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Best Things To Do in Atlantic City

Most of the activity in Atlantic City is centered around the beach and the 4-mile-long boardwalk, which is lined with casinos. Branching off the boardwalk are piers, which offer kid-friendly alternatives. Steel Pier, with old-fashioned amusement rides and carnival games, is especially popular. There are a few novelty-specific attractions visitors will find in Atlantic City as well, including Lucy the Margate Elephant and Storybook Land.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Atlantic City

Free
If you're not visiting Atlantic City to gamble, chances are you're coming to hit the beach. The city's beach is wide and its camel-hued sands are soft – recent travelers said they were impressed with the cleanliness and with how much room there was to spread out on this beach. The Atlantic Ocean's waves are good for body boarding, boogie boarding and wave jumping for the little ones, while adults can enjoy walking along the flat terrain near the water or relaxing in a beach chair. On-site facilities include showers and changing rooms, plus lifeguards are on duty during the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beachgoers also have access to the boardwalk, which is populated with eateries and shops selling beach gear and water sports equipment.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Atlantic City Beach
If you're not visiting Atlantic City to gamble, chances are you're coming to hit the beach. The city's beach is wide and its camel-hued sands are soft – recent travelers said they were impressed with the cleanliness and with how much room there was to spread out on this beach. The Atlantic Ocean's waves are good for body boarding, boogie boarding and wave jumping for the little ones, while adults can enjoy walking along the flat terrain near the water or relaxing in a beach chair. On-site facilities include showers and changing rooms, plus lifeguards are on duty during the summer from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Beachgoers also have access to the boardwalk, which is populated with eateries and shops selling beach gear and water sports equipment.
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#2

#2 in Atlantic City

Free
The Boardwalk isn't named after its wooden planks. Its namesake actually comes from its inventor, Alexander Boardman, who developed the walkway in the 1870s. Since then it's remained a hot spot. Four miles long, the Boardwalk runs along the shoreline and is lined with shops, bars, restaurants and amusement park-style games. The popular Steel and Central piers (and their carnival rides) branch off the main stretch.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Atlantic City Boardwalk
The Boardwalk isn't named after its wooden planks. Its namesake actually comes from its inventor, Alexander Boardman, who developed the walkway in the 1870s. Since then it's remained a hot spot. Four miles long, the Boardwalk runs along the shoreline and is lined with shops, bars, restaurants and amusement park-style games. The popular Steel and Central piers (and their carnival rides) branch off the main stretch.
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#3

#3 in Atlantic City

Atlantic City is practically synonymous with gambling. The seaside city is home to several casinos with everything from slots to table games like blackjack, roulette and poker. Crowd favorites include the casinos at Caesars Atlantic City, the Borgata, Bally's and Resorts, thanks to their clean atmospheres, variety of gaming options and attentive service, according to recent travelers. (Though, some visitors did note the persistent smell of smoke, even in the nonsmoking areas.)
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Casinos Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Casinos
Atlantic City is practically synonymous with gambling. The seaside city is home to several casinos with everything from slots to table games like blackjack, roulette and poker. Crowd favorites include the casinos at Caesars Atlantic City, the Borgata, Bally's and Resorts, thanks to their clean atmospheres, variety of gaming options and attentive service, according to recent travelers. (Though, some visitors did note the persistent smell of smoke, even in the nonsmoking areas.)
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#4
Cape May Free

