The Other Ocean City
Make plans to visit this family-friendly beach town in New Jersey.
Where to Shop
Beach weather or not, plan a morning or afternoon stroll along Asbury Avenue, the heart of Ocean City’s downtown. For all the things you forgot to pack, head to Hoy’s 5&10, brimming with beach toys, underwear, hangers, bug spray, plungers and more. For all the things the kids want, Kay Jay’s Doll Shoppe stocks crafts, puzzles, toys and games, as well as American Girl, Bitty Baby and WellieWishers dolls, plus bargain-priced homemade doll clothing. For beach reads, there’s Sun Rose Words & Music, an independently owned shop selling new books, office and art supplies, greeting cards, games and music CDs, or The Bookateria Two, a secondhand store crammed with used paperbacks. Bowfish Kids, a children’s clothing store, has a magical space called Bowfish Studios, where kids can be transformed into mermaids, unicorns, fairies, sharks and dragons—via makeup, hairstyles, temporary tattoos and costumes. The shop also runs a Mermaid Camp (for one or four days), and yes, kids learn to swim with a tail. Tweens up to twentysomethings will enjoy Island Gypsy’s casual, hip attire, and moms will find something among the beautiful shirts and sweaters at Donna-Gay Dillon Boutique.
Where to Stay
The three nicest accommodations on the boardwalk are Port-O-Call, a pretty pink building with a lavender and aqua-appointed lobby, beachside pool and grill, restaurant, spa services and two units that can sleep up to eight people; The Flanders Hotel, an Old World-inspired spot built in 1923 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places that offers lobby shops, a restaurant serving three meals a day plus high tea, and multiroom units; and the Beach Club Hotel, where the Café Beach Club restaurant, next to the beachside pool, serves one of the best breakfasts and lunches on the boardwalk. The hotel also runs an adjacent building with one-bedroom suites and kitchenettes.
For longer stays with ample time to de-stress, Ocean City has plenty of house rentals, with a wide range of prices and accommodations. To secure a rental, contact Berger Realty, Monihan Realty or Berkshire Hathaway.