Home to upscale restaurants, luxurious accommodations, live entertainment, and great shopping, there are lots of fun things to do in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Much like Las Vegas, its west coast counterpart, the first thing people think of when it comes to Atlantic City is casinos, but Atlantic City is far more than slot machines and gambling tables.
As a native New Jerseyan, I’m here to spill the beans on some of the best things Atlantic City has to offer. I’m confident that, before long, you too will fall in love with this eclectic resort city.
So without further ado, let’s get to it!
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27 Best Things to Do in Atlantic City
Steel Pier Amusement Park
Atlantic City’s best amusement park
📍 Map It: 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 | Phone: (609) 345-4893 | Website | Hours: Varies seasonally. Check website for most up-to-date hours | Entrance: Tickets $1.75/person. Books of tickets are available for a discount
Steel Pier Amusement Park is one of the most popular things to do in Atlantic City and one of the top amusement parks in New Jersey. If you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids, then this is one of the best options around.
The park sits right on the famous Atlantic City boardwalk, so you can catch great ocean views while enjoying your time at the park. If you’re not afraid of heights, then I highly recommend the Big Wheel, Steel Pier’s famous Ferris wheel. Up top, you can get great views of the amusement park, as well as the beach and boardwalk.
👉 Pro Tip: Because of the ongoing health crisis, hours and pricing vary. Before your visit, make sure to check the website for the most up-to-date information.
Harrah’s Resort & Casino
World-class dining & entertainment
Harrah’s Resort & Casino is a four-star hotel that’s part of Caesar’s family of luxury hotels and resorts. It offers upscale accommodations and is one of Atlantic City’s major casinos. Their site even boasts newly-renovated rooms in their Coastal, Bayview, and Atrium towers.
In addition to their classy accommodations, Harrah’s is home to upscale restaurants. One such restaurant is Gordon Ramsay Steak, a premium steakhouse that features dishes from the award-winning chef of the same name. Harrah’s also offers great live entertainment – check out their website for more information on who’s coming to town next.
Traveling with your pet? Harrah’s is also pet-friendly, so your pooch can enjoy a luxury stay in Atlantic City right along with you!
👉 Pro Tip: Harrah’s is located further out from the famous boardwalk, which is a quieter section of Atlantic City. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking for something not too close to the main hub of activity.
Designer fashion on a budget
Shopping is one of the most popular things to do in Atlantic City – and for good reason. Who doesn’t love a good bargain? If you do, while out and about visiting Atlantic City, then you don’t want to miss a shopping trip at Tanger Outlets.
The name is recognized as having some of the best shopping with a variety of outlet stores. And there’s no sales tax on shoes or clothing! Designer name brands at discount prices – what more could you ask for?
👉 Pro Tip: Tanger Outlets is an outdoor mall, so be sure to check the weather before you go – just in case you need to bring a travel umbrella.
Luxury shopping by the ocean
Playground Pier is a luxury shopping mall right on the Atlantic Ocean. It offers great views of the water, so you can take in views of Atlantic City beach as you shop and dine.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, a lot of the stores here closed temporarily, some permanently. This left a lot of visitors disappointed. However, people still flock to the mall because as quiet as it is, it’s also quite beautiful. Views from the second and third floors are particularly breathtaking and there’s even lounge seating outside.
As things continue to improve, more stores may be re-opening. If so, shoppers will again get the experience they loved from times past. In the meantime, it’s a nice place to go for a stroll.
👉 Pro Tip: The Playground was once called The Pier Shops at Caesar’s. It closed down in 2015 and reopened as The Playground. Inside The Playground are many tributes to the former Pier Shops and all it had to offer.
New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse
When visiting Atlantic City, the Absecon Lighthouse is definitely a must-see. It’s the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, and as such, the 228-step climb up to the top can be long. Make sure to wear your comfy shoes!
From the top of the lighthouse, you can take in spectacular views of Atlantic City and the Jersey shore. The friendly lighthouse staff is very knowledgeable and can teach you a lot about the lighthouse’s spectacular history. On your way out, make a stop at the gift shop so you can take home a souvenir or two.