#4 in Atlantic City

Free
Just about 45 miles south of Atlantic City is a much calmer stretch of Jersey shore – Cape May. Founded in 1620 by the Dutch, Cape May didn't reach its stride until the 1800s when it became a vacation spot for wealthy Southerners who reportedly didn't want to venture much farther into Yankee territory. Today, vacationers from all over – not just the South – flock to Cape May for its relaxing-bed and-breakfasts (many of them complete with rocking chairs and wraparound porches) and clean, family-friendly beaches. To enjoy Cape May's beaches – from Higbee to Poverty – you'll need to purchase a beach tag. Daily beach tags cost $6 and three-day passes cost $12. You can find beach tags at the beach entrance and adjacent City Hall.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Cape May
Just about 45 miles south of Atlantic City is a much calmer stretch of Jersey shore – Cape May. Founded in 1620 by the Dutch, Cape May didn't reach its stride until the 1800s when it became a vacation spot for wealthy Southerners who reportedly didn't want to venture much farther into Yankee territory. Today, vacationers from all over – not just the South – flock to Cape May for its relaxing-bed and-breakfasts (many of them complete with rocking chairs and wraparound porches) and clean, family-friendly beaches. To enjoy Cape May's beaches – from Higbee to Poverty – you'll need to purchase a beach tag. Daily beach tags cost $6 and three-day passes cost $12. You can find beach tags at the beach entrance and adjacent City Hall.
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#5

#5 in Atlantic City

To spend some of that freshly won casino cash (or not), head to the Tanger Outlets. With stores that range from J.Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch to Michael Kors, Nike and Calvin Klein, the outlets have stores for all types of shoppers. Recent travelers said they appreciated the variety of stores and added the steep discounts and deals were worth the visit. However, unlike some outlet malls, which are confined to a pedestrian-only area, the Tanger Outlets shops are spread out across a few busy streets, which some visitors noted as inconvenient. If you're looking for an even greater selection of designers, consider checking out Playground Pier as well.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Tanger Outlets Atlantic City
To spend some of that freshly won casino cash (or not), head to the Tanger Outlets. With stores that range from J.Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch to Michael Kors, Nike and Calvin Klein, the outlets have stores for all types of shoppers. Recent travelers said they appreciated the variety of stores and added the steep discounts and deals were worth the visit. However, unlike some outlet malls, which are confined to a pedestrian-only area, the Tanger Outlets shops are spread out across a few busy streets, which some visitors noted as inconvenient. If you're looking for an even greater selection of designers, consider checking out Playground Pier as well.
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#6

#6 in Atlantic City

Visitors with kids will enjoy this 20-acre amusement park, where children's literature reigns supreme. Storybook Land's rides are themed after classics like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Dumbo" and admission grants you unlimited rides on all the attractions within the park. The park also has a cafeteria and a picnic area.
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Amusement Parks Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Storybook Land
Visitors with kids will enjoy this 20-acre amusement park, where children's literature reigns supreme. Storybook Land's rides are themed after classics like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Dumbo" and admission grants you unlimited rides on all the attractions within the park. The park also has a cafeteria and a picnic area.
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#7

#7 in Atlantic City

On rainy days, AC visitors can see a blockbuster on a big screen at Tropicana's IMAX Theatre. Even when it's not raining, many families with kids say visiting the IMAX is high on their list of things to do. In addition to running Hollywood films, the Tropicana also screens 3-D, kid-friendly flicks.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
IMAX Theatre at Tropicana
On rainy days, AC visitors can see a blockbuster on a big screen at Tropicana's IMAX Theatre. Even when it's not raining, many families with kids say visiting the IMAX is high on their list of things to do. In addition to running Hollywood films, the Tropicana also screens 3-D, kid-friendly flicks.
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#8

#8 in Atlantic City

Sitting along the Absecon Inlet, the Atlantic City Aquarium features a variety of interactive exhibits the kids will enjoy. You can touch sharks, stingrays and coral and see other creatures like piranhas, terrapins, iguanas and moon jellies. Other noteworthy exhibits include Ocean Oddities and a Tropical Rainforest. Plus, just outside the aquarium, you'll find a host of restaurants and shops, as well as kiosks for boat rides and cruises around the harbor. 
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Atlantic City Aquarium
Sitting along the Absecon Inlet, the Atlantic City Aquarium features a variety of interactive exhibits the kids will enjoy. You can touch sharks, stingrays and coral and see other creatures like piranhas, terrapins, iguanas and moon jellies. Other noteworthy exhibits include Ocean Oddities and a Tropical Rainforest. Plus, just outside the aquarium, you'll find a host of restaurants and shops, as well as kiosks for boat rides and cruises around the harbor. 
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#9

