New Jersey : Safety by City
- Asbury Park
- Atlantic City
- East Orange
- Hamilton Township
- Jersey City
- Long Beach Island
- Mountain Lakes
- Mt. Laurel
- New Brunswick
- Red Bank
- Seaside Heights
- Toms River
- Upper Township & Ocean City
- West Orange
Ocean City, New Jersey, is known as “America’s Great Family Resort.”
It sits on a barrier island that also borders Upper Township, which is another beachfront community with a great residential area inland.
The resort history of Ocean City goes back to 1879, when it was designated as a Christian seaside getaway.
It was always destined to be family-friendly, and alcohol has never been allowed.
It’s a “dry town” to this day.
The town’s history is reflected in its well-preserved Victorian architecture and charming atmosphere.
Visitors can explore the Ocean City Historical Museum to learn about its past and appreciate its unique heritage, but let’s be honest, people come here for the eight miles of pristine beaches.
This is yet another New Jersey Shore community with miles of beach and boardwalk mixed together with a playful atmosphere of games, entertainment, and a wide variety of food.
Ocean City is also just 11 miles from Atlantic City, making a great juxtaposition of adult fun and relaxing family vacations.
Is Ocean City as wholesome as it seems?
Before you book the ticket, let’s talk about the travel safety advice everyone needs to know.
Warnings & Dangers in Upper Township & Ocean City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk for the most part, but to be fully transparent, the city has seen an ongoing onslaught of juvenile crime. Usually done in masses, the problems are facing significant crackdowns in 2023. It's definitely something to be aware of if you are bringing teenagers with you or plan to be out at night.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Look at NJ Transit for the best route to get to Ocean City. The OC Jitney can seasonally get you around the boardwalk. Taxis and rideshares are available, but you'll likely be using pedicabs on the boardwalk if you don't want to walk. Rental cars are available to get to Ocean City, and there's plenty of parking.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
As with any tourist destination, you'll treat this with a medium risk. Don't bring more than you need, and never leave bags or valuables unattended. Keep your car empty, and if you want to pack up the trunk with stuff, do so before you get to the final parking spot.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
You need to stay weather aware year-round since there's potential for a medium risk every month. You also should know the tide schedules, surf forecasts, and weather forecasts for each day. Check the water quality at each beach before you dive in.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
This is a lower risk, with the latest crime data showing just a handful of robberies. I'd use extra caution after night with the juvenile crime surge.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
This is a low risk, as this popular beach wouldn't fall into a "hard target" category. There's a bigger risk those crowds of kids will get out of control and cause problems or that a fistfight could turn into a gunfight.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Use caution when renting a home here. Rental scammers love to offer bargain deals on homes that don't really exist or don't have access. If you rent through a BBB and Chamber of Commerce-certified rental company, that risk goes down.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The only caution I'd give women here is to avoid any house parties. Since alcohol isn't allowed at bars and restaurants, people might get around the rules by offering booze at a private place. It's just not wise to go anywhere that isn't a public place when visiting a new town. Talk to your teenagers about the risk of underage drinking parties. The penalties for underage drinking in New Jersey are strict.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
I'll admit I get a sense of relief when I see a water quality report from American Water, as they give great information about the water supply and have an overall good rating for its system. Ocean City is no different, with the 2022 Water Quality Report showing full compliance and no violations.
Safest Places to Visit in Upper Township & Ocean City
You want to be careful when researching Ocean City since Maryland has a popular city of the same name.
OceanCityVacation.com is the Chamber of Commerce website for the New Jersey location.
You can download a free visitor’s guide while you’re there.
The city website also has a lot of great tourist information.
You can also review the Upper Township website for details of that location, and Sea Isle City, New Jersey, has its own website too.
One of the things I love most about a barrier island is that you get the ocean side and the bay side to explore the water.
Ocean City has eight miles of white sand beaches and is a popular place for surfers.
Surfboards are available for rent, and it would be helpful to take a lesson.
You can also rent paddleboards or kayaks.
Egg Harbor Bay is popular with anglers, and you can rent boats and navigate through the islands.
The back bay is also a great place to see birds and butterflies seasonally.
The Boardwalk spans 2.5 miles and is wide enough for walkers, cyclists, and runners.
Along the way, you’ll pass restaurants, candy shops (hello, saltwater taffy!), and ice cream stores.
Two must-see boardwalk attractions are Gillian’s Wonderland Pier at Boardwalk and 6th Street and Playland’s Castaway Cove at Boardwalk and 10th Street.
Check the weekly schedule for music at The Music Pier, where a variety of events and artists perform for generations of crowds.
Don’t confuse the Boardwalk with downtown, as Asbury Street brings a new list of stores and restaurants to explore with more than 100 options.
The Ocean City Historical Museum is a great place to add to your trip itinerary to appreciate the places you’ll see during the trip.
You can learn about shipwrecks off the coast, which usually piques the interest of kids.
Bayside Center also offers an indoor museum with lifeguard artifacts, ship replicas, and environmental exhibits.
You can also explore the nearby beaches of Corson’s Inlet State Park, Whale Beach (unguarded), and Sea Isle City Beach.
Roads do connect you all the way to the tip of Cape May Point.
Places to Avoid in Upper Township & Ocean City
The trends in Ocean City are not really focused on bad parts of town, though it’s always wise to stick to the tourist areas.