👉 Pro Tip: Though the climb is 228 steps, there are some breaks in between so you can rest. The climb is well worth the view at the top!
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
A museum of oddities
📍 Map It: 1441 Boardwalk Corner of Boardwalk and, N New York Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 | Phone: (609) 347-2001 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Sunday – Friday, 10 am – 7 pm Saturdays | Entrance: $18.99, Age 13+, $12.99 ages 5 – 12, $14.99, Seniors
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do in Atlantic City, then this is definitely it. Based on the show from the 1949 era, the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum is full of all kinds of oddities and rare exhibits you won’t find anywhere else. Fans of Ripley’s (and weird things in general) will particularly enjoy their time here. There’s even a Laser Challenge.
You’ll see things such as the world’s smallest production car as well as rare animal skeletons. It’s located right on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, within walking distance of everything the boardwalk has to offer.
👉 Pro Tip: Though Ripley’s is for all ages, because it’s a collection of oddities, some kids (and even adults) may find some exhibits scary, such as the shrunken heads. Use caution when bringing young or easily frightened children.
Ocean Casino Resort
Everything you could want or need, under one roof – this 5-star ultra upscale resort spares no expense. They provide you with an exquisite experience from the moment you step in the door!
The Ocean Casino Resort has some of the most luxurious accommodations in Atlantic City, as well as all the amenities you could want. They even have the TopGolf Swing Suite where they offer seven private bays where you can golf – but that’s not all. This social club also offers other gaming options as well as food and cocktails.
Of course, with these high-quality amenities comes a higher price tag. However many agree that it’s worth it – even if you only stay and experience it for a night.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Iconic Atlantic City hotel
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is a major icon on the Atlantic City boardwalk scene. This hotel offers great, clean, upscale accommodations that guests absolutely love. The casino is large with a wide variety of machines to choose from. Some even have the ability to order drinks right from the machine; convenient as you don’t have to flag down a server.
But the slot machines aren’t the only reason to visit. The Hard Rock is home to several great restaurants, including the sweet Sugar Factory, and there is a plethora of music memorabilia around the hotel. Items such as Elvis Presley’s car and Elton John’s shoes, add to the ‘rockstar’ ambiance that the Hard Rock Hotel is known for.
Atlantic City Boardwalk
Stroll the famous Atlantic City boardwalk
Of course, you can’t come to Atlantic City and not visit the iconic boardwalk! The Atlantic City Boardwalk first opened in this resort town in 1870. It’s America’s first and oldest boardwalk.
Stretching about 5 miles long, it also holds the title of the world’s longest boardwalk. This famous walkway is lined with a plethora of great dining, shopping, and entertainment options such as arcades and shows.
Each pier has something different, from tucked-away restaurants to unique shopping experiences. The boardwalk has something for everyone.
👉 Pro Tip: While you’re there, visit one of Atlantic City’s many beaches, which make my list as one of the best beaches in New Jersey!
Historic Gardner’s Basin
A hidden waterfront gem
📍 Map It: Gardner’s Basin
The historic Gardner’s Basin lake area is a hidden gem, and another must-see when you visit Atlantic City. It’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery away from the high-traffic area of the Atlantic City Boardwalk and city center.
This waterway is home to many shops, restaurants, and bars that outline the area. This makes Gardner’s Basin another perfect place to take in some waterfront dining and shopping. There are boat rides, parasailing, and some Atlantic City cruises even visit this area. You can’t swim here though, so if you want to take a dip, it’s best to visit any one of Atlantic City’s beaches.
Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall
Atlantic City’s event center
The Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall is a multi-purpose event center that hosts many different shows. These shows include the performing arts, musical concerts, and comedy shows. It’s even hosted the Miss America Pageant a few times.
Because Boardwalk Hall is home to so many events, there’s almost always something going on. Make sure to go to their website before your visit to see who’s performing next and to purchase tickets.
Atlantic City Cruises, Inc.
Take in Atlantic City from the ocean
📍 Map It: 800 N New Hampshire Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 | Phone: (609) 347-7600 | Website | Hours: Varies per cruise | Entrance: Varies per cruise
High on the list of fun things to do in Atlantic City is to take a cruise – it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the sights of Atlantic City right from the Atlantic Ocean. This Atlantic City boat tour agency offers a variety of options to help you get the most out of your visit.
