Atlantic City is a sprawled resort city on the east coast of the U.S. A fantastic day trip from New York and a wonderful place to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic City is packed with resort activities, casinos, and watersports. It has the glitz and glam of a coastal Las Vegas – with more things to do off the strip. Walk the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, soak up live entertainment at Borgata Hotel Casino, and embrace Atlantic City’s history with Absecon Lighthouse.
Top Things To Do In Atlantic City NJ
Visiting Atlantic City is the perfect way to spend a more citified New Jersey beach town break. The balance between the Atlantic Ocean, beach activities, and inner-city entertainment is ideal. This guide will cover the best things to do in Atlantic City, so prepare to write these down.
1. Atlantic City Boardwalk
When it comes to its boardwalk, Atlantic City really comes into its own. The 4.8-mile stretch between Jackson Avenue and Madison Avenue at the historic Gardner’s Basin. It encompasses stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the A.C. beaches and easy access to casinos, hotels, and attractions. The famous boardwalk is family-friendly, suitable for pushchairs, and splitting into smaller sections more suitable for children’s capabilities. It is one of the best free things to do in Atlantic City and perfect to combine with other attractions since walking the boardwalk is a popular way to get around.
2. Dolphin Watch With Atlantic City Cruises
Going dolphin watching with Atlantic City Cruises is one of the top things to do in Atlantic City. This area is renowned for its bottle-nosed dolphins. And from May to October, you can hop on daily dolphin-watching excursions that last around an hour. Should you get lucky (and most people do), the dolphins will come to your boat to play by the hern. Investing in ethical animal encounters is essential. Seeing dolphins in the wild is the kindest way to interact with these magnificent animals.
3. Atlantic City Airshow
Hundreds of planes zip through the skies above the city every summer for the annual Atlantic City Airshow. Spectators can purchase tickets and numerous vantage points throughout the city – or flock to the beaches and boardwalk to watch for free. The Atlantic City Airshow is one of the largest in North America and easily one of the most fun things to do. If you are visiting around August, it’s well worth seeing if your visit coincides with this airshow. And if you love planes and paying respects to the U.S. Army, consider the Atlantic City Airshow when choosing your dates to visit the city.
4. Ocean Casino Resort
Visiting a casino is one of the most popular ways to spend an evening in Atlantic City. And this famous venue is an ideal candidate if you have a luxury casino environment. The five-star hotel sits on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, hosting one of the city’s largest, award-winning casinos. There are thousands of slot machines and table games. If you want to enjoy a casino regularly during your visit, you can make the most of the Ocean Casino Resort rewards card. There are even fine dining venues in the resort to enjoy after you collect your winnings – we suggest Linguini By The Sea for its ocean views and Italian cuisine.
6. Central Pier Arcade
The Central Pier Arcade is chaotic. Pure chaos. However, it is also all fun and games. There are pinging machines with flashing lights, and the constant clatter of penny falls, while outside, a vast outdoor go-karting track is a hit amongst adults and kids. A seaside arcade is one of the most classic things you can do on any beach getaway. And when visiting, the arcade is one of the best things to do in Atlantic City for a lowkey few hours. The arcade is family-friendly but also suited to adults just wanting to let their hair down. Located along the main boardwalk, it’s easy to just drop by on your way back to your hotel after eating at a nice restaurant.
7. Atlantic City Experience At Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall
Ready for an insight into Atlantic City’s earlier days? The Atlantic City Experience, held in the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, which was home to the Miss America pageant since 1940, is a colossal project encapsulating the area’s history. From photographs to live exhibits and virtual clips, the Atlantic City Experience is easy to browse.
Opening times vary (this attraction is a social butterfly for hosting private events). But if you want history without the heavy reading and dense information (check out the Atlantic City Historical Museum for that), the Atlantic City Experience is ideal. Light-hearted but informative, Atlantic City Experience is one of the best indoor attractions in the city. And, since it’s adjoined to the Atlantic City Free Public Library, you can easily combine the two.
8. Absecon Lighthouse
You can’t visit Atlantic City and not visit New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse. Absecon Lighthouse is the most historical of all the Atlantic City attractions. As a national historic landmark, it’s definitely worth your time. You can climb the lighthouse right to the top for stunning views over the city and the Atlantic Ocean and learn about its history. The climb to the top is no mean feat – with 228 steps to the watch room. And as a tradition, the lighthouse is still lit every night despite being retired from duties. The adjoining museum is a lovely addition to the experience, with a gift shop for souvenir shopping. Located at 31 S Rhode Island Ave.