Don’t go wandering into residential neighborhoods or drop into a house party where you don’t know anyone.
The real risk here is the random acts of juvenile crime.
It could be rowdy teens tearing up a bathroom or a fight breaking out on the beach.
You might be shopping at a store when a group rushes in and steals a bunch of stuff.
You can’t really avoid these places, but you can avoid getting involved or speaking up with it happens.
Get away from any situation like that and just call the police.
They’re especially sensitive to this ongoing problem.
Also, Ocean City is known as a “dry” town, meaning you can’t buy or drink alcohol there.
Yet, alcohol is still a problem here.
It’s not illegal for adults of drinking age (21) to bring alcohol to a hotel room or rental home, but you won’t have a glass of wine with dinner.
Some people will sneak alcohol in backpacks, which has led to backpack restrictions (more on that later).
Safety Tips for Traveling to Upper Township & Ocean City
- Ocean City has its own police department. Follow them on Facebook @ocnjpolice. Since Upper Township gets its law enforcement from New Jersey State Police, you’ll have to sift through the information at @NJSP.
- Both cities use CodeRED for emergency notification systems, and it’s wise to sign up on both city websites. You can’t afford to miss weather or emergency warnings, especially with all the juvenile disruptions in recent years.
- If you see any criminal activity or vandalism, don’t intervene. Always call 911 immediately. You don’t want to put yourself in harm’s way with the unpredictability of criminals in America today.
- Unlike Atlantic City beaches to the north, you’ll need beach tags to get onto the beaches of Ocean City and Sea Isle City. Beaches that are under the oversight of Upper Township do not require beach tags.
- It is illegal to sell products on the beach, so any vendor who might approach you is breaking the law. Even if they show a permit, it’s fake. Report them to the police.
- No alcohol or vaping is allowed on the beach. Fires and grills are banned too.
- Do not feed the seagulls or leave food exposed when you’re on the beach or in the water. Human food can make the birds sick and cause them to be more aggressive toward other people.
- The Ocean City Beach Control provides lifeguards during certain hours in the summer. It is strongly advised that you only swim on guarded beaches. A full list of those beaches is on the city’s website. Off-season visitors should look at the list of guarded beaches throughout the year.
- Plastic bags and polystyrene containers are not allowed in New Jersey. You won’t get a plastic straw with a drink unless you specifically request one. It’s smart to bring your own reusable straw as an eco-friendly step.
- If you’ll be using the Jitney to get around, you’ll need cash. The rides cost $2 each way. Drivers can provide change, but you can also make it faster for everyone if you bring $1 bills.
So... How Safe Is Upper Township & Ocean City Really?
One of the problems with New Jersey cities is that most don’t report the voluntary crime data to the FBI.
The same goes for Ocean City, where we don’t have data since 2020.
Unfortunately, that was a pandemic year and shouldn’t be taken as a good reflection.
What we can tell you is that over Memorial Day weekend in 2023, the city was overrun with juvenile mayhem.
- Underage drinking
- Firearm confiscation
All beach towns were required to close at 8:00 pm in the summer of 2023, and backpacks were banned on the boardwalk after that same time of day.
Boardwalk bathrooms were closed at 10:00 pm, and the juvenile curfew was changed from 1:00 am to 11:00 pm.
You can expect those closures to continue if the chaos continues.
“I understand that these new directives will affect many people who are not teens, but it’s important that we stop this type of behavior now,” Mayor Jay Gillian said.
“In the end, protecting our reputation as ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort’ will benefit everybody in Ocean City.
We want parents, grandparents, and families to know that we’re all in this together, and we will be holding people accountable.”
Nearby Sea Isle City had to institute similar changes.
There’s a nationwide trend of teenagers causing problems and being destructive since there are so few long-term consequences.
While any beach destination on the Jersey Shore is going to bring definite risks, it’s particularly appealing that a beach founded on family values is being reduced to restrictions because kids can’t be kept in line.
If you’re bringing teenagers to the beach, have a talk with them about the risks and dangers of following suit.
Law enforcement has expressed permission to hold teenagers more accountable than in the past, and this is a problem that could scar the pristine beaches for generations to come.
Wear yourself out during the day and enjoy long dinners at your hotel or rental to enjoy the night.
How Does Upper Township & Ocean City Compare?
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|Belize City (Belize)||37|
|La Paz (Bolivia)||52|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
- Visas - International visitors need a passport and visa or visa waiver before entering the country at the airport or the port of entry. If you're eligible for a visa waiver, it's much easier to go through that process. You can start at the U.S. State Department website to get the right information.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only currency accepted here. Due to the high volume of tourists, carrying large amounts of cash isn't ideal. Exchange currency before you get to the beach town. In fact, your home bank will have the lowest fees and best exchange rates.
- Weather - You'll need to pack for seasonally appropriate adventures. Winters will get cold, so don't let the beach vibe make you think otherwise. Summers will be warm and humid, but those nights can be cool. You'll want sunscreen, bug spray, and your favorite hoodie. Bring water shoes for the beach.
- Airports - Atlantic City International Airport is just 17 miles from Ocean City. Philadelphia's airport is 69 miles away, which could take anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes, depending on traffic.
- Travel Insurance - This stretch of beach can close down with tropical weather or strong nor'easters. You want travel insurance that covers that risk. Check the fine print on a rental or hotel booking to see if travel insurance is included in the price.
Upper Township & Ocean City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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