We head to Ocean City, NJ every summer for a mini-reunion with my husband’s mom, siblings, and their children. This year was our 7th trip together, making it our 5th vegan year at the shore. Ocean City is dry (no booze!) so we bring in our own wine and spirits and do a lot of takeout. Don’t worry, for adult lunches and dinners there are places over the bridge, but plan ahead to ensure you have a solid meal as this area is heavily seafood influenced.
While we do go for a full week, we end up eating at a lot of the same places multiple times. If you have two or three days, you can definitely sample all the best vegan fare from boardwalk to bayside. Here’s our perfect weekend in OCNJ.
Friday 8pm: Unpack with a glass of wine, and hit the boardwalk for a slice of tomato pie with no cheese (most places on the boardwalk will do this for you if you order a whole pie). Our favorite spot is JoJo’s Pizzeria – they’ll put anything on it for you when they heat it up. Brendan likes onions and peppers, but I always get mushrooms and olives. Bonus snack: decent hummus!
Saturday 7am: Ride your bike down on the boardwalk until noon! Be careful, the later it gets in the morning the heavier the traffic. There are surreys for rent, so you’ll want to steer clear of the traffic, but the boardwalk is clearly marked with lanes for bikes, pedestrians, and surrey cars. We stop at the Bashful Banana for coffees, smoothies, and vegan pastries most mornings. They can be busy, but it’s worth the wait.
Saturday 12pm: Lunch! Sometimes we hit the Super Fresh market on Coastal Highway for healthier options, especially when we spend the week. There’s plenty of fruits and veggies, hummus, and chips and salsa here. Sometimes we luck out and find some cool vegan snacks, but we usually end up with the “accidentally vegan” variety. If you have access to a grill, I recommend some veggie kabobs!
Saturday 4pm: Oh no, it rained! Don’t worry; you can see a movie on the boardwalk! Sneak in a soft pretzel if they don’t have anything that works for you at the snack counter – this changes periodically so best to scope it out before the movie starts .
Saturday 7pm: For dinner grab some takeout from Szechwan Garden (there are mock meats on the menu) and head back to sit and regroup before you hit the rides. Our favorites are fried rice, stir fry dishes, and of course the mock chik’n.
Saturday 9pm: Head back to the Bashful Banana for a banana whip – frozen ripe bananas blended to look like soft serve ice cream! So many toppings… We like to take these on our boardwalk strolls any time of day, even though there’s frozen ice stands the banana whips feel more satisfying. Follow immediately with a trip to one of the small amusement parks on the boardwalk.
Sunday 8am: We like to get our packing out of the way first thing so we can check out and enjoy the day. Then we’ll head to grab breakfast (yes, probably again with the Bashful Banana, but when it ain’t broke don’t fix it) and play a round of mini-golf and do some light shopping before lunch.
Sunday 12pm: Red’s Jersey-Mex Café (formerly Rojo’s) is a good spot for veggie taco or burritos, just make sure you let them know you’re looking for a vegan meal. They also have gluten free options, and some really tasty salsa.
Sunday 3pm: If you had veggies for lunch, you might want to check out one of the fry shops on the boardwalk before you head home – there are a few places that just make fries and they are vegan friendly. Make sure you shake a little Old Bay on there to make what I call “vacation fries.”
I highly recommend a weekend or week in OCNJ for families with children, or anyone who just wants to get away somewhere quiet. While there’s no alcohol allowed in public and a 10pm curfew for walking down on the beach near the boardwalk, it can still be a nice place for some adults to relax and get away. Lots of teens hang on the boardwalk until curfew, then it’s just you and the seagulls.