Atlantic City Travel Guide

USA  #8 in Best Day Trips from New York City

Free Things To Do in Atlantic City

If you have extra time, Cape May is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Atlantic City
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    #1 in Atlantic City
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Unlike many other New Jersey beaches, Atlantic City's sands are free to access – you don't need a fee-based badge or pass to visit. For more information on the beach, visit the tourism board's website

  • #2
    Atlantic City Boardwalk
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    #2 in Atlantic City
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    For some adult visitors, the Atlantic City Boardwalk offers a sense of nostalgia of youthful days perusing through the souvenir shops and going on rides. Other travelers said they enjoyed the diverse array of shops and eateries that line the walkway. A handful of visitors warned that some parts of if are looking worn down and that you may encounter homeless people begging for money.

  • #4
    Cape May
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    #4 in Atlantic City
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    More than Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Visiting families loved Cape May and its beaches because of their cleanliness and quiet atmosphere. Many travelers also appreciated the use of tags because it made the beaches less crowded.

  • #9
    Playground Pier
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    #9 in Atlantic City
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Located on the boardwalk between Arkansas and Missouri avenues, the Playground Pier is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Check out the Playground Pier's website for more information on shops, dining venues and more.

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