Have you ever found yourself looking in the mirror and saying, “I just don’t have time to even think anymore?”
Well, then, you haven’t fully experienced the beauty and tranquility of Ocean City in the winter, or as some say, the off-season.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed during these winter months, with the shortened daylight hours and the daily pressures of work and family. But for those living in or visiting Ocean City, it is a place where they can slow down and find the quiet time they need to relax and think.
Bill and Emily Marks, from Williamstown, N.J., and Ocean City, come down every weekend with their dog, Marty, in the off-season.
When asked why they visit Ocean City so often, Bill noted, “for solitude,” and Emily replied, “It’s because every weekend is a vacation.”
“It’s a lot different than the summer, when the crowds come,” Bill said. “We like summer, but we really appreciate the serenity of the off-season.”
Ocean City has often been compared to a town in a Hallmark movie. This comparison happens not only when the city is decked out with garland, wreaths and beautiful red bows strung throughout the downtown over the holidays, but also from its trimmings during the winter months.
The calming white lights hanging from the trees as you enter town over the 34th Street bridge and the beautiful mix of colors reflecting off the waters of the Great Egg Harbor Bay from the Ninth Street bridge remind residents and visitors of what makes Ocean City Hallmark movie-worthy.
Every day, a relaxing stroll on Asbury Avenue, a walk or bike ride on the Boardwalk or a walk on the beach, either alone or with your dog, can provide a sense of inner peace.
Ocean City resident Jeff Spengler and his 8-month old puppy Tamaskan and 2-year old German Shepherd Bella enjoy their beach time running and playing ball.
“It’s great to be able to come here and have the whole beach for the dogs to play,” Spengler said. “It’s so quiet, and it’s the best way for all of us to get our exercise.”
Dogs are allowed on the beach from Oct. 1 to April 30.
Jim and Donna Swanson, from Cherry Hill, N.J., and North Cape May, stopped at the 34th Street beach before heading to an estate sale.
“We love the beach in the winter,” Donna said. “You can appreciate it so much more without the crowds.”
Whether enjoying the beach or the Boardwalk, the sunshine glistening off the water or the smell of the crisp winter ocean, visitors and residents alike find a tranquil setting for reflection and serenity. Yes, even the intermittent cawing of the seagulls can be soothing this time of year.
The Zingrone family, Joe, Denise, Joey and Gracie, from Hammonton, N.J., took a break from their hectic lives to take a leisurely walk on the Boardwalk before heading to breakfast.
“We enjoy walking on the Boardwalk,” Denise said. “We spend a week here in the summer but found in the fall how convenient it was for us to come during the winter.”
Chris and Karen Nastuta, who live in Baltimore, came to visit family in Ocean City and took advantage of the warmer weather Sunday to stroll the Boardwalk.
“We summer in Ocean City for a week and visit periodically throughout the year. Walking on the Boardwalk is major exercise for us,” Karen said with a smile.
Archie Karcher, a first-year, year-round resident said, “When it was time for my wife and I to downsize, we traveled up and down the East Coast to see where we should relocate.”
It wasn’t a hard decision for Karcher and his wife to settle in Ocean City. His wife summered in Ocean City since she was a child, and he has come here for 40 years.
“The hometown feel is what kept bringing us back here, so this is where we decided to stay,” Karcher said. “So many other beach communities outside of New Jersey are desolate in the winter. Here, there are so many events and activities, plus I walk the whole Boardwalk almost every day. It’s serene and so peaceful.”
Whether your word is serene, peaceful or tranquil, it seems all are a fitting description for the off-season in Ocean City.