Atlantic City is often overshadowed by Vegas when it comes to casino gambling and nightlife, but if you’re looking for a glamorous vacation on the East Coast, it’s certainly one of the best places to visit.
However, this New Jersey city has so much more than just casinos and great parties. Atlantic City meets with the Atlantic Ocean and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and serene nature.
It’s also a resort town, meaning you’ll find many relaxing places to unwind in, such as spas, high-end shops, and fine dining restaurants.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or a non-stop party, Atlantic City has something for everyone. If you’re not sure what things to do in Atlantic City, then fret not, because in this guide I’ve listed all of the best Atlantic City attractions and a few hidden gems…
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The Top Things to Do in Atlantic City
If you only have a short time in Atlantic City, then these attractions in Atlantic City should definitely be at the top of your to-do list!
Try Your Luck at One of the Casinos
Roll the dice, spin the wheel, and test your luck at one of Atlantic City’s casinos. This is undoubtedly the most unmissable thing to do in Atlantic City.
Set Sail on a Sunset Tiki Cruise
There is nothing more exciting than a sunset cruise around Atlantic City on a tiki bar inspired boat. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the cocktails!
Go Parasailing Off the Coast
For a thrill like no other, go parasailing off the coast of Atlantic City. Soar high above the waves and take in the breathtaking views of the city and shoreline.
Spend a Day Exploring Philadelphia
Learn about the history of the United States on a day trip to Philadelphia.
Stroll Along the Boardwalk
Take in the sights and sounds of Atlantic City by strolling along the boardwalk.
1. Climb the Absecon Lighthouse on the Boardwalk
On any trip to Atlantic City, you cannot miss a stroll along the Boardwalk. This five-mile, wooden walk connects the city and the sea, and is where you’ll find a ton of Atlantic City attractions.
One of the top attractions on the boardwalk is the early 19th-century lighthouse, which stands 171 feet tall and offers stunning views of the Atlantic City coastline. This is the third tallest lighthouse in the country and will give you views you can’t get anywhere else in Atlantic City.
The best time to visit the lighthouse is during the day so you can see everything clearly, but it is also fun to watch the sunset from the top.
- Entrance: $8 for adults, $4 for kids ages 3-12
- Hours: 10am-5pm
- Address: 3101 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
2. Try to Win Big at One of the Many Casinos
When you hear about your friends heading to Atlantic City for the weekend, you can make the assumption that quite a bit of their time will be spent at the casino! And for good reason.
With so many casinos to choose from, and all of them offer a unique experience, this is definitely the best thing to do in Atlantic City for adults. There are your large, luxurious casinos like Caesar’s Palace, and then there are more down-to-earth casinos like Bally’s.
Spend your evening with the big ballers at the blackjack table or just have a little fun at a slot machine. Keep in mind that the casino floor is not only for gambling. You can also find plenty of great bars and restaurants, live entertainment, and shopping inside most casinos. So even if you’re not feeling lucky, you can still enjoy yourself.
Pro tip: many of the casinos offer free drinks as you gamble regardless of which games you are playing, so start off at a penny slot, grab that free rum and coke, and see where the night takes you.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 24 Hours
Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino: 1900 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City, 8401
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 08401
Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino: 2100 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City, 08401
3. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise on a Tiki Bar Boat
Visiting Atlantic City with your friends? Then set sail on one of the most exciting things to do in Atlantic City. Taking a sunset cruise is the perfect thing to do to end your day and start your night. With the cool breeze blowing and the sun setting, it is a magical experience.
This is also a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You will get some great photo opportunities of the skyline and the casinos lit up at night.
The cruise has been dressed up like a tiki bar, the perfect ambiance for a night out with your best mates, sipping cocktails and enjoying each others company.
- Entrance: Dependent on cruise
- Hours: Dependent on cruise
- Address: 600 Huron Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
4. Stay at the Stunning Ocean Casino Resort
The Ocean Casino Resort is one of the hottest places to stay in Atlantic City. With its luxurious accommodations and stunning views, it is the perfect place to stay for a weekend getaway.
