Known as “America’s Playground,” Atlantic City has been a premier destination since the 1880s. While a lot has changed over the years, visitors still flock here to catch performances from world-class entertainers, lounge on the sandy beaches of the Jersey Shore, and stroll along the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk.
No trip to Atlantic City is complete without spending some time exploring the historic 4-mile-long boardwalk. Head here, and you can ride adrenaline-pumping rides at Steel Pier, snack on salt water taffy, and play all sorts of carnival-style games. You’ll also find some of the city’s best (and most historic) beachfront bars and restaurants in this part of town.
Adults will love trying their luck in Atlantic City’s best casinos, attending one of the many epic pool parties, and dancing the night away to the beats of world-famous DJs at a swanky nightclub. If you’re looking for something a bit more PG, check out the unique sea creatures at the Atlantic City Aquarium, paddle around the picture-perfect marina, or see which world-famous comedians or bands will be performing during your trip.
With so many things to see, do, and eat, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Atlantic City for you. Stick to these fun and unique Atlantic City bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time in this hedonistic coastal playground!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Atlantic City
1. Stroll Along the Atlantic City Boardwalk
If there’s one activity that should be at the top of your Atlantic City bucket list, it’s a visit to the Atlantic City Boardwalk. This historic 4-mile-long wood structure was built in 1870 and is now home to some of the best attractions in town. There’s even a handy tram (for a fee) in case you don’t feel like walking the whole way!
If you’re looking for a thrill, you’ll love riding the roller coasters at Steel Pier Amusement Park and checking out all the fascinating exhibits at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! After that, you can pay a visit to the Entrance to the Stars, where you can glimpse celebrity handprints from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Cher.
You’ll also find plenty of touristy shops selling kitschy T-shirts, vendors dishing out funnel cakes and salt water taffy, and arcade halls filled with fun games. Once you work up an appetite, you’ll be spoiled for choice. From fresh oysters and martinis at the historic Dock’s Oyster House to two-foot-long sub sandwiches at the crazily popular White House Subs, there’s something for everyone.
2. Sample Local Craft Brews at The Seed: A Living Beer Project
Craft beer connoisseurs will love hanging out at The Seed: A Living Beer Project. When you think of Atlantic City, craft beer probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind.
It might surprise you that The Seed was named best new brewery in the United States by USA Today Readers’ Choice in 2021. So you know this place is something special!
This “living beer project” prides itself on putting meticulous thought into every aspect of brewing and sourcing ingredients. Plus, they go above and beyond to support New Jersey-based businesses by using local fruits, botanicals, grains, and more.
If you want to sample the goods for yourself, you’ll find The Seed’s 5,000-square-foot production brewery and tasting room in the heart of North Beach. They always have an ever-changing menu of nine brews on tap. Think pub porter with dandelion root and imperial stout with coffee and hazelnut.
Plus, the “beertenders” are super knowledgeable and friendly, so they can help guide you toward the best brews for you!
3. Go Kayaking, Windsurfing & Surfing at the Beach
It’s no secret that one of the best things to do in Atlantic City in the summer months is to take to the beach. But the city’s gorgeous stretches of sand offer so much more than just sunbathing. Although, if you just plan to soak up the sun during your trip, that’s just fine with us!
If surfing is your thing, you’ll want to beeline it for either Crystal Beach at New Hampshire Avenue, the Downtown Beach at Raleigh Avenue, or the Delaware Avenue Beach. These are all prime spots to hang ten. Plus, you can rent surfboards and bodysuits at the beach if you’re not traveling with your own gear.
You might be surprised to hear that kayaking and windsurfing aren’t permitted at most AC beaches. If you do want to do these activities, you’ll have to go to Jackson Avenue Beach, which is the only beach in town that permits kayaking and windsurfing.
4. Marvel at Sea Creatures at the Atlantic City Aquarium
If you’re traveling with little ones, it’s well worth paying a visit to the Atlantic City Aquarium. Explore the grounds, and you’ll find all sorts of fun and educational exhibits about sea creatures from around the world.
Plus, kids and adults alike will love getting up close and personal with the colorful creatures in the aquarium’s 18 water tanks, including a massive 25,000-gallon tank. You’ll also have the chance to spot marine life from the New Jersey coast, including sand tiger sharks and northern stingrays.
One of the standout features of the Atlantic City Aquarium is the tropical shark and stingray touch tank. Time your visit right and you can also check out one of the twice-daily exotic animal shows, which showcase the aquarium’s most fascinating creatures. If you’ve got extra time, the staff will also arrange special feeding sessions and educational boat rides in the marina.
5. Party the Day and Night Away at HQ2 Nightclub & Beachclub
If you’re looking to let loose, getting all dressed up and hanging out at HQ2 Nightclub and Beachclub is one of the coolest things to do in Atlantic City. Housed in the luxurious Ocean Casino Resort in North Beach, this club attracts some of the best DJs, celebrity guests, and entertainers from around the world. Think Steve Aoki, Tiësto, Kim Lee, and more!
