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The 10 best things to do in Atlantic City

There are plenty of things to do in Atlantic City, whether you‘re looking for a wild time or a relaxing beach vacation

Written by
Alyssa Ammirato

Despite what you might think, there's more to the East Coast's answer to Las Vegas than gambling—and the best things to do in Atlantic City prove it. Yes, there are plenty of neon signs, slot machines and bachelor parties, but that's not all. You might also enjoy strolling along the family-friendly boardwalk, dining at one of the best steakhouses in the state or tasting salt water taffy made from a 100-year-old recipe. And at only two hours by car from the Big Apple, this is a perfect day trip from NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Atlantic City, NJ

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Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

What is it? An indoor street scene of restaurants, shops, clubs and bars.

Why go? With its Havana nights-inspired theme, Tropicana resort transports you to paradise. The Quarter guarantees a romantic, tropical evening, complete with an always clear, blue-sky view, a running fountain and cobblestone streets. Shop, drink, dance and delight in everything from a sports bar to even a drunken slushie shop. There is plenty to explore.

What is it? White sandy beaches for miles.

Why go? All along the East Coast are marvelous beach spots, but Atlantic City's is a highlight thanks to its fab nineteenth century boardwalk. A stroll along these saves you from sand in the shoes, but you can get down to the ocean too. Watching the waves is a perfect way to relax, but riding the waves is more fun. Surfing, kayaking and windsurfing are just some of the activities on offer.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels

What is it? A billion-dollar resort that went up in 2003 to appease vacationers, shoppers and gamblers alike.

Why go? An anchor of the Atlantic City Marina District, the Borgata brings it’s A-game for those searching for a truly immersive experience. Floor-to-ceiling windows adorn every one of the hotel’s 2,000 guest rooms and the casino offers enough machines and table games to keep every high-roller or penny-bettor happy.

What is it? Old school rides, arcade games and food joints on the seafront.

Why go? To unleash your inner child! The Steel Pier helps make Atlantic City a perfect and pleasant family vacation destination (and helps adults recapture their lost innocence). Revisit your favorite childhood rides and carnival games, or kick it with a burger and beer while enjoying the oceanfront view at the pier’s pubs.

  • Restaurants

What is it? A prime steakhouse inside The Borgata Hotel.

Why go? Nestled inside high-roller haven, Bobby Flay Steak is the best place for an elegant and comfortable dining experience on the boardwalk—and the perks of eating at an establishment with a celebrity chef doesn’t hurt the entertainment value either. Menus are created with the Garden State’s namesake offerings in mind for fresh, scrumptious dishes.

  • Restaurants

What is it? Cocktails galore, pub grub and live music on the boardwalk.

Why go? Wasted again? Hey, you’re on vacation – in Margaritaville, no less. This Jimmy Buffett-themed tiki bar is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late at night, so you can get your island-inspired fix for food, drinks and entertainment whenever the mood strikes.

  • Restaurants

What is it? The original outpost of Joseph Fralinger's salt water taffy.

Why go? Now owned by a different family, but still going by the Fralinger name, this sweet spot on the boardwalk has been here since 1885. It's no surprise why once you taste the two-inch candies. There are a number of flavors, from the bold (pumpkin and egg nog) to old favorites (candy apple and chocolate). If taffy's not your thing, then you'll also find fudge, macaroons, candied pecans and some other nostalgic treats in store.


What is it? An easy way to travel the 1.5-mile stretch along the waterfront.

Why go? The world-famous Atlantic City boardwalk is hard to believe until you see it, for it offers something for everyone, including kids and adults to high-rollers and window shoppers alike. The boardwalk tram is the best way to take in every bit of the view of the Atlantic Ocean, from Taj Mahal on the north side of the beach, to Tropicana in the south.

Absecon Lighthouse
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Absecon Lighthouse

What is it? Erected in 1857, Abescon remains the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey (and third tallest in the country).

Why go? Just a hop and skip away from the boardwalk stands the Absecon Lighthouse, which offers a more scenic attraction versus the boozy highlights during your trip. Climb 228 steps to witness an incredible city and ocean view, or you can admire the structure with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

The Tanger Outlets
Photograph: Courtesy Tanger Outlets

10. The Tanger Outlets

What is it? High-end brands at low(er) prices.

Why go? Of course, New York City has plenty of amazing shopping, but it also has NYC price tags. Take your slot machine winnings to the Tanger Outlets and stock up on basics, or maybe buy yourself a little something special. There’s athletic joints like the Nike Factory Store and Adidas, luxury clothing spots such as Michael Kors and Lacoste and plenty more boutiques to peruse.

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