Is Virginia Beach Better Than Ocean City?

Is Virginia Beach Better than Ocean City?

Virginia Beach and Ocean City: Two beach towns, 140.8 miles apart, in two different states. Which one is better? Which one should you visit?

That’s the question that arises in the minds of most people who plan a vacation to the East Coast, and we’re here to answer it! 

If you’re headed to the East Coast and are mulling which place to visit, you’ll find a detailed comparison of both the cities in this article.

This brings us back to our question…

Is Virginia Beach Better Than Ocean City?

Virginia Beach is a good option if you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation with the serene beach surrounding you, a comfortable hotel to stay in, and historical places to visit. It has an approximately 35-mile stretch of shoreline, which includes the famous Chesapeake Bay Beach, Sandbridge Beach, and Virginia Beach. So, that’s like an ultimate beach getaway. However, if you would like to enjoy beach activities and entertainment like amusement parks, live music, and happening nightlife, we suggest going to Ocean City. You can find everything you need on the boardwalk that runs along the beach. 

So, is Virginia Beach better than Ocean City? The answer depends entirely on what you’re looking for.

If that doesn’t answer your question, we have put together the things to do in each town, the best places to stay, and the attractions so you can get a clear picture of what each place offers. 

So, let’s get started!

Things to Do in Ocean City

Ocean City, although significantly smaller than Virginia Beach, has many fun activities for visitors, especially families.

If you’re a fan of loopy rides and games, you’re in for a treat, as Ocean City has not one but three entertainment-packed amusement parks with something for everyone. 

The Jolly Roger at the Pier, Trimper’s Rides, and Baja Amusements have an assortment of fun rides, games, and various other activities for people of all ages.

Ocean City also has the Life-Saving Station Museum and DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. These are for people keen on shipwrecks, rescue missions, and other past events and mysteries. 

For art enthusiasts, there’s the Art League of Ocean City, home to natural artifacts made out of wood, clay, and beeswax by people from yesteryears. 

And obviously, what fun is a beach vacation without some watersports

Head to Paradise Watersports to rent a kayak or pontoon for the day or book a dolphin-watching cruise. 

If you’re in for some thrill, go jet skiing or parasailing for the experience of a lifetime.

Once you’re done with all the adrenaline-pumping activities, you can opt for some relaxing activities like miniature golfing or ice skating.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for a mind-blowing experience with strange yet interactive attractions.

Like we said, Ocean City has plenty of fun activities for the whole family. 

Therefore, if you plan to visit this happening beach town, ensure it’s week-long so you can experience a little bit of everything!

Things to Do in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is significantly larger than Ocean City and has a variety of activities and places to visit. 

Let’s start with something you’ll find in abundance in Virginia Beach: Parks and playgrounds! There are more than 5 big and small parks in the town offering fun activities for visitors. 

The JT Grommet’s Island Park, Atlantic Fun Park, and Mount Trashmore Park have large expanses of grass fields and playgrounds for the kids. 

There are also rides and biking/hiking trails for people who love spending time in the great outdoors. 

Then there’s Neptune Park with a colossal statue of King Neptune, perfect for instagrammable selfies.

The First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park offer kayaking, boating, camping, etc. 

But, the main attraction of these parks is the native birds, ducks, deer, wild horses, and reptiles that can be seen in their natural habitat. 

For people eager to explore things from the past, Virginia Beach has the Beach Surf and Rescue Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, and the Nauticus Naval Museum. 

There’s also the Aquarium, Marine Science Centre, and Norfolk Botanical Garden with exotic sea creatures and plants.

Other activities in Virginia Beach include horseback riding, a variety of watersports, and the famous Haunted Walking Tour. 

It is a 1.5-hour tour along the boardwalk, where a local guide narrates stories about the legends of Blackbeard, the Witch of Pungo, and other native ghosts that haunt the beachfront! 

Now isn’t that a hair-raising experience? 

After a tiring day of exploring the various attractions in Ocean City or Virginia Beach, we’re sure you’ll need a comfortable place to crash! 

Places to Stay in Ocean City

Most of the hotels and condos in Ocean City are located at the beachfront, so you don’t have to walk long distances to get a place to stay. 

If you’re looking for a high-end luxury hotel to stay in, we would recommend the Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Hotels and Suites, and Cambria Hotel Ocean City. 

All these hotels are located on the oceanfront and have amazing views. They offer comfortable rooms, swimming pools, bars, fitness centers, restaurants, and complimentary breakfasts.

Other budget-friendly options include Surf Villa Hotel, Oceanic Motel, Microtel Inn, and Suites by Wyndham. They have clean and cozy rooms, fitness centers, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary breakfasts with a spectacular beach view. 

Places to Stay in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach has some excellent hotels and resorts, although not all are on the beachfront. 

Book a room at the Cavalier Hotel for a place with fantastic architecture and solid historical background from the early 1900s. It has a private beach, salt water pool, and a shuttle service.

If you’re looking for a 5-star luxury place, we recommend staying at the Hampton Inn, Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and Springhill Suites by Marriott. 

These hotels offer complimentary breakfast, swimming pools, and beach access, among other facilities. 

And, if you want a reasonably-priced place to stay, the Howard Johnson by Wyndham, Sundial Inn, and Red Roof Inn are good choices. They offer comfortable rooms, free Wi-Fi, pool access, and free parking.

Now that you’re well-rested and fuelled up, how about we take a stroll on the beach town’s boardwalk?

Ocean City’s Boardwalk

The 2.45-mile-long boardwalk of Ocean City is a beautiful stretch of wooden planks. You can walk the entire length or take a tram from one end to the other. 

You will find several restaurants, bars, and shops along the way, with an amusement park on the South end. There are also kiosks selling snackable like popcorn, fries, funnel cakes, and taffy. 

So, grab a snack and stroll along Ocean City’s boardwalk for a relaxing experience. 

Virginia Beach’s Boardwalk

The boardwalk of Virginia Beach is a 3-mile long and 28 feet wide concrete stretch. 

That gives you plenty of space to walk and move around. Plus, if you’re riding your bicycle along the boardwalk, there’s a separate lane. 

You won’t find many shops along the boardwalk because it is mainly lined with hotels and restaurants. 

Therefore, if you want to enjoy some activities or grab a snack to munch on while you stroll, you’ll have to walk to Atlantic Avenue, which is a block away. 

This is where all the fun happens, as it is full of fast food vendors, ice-cream parlors, gift shops, and other activities. 

The Virginia Beach boardwalk is an awesome place to stroll, run, take your dog for a walk, or just sit and look around. 

Which is Less Crowded?

We would say that Virginia Beach is less crowded than Ocean City. 

The reason is that Virginia Beach is stretched over an expanse of 35 miles and has more places to explore than Ocean City. 

So, the crowds are scattered all over the town, not just gathered in one place.

As for Ocean City, most of its attractions are on or around the boardwalk, so you will find it crowded at all times. 

However, the Northern part of Ocean City is less crowded and more peaceful than the areas near the boardwalk. 

Also, it is smaller than Virginia Beach, so it appears more crowded, especially in peak season.


If you’re planning an East Coast vacation and wondering whether to visit Virginia Beach or Ocean City, we are sure this guide will help you make an informed decision. 

To sum it up, Virginia Beach has more places to visit than Ocean City; however, it is a serene and peaceful city. On the other hand, while Ocean City does not have as many places as Virginia Beach, it is livelier, noisier, and has happening nightclubs and bars. 

So, if you’re taking a trip just to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, you should head straight to Virginia Beach. But, if you’re looking for an action-packed vacation with fun and games, Ocean City it is.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.