Strolling the boardwalk? Or any one of many
other activities - the chances are that you will not be short of
things to fill your time in Atlantic City.
The information here will get
you started in your planning, and of course, there's lots more
available in the linked resources mentioned in the article too.
Get ready for a fun time in vibrant Atlantic City.
What to See and Do in Atlantic City
There is plenty to see and do in the region, and one of the
valid activities to do is 'nothing at all' - just relaxing and
enjoying the beach and soaking up the atmosphere on the
Over the summer in particular most weeks will feature some sort
of free outdoor festival - the most popular being the
City Air Show and the Food and Wine Festival. If you time your
visit carefully you can even catch a major boxing event at the
Without a doubt the major attraction of Atlantic City for most
visitors is the availability of legal gambling (or "gaming," as
is now the preferred term) at the casinos.
There are currently 11 large scale casinos operating in Atlantic
City, all of which are open 24 hours, 7 days a week:
Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort
Bally's Atlantic City
Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa
Caesars Atlantic City
Harrah's Resort Atlantic City
Resorts Atlantic City
Showboat - The Mardi Gras Casino
Tropicana Casino and Resort
Trump Marina Hotel Casino
Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino
Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort
There is very little difference
between all the casinos when it comes to the games on offer,
betting limits, level of service, etc, so it does not really
matter where you end up purely from a gambling point of view.
Arguably the Borgata is a slight cut above the rest and perhaps
Resorts is most in need of renovation, but the differences are
far from overwhelming. Nonetheless, most regular visitors have
developed a preference for one or more casinos - in our own case
we usually find ourselves at Caesars, the Tropicana, or Resorts
among the boardwalk casinos and the Borgata when we are in the
inlet area, but this probably has more to do with the force of
The local weekly papers, such as the Atlantic City Weekly, usually run columns that detail any
particular promotions that are being offered by the different
casinos along with a guide to which casinos are currently
offering the best odds on the different games and slot machines.
In addition to gambling, the casinos also offer a wide range of
other activities, ranging from bars and restaurants to
nightclubs and internationally recognized performers. Check the
individual casino websites for major upcoming attractions.
The boardwalk is Atlantic City's oldest and most famous
attraction and also the most pleasant way to get from point A to
As the main route through the touristy areas of Atlantic City
the boardwalk is home to a high percentage of the tackier, more
gaudy aspects of Atlantic City. It often seems as if most of the stores lining it are almost identical souvenir shops,
with the rest being fast food joints of one
description or another. Despite this, the boardwalk is still a
great place to spend a few hours enjoying the wonderful views of
the ocean and the casinos and watching the constant stream of
people go by (especially during the summer).
The busiest section of the boardwalk runs between the Showboat
Casino and the Tropicana. Although it extends beyond these
points you will find that there is less to see and do beyond
If you get tired of walking you can always take a rolling chair
ride or, if you get up early enough, bicycle riding is permitted
on the boardwalk between the hours of 6.30am and 10.00am.
As you wander along the boardwalk you will find yourself passing
several of Atlantic City's leading attractions. These include the
City Art Center on Garden Pier (boardwalk at New Jersey
Ave): Three exhibition galleries feature artwork by contemporary
artists and artisans of local, regional and national renown.
Provides a wide array of activities in conjunction with
exhibitions including concerts, gallery talks, artist
demonstrations and literary readings. Admission is free.
Historical Museum (also on Garden Pier): Focuses on the
history of Atlantic City with vintage photographs, local
artifacts and a video presentation, "Boardwalk Ballyhoo: The
Magic of Atlantic City." Worth at least a quick look, especially
as admission is free.
City Miniature Golf (1 Kennedy Plaza, Boardwalk at
Mississippi Ave): A fun spot for the not-so-active golfer.
Central Pier Arcade and Speedway (1400 Boardwalk): Features
Nascar go-carts and paintball.
Haunted Tales (1535 Boardwalk): Features a "haunted" animated
theater where you can listen to tales of the New Jersey Devil
and NJ pirates who still haunt the Jersey shore. Also has a gift
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum (1441 Boardwalk at S. New
York Ave): This is the oldest of the various Ripley's locations
and features over 400 exhibits in 13 themed galleries.
Playcade Amusements (2629 Boardwalk): Atlantic City's longest
running arcade offers various amusements for the young.
The Steel Pier (1000 Boardwalk, opposite the Taj Mahal): The
famous Steel Pier reopened in 1993 & features a wide selection
of rides and attractions including Crazy Mouse Roller Coaster,
The Rocket (a catapult ride) & helicopter rides during the
Steel's Fudge (1633 Boardwalk): Steel's, the oldest continuously
family owned and operated fudge company in the world is one of
the best places to try Atlantic City's very own Salt Water
Taffy, as well as other delicious fudge, cookies and candies.
