Best of Lists

This or That: Wildwood, NJ vs. Ocean City, MD

"The Shore" or "The Ocean," Which East Coast Beach Town is Better?


Beach & Boardwalk

Ocean City Boardwalk | Alexa Zizzi

Wildwood, NJ

The historic 2.5-mile boardwalk boasts over 100 rides and attractions spanning three piers. Kids love the family-owned Morey’s Piers at Marnier’s Landing, Surfside Pier and Adventure Pier, plus two aquaparks, Ocean Oasis Water Park & Beach Club and Raging Waters. Wildwood’s beaches are the largest in New Jersey stretching 500 yards from the boardwalk to the ocean. Fortunately, a beach taxi is available to cart you to relaxation!

Ocean City, MD

Located on a barrier island that lies between the Chesapeake Bay on the west and Atlantic Ocean on the east, this vacation town offers the best of both worlds. The boardwalk’s historic wooden planks stretch about three miles from the Ocean City Inlet to 32nd Street beach and is lined with rides, arcades, shops, bars and restaurants. The briny smell of Thrasher’s fries instantly hits your senses as you stroll the inlet at Jolly Roger’s at the Pier. For more entertainment and two fun putt-putt golf courses, visit Jolly Roger’s second location at 30th Street bayside.

Waterfront Bars & Restaurants

Wildwood, NJ | Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority

Wildwood, NJ

On the oceanside, Seaport Pier hosts a live music venue and family-friendly bar and grill overlooking the 22nd Street beach that features a tiki bar with fruity drinks. For top dock and dines, cruise lakeside to Boathouse Restaurant & Marina Deck or visit the south end at the foot of the Cape May-Wildwood Crest bridge to feast on seafood at Two Mile Crab House at Two Mile Landing Marina. On the other end in West Wildwood, sample fresh ceviche and tacos at The Dock.

Ocean City, MD

Choose between sipping cocktails on the lively boardwalk overlooking Atlantic waves or a calm dock and dine boater’s haven on the bayside. In West OC near the bridge into town, tie up at Hoopers Crabhouse & Sneaky Pete’s. Dock uptown at Seacrets main party hub for frozen drinks and dancing at multiple live music stages. For an escape off the beaten path, cruise to Harpoon Hanna’s in Fenwick just minutes across the Maryland-Delaware line.

History & Culture

Harrison Hall hotel in Ocean City, MD | Alexa Zizzi

Wildwood, NJ

Lenni-Lenape Indians dwelled along The Wildwoods before the first-recorded European settlers arrived in the 1600s. On the north end, whalers and fishermen frequented the Hereford Inlet through the 17th and 18th centuries. The first boardwalk measured only 150 yards until it was extended in 1904 and eventually expanded into the 70,000 planks it holds today. Explore the arts scene with seasonal events at the Wildwoods Convention Center Oceanfront Arena or visit The Doo Wop Experience to travel back in time to Wildwood’s 1950s and ‘60s heydays.

Ocean City, MD

Algonquian tribes occupied these beaches before Europeans arrived in the 1500s, and colonists moved from Virginia to settle in what is now nicknamed “OCMD.” The town remained a sleepy fishing village until the first hotel was built in 1875 — The Atlantic Hotel — which still stands today. Though OCMD is just over 60 miles south of Wildwood, slang is the notable cultural difference between the regions. People who frequent Jersey beaches refer to it as “the shore,” whereas those who natively vacation in Maryland say, “the ocean.” Or if you’re from Baltimore, you say: “Goin’ downy ocean, hon!”

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