The Resort is a mirrored skyscraper right on the ocean with an outdoor pool deck that overlooks the beach. It is honestly stunning!
The rooms are spacious and decorated with a modern flair, and the bathrooms are complete with marble tubs and rain showers. You can also find plenty of great restaurants and bars on-site, as well as a spa and fitness center. This is a must-stay if you love luxury and want to be right on the water.
- Entrance: $100
- Hours: 24 hours
- Address: 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
5. Soar High Above the Water on a Parasailing Adventure
One of the most popular ways to see Atlantic City is by parasailing. You can take in stunning views of the coastline and the city as you soar high above the water.
This is also perfect for those days when you want to get out on the water but don’t necessarily want to get wet.
You will be able to see for miles as you are pulled behind a boat while attached to a parachute. It is truly an exhilarating experience that you won’t soon forget. I have done this a few times and each time I am just as excited as the last.
- Entrance: $95 per person
- Hours: 9am-5pm
- Address: 1 Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City
6. Visit the Atlantic City Historical Museum
The Atlantic City Historical Museum is the perfect place to learn about the rich history of this seaside resort town. The museum is located in an 1879 Victorian-style house and features a variety of exhibitions that chronicle the city’s development.
You can learn about the city’s original settlers, the Lenape Indians, as well as the effects of the Civil War and World War II on Atlantic City. The museum also has a beautiful garden that is perfect for a stroll.
- Entrance: $5 for adults, $2 for kids ages 6-12
- Hours: 10am-4pm
- Address: 559 Absecon Blvd, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
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7. Stroll Along the Boardwalk
Atlantic City is most well known for the Boardwalk. This five-mile-long promenade stretches from one end of the city to the other and offers stunning views of the ocean. It is also the perfect place to people watch and do some window shopping.
There are a variety of boutique shops and restaurants along the Boardwalk, as well as some of the city’s most popular casinos. One of my favorite things to do here is to get an ice cream cone and find a spot to sit and watch the world go by.
It is the perfect way to relax and soak up the atmosphere of this iconic place. And since it’s free to roam, it’s the perfect place for backpackers in the USA on a budget.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 24 hours
- Address: Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
8. Take a Day Trip to Philadelphia
Just a short drive from Atlantic City is the city of Philadelphia, which is rich in history and culture. While typically you might want a few days in Philly to really do it justice, it is also possible to see a lot in just one day.
Start by visiting the Independence Visitor Center to get your bearings and then head to some of the city’s most popular historical sites, like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. You can also explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art or take a walk through Rittenhouse Square.
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, there are plenty of great restaurants in Philly, including Reading Terminal Market, which is a foodie paradise. I had a pastrami and egg sandwich there a few years ago… and I STILL think about this sandwich. It was that good.
- Entrance: $35 bus ticket
- Hours: 8 AM- 10 PM
- Address: Philadelphia, PA 19106
9. Ride the Steel Pier Amusement Park Rides
Take a trip back in time and feel the nostalgia of the Steel Pier Amusement Park. This historic pier dates back to 1898 and was once one of the most popular tourist attractions in Atlantic City.
The pier is home to a variety of rides, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, and roller coaster that will give you a thrill late into the night. There are also a number of game booths where you can try your hand at winning a stuffed animal.
One of the best parts about the Steel Pier is that it offers stunning views of the ocean and the city skyline. It is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the casinos and enjoy some fresh air.
- Entrance: $15 for an all-day pass
- Hours: 10am-10pm
- Address: Steel Pier, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
10. Have a Beach Day
No trip to the Jersey Shore is complete without a day at the beach! Atlantic City has a number of beaches that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and simply taking in the incredible views.
One of my favorite things to do in Atlantic City with kids is to pack a picnic lunch and head to Ventnor Beach, which is a bit more low-key than some of the other beaches in Atlantic City. This beach is also great for people-watching, as it tends to attract a more eclectic crowd.
