When you think about Atlantic City, you might just picture cheesy neon signs and slot machines. Or perhaps you’re familiar with the family-friendly boardwalk and one of the Garden State’s best beaches? Whether you’re at the Jersey shore for the party or cruising to the coast for some relaxation and restoration, the best things to do in Atlantic City run the gamut from gambling at the casino to dining at the best steakhouses, or shopping at one of the best outlets near New York. Before you plan your day trips from NYC this year, let us make it easier for you by sharing the top 10 irresistible spots and attractions you’ll want to experience in Atlantic City.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Atlantic City, NJ
Best things to do in Atlantic City
The Quarter at Tropicana
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. 2831 Boardwalk (800-843-8767, tropicana.net)
Relax and recover on the beach
It’s probably not the first thing you’d think of, but Atlantic City is an anchor point on the Jersey Shore. Whether you just want to wander off the boardwalk into white sand or take a short drive to a quieter oceanfront lounge spot, this Jersey Shore beach is the perfect place to recover and restore. (atlanticcitynj.com)
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.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Joe Giron
Rides and games on Steel Pier
Unleash your inner child! The Steel Pier helps make Atlantic City a perfectly and pleasant family vacation destination (and helps adults recapture their lost innocence too). Revisit your favorite childhood rides and carnival games, or kick it with a burger and beer and enjoy the oceanfront view at the pier’s pubs. 1000 Boardwalk (866-386-6659, steelpier.com)
Nestled inside high-roller haven (The Borgata), 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.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Megan Duong
These folks have been in the taffy game for over a century, and they sure do know what they’re doing. In the very birthplace of salt water treats is this historic, family-owned spot, which proudly sells 16 flavors of the two-inch candies. If you’re craving something more traditional—like chocolate—they’ve got you covered there too.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tom Simpson
Take the Boardwalk Tram
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 to the east and the playground to the west. (609-347-7500, boardwalktours.com)
Just a hop and skip away from the boardwalk stands the Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, 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. 31 S. Rhode Island Ave (609-449-1360, abseconlighthouse.org)
Shop the Tanger Outlets
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 stores like Nike and Under Armor, luxury clothing spots like Michael Kors and Kenneth Cole and plenty more boutiques to peruse. 2014 Baltic Ave (609-344-0095, tangeroutlet.com)