9. Atlantic City Ballet
Atlantic City Ballet is a highly respected ballet school in the city’s heart. The school’s founder was an international ballerina named Phyllis Papa, who opened Atlantic City Ballet in 1982. The school has grown in prestige ever since. For visitors, bagging tickets to one of the dance shows is one of the most beautiful things to do in Atlantic City. The school hosts shows that include The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and even Dracula. There’s a range of genres and storylines. Ballet enthusiast or not, the sophistication of a ballet show is hard not to love.
10. Steel Pier Amusement Park
Steel Pier Amusement Park is like something out of a movie. Envision gold-gilded fairground rides and a huge Ferris wheel that lights up against the sky. Steel Pier is easily amongst the best amusement parks you’ll visit, and the oceanfront locale makes it even more impressive. Visiting Steel Pier is one of the best family-friendly activities in Atlantic City. And since it’s located on the boardwalk, you can use it as the ultimate bribery for getting your kids to walk more. Tickets are relatively modest in pricing, although you can also splurge on a luxury helicopter ride for 20 minutes. So there’s room for indulgence.
11. Try a Frozen Hot Chocolate
Remember that Ocean Casino Resort? If the casino doesn’t catch your fancy, frozen hot chocolate surely will. Serendipity3 is a dining experience within the resort and offers the famous dish as just one of the sweet treats on its menu. Frozen hot chocolate is basically a cold, slushier version of hot chocolate. So what’s the hype? The real melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Rather than relying on ice cream like a chocolate milkshake, it uses all the yummy ingredients that you’d find in its hot alternative. It’s a subtle difference, but you’ll be a total convert when you try it. Serendipity3 has quite the cult following and has a long trail of celebrity endorsements – including recent investor Selena Gomez.
12. Lucy the Elephant
Lucy the Elephant is a colossal building with the bizarre design of a giant elephant. Nicknamed ‘Lucy,’ this rather strange landmark is one of the quirkiest things to do in Atlantic City. The whole family will love gazing up at this landmark. But a step further, you can tour the inside of the 6-floor building as part of a guided experience. Apart from the novelty of Lucy’s appearance, the Elephant is also classified as the oldest roadside attraction in the U.S. – having been created in 1882 and visited ever since. Probably one of the weirdest buildings you’ll ever step foot in, Lucy the Elephant should make everyone’s itinerary when visiting Atlantic City.
13. Tanger Outlets
Sometimes retail is all you need. Even on holiday, a day at a fantastic outlet store is good. Tanger Outlets has everything from Forever 21 to a Nike Factory Store and a Starbucks – for when you get thirsty. The stores sell clothing marginally cheaper than you find elsewhere, so it is a bargain-hunting experience. Tanger Outlets is just off Atlantic Avenue – easily accessed from the city center. Visiting is one of the best indoor things to do in Atlantic City.
14. Ocean City Music Pier
Okay, this attraction will require a 30-minute drive or an hour on public transport. So get your adventure on when adding this attraction to your to-do list. The Ocean City Music Pier is well worth the extra effort to reach. The pink concert hall is sat on a substantial wooden pier with sweeping views over the Atlantic Ocean. Located in the neighboring city of Ocean City, the music pier is a 1929 concert hall with various music performances showcased daily. If you love live music, it doesn’t get better than a trip to Ocean City Music Pier. Check the schedule to see if anything coincides with your trip.
15. Chicken Bone Beach
Chicken Bone Beach is one of the best Atlantic City beaches. The spacious sands and ideal location make it a firm favorite. But for all its good looks, Chicken Bone Beach has a marred history linked to America’s racist segregation. The once-segregated beach caught its name from the fact that African American beachgoers were said to bring a lot of fried chicken with them. And it was in the 1964 Civil Rights Act this Atlantic City Beach changed its rules and allowed everyone to enjoy its sands. The beach is one of Atlantic City’s historical landmarks as much as it’s a place to enjoy the coast on a sunny day.
