Over the years I’ve gotten to visit a handful of shore towns in New Jersey. There all a bit different from each other. The culture ranges from a bit raucous (Seaside, Point Pleasant, Wildwood) to fancier (Bayhead, Spring Lake) to working class/middle class (Belmar, Bradley Beach). The Jersey Shore despite what the eponymously named show emphasized has many laid back or family friendly destinations as well. Ocean City is an affordable spot that bills itself as a family resort. Its been a dry town since it’s 1879 inception so alcohol sales are prohibited. (But if you want to buy some you need only drive a few miles into nearby Somers Point). The day passes to the beach are $5, while a weekly runs just $10.
The boardwalk is 2.5 miles long and features Ferris wheels, mini golf, small amusement parks, and arcade games. Pizza lovers certainly have their pick of options but for my money the best one is Manco and Manco. Open since 1956, the sauce and crispy crust really make them stick out. There are several fudge and taffy stores. I picked up some flavors like licorice, teaberry and vanilla from Steel’s (since 1919) and Frahlingers. The latter has been slinging taffy since 1895 and was featured in the background on Boardwalk Empire. I only bought about a ¼ pound because while delicious they do give your teeth a workout. These stores also are great for finding southern candies not often seen above the Mason-Dixon line such as Pecan Logs from Macon, Georgia.
Other food highlights include the shore classic known as Kohr’s Custard which I also wrote about it here. Two other new to me treats were Monkey Bread, a type of cinnamon bun and Polish Water Ice, which FYI is gluten free and vegan and rather delicious. In the crazy heat (feels like 100 degrees), I didn’t end up taking pictures of those.
The best and only off shore food we tried was the amazing Cinco De Mayo at 1039 West Avenue. They make their own tortillas by hand. Our waitress handled our questions/requests about vegan/vegetarian and gluten free in stride. We didn’t feel so bad after realizing that the table of 8 next to us was asking the very same questions. My enchiladas were delicious – you could tell the tortillas were handmade. I highly recommend that place.
OC is a nice place to visit if you want an affordable visit to the beach. It’s accessible by car. From Philly, there is the Atlantic City Line for NJ Transit. From NYC there are regular buses from Port Authority as well.