Monica Simon Perella laughed when she was asked the biggest difference between Ocean City, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland.
“Well, Maryland isn’t dry!” the Berlin, Maryland resident said. “There are a lot of bars and restaurants here, even on the boardwalk. It’s a big draw here. In (Ocean City, New Jersey), you can’t even have a cocktail with dinner; you have to go off the island.”
Perella grew up in Williamstown, New Jersey, and attended Stockton State College in Galloway, so she’s no stranger to the Jersey Shore. A speech therapist at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Berlin, she and her husband Anthony, a pulmonologist at Atlantic General Hospital, have lived in Maryland with their three children since 2006.
Ocean City, MD:Looking for a cozy spot to sip wine and read a book? This Ocean City shop is for you
Food trucks, BBQ, wine and beer:10 summer festivals in NJ you can’t miss
Maryland, she noticed as she tried to book a party for her now 14-year-old triplets, is a year-round destination, with hotels that cater to conventions and events and accommodate weekenders and overnighters. New Jersey’s Ocean City, on the other hand, closes down in the winter season, and its streets are much more residential; more people spend the entire summer, or a week or two, in privately owned homes.
The definition of “family-friendly” is a little different, too: Especially when her triplets were young, she appreciated that some restaurants in Maryland’s Ocean City had ways to keep them busy, like playgrounds onsite. “What little kid can sit through an hour-and-a-half dinner?” she wondered. “Especially in the summer, when everything is packed and you have to wait an hour for a table?”
(Story continues below)
Visitors to Ocean City, New Jersey, tend to stay there for the duration of their trip, enjoying the beach, boardwalk, bays and inlets. Ocean City, Maryland’s visitors often spend a day checking out wild horses in nearby Assateague Island or travel to Delaware beaches.
Find the best NJ beach for you:The ultimate NJ beach guide for your summer days at the shore
Perella has come to appreciate both OCs, enjoying their respective charms, attractions and even their quirks.
“They both have great beaches, great boardwalks, and they’re both great for the family,” she said.
So, which is your preferred Ocean City? Which one do you know better?
Let’s find out.
Quiz: Which Ocean City is it?
If the interactive quiz below doesn’t load, click here.
1. Both Ocean City, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland, have skateboard parks. But which has the world’s oldest municipal skatepark, and when was did it open?
A. OCNJ, 1985
B. OCMD, 1976
C. OCNJ, 1971
D. OCMD, 1989
2. Every seaside town worth its salt(water) has parades, but one town hosts a parade of pooches. What town is it, and what breed is featured?
A. OCNJ and basset hounds
B. OCMD and golden retrievers
C. OCNJ and boxers
D. OCMD and pugs
3. Beauty pageants are a fixture of resort towns. One town, though, has a beauty pageant where its participants needn’t worry about being named Miss Congeniality. In fact, the crabbier they are, the better. Which city hosts a pageant for hermit crabs and what is it called?
A. OCMD, Crustacean Sensations Pageant
B. OCNJ, Heavenly Hermits Pageant
C. OCMD, Shells Belles Pageant
D. OCNJ, Miss Crustacean Pageant
4. Both Ocean City, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland, have rides and attractions. Which city, though, has the oldest continually operating carousel in the U.S., and how long has it been in its current location?
A. OCMD, since 1899
B. OCNJ, since 1901
C. OCMD, since 1912
D. OCNJ, since 1922
5. Which Ocean City has a costumed mascot, and what is its name?
A. OCMD, Sandy S. Starfish
B. OCNJ, Martin Z. Mollusk
C. OCMD, Chris D. Crabb
D. OCNJ, Harvey Horseshoe
6. Fishing is a popular pastime in any coastal community. But this one hosts an annual marlin fishing competition that draws celebrities like Michael Jordan and Emeril Lagasse, awarding millions of dollars in prize money. Who hosts the competition, and what year did it begin?
A. OCNJ, 1952
B. OCMD, 1983
C. OCNJ, 2001
D. OCMD, 1974
7. Every resort has its local characters. This town once had a resident who was known for walking the boardwalk with a boom box, belting out hits by a beloved rock ‘n’ roll icon. Who was the resident, which boardwalk did he patrol, and who was the artist they played?