If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, then head to Brighton Beach, where you can listen to music, drink cocktails, and dance the day away.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 24 hours
- Address: Ventnor City, NJ, United States
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11. Take a Surf Lesson at one of the Local Beaches
One of the best things about Atlantic City is that it is surrounded by water, which makes it the perfect place to try your hand at surfing. There are a number of surf schools in the area that offer lessons for all levels, so even if you’ve never surfed before, you can give it a go.
This is one of my favorite activities in AC, as it is such a unique experience. There is nothing like riding the waves and feeling the salt water on your skin.
And, of course, it is also great exercise. Bear in mind, that you are on the east coast so the water is chilly!! Best to wear a wetsuit, many of the schools will be able to provide you with this.
- Entrance: $50 for a 1-hour lesson
- Hours: 9am-5pm
- Address: AC Surf: 500 Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ 08401
12. Explore Lucy the Elephant in Margate
Lucy the Elephant is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Jersey and it is easy to see why. This six-story elephant-shaped building was constructed in 1881 and is now a National Historic Landmark. It was built to advertise a local real estate development and quickly became a symbol of the Jersey Shore.
Today, visitors can take a guided tour of Lucy and learn all about her history. You can also climb to the top of her head for some incredible views of Margate City.
- Entrance: $8 for adults, $4 for children
- Hours: 10am-5pm
- Address: 9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate City, NJ 08402
13. Hit the Links at One of the Famous Golf Courses
Golfers will be in heaven when they visit Atlantic City, as there are a number of amazing golf courses in the area. If you’re looking for a challenge, then play a round at Twisted Dunes. This course is known for its unique sand dunes and is considered one of the best public courses in New Jersey.
For a more relaxed game, head to Atlantic City Country Club, which was founded in 1897. This course is beautiful and offers stunning views of the city skyline. It is the perfect thing to do in Atlantic City on a weekend where you can spend time outdoors with friends or family.
- Entrance: $100
- Hours: 7 AM – Sunset
- Address: Twisted Dunes Golf Club: 2101 Ocean Heights Ave, Egg Harbor Township, NJ, 08234
14. Head to Storybook Land for a Day of Family Fun
Storybook Land is the top thing to do in Atlantic City for families with young children. This amusement park is based on classic storybooks and fairy tales, and it features rides, shows, and attractions that will delight kids of all ages.
Some of the popular rides include Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and Snow White. There is also a water park area where kids can cool off on hot days. Storybook Land is the perfect place to create some cherished memories with your family.
- Entrance: $32 for adults, $27 for children
- Hours: 10am-6pm
- Address: 6415 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
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15. Spend a Night in Old Havana at the Tropicana Resort and Casino
The Tropicana Resort and Casino is one of the most popular casinos in Atlantic City. This resort feels like you just stepped into the Caribbean, they often host Havana nights where guests will dress in their best Caribbean attire. The entire resort has a Havana theme, from the décor to the music.
The casino offers a wide variety of games, including slots, blackjack, poker, and roulette. There are also a number of bars and restaurants on-site, as well as a nightclub and theater. So grab a hand-rolled Cuban and enjoy a night in Old Havana at the Tropicana! This is one of the best things to do in Atlantic City for nightlife.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 24/7
- Address: 2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
16. Try the Famous Saltwater Taffy
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Atlantic City, then try Saltwater taffy! This is a Jersey Shore staple and Atlantic City is the best place to try it. This sweet treat was invented in Atlantic City in the late 1800s and has been a favorite ever since.
It is made by stretching and pulling a mix of sugar, water, and flavorings until it becomes chewy and glossy. Be careful, it WILL get stuck in your teeth, I promise.
You can find saltwater taffy all over the city, but one of the best places to get it is at James’ Candy Company. This family-owned shop has been making taffy for over 100 years and they use the same recipe that James’ grandfather created.
Be sure to try a few different flavors before you leave. My favorite is watermelon!
