Head to Ocean City, New Jersey to enjoy strolling the boardwalk in pursuit of the perfect ice cream cone, building humongous sand castles, and playing in the surf. Finish off your perfect day with a relaxing evening of board games on the porch of your Ocean City vacation rental, while listening to the ocean and feeling the cool sea breeze. Ocean City is a fantastic place for your family to spend quality time together. Here are 12 of our favorite things to do on a family trip to Ocean City.

1. Spend the Day at the Beach

With over 8 miles of white sand beaches, Ocean City offers plenty of room for your family to build sandcastles, sunbathe and frolic in the water. Most of the city’s beaches offer lifeguard supervision to help keep everyone safe. Find a vacation rental near the beach and avoid parking and toting all your beach essentials.

2. Take a Walk on the Boardwalk

After your family has had their fill of the beach, it’s time to hit the boardwalk. This Ocean City tradition offers great ocean views as well as great shops and entertainment options. Pickup a pound of famous Ocean City salt water taffy at Shrivers, a new pair of sunglasses at Ocean Club, or some fabulous souvenirs for your friends back home at fun gift shops, such as Ocean Treasures, Habitat, and Dream Catchers.

3. Step Into a Giant Shark Jaw

If your kids love seashells or sharks, be sure to stop in at the Discovery Seashell Museum in the Ocean City downtown area. Check out the displays of seashells, coral, and starfish from around the world, and then step into the jawbones of a giant shark for an interesting photo op. The museum also has fossils from ocean creatures of days gone by and some live animal exhibits, making it a great place to spend a rainy afternoon. Be sure to check out the gift shop for the large selection of unique shell merchandise.

4. Sample the Amusements at Gillian’s

Located right on the boardwalk, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier offers plenty of rides for your toddlers and a few thrills for your older kids. Start your adventure with the Thomas the Tank Engine themed monorail to get a good view of everything the park has to offer.

5. Fly High on the Rides at Castaway Cove

If most your kids are past the kiddie-ride stage, Playland’s Castaway Cove has a large variety of thrill rides to keep them entertained. With large coasters, such as the GaleForce and the Wild Waves, even the biggest thrill seekers in your household should be satisfied. Be sure to take a spin on the ferris wheel for a stunning view of the surrounding area.

6. Learn About the Local Ecosystem at the Bayside Center

Located on the bayside of Ocean City in a beautiful historic home, the Bayside Center houses an environmental education exhibit perfect for answering all of your kids’ questions about the local flora and fauna. There is also a llifesavingmuseum and a large collection of classic ship models on-site. Step outside for a gorgeous view of the Great Egg Harbor Bay. Visit in the evening for a spectacular view of the sunset over the bay.

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7. Go Ghost Hunting

Ghost Tours offers 90-minute candlelight tours of Ocean City’s historic town center including a peek at its most famous haunted houses. Recommended for ages 4 and up, these family-friendly tours mix in tidbits of local history along with local ghost legends to keep everyone listening.

8. Become a Pirate

For some swashbuckling fun, take your kids aboard the Sea Dragon, a boat tour operated by Pirate Voyages. Staffed by a lively pirate crew this journey includes face painting, pirate chanteys, storytelling, and water cannons for an authentic pirate feel. The hour-long trip is just the right length to keep your youngest family members entertained without getting bored.

9. Check Out the Skatepark

A vacation rental makes it easy to bring along and store your skateboarding equipment so that you can spend some time at Ocean City Skateboard Park. This outdoor park features two skating areas with ledges, bowls, half pipes, and more to challenge the skills of your best skateboarders.

10. Watch a Parade

From pet parades to baby parades to boat parades, Ocean City is known for its numerous celebrations. Check out the local schedule to see what parades are happening during your stay. Many of the parades have themes, and you may be able to march along if your kids enjoy the spotlight. Pet parades provide an option for you to show off your best buddy if he’s joined you in your pet-friendly vacation rental.

11. Visit an Arcade

A trip down the boardwalk is never complete without a stop at least one old-fashioned arcade. Jilly’s Arcade offers old-time amusements including pinball machines and skeeball plus a few more recent additions like Dance Dance Revolution. Your kids will find plenty to do here on rainy days when the beach isn’t quite as appealing.

12. Stay Up for Fireworks

Ocean City hosts several festivals each year, and most of them culminate with fireworks over the water. The city’s annual Independence Day celebration also includes a gorgeous fireworks display off a pier over the ocean. Let your little ones stay up past their bedtime to watch sparks explode in the sky and enjoy sleeping late in your comfortable vacation home the next day.

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