the things I remember most about Ocean City, and why is it special to me? Well, of course, it has to do with the fact that my parents took us kids to that resort year after year, even into our teen years, for some times as long as three weeks at a crack. They would rent a home, often on Asbury between about 32nd and 35th Streets. Besides being close to the beach, there was a baseball field right across the street. On weekends, someone would run a movie projector there. Once we saw It Happened to Jane with Jack Lemmon and Doris Day. But there were other things. The local stores carried comic books of the Marvel Series, and we had to get each and every one of them. Then there were the sugar-cone ice cream cones and the homemade (and hot!) cinnamon buns from Dottie’s Bakery. It was my assignment to walk the couple of blocks to Dottie’s very early in the morning so those treats would go right from the oven to our home and never cool once. Ah! Smothered with butter, all that sticky goodness!
Once in a while we got the greatest ever Combination Seafood Platter at Campbell’s Seafood Restaurant on Asbury between 32nd and 33rd. Deep fried piping-hot flounder, uncontested deviled clams, deviled crabs, oysters! Campbell’s had a large single room, and several persons at the counter who would call out your number, and it would take generally 15 or 20 minutes, despite breakneck speed on the part of the cashiers, the demand was just that great. And people would leave with stacks of boxes, looking like they had made their annual trip to the clothing store.
There is a building on the boardwalk that is devoted to professional concerts. The Ocean City Pops is in the downtown area of the boardwalk, around the Eighth Street area, and is described as being on the Ocean City Music Pier. I include a link to a video below that demonstrates, not the large variety of music that they present, which is abundant, but an example of the high-standards they achieve, as exemplified by this segment of Classical Music:
There are tennis courts, basketball courts, indoor pools, sailing beaches, surfing beaches, and just about anything else you can think of. Only no alcoholic beverages are sold there. That is OK, though, as it improves the atmosphere of the area, and you can always bring some in discretely for your own consumption, as long as you don’t make it public.
One year I was able to travel with my dad on board a railroad train that brought us into the city from our home in Haddonfield, New Jersey. What a special treat for a kid. And to see dunes, salt-water marshes, and summer cottages as we noted a change in the air to that definite saltiness that tells one the ocean is near!
The especially nice part about that portion of the New Jersey beach is its variety, it’s cleanliness, and its beauty. So many things to do and so many trips nearby for activities. The time went by too quickly. One item I never did get to see much of, other than a glimpse was the boat show. In fact, researching for this article led me to the date and time for 2009’s Boat Show! It will be held July 25, 2009 starting at 7:30 pm from Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue, along the bay, and will be finished by 9:00 pm. The theme is Night in Venice. Boats all lit up in the bay at night are a breathtaking beauty to behold, believe you me!
So, if you are not prohibitively far from there, and don’t know where you would like to spend your vacation, why not consider the family resort par excellence called Ocean City, New Jersey!