Featured writer: Mark E. Randall
Just returned from our first family vacation to an ocean. We searched to find the closest warm beach to Rochester, NY that we could drive to in the shortest amount of time possible. Using Google Maps, we identified both Atlantic City, New Jersey and Ocean City, New Jersey as two options. 400 miles. Estimated 7 hours drive. Having never been to these two beaches, we decided to try both since they are so close to each other.
We stayed at a hotel off the beach, on Lakes Bay, leaving us a 2 mile drive to Atlantic City beach and a 10 mile drive to Ocean City beach. The prices were much less than the hotels right on the beach. We got to our hotel at 3:30pm and headed directly to Atlantic City beach after checking in. Our boys had never seen the ocean so we were excited to get right to the beach. This photo is looking down the beach with the high-rise casinos in the background.
Soon it was dinner time and we got back into our car to drive down the strip looking for places to eat. What we very quickly realized is that there were not the typical fast food choices to be found. Driving past casino after casino, we observed that the restaurants were inside the casinos. Eventually we reached the end of the strip and decided to drive one block away from the strip and drive back to the main highway where we started. Again, not much in the way of fast food places. We did see a McDonald’s, but mostly we saw old run down housing and liquor stores on every other corner. Finally, we found a new shopping district that had a big Applebee’s with free parking. Phew. Dinner crisis avoided as the boys were getting hungry.
The next day we decided to check out Ocean City beach. Talk about night and day when compared to Atlantic City beach. There were not the high-rise casinos. Families were everywhere and the beach was packed. You had to pay $5 a person over 12 years of age to get a beach pass for the day or they sold weekly passes for $10. The water at the beach was cleaner and clearer. There were numerous places to eat right on the boardwalk. Most likely Atlantic City had such places on their boardwalk, but we did not venture down from where we were as all it looked like was casino after casino.
After packing up for the day, we headed back to the hotel. As we were driving away from the beach and heading over the bay bridges connecting to the beach, we noticed a lot of very nice houses, condos, and townhouses built right on the bay, each with boat docks. It looked very new and well-kept, especially compared to the housing we saw in Atlantic City.
Our choice for the future? Ocean City beach by a landslide. Atlantic City would be nice if you wanted to spend a fortune staying at, eating at, and gambling at the casinos. But for a family wanting to spend time and not a lot of money at a nice beach, Ocean City, NJ is a better option. Of course, my wife and I have been to some pretty amazing tropical beaches which put either of these two New Jersey beaches to shame! But we did this vacation on less than $500 for a family of four and our boys loved it. So overall, we are very happy with Ocean City, New Jersey!
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