#9 in Atlantic City

Free
The Playground Pier is a four-story shopping, dining and nightlife complex that sits on a 900-foot-long pier that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. The mall houses several high-end stores, including Burberry, Gucci, Tiffany & Co. and Armani Exchange. Many travelers typically visit just to window shop and enjoy the displays at the upscale stores that sell designer merchandise. (For budget shopping, head to the nearby Tanger Outlets.) The mall has undergone several renovations over the past few years, which recent travelers said have certainly improved its overall ambiance.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Playground Pier
The Playground Pier is a four-story shopping, dining and nightlife complex that sits on a 900-foot-long pier that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. The mall houses several high-end stores, including Burberry, Gucci, Tiffany & Co. and Armani Exchange. Many travelers typically visit just to window shop and enjoy the displays at the upscale stores that sell designer merchandise. (For budget shopping, head to the nearby Tanger Outlets.) The mall has undergone several renovations over the past few years, which recent travelers said have certainly improved its overall ambiance.
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#10

#10 in Atlantic City

You can climb the Absecon Lighthouse's 228 steps for a great view of your surroundings. And a great view it is – located at the northern end of the city, this lighthouse stands 171 feet high, making it the tallest of its kind in New Jersey and one of the tallest in the country. Built in 1857, the black-and-white structure is visible from most of the strip. And according to recent visitors, the views from above are a major perk of visiting the lighthouse. While you're here, you should also take some time to explore the history museum inside.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Absecon Lighthouse
You can climb the Absecon Lighthouse's 228 steps for a great view of your surroundings. And a great view it is – located at the northern end of the city, this lighthouse stands 171 feet high, making it the tallest of its kind in New Jersey and one of the tallest in the country. Built in 1857, the black-and-white structure is visible from most of the strip. And according to recent visitors, the views from above are a major perk of visiting the lighthouse. While you're here, you should also take some time to explore the history museum inside.
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#11

#11 in Atlantic City

Although she sits about 5 miles southwest of Atlantic City, the drive is worth it; where else are you going to see a giant elephant? The six-story tall, 90-ton elephant has had a long history of preservation efforts and repairs. Built in 1881 in an effort to attract homebuyers to the area, Lucy is now a National Historic Landmark and a great place to take the family. Climb to Lucy's howdah (the platform on her back) for a great view of the Atlantic Ocean, and take a tour of the elephant's interiors, which once even served as a hotel.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Lucy the Margate Elephant
Although she sits about 5 miles southwest of Atlantic City, the drive is worth it; where else are you going to see a giant elephant? The six-story tall, 90-ton elephant has had a long history of preservation efforts and repairs. Built in 1881 in an effort to attract homebuyers to the area, Lucy is now a National Historic Landmark and a great place to take the family. Climb to Lucy's howdah (the platform on her back) for a great view of the Atlantic Ocean, and take a tour of the elephant's interiors, which once even served as a hotel.
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#12

#12 in Atlantic City

If you're traveling to AC during the summer (or on fall weekends), you might want to spend a few hours at the Steel Pier amusement park. Opening nearly a century ago, Steel Pier used to attract thousands of visitors each day; even big-name performers like Frank Sinatra came to entertain. Its popularity slowed to a halt in the late 1970s, but – like many things in the AC – the Steel Pier is making a comeback.
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Amusement Parks Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Steel Pier
If you're traveling to AC during the summer (or on fall weekends), you might want to spend a few hours at the Steel Pier amusement park. Opening nearly a century ago, Steel Pier used to attract thousands of visitors each day; even big-name performers like Frank Sinatra came to entertain. Its popularity slowed to a halt in the late 1970s, but – like many things in the AC – the Steel Pier is making a comeback.
... more
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