During the day, you can groove to live music at HQ2 Beachclub. The venue boasts six bungalows with private pools and over 30 VIP sections if you want to go all out!
Or, if you prefer to save your partying for late in the evenings, HQ2 Nightclub hosts the largest outdoor pool party on the East Coast in its Main Nightclub and Mezzanine. From bottle service to VIP tables, it’s best to go big at these over-the-top venues. And come prepared to dance the day or night away!
Plus, if you want to be able to stumble back to your room for a nap or some room service, Ocean Casino Resort is home to some of the most luxurious rooms and suites in Atlantic City.
6. Shop, Wine & Dine at The Quarter at Tropicana
The Quarter is one of the top Atlantic City attractions if you’re looking for a one-stop shop for dining, drinking, shopping, and so much more. The Old Havana-themed mall is housed in the Tropicana Casino Resort Atlantic City, which is conveniently located right on the Boardwalk – so the location can’t be beat!
You can start your day popping into the mall’s 40 different shops, where you’ll find everything you need to dress up for epic nights out on the town or bring something new back home with you at the end of your trip.
Once you work up an appetite, you’ll have a wide range of options. From legendary Italian fare at Carmine’s to dinner and drinks at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, or lunch with an ocean view at Chelsea Five Gastropub, there is something for everyone in your crew.
After you’ve had your fill, get pampered in The Quarter’s 10,000-square-foot spa and salon, catch a flick at the IMAX theater, or test your skills in one of the escape rooms. If you’ve got the energy, you can even party the night away at one of The Quarter’s multiple nightclubs, bars, and lounges.
7. Get Your Heart Pumping at Steel Pier Amusement Park
Whether you’re traveling with your little ones or adventuring around with a group of friends, a visit to Steel Pier is one of the most fun things to do in Atlantic City. Jutting 1,000 feet into the Atlantic, this iconic boardwalk pier was first built in 1898 and still stands proud just steps away from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
Once known as the “Showplace of the Nation,” this was one of the country’s most popular entertainment venues in its heyday. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find plenty of rides, exhibits, and food kiosks to keep you entertained.
You can get sky-high views from the 227-foot-tall Ferris wheel, get flung into the air on the Slingshot, or get your heart pumping on the Drop. You can even take in bird’s-eye views of the AC shoreline on a helicopter ride! When hunger strikes, get your fill of all the carnival favorites like hot dogs, funnel cake, ice cream, and more.
8. Take in the Views from the Top of Absecon Lighthouse
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Atlantic City, Absecon Lighthouse is well worth carving out some time for. Located on the north side of the city, the 171-foot-tall Absecon Lighthouse stands proud as New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse.
Be sure to climb the 228 steps to the top of the lighthouse, where you can take in panoramic views of the shimmering Atlantic Ocean and the AC skyline. You can also check out the original first-order Fresnel lens, which dates all the way back to 1857.
The entire lighthouse was meticulously renovated to celebrate New Jersey’s 300th anniversary. Explore the grounds, and you’ll come across an interesting replica of the lightkeeper’s quarters as well as an informative museum detailing the history of lighthouses and their keepers. Be sure to pick up some quirky souvenirs at the gift shop before you leave.
If you’ve got the time, you can even sign up for one of the overnight Keeper Sleeper Overnights to learn all about what it was like to be a lightkeeper 150 years ago! This is a fun activity for the kids in your group.
9. Sip Sunset Cocktails at VÜE Rooftop Bar
Housed in The Claridge Hotel, VÜE Rooftop Bar & Lounge prides itself as the only rooftop bar and restaurant in AC with ocean views. It’s easily one of the top sights in Atlantic City if you’re looking to socialize over drinks at a breezy bar.
VÜE is perched on the 23rd floor, so the ocean and skyline views are unbeatable. Depending on which day of the week you visit, the bar hosts a range of entertainment options from DJs to live music to karaoke nights.
The bar mixes up an excellent menu of handcrafted cocktails, in addition to an impressive selection of wine and tequila. Head here for happy hour from Sunday through Friday from 4-7 pm for discounted sunset drinks!
If you’re feeling peckish, the menu boasts a small selection of bar bites, including their award-winning sweet and spicy wings.
10. Live the High Life at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa
It’s no secret that Atlantic City is brimming with luxurious hotels and casinos, but Borgata Hotel is easily one of the best in town. If you’re looking to treat yourself, Borgata is the place to be.
Whether you’re visiting for the day or staying for the week, you can spend your time getting massages in the world-class spa and sipping poolside cocktails at one of the luxe pool areas. There’s also a ritzy casino filled with table games and slot machines, as well as a huge entertainment venue, which attracts A-list musicians, comedians, and entertainers.
