40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer

From early-morning yoga to late-night pool parties, with surfing, wine tasting and shopping in between, activities in Atlantic City, NJ, go far beyond gaming.

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  • Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Climb to the top of Absecon Lighthouse.

  • Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Meet Mr. Peanut at the Atlantic City Historical Museum.

     

     

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: See the first two installations in the ARTLANTIC public art project.

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Go bargain hunting at Tanger Outlets–The Walk.

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Take a tour of the 1920s James’ Candy factory.

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Learn how to surf.

     

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Slurp local bivalves at Dock's Oyster House.

  • Photograph: Scott Frances

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Swim high above sea level at the Water Club.

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Meet Lucy the Elephant.

     

  • Photograph: Dale May

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Have a few laughs with Seth Meyers at Borgata.

  • Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Order an enormous sandwich at White House Sub Shop.

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Watch Miss America, Mallory Hagan, pass on the crown.

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Get your thrills at Steel Pier.

     

  • Photograph: courtesy Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Watch sky-high stunts at the Atlantic City Airshow.

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Cheer on triathletes on the Boardwalk.

     

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: See Miss’d America, Sabel Scities.

     

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Catch the dazzling Fourth of July fireworks display.

     

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Ride in a rolling chair on the Boardwalk.

     

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Taste top chefs' creations at the A.C. Food & Wine Festival.

     

  • 40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Get down at Boogie Nights.

     

  • Beach and Steel Pier

    40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Have a beach day.

    Beach and Steel Pier

Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority

40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer: Climb to the top of Absecon Lighthouse.


Atlantic City, NJ, is back in action for the season. The recently revamped Steel Pier is debuting eight new rides, and public art has arrived on the Boardwalk. The calendar of events includes the World Championship of Sand Sculpting, the Atlantic City Offshore Grand Prix and the Atlantic City Airshow in June and the return of Miss America in September. Or perhaps you'd prefer a more hedonistic getaway, dining at the best Atlantic City restaurants and chilling out in one of the best spas? Of course, you've got to try your luck at least once while you're in town—consult our Atlantic City casino guide for ten prime places to play.

RECOMMENDED: The full guide to Atlantic City, NJ

1. Get a seagull’s-eye view of the skyline

Climb the 228 steps to the top of New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse (the third tallest in the U.S.) for a 360-degree view of the Atlantic City skyline. Below the restored 1857 Absecon Lighthouse, a reproduction of the 1925 keeper’s house contains antique photographs and memorabilia. 31 S Rhode Island Ave between Atlantic and Pacific Aves (609-449-1360, abseconlighthouse
.org). Mon, Thu–Sun 11am–4pm; $7, seniors $5, children $4.

2. Meet Mr. Peanut at the Atlantic City Historical Museum

Located on the 1913 Garden Pier, this repository of A.C. history emerged from Sandy largely unscathed and is expected to reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend. Get insight into local lore including the real-life Nucky (corrupt political boss Enoch Johnson), the Miss America Pageant, Monopoly, which was designed by an out-of-work salesman with fond vacation memories, and Mr. Peanut—a top-hatted presence outside the now-defunct Planters store on the Boardwalk for roughly four decades. A 35-minute film charts the rise, fall and resurrection of Atlantic City, from wholesome seaside retreat through its 20th-century entertainment heyday, subsequent decline and revitalization thanks to the legalization of gaming and casino development. Garden Pier, Boardwalk at S New Jersey Ave (609-347-5839, atlanticcity
experience.org). Daily 10am–5pm. Free.

3. Get a room with a view

Reserve your private stretch of coastline, as seen from your hotel window—many Atlantic City Hotels offer ocean-view accommodations. Pour yourself a drink, pull up a seat and gaze at the Atlantic.

4. Be dazzled by Boardwalk Beat

Hit the Boardwalk after dark to catch Moment Factory’s mesmerizing new eight-and-a-half-minute 3-D sound-and-light spectacle, which animates the Romanesque-style facade of the 1929 Boardwalk Hall every half hour. Boardwalk Beat, which debuts Memorial Day weekend, transforms the National Historic Landmark into a “jukebox time machine” with an original soundtrack that celebrates music through the decades. 2301 Boardwalk between S Florida and S Mississippi Aves (doatlanticcity.com). Daily 9:30–11pm. Free.

