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Choosing a vacation destination is not a stroll in the park. There are many things that come into play and a dozen factors to consider. It can get even more frustrating choosing between Ocean City and Virginia Beach. For starters, both Virginia Beach and her Maryland counterpart are record holders. Virginia Beach holds a unique Guinness World Record. On the other hand, Ocean City is ranked among the Top 25 beaches in the United States by Tripadvisor, the world's largest travel information exchange.


Still, nature disdains perfect equality. To paraphrase George Orwell, all beaches are not created equal. Behind the glossy veneer of perfection and magnificence—there’s always some flaw, some chink in the armor. Where one would look and see equality, another would find glaring differences. That’s the reason we compare these two beach cities and pass a verdict on which one is worth it.


More Differences Between Ocean City And Virginia Beach To Learn About

As much as there are similarities between Ocean City and Virginia Beach, there are also differences between these two iconic destinations. This article was updated to include a comparison of public transportation between Ocean City and Virginia Beach.

Between Ocean City And Virginia Beach, Which One Is Perfect For An Action-packed Vacation?

Here’s the truth: While some prefer a relaxed, quiet, and laid-back vacation, others would want to rave, dance, party, and generally paint a town red. For those who are looking forward to an action-packed vacation, Ocean City beats Virginia Beach. Ocean City has bars, nightclubs, and saloons that are noisier and livelier than their Virginia Beach counterparts. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Virginia Beach is a dry city or that it still lives in the prohibition era. Quite the contrary. Bars and nightclubs like Calypso, Central, and Catch 31—provide both fine food, good music, and a lively vibe—that’s typical of an ideal nightlife. Places like Virginia Beach Amphitheater take entertainment to a whole new level with live concerts, beautiful views, and a capacity that can comfortably hold 20,000 pairs of dancing feet. However, nothing in Virginia Beach comes close to some top Ocean City night spots like Seacrets. While many nightclubs and bars in Virginia Beach look more like lounges, a bar in Ocean City will more likely live up to its name.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that all parts of Virginia Beach or Ocean City have a uniform showing. The truth is, some places are livelier than others. Interestingly, the northern parts of both beach cities—normally tend to be a little quieter and less crowded. But overall, the major parts of Ocean City (around the boardwalk), tend to be more crowded than similar areas in Virginia Beach. Ocean City boardwalk is also more sensory than her Virginia Beach counterpart.

However, vacation activities do not start and end with the nightlife. There are many other vacation activities that can make a trip memorable. And when we compare Virginia Beach and Ocean City, our take is that Virginia Beach has more—in the way of activities than Ocean City. And it’s not just what one can do on the beach. For its long history and storied past, Virginia Beach is an educational treasure trove. History buffs will enjoy visiting many historical sites, museums, and landmarks—to learn a lot about America’s past. As a teaser, modern Virginia Beach is the site of the original Jamestown settlement of 1607. That alone reveals a slight glimmer of its educational and informational promise.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Virginia Beach's History.

Which Beach Is Better, Ocean City Or Virginia Beach?

First, both Virginia Beach and Ocean City spot miles of soft, clean sand—typical of a premier beach destination. Of course, at about 38 miles, the Virginia Beach line is longer. It’s featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest stretch of pleasure beach. On the flip side, Ocean Beach is 10 miles long. In essence, this doesn’t account for much. No one covers miles of beach on a single visit.

Still, Virginia Beach is a little more relaxed and laid-back. For this reason, it’s more family-friendly. Granted, there can be some disturbing jet noise at Virginia Beach. This is because of the presence of a military installation nearby. So for families who find that kind of noise irritating, Ocean Beach could be preferable. Still, the jet noise at Virginia Beach is not entirely a bad feature. Actually, many families enjoy watching the military jets dramatically roar at supersonic speed— through the air above the beach. And again, the jets aren’t a regular thing. Occasionally, one will chance on some quiet day.

Related: This Is How Much You Should Budget For A Trip To Ocean City.

Between Virginia Beach And Ocean City, Which One Has Better Accommodation And Food?

There are many restaurants in Virginia Beach that offer mouthwatering cuisine in numbers that exceed those of Ocean City. And while some would say that food and drinks are cheaper at Ocean City, we find that the difference is nothing to write home about. As for accommodation, both places have a variety of fine hotels within a fairly similar price range.

Lastly, it’s important to know that there’s an Ocean City in New Jersey that usually confuses travelers with the one in Maryland—which is featured in this article.

As we’ve seen, choosing between Ocean City and Virginia Beach depends on several factors. While both are fine destinations, Virginia Beach caters more to those who are looking for a more laid-back, family-friendly vibe.

What To Know About Public Transportation In Ocean City And Virginia Beach?

There's a public trolley in the Virginia Beach area. This one is operated by Hampton Roads Transit and is called the Wave Trolley. The available routes are the Bayfront Shuttle, the Atlantic Ave Shuttle, and the Aquarium and Campground Shuttle. Fares for single rides cost $2 USD per person.

On the other hand, there are various municipal buses in Ocean City. These run along Coastal Highway. The cost for a Ride-All-Day pass for 24 hours amounts to $6 USD per person. There's also a tram on the boardwalk that gets people from one end to the other.