Atlantic City has a lot to offer but today, we share the best things to do in Atlantic City besides gambling.
Why visit Atlantic City?
Atlantic City has taken on many guises over the years, though most people know it today as a gaming destination often described as the ‘Las Vegas of the East’. However, just like its Nevadan cousin, Atlantic City has had to diversify a lot in recent years as more and more people turn to the internet to enjoy casino games. It’s easy to see why, too, as brands like 32Red offer sizeable deposit-match deals to encourage new players to sign up to their platforms.
Of course, visitors to Atlantic City can still enjoy plenty of different gaming options with many larger integrated resorts offering a combination of casino gaming, hotel accommodation, dining, and other entertainment. Some of the biggest names in the industry have opened up in AC, including Caesars Palace, Bally’s, and Hard Rock.
But with plenty more on offer, most visitors to Atlantic City also get up to a range of other exciting activities as well. If you’re planning a trip to New Jersey and are looking for inspiration, here are some things to add to your itinerary.
Best things to do in Atlantic City
Before any of the casinos were even envisioned, Atlantic City was attracting tourists because of its Boardwalk. Today, such coastal attractions can be found right across the United States, but AC’s boardwalk was a pioneer.
It first opened to the public in June 1870 and was intended to be a temporary structure designed only for the summer season. However, after a lot of success and popularity, local officials voted to keep it, a decision that is upheld to this day.
The Boardwalk is as much a tourist attraction today as it is a functional way to get around. While visitors may include “The Boardwalk” in their lists of things to do in AC, they most likely don’t give much thought to the myriad of businesses that line it.
Yet, it is these businesses that help to give it its charm as the stores, restaurants, and casinos all ensure the beachfront walkway is always teeming with people. Many of them also contribute to the sounds, sights, and smells that tantalize the senses of visitors.
Atlantic City may not be overly associated with cycling, yet the city and its surrounding areas offer a selection of great routes and trails for you to explore. New Jersey’s varied geography really helps in this regard as you’ll get to enjoy a mix of coastal paths, forests, and mountains, each one more picturesque than the last.
Some of the most popular cycle routes include:
- The Sandy Hook Bike Path – Running along the Sandy Hook Multi-Use Pathway, it offers riders around nine miles of coastal cycling that passes several beaches and a long list of historical monuments and landmarks.
- Patriots’ Path – A much longer route at 35 miles, Patriots’ Path runs right across Morris County through mostly wooded areas. It is paved in parts, but a mountain bike is still advisable as there are off-road sections and some very tight twists and turns.
- Cape May Shoreline – A cycle route that is mostly on the roads but still offers up spectacular views of the coast. You will need to pay attention to other road users and abide by traffic signals and stop signs, but you’ll also likely have one eye on the breathtaking scenery.
- Union Transportation Trail – Running from Assunpink Creek to Monmouth Road, the Union Transportation Trail is a multi-use path that has been constructed on top of the former Union Transportation railway.
Lucy the Elephant
Lucy is an Atlantic City institution that, like the Boardwalk, was intended to be a temporary construction but lives on today due to its popularity.
She is a six-story building shaped like an elephant that was originally constructed way back in 1881. Originally named Elephant Bazaar and located on the side of a road, her initial purpose was to attract visitors and encourage them to stop to admire her while also spending money with local businesses.
That wasn’t all, though, because Lucy the Elephant was also used as a promotional tool for its creator’s real estate business. Today, Lucy has retired from the real estate industry but continues to attract and amaze tourists from across the country.
She is located in Margate, a short journey south from Atlantic City, and will likely remain there for many years to come thanks to the elephant being designated a ‘Historic Landmark’ and a ‘Historic Place” by the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the United States National Register of Historic Places.
One of Atlantic City’s most famous products is saltwater taffy, a sweet treat that can be found on sale up and down the Boardwalk.
However, saltwater taffy was almost never created as its existence is entirely down to an accident. Taffy has been around for centuries but the saltwater kind first appeared in Atlantic City in the 1880s.
The exact origin story is debated fiercely by locals. While most people are in agreement that it was an accident, not everyone is settled on how it came about. The first theory is that a lazy employee mixed the taffy mixture with seawater because it was closer or easier to get. The other is that a batch was contaminated with seawater after a storm battered the Boardwalk.
Either way, saltwater taffy is a delicious candy that you must try when you visit Atlantic City.
The Steel Pier Amusement Park makes up a major part of the famous Atlantic City skyline. Its giant Ferris wheel and Slingshot towers can be seen from right along the Boardwalk. The famous theme park has been around for over a century and is built on a 1,000-ft-long pier that stretches into the ocean.
It operates between April and October with a mix of white-knuckle thrill rides and gentler attractions that allows Steel Pier to cater to almost all guests.
For an additional fee, visitors can also take a helicopter ride from the pier where they will get a view of the city and/or the shoreline from the air.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.