16. Surf Lessons
Speaking of beaches, surfing is one of the best things to do in Atlantic City. The big waves of the Atlantic Ocean are practically made for shredding. You can find surf shops dotted along the boardwalk – selling everything from clothing to board rentals. Jersey Devil Surf Shop is a firm favorite. But if you want a lesson rather than just a rental, you’ll find plenty of options in Atlantic City and its surrounding areas. A.C. Surf School is popular, with many class choices depending on your budget and current skill level.
17. Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe
The Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe are one of the most famous brands across the world and the perfect attraction when visiting Atlantic City. Just the brand’s cafes alone attract nearly 80 million guests a year, and the rock ‘n’ roll theme really energizes its section of the Atlantic City boardwalk. Expect high energy and comforting American cuisine – with a menu full of meaty burgers and grilled dishes. The Hard Rock Hotel has a casino as well. And if you weren’t feeling like a crazy night out, walking into the doors under a colossal lit-up guitar will surely get you in the mood. The Hard Rock Hotel is fun and intense in the best way.
18. New Jersey Korean War Memorial
For a somber but important activity in Atlantic City, venture out to the New Jersey Korean War Memorial. The huge monument lists thousands of names on its inscribed stone. And to its sides, beautiful statues of realistic soldiers stand poised for action, symbolizing service, duty, and sacrifice. The bronze figures are a real highlight and bring an emotive human element to the memorial. While the waterfalls create peaceful background noise and ‘reflection pools’ for visitors to process the complex history.
19. Atlantic City Miniature Golf
On a more light-hearted note, Atlantic City Miniature Golf is one of the most fun things to do in Atlantic City. You’ll find classic attractions like mini golf whenever you visit a resort town or city. Mini golf is the ultimate cheesy attraction that everyone secretly loves (and gets extremely competitive over). Atlantic City Miniature Golf has been running for over 15 years and is a renowned attraction along the New Jersey shore. Head down for a few rounds and a bite to eat at the snack bar onsite.
20. Storybook Land
Just a 20-minute drive or 40-minute bus from the city center, you can hardly complain when venturing out to this dreamy amusement park. Storybook Land is an entire park based on nursery rhymes and children’s stories. You can spot everything from the old woman in the shoe to a sleeping beauty asleep in a replica room and Santa – who sometimes even pops in to offer to meet and greet services in July. The mixture of rides, replica settings, and meet-and-greet characters make visiting Storybook Land one of the most nostalgic things to do in Atlantic City.
21. Test Your Nerve With Watersports
Atlantic City’s watersports scene is incredible. In the summer season, Totally Tubular Watersports keeps everyone entertained with tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and even banana boats. You can test your nerves with the watersports you choose while enjoying the chance to cool off in the ocean and escape the heat. There’s also a pop-up inflatable play area in peak season for younger visitors. The play area floats on the water’s surface with slides and other obstacles that children must tackle – all while trying to avoid falling in.
22. The Noyes Art Garage of Stockton University
Atlantic City’s creative art district is alluring for anyone with an eye for beautiful things – not just art enthusiasts. In the district’s center, the Noyes Art Garage of Stockton University acts as a magnet, holding the creativity together. The gallery is affiliated with the university but runs as a full-blown tourist attraction. Dedicated to contemporary arts, it has exhibits to appreciate and art studios that members of the public can use. You can stop by to admire the art or create some yourself – one of the most creative things to do in Atlantic City.
23. Take A Fishing Tour
Atlantic City is an absolute hotspot for fishing. Fisherman haul in bluefish, tuna, blackfish, and cod on a reliable basis. There is an incredible amount of charter companies who take out visitors on fishing tours – either on deep-sea angles or partake in more sedate fishing experiences. While if you want, you can also choose companies that run beach fishing experiences. If you already have an affinity for fishing, this must be at the top of your bucket list.
24. U.S. Life Saving Station 30
This somber museum is a must-visit for insight into the surfmen who perform ocean rescues around Atlantic City. The museum has impressive stories of real-life heroes just a 30-minute drive from the city center. Guests can browse the collection of artifacts and some shocking photos of shipwrecks from years gone by. There’s even a massive boat in one of the exhibit halls. The guided aspect adds to the experience tenfold – with guides to provide emotive stories while you explore.