A. OCMD, Webster Norman, The Beatles
B. OCNJ, Norm Peterson, Bruce Springsteen
C. OCMD, Norman Webb, Elvis Presley
D. OCNJ, Greg Norman, Pat Benatar
8. One night a week during the summer season, this Ocean City hosts contests where kids of all ages can sculpt masterpieces from cookies, salt water taffy, French fries and even a mystery bag of whatever. Which Ocean City hosts it, and which night of the week is it?
A. OCNJ, Wacky Wednesday
B. OCMD, Tacky Tuesday
C. OCNJ, Monday Mayhem
D. OCMD, Freaky Friday
9. If you want this with your fries, you’ll have to bring it with you to this Ocean City boardwalk staple. Which Ocean City, which condiment, and what’s the establishment?
A. OCMD, mustard, Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille
B. OCNJ, butter, Johnson’s Popcorn
C. OCMD, ketchup, Thrasher’s French Fries
D. OCNJ, peppers, Manco & Manco Pizza
10. Both Ocean City, New Jersey, and Ocean City, Maryland, have drawn fishermen and sailors since the 1700s, and both evolved from sleepy villages to the thriving resorts they are today. But one was imagined as a religious retreat. Which Ocean City was it, and what denomination were the men who purchased the land in 1879 for that purpose?
A. OCMD, Mormons
B. OCNJ, Methodists
C. OCMD, Mennonites
D. OCNJ, Quakers
1. B. Ocean City, Maryland’s Ocean Bowl opened in the early summer of 1976, and became an East Coast hotbed for skaters.
2. A. Ocean City, New Jersey’s annual Doo Dah Parade welcomes the spring season with a comic parade that ends on the boardwalk and features more than 300 basset hounds.
3. D. Ocean City, New Jersey, hosts its annual Miss Crustacean Pageant Aug. 17. Families, kids, businesses and organizations are invited to decorate their hermit crabs and vie for the coveted Cucumber Rind Cup and a walk down a flowery runway.
4. C. The Menagerie carousel at Trimper’s Amusements in Ocean City, Maryland, is the oldest continually operational carousel in America. Its 47 carved animals, three chariots and a rocking chair have occupied the same Atlantic Avenue location since 1912.
5. B. Martin Z. Mollusk is more than a mustard-yellow human-sized hermit crab: Each May, he looks for his shadow in an oceanside version of Groundhog’s Day, to predict an early summer and, hopefully, a successful summer season for Ocean City, New Jersey.
6. D. Ocean City, Maryland, has hosted the White Marlin Open since 1974. The 2021 first place winner, Butch Wright, won more than $3.2 million for hauling in an 85.5 pound fish.
7. C. Norman Webb, was known to stroll the Ocean City, Maryland, boardwalk with a boombox, belting out Elvis Presley songs. Known as “Boardwalk Elvis,” Webb died in 2018 at 78.
8. A. Wacky Wednesdays in Ocean City, New Jersey, also include a pie-eating contest and crown-making contest.
9. C. If you like ketchup on your fries, bring the Heinz with you to Thrasher’s; they serve it with salt and apple cider vinegar only. The formula must work: Thrasher’s website offers a camera to check out the line before you go.
10. B. Methodist ministers Ezra B. Lake, James Lake, S. Wesley Lake and William Burrell purchased land in what is now Ocean City, New Jersey in 1879 to create a Christian resort and camp meeting place. The four met under a cedar tree that still stands at 6th and Asbury to form the Ocean City Association, which built streets and sold lots for commercial and residential use.
Phaedra Trethan has been a reporter and editor in South Jersey since 2007 and has covered Camden and surrounding areas since 2015, concentrating on issues relating to quality of life and social justice for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal. She’s called South Jersey home since 1971, and has eaten more than her share of Johnson’s Popcorn and Shriver’s Fudge on the Ocean City, New Jersey boardwalk. Contact her with feedback, news tips or questions at [email protected], on Twitter @By_Phaedra, or by phone at 856.486-2417.
Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.