Ocean City: Family beaches. Expanded Pier. Perilous Boardwalk.
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Partially as a result of its founding by the Methodists, Ocean City became known as and has relished its status as one of the East Coast's premier family destinations. Among the six Boardwalks on the Jersey Shore, Ocean City is the most geared to younger children and families. No other beach town in South Jersey bans alcohol, whether for sale in commercial stores or restaurants.
At more than seven miles long, there's plenty of beach, whether you are looking for wide beaches along the Great Egg Harbor Inlet, planting your towel in front of a thriving two-and-a-half-mile boardwalk or looking for surfing beaches beyond the boardwalk.
(From the vantage point of the beachfront or boardwalk, this is a breezy overview of what you see, where to park and beach access, plus a bit or history and the latest happenings. See map below.)
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Expanded Ocean City Fishing Pier
Like the Anglers Club of Absecon Island in Margate, the Ocean City Fishing Pier faced the problem of its members not being able to fish at low tide because of continued replenishment of the beach. In 2021 at the cost of $500,000, the pier added 113 feet to tits end for a total of 748 feet so the water depth ranges from six to 11 feet. It's the longest pier in the fishing club's 108-year history.
While the the fishing club hosts open houses and tournament, it's a membership-only club and is not accepted new members at this time. You can put your hammock under it, but don't fish from it.
Perilous Boardwalk with bikes, runners and pedestrians
With a boardwalk at more than two and a half miles, you'd imagine there would be plenty of room to peacefully walk and enjoy the sights and smells of the ocean. Especially in the morning, walking the Boardwalk is more perilous than rush hour on the Schuylkill River. All kinds of bikes and runners cruise by at high speed. Only in the very southern section of the Boardwalk does the traffic ease.
There one reason to excuse crazy Boardwalkers is if they stop at...
Popcorn fads come and go, but there’s one place that transcends fads— Johnson’s Popcorn. Johnson’s is best known for its caramel popcorn, which is hand-mixed fresh as you watch in each of the three stores on the boardwalks in Ocean City. In addition to caramel popcorn, the stores feature cheddar popcorn, buttered popcorn, and peanut caramel crunch—similar to Cracker Jack. You can mix and match flavors. The original location at 1368 Boardwalk stays open year-round. Next door, the gift shop has colorful tubs of popcorn to buy and eat later or ship to friends around the world.
How Ocean City got its name
Originally purchased by the Somers family, the island was formerly named Peck's Beach in 1700. That name is believed to have been derived from a whaler named John Peck. Seeking to emulate the success of Methodist retreat Ocean Grove on the northern part of the Shore, four Methodist ministers in 1879 established a Christian retreat. Having chosen the name "Ocean City," the founders incorporated the Ocean City Association and laid out street and lots for cottages, hotels, and businesses. Five years later, the town became a borough formed from part of Upper Township.
It was the ministers who passed "blue laws" banning alcohol.
Tips for visiting Ocean City
What's New: Fishing pier was extended over the ocean, but not taking new members at the moment.
Starring Role: Ocean City is featured in the movies Eddie and the Cruisers and Tattoo.
Access and Parking: Ocean City together with Corson's Inlet State Park comprise a barrier island. There are multiple bridges that cross the water to the island from Longport, Somers Point, the Roosevelt Boulevard bridge easily accessed from the Garden State Parkway and from the Bay Avenue bridge to Upper Township/Strathmere. Near the Boardwalk and in the business district, there is metered parking that is carefully policed. Parking is generally free in most places except in municipal lots at the beach.
Amenities: Bathrooms and showers are located along the Boardwalk.
Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Full season badges are $25 for people 12 and older. Weekly badges cost $10. Daily badges cost $5. Badges can be purchased at the beach or online at store.ocnj.us.
This spring and summer, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he walks the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, Long Beach Island from Old Barney to the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge and from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Corson Inlet State Park at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 95. See profiles of Longport, Margate, Ventnor and Atlantic City and every beach and town along the Jersey Shore at www.jerseyshorewalk.com