25. Bass River State Forest
Forget amusement parks and casinos for a day and head to Bass River State Forest for one of the best things to do near Atlantic City for a natural experience. The national forest is the total opposite of Atlantic City’s landscape. Instead of sand and skyscrapers, you can expect dwarf pine plains and cedar swamps. The state forest has 8 different hiking trails. And if you bring binoculars and a good camera, you can get good views of bald eagles and osprey. Bass River State Forest is so peaceful for animal watching and hiking.
26. Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is a massive 48,000 acres of coastal habitat – a mix of beach, wetland, and pasture. After all the time on the beach and in casinos, getting to a more rural area of nature is a wonderful thing to do in Atlantic City. Bring binoculars because the refuge is famous for migratory birds and one of the state’s best birding spots. The visitor center has exhibits, Wildlife Drive has ample bird-watching stops, and the hiking trails stretch around 8 miles.
Things To Do In Atlantic City: FAQs
So, you are well and truly stocked up regarding ideas on things to do in Atlantic City. But what else do you need to know? What are the essential details to learn before visiting Atlantic City? Check these out.
How To Get To Atlantic City
The easiest way to get to Atlantic City is to fly into Atlantic City’s primary airport. The airport is in the Egg Harbor Township, just 10 miles from the Atlantic City center. While it lacks direct flights for international visitors, you can find plenty of domestic flights. International visitors will likely have to stop at a major city like New York, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles before continuing to Atlantic City on a second leg. For domestic travelers, flying to Atlantic City is a breeze.
Another option is to catch the train, bus, or drive from New York – all of which take between 2-4 hours. If you drive from New York, you’ll likely cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge – one of the prettiest views of New York City. Driving is the quickest, allowing you to stop off at Staten Island and Brooklyn.
If you are staying elsewhere on the upper east coast, it’s well worth considering public transport as opposed to flying. Plenty of bus routes and train connections to Atlantic City – including from places like Philadelphia. And road-tripping to Atlantic City is always fun if you have some extra time on your hands – why not maximize your U.S. sightseeing?
Getting Around Atlantic City
Getting around Atlantic City on foot is terrific if you are fit enough. Adults and children alike will appreciate the scenic boardwalks that connect the beachfront and city center. Since most of the Atlantic City attractions and major hotels line the beachfront, you can use the Atlantic City Boardwalk to get around most of the city.
Even if you do get tired walking around Atlantic City, there’s a free shuttle service run by A.C. Jitney Association and N.J. Transit. While the shuttle runs between all the casino locations and the Atlantic City Rail Terminal, you can use it as a free way to experience most of the city. There are just that many casinos.
Honestly, you don’t need a car if you just want to stay in Atlantic City. But it may come in handy for day trips. If you have driven to Atlantic City, you can definitely make the most of having a car with you by heading out of the city center and to the surrounding New Jersey beach towns. Otherwise, take taxis and Uber if you need an emergency ride.
Best Time To Visit Atlantic City
Spring and summer are the best periods to visit Atlantic City. After all, it is a beach destination, and you want warm weather. To enjoy the hot weather and avoid the crowds, we recommend late March or early September. These shoulder seasons are perfect for getting the best out of Atlantic City. And outside of the peak summer period, humidity should be lower.
Is Atlantic City worth visiting now?
Yes, Atlantic City is worth visiting. The city is constantly expanding and improving with more and more exciting attractions and places to stay.
What is Atlantic City well known for?
Atlantic City is well known for boardwalks and casinos. As a city it is a place for a beach holiday and party experience at the casinos and dance clubs.
Is the Atlantic City Boardwalk free?
Yes, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is totally free.
Is there a strip in Atlantic City?
Atlantic City’s strip is just the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Along the boardwalk is where you’ll find all the best casinos and hotels.
Atlantic City has lots to offer, whether you hit up upscale restaurants, sightsee Atlantic City’s historical landmarks, or kick back with watersports on the beach. We love the combination of city and sand, and you will too. Its proximity to New York City makes it an absolute breeze to visit. After staying in New York, you can easily add Atlantic City as a beach break. Why not enjoy the Atlantic City Boardwalk or the Atlantic City Aquarium? Especially in summer. Atlantic City Aquarium
Have a fabulous stay in Atlantic City, and schedule as many of these most amazing Atlantic City attractions as possible.