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Flying to ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort’

Ocean City, New Jersey

A fresh sea breeze swirls into the Cessna 170’s cockpit when the door opens. Destination relaxation—the soft sand and breaking waves at Ocean City, New Jersey—is so close you can feel it.

Dubbed “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” Ocean City offers something for everyone: A beach, a boardwalk, restaurants galore, shops, and an amusement park, to name a few. Ocean City Municipal Airport is within walking distance of the beach and just a couple of miles from the boardwalk’s festivities.

Don't forget your beach umbrella! Beach umbrellas pack easily in the airplane and are lightweight to carry to the beach, and they help provide hours of shade and sun protection so you can enjoy the sand and waves all day! Photo by Alyssa J. Cobb.

My husband and I have flown our Cessna 170B from Maryland to Ocean City for a day trip. A 1.5 hour flight with no traffic beat four hours on the road, and we can spend most of our day actually at the beach. The airport is popular, and several couples and families of beachgoers clad in swimsuits and trunks have also flown in, tied down, and headed through the FBO to the ocean just a couple of blocks away. The Airport Diner bustles with customers, and children watch aircraft come and go from a playground near the ramp. One toddler yells “Bye-bye airplane!” each time an aircraft takes off.

Even though the beach is within easy walking distance, my husband and I packed our folding bikes to make it easier to transport our beach towels, umbrella, and cooler with snacks. Bike lanes, sidewalks, and the boardwalk make this beach town ideal for biking. Fencing and numerous bike racks offer ample room for you to chain your bike beside the beach, explore shops, or walk on the boardwalk during hours when bikes are prohibited (after noon daily). The boardwalk runs 2.5 of the eight-mile shore along Ocean City.

Walk, bike, or drive around the streets of Ocean City for a look at beautiful homes and their manicured lawns. The private homes and rental beach houses give Ocean City part of its family-friendly vibe instead of miles of high-rise condos and malls. Photo by Alyssa J. Cobb.

From the airport to the boardwalk, you’ll pass by Victorian beach houses with immaculately manicured lawns, offering roomy accommodations for large families. But, there’s also camping, hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts, and resorts.

The boardwalk is abuzz with activity during the summer, particularly in the late afternoon and evening, but it’s open year-round and offers special events such as parades, the Annual Auto Show, and a New Year’s Eve celebration and Polar Bear Plunge. If you love to people watch, just sit on any of the wooden benches along the boardwalk to see folks of all ages and ethnicities enjoying the atmosphere with their friends and family. Shops and restaurants on the boardwalk run from 14th Street to 6th Street. There’s no shortage of places to eat. Whatever you want, they probably have it: bakeries, ice cream shops, sandwich joints, and nice sit-down restaurants. We had packed a picnic lunch to eat on the beach but enjoyed a sandwich, burger, and fries for dinner on the boardwalk while we watched people pass by.

Playland’s Castaway Cove is a sight from the air, with its large Ferris wheel towering above the north end of the boardwalk. The amusement park has offered entertainment on the boardwalk for more than 55 years and now features more than 32 rides.

So, whether you want a relaxing one-day getaway at the beach or are looking for a vacation, head to this family friendly Jersey Shore destination.

Tips for flying to Ocean City

Ocean City Municipal Airport runs parallel to the shore, and there’s often a crosswind. It has the same radio frequency (122.7 MHz) and shares one runway orientation (6/24) as Ocean County Airport in Toms River, New Jersey, just over 40 miles to the north, so make sure to listen carefully to the full airport name on radio communications.

The airport has a modest $12 fee for tying down on the ramp for the day (it’s not waived even if you buy fuel). But, that’s a small price to pay, considering you can use their two outdoor showers for free to clean up and change clothes.

If you want to fly along the coast, watch for banner towers who make regular laps around the beach and boardwalk. And if you fly north, note that Atlantic City’s Class C airspace is about two miles north of Ocean City Municipal. Stay below 1,300 feet msl to be under the floor of the Class C’s outer shelf.

  • Fly along the coast before coming in to land at New Jersey's Ocean City Municipal Airport for a day-trip to the beach: The airport is so close to the ocean you can feel the sea breeze; plus, it's within easy walking and biking distance. Photo by Alyssa Cobb.
  • Dubbed "America's Greatest Family Resort," Ocean City, New Jersey, offers fun for the whole family. Photo by Alyssa J. Cobb.
  • With the Cessna 170B tied down and folding bikes assembled, we're ready to head to Ocean City's famous boardwalk. Photo by Alyssa J. Cobb.
  • Stick your toes in the sand, get a little sun, and listen to the waves crash onto the beach for some relaxation at America's Greatest Family Resort. Photo by Alyssa Cobb.
  • Early of the morning, few people are on the boardwalk, making it perfect for jogging or riding bikes. Bicycles are prohibited on the boardwalk after noon, when foot traffic starts to pick up. Go for a stroll of the evening in the summer, and you'll be shoulder to shoulder with other beach goers. Photo by Alyssa J. Cobb.
Alyssa J. Miller
Alyssa J. Cobb
The former senior director of digital media, Alyssa J. Cobb was on the AOPA staff from 2004 until 2023. She is a flight instructor, and loves flying her Cessna 170B with her husband and two children. Alyssa also hosts the weekly Fly with AOPA show on the AOPA Pilot Video YouTube channel.
Topics: Travel, U.S. Travel

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