Unlike most New Jersey beaches, Atlantic City's clean, wide
beaches are free. Of course the easiest way to spend a day at
the beach is swimming and sunbathing. Beach chair rentals are
available at several locations along the boardwalk, including
Pennsylvania Ave, South Carolina Ave and Park Place. Most of the
casinos also operate beach bars during the summer months, where
you can enjoy your favorite drinks while you socialize and enjoy
the fresh sea air.
If you are looking to
fill your day at the beach in a more active way the following activities are
Surfing is permitted on three designated surfing beaches:
Crystal Beach at New Hampshire Ave; Delaware Ave Beach; and
Downtown Beach at Raleigh Ave. Lifeguards are not on duty at the
surfing beaches so surfers should not surf alone. Surfing
lessons are available.
Kayaking and Windsurfing are both permitted at the
Jackson Ave beach. This is a no bathing zone designated for
kayaking and windsurfing only. Unfortunately rentals are not
available so you will have to bring your own equipment.
Boogie Boards and body surfing are permitted on any
bathing beach. All boogie boards must have a leash.
Beach Volleyball nets are provided by several hotels for
their patrons enjoyment and informal pick up games form
regularly. Just wander around until you find a game taking
Metal detectors are allowed on the beaches at all times,
should you choose to try your luck somewhere outside the casinos.
Fishing is permitted on the jetties along the
Oriental/Main Ave Boardwalk, in the inlet off the Boardwalk and
on the bathing beaches - though not when lifeguards are on duty
(10am-6pm). No fishing license is required for these areas.
Grilling is permitted on Memorial Day, 4th of July and
Labor Day only. Grills must be charcoal briquettes; no gas
grills or open flames are permitted.
Group activities and parties require permits from the
City of Atlantic City.
While the boardwalk is
mainly filled with tacky souvenir shops and the casinos
generally offer stores that will quickly drain you of any money
you may have won, there are several other concentrations of
shops that are worth a visit.
The Pier Shops at
Caesars: Located on the pier directly across from Caesars,
this collection of about 90 stores and restaurants offers the
most high end shopping options in Atlantic City and is one of
the two main shopping centers. Among the luxury stores
you will find such well known names as Gucci, Louis Vuitton,
Movado, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany and Tourneau, to name just
a few. The Pier Shops also features The Water Show, an
interactive water, light and sound display. For more information
check out the
Atlantic City Outlets -
The Walk: The Walk is Atlantic City's other major shopping
center. The better part of 100 stores and restaurants are
located between Atlantic and Baltic Aves, stretching the three
blocks between Ohio and Christopher Columbus Aves. Here you will
find countless name brand outlet stores offering discounts of up
to 70% off normal retail. Adidas, Banana Republic, Coach, Guess,
J Crew, Kenneth Cole, Nike, Old Navy, Polo and Timberland are
all to be found here, as are many other nationally recognized
brands. If you are so
inclined, it is easy to spend a whole day strolling around and
visiting all the stores that are a part of The Walk. The
website offers more information, including a full list of
The Quarter: Although
we have already been somewhat dismissive of the casinos as a
shopping venue, if you feel the need to take a look at what is
on offer then we
would definitely recommend The Quarter at Tropicana as the best
choice. This Old Havana-themed area features some 30 stores,
along with a dozen or so bars, restaurants and nightclubs. There
is even an IMAX theater and a TrickZone Theater to keep younger
visitors entertained. For more information check out
Atlantic City is not a prime sightseeing
destination. A trip to Atlantic City is more about the casinos,
beaches, shops, restaurants and, of course, the boardwalk than
it is about visiting great cultural or scenic sites. Nevertheless, if you
are spending more than a day or two here you may appreciate a
change of pace at some point. The following suggestions are not
an exhaustive list but will probably be more than enough for one
Atlantic City Trolley Tours: Offer fully guided
sightseeing trolley tours showcasing the Atlantic City region's
attractions. A variety of tours are available Monday through
Thursday during the summer months. See their
website for more information.
Absecon Lighthouse: First lit in 1857, the Absecon
Lighthouse is the tallest in New Jersey and the third tallest in
the country. Restoration of the lighthouse was completed in 1999
(with the rest of the 2 acre grounds being finished in 2003).
Visitors can now stroll around the property, visit the Keeper's
Cottage museum and gift shop and climb the 228 steps to the top
of the lighthouse, which features a magnificent 1854 First-Order
Fresnel lens in the lamp above. Well worth a visit on a nice day
in order to take in the wonderful panoramic views of the Jersey
shoreline on offer. For more information visit their
Atlantic City Aquarium: Offers at least 18 aquarium
tanks, including a 25,000 gallon tank featuring a variety of sea
creatures indigenous to New Jersey waters and the rest of the
Mid-Atlantic region. Other highlights include a Shark and Ray
touch tank and a daily "Dive and Dine" live diver feeding show.
