Mother’s Day Weekend in Ocean City, NJ
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Since becoming a mom almost 8 years ago, Mother’s Day has been…interesting. Not bad, but interesting. Online, I always see posts from friends talking about their moms on Mother’s Day. They’re either sharing how amazing their moms are or sharing how their moms have passed on and now they miss them. For a number of reasons, I am unable to relate to these posts. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy that my friends have had amazing experiences with their mothers and my heart breaks when I see “in remembrance” posts of moms on Mother’s Day (or any day, really). I just can’t relate. I don’t talk about my childhood or my past much on the blog, but I will mention that my very first Mother’s Day was the day we officially cut ties with my parents. To be honest, it was a long time coming and would’ve happened eventually if it didn’t happen on that specific day. I just don’t like that it happened on, of ALL days, my very first Mother’s Day. Since then, my quality of life (and my family’s quality of life) has improved tremendously, but there will always be that little voice in the back of my head reminding me what happened on that day. The voice gets a little bit softer every year, so that’s good, but it still tries hard to put a damper on a day that is meant for celebration. impala island inn chatterbox preps pizza ocean city restaurants south jersey family
Anyways, since then, The Mister has tried to make Mother’s Day extra special for me. Like he does his best to make sure February is a happy month (see: That Time Trusting My OBGYN Nearly Killed Me Series if you don’t know what I’m talking about), he’ll do what he can to make Mother’s Day a happy day. Last year, I got breakfast in bed (don’t recommend that – it was so messy!) and a laid-back day when I could do anything I wanted. This year, he booked a family weekend away in my local happy place: Ocean City, New Jersey. He somehow managed to keep it a secret until the Wednesday before. He probably would’ve kept it a secret longer, but I’m the one that does the packing for vacations, so I bet he wanted me to get that done because, despite what my boys think, wearing clothes is a necessity. He booked a long weekend at one of our go-to hotels: The Impala Island Inn so we could all enjoy some family time together. We stayed at Impala Island Inn for our honeymoon almost 12 years ago (I know, Ocean City isn’t the type of island most people go to for their honeymoon, but it fit our budget at the time and we enjoyed ourselves) and have stayed there for a few family vacations since. Located at 10th and Ocean, it’s just behind Playland’s Castaway Cove and literally steps from the beach. We especially love that they run specials throughout the year that make for an affordable Ocean City vacation.
When The Mister got home from work on Friday, we packed up the car and hit the road for our weekend away! When we arrived, we first checked in at Impala Island and then headed straight for the boardwalk – we were hungry! Prep’s Pizza & Dairy Bar is one of our favorite pizza spots on the boardwalk. It’s nice and close to our hotel, right next to Castaway Cove, they take credit cards, their pizza is reasonably priced, and…last, but certainly not least, their pizza is delicious! Their walls are a bright, happy orange (Big Dude’s favorite color)and they have giant canvases hanging with photos of rides at Castaway Cove. We all love watching the pizza guy spin pizza dough and make pizzas at the counter, too! When we were done our pizza, we needed (yes, needed) some ice cream! Since it was just after 9pm and it was before Memorial Day, most of the ice cream shops were closed, but we did find that George’s was open! For whatever reason, I’m not finding the address of the specific shop we visited, but it was super close to Prep’s Pizza. I got Reese’s PB cup, Little Dude got Vanilla, Big Dude got Muddy Sneakers (vanilla with Reese’s and caramel swirls), and The Mister got George’s Macaroon ice cream (vanilla ice cream with bits of their coconut macaroon throughout = absolutely delicious!). We all enjoyed our cups of ice cream back at the hotel since it was getting late and we wanted to relax with some TV before heading to bed.
Saturday in Ocean City!
The next morning, the boys woke up at the crack of dawn (aka 6:30am – they usually sleep until like 7:30 on the weekend, but I guess they were excited!) so we got ready and headed over to breakfast early. With many of the packages available at Impala Island Inn, breakfast at a local restaurant is included. Last year, breakfast was included at Blooming Tulip (which has since been demolished to make way for a new hotel) and Cafe Beach Club on the boardwalk, but there have been some changes this year. This time, breakfast for 2 was included at a different restaurant. While it was super close to the hotel and service was on-par, I’ve got to be honest and say we were not impressed with the food. The boys got the kid’s pancake mea, I got an omelette, and The Mister got french toast. The pancakes were more like thin crepes and, in my opinion, didn’t taste like much. They got cranberry juice and orange juice to drink and they both were visibly watered down. My omelette was a decent size, but didn’t seem to have any seasoning and were pretty underwhelming. We are hoping that there will be other options for breakfasts included with our upcoming summer vacation at Impala Island Inn this summer.