5. Sip a Rum Runner in a Prohibition smuggling spot

A bootlegger’s drop-off point in the 1920s, Gardner’s Basin (800 N New Hampshire Ave) is now a far less shady spot. It’s the home 
of the Atlantic City Aquarium (609-348-2880, oceanlifecenter.com; daily 10am–5pm; $8, seniors $6, children $5), and the departure point for boat tours. The former fishing shacks have been converted into craft galleries and shops including Inlet Surf, the base for the Atlantic City Surf School. Stop by the Back Bay Ale House (609-449-0006, backbayalehouse.com) on the dock and order the appropriately named 
Rum Runner—light rum, banana liqueur, blackberrry brandy and fruit juice served in a 32-ounce mason jar ($12.50). Or start your day with the much-praised blueberry pancakes ($5.95) at breakfast institution Gilchrist Restaurant (609-345-8278; daily 6am–2pm), which reopened here a couple of years ago after a brief closure. Claim a table on the expansive outdoor deck and try to spot the houses that were likely offloading points. (Hint: Some have handy docks beneath them.)

6. See art by the sea

From an early-20th-century exhibit of baby incubators to the world’s largest Underwood typewriter on Garden Pier, the Boardwalk may have hosted some unusual displays over the years, but it hasn’t exactly been a platform for visual art. Now, however, a major public-art project, ARTLANTIC, is transforming spaces left by stalled developments into vibrant installations. Over the next five years, curator Lance Fung and a team of local and international artists and landscape designers will transform empty lots into green, art-filled spaces. The first two installations opened in April. A seven-acre site bordered by South Indiana and Pacific Avenues, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the Boardwalk features an infinity shape formed by grassy banks—a nod to Steel Pier’s roller coasters—that contain and are surrounded by pieces by Robert Barry, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Kiki Smith and others. A second, smaller graphic work designed by John Roloff, incorporating trees and seating, is on the Boardwalk at California Avenue.

7. Pay court to Queen B at Boardwalk Hall

Beyoncé must have a soft spot for Atlantic City—the singer chose it as the location for her postpartum return to the stage last May, at Revel’s Ovation Hall. This summer, she stops at Boardwalk Hall on July 26, on the American leg of her Mrs. Carter World Tour—one of only a handful of Northeast gigs—before the big Brooklyn finale in August. boardwalkhall.com

8. Score bargains on big-name brands…

Sure, we have Century 21 and Loehmann’s here in NYC, but since there’s no sales tax on clothing and most shoes in New Jersey, you can save that extra 8.875 percent on the bulk of your fashion purchases at Tanger Outlets–The Walk (800-405-9555, tangeroutlet.com/atlanticcity). The collection of 100 outlet stores, spread over nine city blocks just north of the Boardwalk and bordered by Atlantic, Baltic, Ohio and Mississipi Avenues, offers discounts of up to 70 percent. Stop into Coach’s separate stores for men and women for deals on bags, wallets and shoes, then snag basics and trendier gear at Gap, Banana Republic, Juicy Couture, DKNY, H&M and J.Crew. The complex also offers a parade of sneakers by Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok and Converse.

9. …or spend your winnings on a designer splurge

With the fabulous address 1 Atlantic Ocean, The Pier Shops at Caesars (609-345-3100, thepiershopsatcaesars.com), a three-level mall opposite the casino, lives up to its location on the former Young’s Million Dollar Pier. Upscale boutiques include Scoop, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., or you may prefer to treat yourself to a gleaming new gadget at Apple. There’s also scope to do some damage in the casinos—Tropicana, Borgata and Golden Nugget all have on-site retail areas. Last summer, Revel’s shopping gallery, The Row, opened a 10,000-square-foot “shops within a shop” concept store, Emporium, which mixes well-known clothing and accessory brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Vince Camuto with cult denim (Rag & Bone, J Brand and others) and less familiar European labels.

10. Taste a classic Boardwalk confection

Saltwater taffy is an Atlantic City original, invented by accident in the early 1880s by a Boardwalk candy vendor whose taffy stock got soaked by the surf. You can see how the confection is made today by touring the 1920s factory of James’ Candy, which acquired its century-long competitor Fralinger’s in 1990 (each is made to its own original recipe). The 35-minute tours stop at the tin-ceilinged Receiving Room, where fresh ingredients are delivered daily; the Candy Kitchen, where the taffy and other sweets are heated in copper kettles; and the Taffy Room, where the sticky stuff is cooled and pulled. Best of all, the $5 admission includes samples. 1519 Boardwalk at S New 
York Ave (609-344-1519, jamescandy.com). See website for tour times.


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