More information is available at their
Lucy the Elephant: While we must confess to being a
little bemused by this attraction the locals seem fiercely
attached to Lucy, so we feel obliged to include it/her. Located
in nearby Margate, Lucy the Elephant was built in 1881 by real
estate developer James Lafferty as a gimmick to attract
potential buyers to his land holdings. Designated a National
Historic Landmark in 1976 as the oldest surviving example of
zoomorphic architecture, Lucy's dimensions - 65 feet high, 60
feet long and 18 feet wide, weighing over 90 tons and containing
nearly one million pieces of wood - have earned her the title of
"The World's Largest Elephant." Visit the
website for further information.
Noyes Museum of Art: Located in nearby Oceanville,
The Noyes Museum of Art displays a growing collection of
American fine and folk art, a collection of vintage bird decoys
and exhibitions by regional and national artists. They also host
various programs, workshops and community events. Probably not
worth a special visit, but worth dropping in if you are pursuing
other activities outside Atlantic City itself.
Cape May: Located on the Southernmost tip of New Jersey,
some 45 minutes drive from Atlantic City,
is well worth a visit - you may even wish to spend a night here
if you have the time. The only city in the US to be wholly
designated a National Historic Landmark, Cape May is famous for
its Victorian-era houses (only San Francisco has more). Other
notable attractions here include the beach - designated one of
the nation's Top 10 beaches by the Travel Channel - and bird
watching (particularly during the fall migration). See the
website for more information.
Recreation and Sports
While Atlantic City is not a destination that you typically
associate with recreation and sports there are numerous
possibilities to explore, especially in the summer months. You
may wish to participate in one or more of the following
Golf: There are more than 20 golf courses in the vicinity
of Atlantic City, making it something of a developing golf
Mecca. Whether you are a novice or a pro you are sure to find a
course to suit. For more information,
this site is a good place to start.
Fishing/Boating/Diving: For a seaside resort, there is
surprisingly little in the way of outlets for these activities,
although that is not to say that nothing is available. Two
places (though not the only ones available) to check out are the
Fishing and Dive Center and
Summer Breeze Sailing Charters. If neither place has what
you are looking for they can probably guide you in the direction
of someone who does.
Surfing lessons: As we have already mentioned, surfing is
permitted on some of the Atlantic City beaches. Lessons are
available from June through October. Sign up at the Boardwalk
Hall Information Center or call (609)398-0159.
Bicycle rentals: B&K Bike rentals (Boardwalk at North
Carolina Ave, Tel (609)344-8008) offer adult's and children's
bikes, tandems, baby seats and safety helmets for rent between
6.30 am and 10.00am daily (the hours when cycling is permitted
on the boardwalk). ID and/or deposit required.
Spas: Atlantic City continues its long tradition as a
restorative destination through its abundance of top class spas.
Every casino has a spa and there are several others in the city
as well. While we cannot claim to know them all, we can
Blue Mercury Spa at Tropicana and
Spa Toccare at The Borgata.
Parks: There are any number of State parks within easy
driving distance of Atlantic City should you wish to spend some
time surrounded by nature. The best known of these is probably
Wharton State Forest, the largest single tract of land within
the New Jersey State Park system. With over 110,000 acres, it
offers picnic and camping areas, cabins, canoeing, kayaking,
hiking, horseback riding, etc, as well as the historic Batsto
Village (a former bog iron and glass making industrial center in
the 18th and 19th centuries). For more information on this or
any other of the nearby parks you can visit
For more information
There are a number of worthwhile sources of additional
information on what to do in Atlantic City. To the best of our
this is the only guide book that focuses exclusively on
Atlantic City and it offers over 200 pages of information
(although, as the latest edition is already two years old, a
few details are likely to be out of date).
If you are looking for information online the key website is run
Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (ACCVA) and
offers an incredible amount of information about almost anything
to do with Atlantic City.
While you are in Atlantic City itself there are a couple of
free weekly newspapers (most notably the
Weekly Magazine) that provide details of current activities
- chances are that you will find copies in the lobby of your
hotel. For in person assistance there is also the Boardwalk
Information Center, located on the boardwalk at Mississippi Ave
and open daily from 9.30 am.
Atlantic City can be a fun
town to spend a few days in regardless of whether you are
looking to unwind and take it easy or are after something more
action packed. Don't be fooled into thinking that all you can do
is spend time in the casinos, although if you are feeling lazy that is always an option
Read more in Parts 1, 2 and 3
four of a series on Atlantic City, NJ, see
All about visiting
Atlantic City, NJ
2. Where to
stay in Atlantic City
Where to eat
and drink in Atlantic City
What to see and do in and around Atlantic City
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726 June 2009, last update
28 Nov 2012
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.