Recently I tackled some of the vast array of things you can do in Las Vegas. To balance things out, I have the much less overwhelming list of suggestions of things you can do in Atlantic City.
Atlantic City is much more a gambling town today, despite slow efforts to try to evolve it beyond just that and make it more diverse like other casino markets. But there’s still things that you can do with younger family members (I visited once as a kid) and because it’s by the water, you get some options you simply don’t get in Las Vegas based on location.
Baseline: Along the Boardwalk
If you have never been to Atlantic City, there’s the key starting points:
- Gamble: Along the boardwalk there’s a total of six casinos, three clustered at the northern end (Ocean, Hard Rock and Resorts), two in the middle (Caesars and Bally’s), and one on the southern end (the massive Tropicana).
- Eat: There are some good food choices, just like in Las Vegas, at the casinos. There’s also a lot of beachfront food choices that can allow for some diversity of food over what’s in the casino alone.
- Catch a Show: Most of the casinos have various forms of entertainment; unlike Las Vegas, you have less steadily running shows and more limited-duration shows or entertainment visits from big names, closer to local market casinos.
- Walk the Boardwalk: The multi-mile boardwalk is a great opportunity to get outside, stretch your legs, and enjoy some exercise going from one casino to the other; you can also get pushed in a pushcart or catch a boardwalk tram that runs back and forth.
Beyond the Boardwalk: The Marina
Three additional casinos exist in the Marina area, which I sometimes jokingly call “the downtown area” just like the Vegas strip and downtown Vegas are somewhat separated from each other.
- Gambling/Eating/Catch a Show: Just like the boardwalk you’ve got some options here as well, which broadens your overall options in Atlantic City.
- Walking: The marina is walkable with a similar amount of distance between sections as if you were walking the boardwalk. I once did the walk between Harrah’s and Borgata and it was a lovely outdoor walk with a good chunk of it along the waterfront.
There’s a number of locations along the boardwalk that offer a more family-friendly appeal:
- Steel Pier: The Steel Pier has a lengthy history in Atlantic City, and features a mix of rides, attractions and games. The centerpiece is the relatively recent addition of a 227-foot-tall observation wheel, a 15-minute ride that gives you a unique perspective of Alantic City.
- Central Pier: The Central Pier has two key attractions. The arcade features a variety of arcade games and claw machines, including ticket redemption games. It also features a Go-Kart track which, on a pier, offers great views and a fun experience.
- Playcade Arcade: I have memories of playing at this arcade during my visit as a kid, and it’s still providing entertainment to children all these years later. It too has a focus on ticket redemption games.
- Claridge Arcade: A fun find once while I was staying at Bally’s, this arcade is inside the connector between Bally’s and Claridge Hotel. The arcade features a mix of newer games and classic pinball machines – it’s a cool place to check out, even if just for a bit.
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not: The chain of tourist-friendly museums of oddities has an Atlantic City outpost right on the boardwalk.
- Lucy the Elephant: The historic landmark is down the road a bit from the casinos, but still along the water. The six story elephant is available for tours, but you can see it without having to pay an admission fee as well.
- Boardwalk Hall: Along with an events calendar and being the home of the Miss America Pageant, Boardwalk Hall has a pipe organ that is the largest musical instrument in the world! Organ tours are available.
- Absecon Lighthouse: It’s the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, at 150 feet, and is more than 150 years old!
The layout of Atlantic City puts a lot of shopping opportunities, aside from the expected shops within casinos, to be available. These include:
- Boardwalk Shops: There’s plenty of shopping along the boardwalk. A lot of it is kitschy or souvenir-driven but you can find some fun mementos, shirts, and so forth to bring home.
- The Pier Shops at Caesars: There’s also a full shopping mall across from Caesars that has some shops and food options to explore.
- The Walk: This outdoor outlet shopping area is managed by Tanger Outlets and features the expected assortment of outlet shops in a multi-block walking area nearby Caesars and Bally’s.
- The Quarter at Tropicana: The Quarter is the only true shopping area attached to a casino directly as part of the property, and features over 25 shops, along with restaurant options. It’s part of the massive array of options available at Tropicana.
- White House Subs: This famous food purveyor has an outpost inside Hard Rock now, but the original location is still worth a visit for some eats.
- Fralinger’s Taffy: Salt water taffy is a New Jersey tradition, and Fralinger’s is the most famous. They have outposts in Hard Rock and Bally’s, along with a boardwalk location.
This should give you some starting points, even if you have more to work through and explore! Do you have a favorite spot in Atlantic City? Share in the comments below!