This is Atlantic City, so rest assured the Borgata houses some world-class dining and nightlife venues. If you want to go all out, pregame with top-notch sushi and sake at Izakaya by Michael Schulson before partying the night away at Premier Nightclub.
If you really want to go big during your AC vacation, book the Opus Suite, which offers sumptuous amenities like 1,000 square feet of space, bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and lavish living rooms with panoramic ocean views.
11. Take a Boozy Sunset Cruise
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Atlantic City, taking to the ocean is always a good idea. You can sign up for a range of cruises, but this sunset cruise is the best bet if you’re looking to have a good time!
You’ll set sail just before sunset and glide through the marinas and back bays of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, be sure to order up your complimentary drink, frozen cocktail, or soda from one of the full-service bars before relaxing and taking in the ocean and city views.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion like a bachelor or bachelorette party, there’s the Cruise & Cocktails option, which gives you unlimited house drinks, wine, beer, and soda. Or, if you prefer not to imbibe, reserve the Cruise Only option.
Either one you choose, you’ll get beautiful and unique views of AC as the sun sinks into the horizon. It’s the perfect start to an epic night in Atlantic City!
12. Try to Book a Table at the Ultra-Secret Chef Vola’s
Chef Vola’s fine Italian restaurant is easily one of the most unique Atlantic City activities for foodies. The only catch is that getting a reservation for this speakeasy-style restaurant isn’t easy. And even if you are lucky enough to make one, you’ll have to find the hidden eatery first.
Visit the website, and you’ll be prompted to enter a password. Other than that, there’s no actual information about Chef Vola’s address, phone number, or contact info. You’ll have to do a little digging to contact them.
Once you do make contact, you’ll have better luck getting a coveted reservation in the off-season. During the summer months, this popular eatery is pretty booked up, so make your reservations months and months in advance.
Chef Vola’s is hidden away in the basement of an average home in a residential part of the city. Head inside, and all your efforts will be rewarded by the insanely good homemade Italian fare that makes this place so popular!
13. Shop Till You Drop at Tanger Outlets
Atlantic City is a shopper’s paradise, and you’ll find a range of shops to choose from all over the city. But if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, Tanger Outlets is the perfect place.
Located in the heart of AC, this massive open-air outlet mall is home to over 100 stores, which range from H&M and Old Navy to COACH and DKNY. No matter what your budget is, you’ll find plenty of options. Plus, you’re likely to find some incredible deals and discounts on everything from home decor to new shoes.
Once you’re ready to rest your feet after spending hours walking around the three-block mall, you can sit back and relax over a drink and a bite to eat at one of Tanger Outlets’ many eateries. From fast-food joints to high-end restaurants, you won’t go hungry in this part of town.
14. Sample Fralinger’s World-Famous Salt Water Taffy
No trip to the Atlantic City Boardwalk is complete without indulging in some salt water taffy. This unique treat was first created in Atlantic City way back in the 1880s, but it was Joseph Fralinger who made salt water taffy an institution in the US.
After taking over a taffy concessions stand, he had the brilliant idea of expanding his selection of flavors to 25, which was unheard of at the time. He also packed an assortment of flavors into one-pound oyster tins for customers to take home. This became AC’s first-ever souvenir!
You can still visit Fralinger’s Original Salt Water Taffy Atlantic City Boardwalk location to this day. Pop in and peruse the different flavors of Fralinger’s “long-shaped” salt water taffy. From the original molasses flavor to cherry, chocolate, and lemon, there’s a flavor to suit all tastes. Plus, if you’re looking for a souvenir to bring home, you can pick up an Original 1920s Salt Water Taffy Box!
If taffy’s not your thing, Fralinger’s offers all sorts of alternatives. Think macaroons, fudge, nostalgic confections, and more.
15. Dine on Fresh Seafood Fare at Dock’s Oyster House
Seafood fans can’t go to Atlantic City without dining out at Dock’s Oyster House. Set right on the historic boardwalk, this place has been serving customers since 1887, when it was founded by Harry “call me Dock” Dougherty. Over the years, Dock’s Oyster House has been run by five generations of the Dougherty family.
Still family-owned and operated, this Atlantic City institution specializes in slinging out Dock’s Classics like Crab Au Gratin, Seafood Fry, Pan Sautéed Crab Cakes, and Dock’s famous Lobster Tail. There’s also an impressive Raw Bar boasting a rotating selection of eight to 12 types of oyster varieties each day, as well as addictive entrees including Crispy Wasabi Tuna and 12-Ounce Filet Mignon.
Head here for happy hour from 4-6 pm, and sip classic cocktails and snack on discounted bar bites while taking in the sweeping ocean views.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Atlantic City. What’s your favorite thing to do in “America’s Playground”?
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