- Entrance: $5
- Hours: 9AM – 9PM
- Address: 2312 Atlantic Ave, Atlantic City, NJ
17. Relax as the Historic Gardners Basin
Gardners Basin is a great place to relax and take in the views of Atlantic City. This area was once used as a commercial fishing port, but it has since been transformed into a beautiful park. There are a number of sculptures and gardens to explore, as well as a boardwalk where you can watch the boats come in.
Many people come to Gardners Basin to go fishing, as there are a number of charter companies that offer trips.
You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore the area on your own. So whether you’re looking to relax or get active, Gardners Basin is the perfect place to spend a warm day in Atlantic City
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 24 hours
- Address: 800 N New Hampshire Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
18. Cool Off with Some Frozen Hot Chocolate at the Sugar Factory
The Sugar Factory is one of my favorite places for dessert in Atlantic City – maybe even in the whole US.
This over-the-top candy store is known for its decadent desserts, including its famous frozen hot chocolate… um yum! This drink is made with milk chocolate and topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips, and a marshmallow.
I know what you are thinking, “yeah sounds great, but frozen?” and I am here to tell you YES, FROZEN. The drink is served in a martini glass with a chocolate stirrer and it is SO good. If chocolate isn’t your thing, they also offer a number of other creative desserts and drinks.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 10 am – 12 am
- Address: 1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Where to Stay in Atlantic City
Atlantic City is known for its flashy casinos and resort hotels, but did you know there are a number of other great places to stay?
From luxury hotels to beachfront motels, there is a place for everyone. These are some of my top place to stay in Atlantic City.
Best Motel in Atlantic City – Sea Breeze Club
It should come as no surprise that Atlantic City can be very expensive when it comes to accommodation. However, if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Sea Breeze Club is always my choice. It is located just one block away from the Boardwalk, making it a great location for exploring the city. The rooms are basic but clean and comfortable and the rates are very reasonable. And if you’re visiting on an East Coast road trip, there’s free parking too.
Best Airbnb in Atlantic City – Beach Front Condo
This Condo is right on the beach and will give you incredible views of the Atlantic City skyline. This is perfect for a solo traveler or couple headed to Atlantic City that doesn’t want to spend an outrageous amount on accommodation and also wants a little bit of privacy away from the hustle and bustle of the casinos.
Best Hotel in Atlantic City – Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa
The Borgata is one of the most luxurious hotels in Atlantic City and a fan favorite when it comes to where to stay in Atlantic City. This hotel has everything you could possibly want or need, from a world-class casino to fine dining restaurants, a spa, and even a nightclub. You really could just spend a weekend here and never have to leave. It is pricier than some of the other options, but in my opinion, it is worth it!
Some Additional Tips for Visiting Atlantic City
Before you go rushing off to book flights and accommodation, I have just a few more words of advice for you…
- Invest in travel insurance! You never know what may happen on the road.
- Do not forget your ID. You will need it to get into the casinos as well as the bars and clubs.
- Bring walking shoes. You will do A LOT of walking in Atlantic City. If you are not used to it, your feet will be killing you by the end of the day.
- Eat big at lunch. If you want to save money on food but not on experience, go to the casinos for lunch instead of dinner. Most of them have cheaper lunch options and some even have happy hour specials.
- Take advantage of free drinks. Even if you don’t like gambling, play the penny slots as many casinos will offer guests free drinks if you are playing a game… and who doesn’t love a free drink?!
- Find cheap flights. Every once in a while, a killer deal pops up.
Don’t forget your travel insurance for Atlantic City
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Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Atlantic City
Atlantic City is one of the best places to visit for a weekend getaway. Even if you don’t win at the casino, you’re still in for a great time (just be responsible and know when to stop).
There is just something about being by the water and having the option to do so many different things that makes this place so special.
Whether you are looking to lay on the beach, party until dawn, or just eat some good food – Atlantic City has so much to offer.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
Mary, it was a fascinating read! Atlantic City is best known as a terrific gaming destination, with several themed casinos offering cuisine, fun, live entertainment, and other luxuries. However, for those who aren’t interested in gambling, the city features a plethora of fabulous food and drink options, places to explore, landmarks, stunning and vast beaches, the historic Boardwalk, and much more!