After breakfast, we gathered up our beach chairs and toys and headed to the beach! Since the beach is free until June 1st, we didn’t need beach tags, so we walked right onto the sand and found ourselves a spot pretty close to the water. Since it was still on the cooler side, I didn’t pack any bathing suits. This, however, didn’t stop the boys from getting in the water and getting their clothes wet (thank goodness I packed extra outfits!). We all played in the sand, making sand castles and digging in the sand. Somehow, this was the FIRST time in my LIFE (and I’ve been going to Ocean City since I was little, so that’s a long time!) that I ever found crabs in the sand! Most were about a half inch to an inch long – they blended right into the sand and surprised us when we’d dig and see something wiggling in the sand. It was SO cool!! We were all amazed at the little creatures we were finding so easily and thought they looked so cute walking sideways on the sand. impala island inn chatterbox preps pizza ocean city restaurants south jersey family
While we did have a blast on the beach on Saturday, it was also pretty windy…and none of us brought our jackets to the beach! We probably stayed on the beach for about an hour or so before heading back to the room so the boys could shower and get into some clean clothes that weren’t covered in sand. By the time they were dressed, it was time for lunch. I had been wanting to try out Ike’s Famous Crabcakes for a while, so we walked down and got ourselves a table. I LOVE crab. Like, LOVE LOVE LOVE crab. I could eat it every day of my life and be perfectly happy. You may remember that time I got the Crab Cake Benedict from Roots Cafe in Maple Shade. Well, it was time to try out another crab cake and what better place to eat at than one advertising famous crab cakes?! Before getting our lunch, though, The Mister and I required a little caffeination, so we stopped by Ocean City Coffee Company and got ourselves some of their coffee. The Mister got their banana foster flavor and I got their chocolate mint flavor. A daily stop at the Ocean City Coffee Company is a must during our OCNJ visits – I highly recommend stopping by and getting yourself a pick-me-up.
After getting coffee, we continued walking to Ike’s, walked inside, and found ourselves a booth very easily. Our waiter came over to greet us very quickly and, before long, we had our order placed! The boys got their crunchy chicken fingers which came served in a souvenir beach bucket with butterfly chips. You guys – if you ever forget to bring beach toys, head over to Ike’s for lunch because they will hook you up! The waiter was SO nice to the boys and brought them their requested ketchup and bbq sauce quickly. The Mister and I each got their “Famous 4oz Grilled Crabcake Sandwich.” It came served in a basket alongside a small container of coleslaw and their fresh fried butterfly chips. In addition to the ketchup and bbq sauce, the water brought over 4 containers of sauce for us to use: creamy horseradish, sun-dried tomato tarter, roasted red pepper, and cocktail sauce. You guys, you gotta try their roasted red pepper sauce. It added that extra little “something something” to my crab cake sandwich. To say we enjoyed our lunch would be an extreme understatement. The chicken fingers and sandwiches were fresh and delicious and their butterfly chips were hot and crispy. We will DEFINITELY be back to dine at Ike’s!
When we were done eating lunch, it was getting to be time for the rides to open! One, of many, reason I love going to Ocean City over Mother’s Day is that moms are able to go on the rides for FREE (on Father’s Day, dads ride free, too!). As we walked from Ike’s to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, we walked into a few stores and did some window shopping. When we got to Gillian’s, most of the indoor rides were on, but only 2 outdoor attractions were open. Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time at Gillian’s, but the boys did get to ride some of their favorites! After the boys went on a few rides, we walked over to Playland’s Castaway Cove to go on even more rides!
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Playland was honoring their “moms ride free” offer on Saturday! There was a 100% chance of rain for Mother’s Day on Sunday, so I totally appreciated them giving moms this offer early! I got to go on the Buccanear Pirate Ship with Little Dude and we both had a BLAST! This was his first time on the pirate ship and I was so glad that he enjoyed it! The Mister then took the boys on the fun house “ride” (Surf Shack) while I sat a bench and watched (this attraction starts with one of those rotating cylinders like the one shown in the carnival scene of Grease and, for whatever reason, I can’t handle that!). Then, both boys wanted to go on the Tilt-a-Whirl. One of my favorite rides growing up, I was more than happy to take them on the Tilt-a-Whirl! You know what, though? I must be getting old or something because I swear I will never go on a Tilt-a-Whirl again in my life! I felt so nauseous a few seconds into the ride and actually needed to go back to the hotel to lay down afterwards! It was awful to feel like such a buzzkill, but, you guys…my stomach was NOT happy with me. Luckily, The Mister was able to let me rest in the room and then took the boys back to go on more rides.
About an hour and a half later, I started feeling better and figured we should start thinking about dinner! I called The Mister and asked him to bring the boys back to the room so we could get on the road because we had planned on going to one of our favorite buffets in Atlantic City for dinner. We discovered the Palace Court Buffet at Caesars Atlantic City a few years ago and have been going a few times a year ever since. There are MANY places to get a great meal in Atlantic City, but we’ve found that we can get a great meal and bang for our buck at the Palace Court Buffet. With every paying adult, one child under the age of 10 eats free! Now, this does not include holidays, but we just make sure to not go there on a holiday. With our free Total Rewards Card, we can save a few dollars off each of our meals so we end up paying about $90 for our family of four after taxes (before tip). Now, the boys in my family would find their favorite foods on this buffet any day of the week. Me, though? I prefer to go there on the weekend because that’s when they serve prime rib and crab legs – my absolute favorites! Just like Rodizio Grill, this is another restaurant I recommend wearing stretchy pants to! impala island inn chatterbox preps pizza ocean city restaurants south jersey family
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for the night. We got back around 8:30 and were pleasantly surprised to see that, even though it was starting to rain, the rides at Castaway Cove were still open! We walked over and got one ride on the Ferris Wheel in before they closed for the night. It was absolutely FREEZING (especially at the top of the ride), but the view of Ocean City at night was so pretty that it was totally worth it!
Sunday in Ocean City!
Sunday morning, we woke up and it was POURING RAIN! That prediction of 100% chance of rain on Mother’s Day was spot on. The Mister went out to get some donuts and coffee for us and the boys and I stayed in bed and watched tv. He returned with a dozen donuts from Wards Pastry and coffee from our beloved Ocean City Coffee Company. We were so excited for donuts that we all dove in before I got to take a photo! Then, while I took a shower, the boys got dressed so we could find something to keep ourselves occupied on this rainy day. This was not an easy task and we were not very successful finding something indoors to do in Ocean City before Memorial Day and the official start of the season. I wanted to go to the Ocean City Historical Museum, but they were closed on Sundays! I had also been wanting to go to Discovery Seashell Museum, so I checked their website and it looked like they were open on Sundays! Great, right?! Well, we drove to the shop only to find the doors locked and lights turned off. They were closed, too! Next time, we’ll make sure to call before we drive over.
Now, even though we were unsuccessful with an indoor activity, that doesn’t mean that Ocean City does not have great activities for rainy days! Our favorite pottery studio in Ocean City, Glazed Over Studios, was open, but there’s usually about a week turnaround to have projects complete (the finished pieces need to go in the kiln to be fired), and I knew we wouldn’t be able to come back in the next few weeks to pickup. They also offer delivery, but I didn’t want to risk projects getting broken in transit. Instead, we drove around the island for a bit and looked at the gorgeous houses! The Mister and I dream of owning a home in Ocean City one day and love to drive around and plan out what we want our house to look like. Who knows if it’ll ever happen, but it’s fun to dream and imagine, right?!
It was inevitable that the boys would be hungry AGAIN, so we decided to have one last meal in Ocean City that weekend and headed over to The Chatterbox. Believe it or not, but even though I’d been coming to Ocean City since I was little, I had NEVER eaten at The Chatterbox. Crazy! We took this rainy day as an opportunity to enjoy a meal there! You guys, it definitely did not disappoint. When we walked in, it felt as though we were transported back in time. Jazz music was playing on the speakers, there was a counter serving up ice cream on one wall, and there was a definite diner feel in all the decor. It was cozy and just what we needed on that rainy day. The boys ordered chocolate chip pancakes, The Mister ordered a Western Omelette, and I got a ham/cheese/onion omelette. Apparently we were going for a “breakfast for lunch” theme! All meals were made and served quickly. The boys pancakes were perfect – just the right amount of crisp on the outside while warm & fluffy on the inside. The Mister and I raved about the fingerling potatoes served alongside the omelettes. So delicious! Our omelettes were perfectly seasoned and the eggs weren’t runny at all (a major pet-peeve of mine). Their coffee was surprisingly strong (a good thing) and did a great job at giving us a little energy boost. I don’t know what took us so long to eat a meal at this peachy-pink building, but I can guarantee you that we’ll be back again soon!
After our meal ended, we headed back to the hotel so we could start loading up the car and we could check out. Even though their Mother’s Day package included three nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), the boys had to go to school the next day and The Mister had go to back to work. We did consider having the boys do a day off from school, but, since rain was in the forecast for Monday (ugh) we figured it would be better to have The Mister save his vacation days for another adventure.
That concludes our Mother’s Day weekend in Ocean City! Holy moly, we packed a lot into a short weekend! Have you ever spent a holiday or vacation in Ocean City? As you know, it’s one of my favorite places, so I definitely recommend taking a trip there…either as a couple, by yourself, or with kids! Once Memorial Day rolls around and the attractions are open for the season, there’s plenty more to do. To be honest, though, it was nice to be able to relax and explore a bit while it was raining outside.
Do you have a restaurant or attraction to recommend in Ocean City? Or any beach town in New Jersey? Let us know – we love exploring and trying out new attractions and food!