Go on a Happy Hour cruise with friends, or take a morning cruise as you learn about Atlantic City history. You can even sail through the historic Gardner’s Basin. Many cruises serve drinks and food and have live music on board to enhance your experience.
And don’t miss the Dolphin Watching cruise, on which the cruise line heads into the open ocean to catch a glimpse of these playful sea creatures.
Atlantic City Ballet
Enjoy elegant ballet performances
If you love the performing arts, then you’ll love the Atlantic City Ballet. This professional ballet company is within Boardwalk Hall, and it’s well-known for putting on some of the most spectacular ballet performances.
But ballet isn’t the only dance they showcase. Jazz, tap, and modern dance are all part of the Atlantic City Ballet dancers’ repertoire. Make sure to visit the website before your visit so you can see when the next performance will be.
Atlantic City Air Show
The Atlantic City Airshow is an amazing annual event, only pausing in 2021 because of the pandemic. One of the best parts is that you can enjoy the air show, for free, right from any one of the Atlantic City beaches. Bring a beach chair and relax as you watch the skies!
The 2022 Thunder Over The Boardwalk Air Show is in honor and a salute to those who serve. Members of the United States Air Force perform daring aerial tricks as onlookers marvel from below. Most viewing is from the beach and boardwalk.
The Airshow has various events so, as the date approaches, be sure to check the website for the most up-to-date information on what’s going on. The 2022 Atlantic City Airshow will take place on August 24th, 2022.
Central Pier Arcade & Speedway
Classic arcade fun
A gamer’s delight! This arcade is packed with many classic games that arcade aficionados know and love. They also have newer games, including paintball shooting. It’s fun for the kids, and adult gamers as well. In particular, the go-karts outside in the back are a fan favorite, and some visit especially for them.
The arcade is located right off the beach, so you can go sit on or stroll down the beach after you’re done gaming.
👉 Looking for more things to do in the garden state? Then check out my mega list of things to do in New Jersey!
Little Water Distillery
Great handcrafted drinks & spirits
Further inland, away from the beach and boardwalk, is Little Water Distillery. Here you can stop in to relax and have a drink, learn about Little Water’s own spirit collection such as whiskey, rum, and gin, and have a tasting session.
You can book a tour, reserve a seat at the bar, do a tasting, or you can simply walk in to enjoy a drink with friends. They have a variety of cocktails, and the staff is warm and welcoming.
World-class resort & entertainment
The Borgata is home to one of the major casinos you’ll find in Atlantic City and is part of the MGM family of hotels and resorts. As such, it’s well-known for being one of the classiest hotels in the city. Their rooms, service, and even machines are top-notch. Anyone who stays at the Borgata will tell you that it’s worth the price, and they’ll come back again.
On top of having a great casino and luxe rooms, the Borgata also boasts great choices in dining, entertainment, and nightlife (such as bars and a nightclub). If you stay anywhere, the Borgata is a definite top choice.
Havana-themed hotel & casino
Take a trip to the beautiful streets of Havana without ever leaving New Jersey! The Tropicana Atlantic City is a fun Havana-themed resort with activities for all ages. Amenities include the Family Fun Station on the North Tower, games and activities for everyone in the family, and four beautiful pools – three outdoor and one indoor.
For the adults in your party, there is a wide array of nightlife options to choose from – bars and dance clubs abound. You can even go shopping at The Quarter, the Tropicana’s small, but upscale shopping mall.
This resort is complete with Luxe, a full-service hair salon for both men and women, which is the perfect spot to get ready for a night out on the town.
Atlantic City Restaurants
Dine in the tropical rainforest
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience with lots of ambiance, then the Rainforest Cafe is the place to go. It’s designed to make you feel as if you’re in the wilds of the rainforest, and its decor is complete with animals, forest foliage, and even fish tanks. It’s all designed to immerse you in the world of the tropical rainforest as you dine and chat with friends.
Rainforest Cafe is a chain restaurant, but still a popular go-to in Atlantic City and is located right on the boardwalk. The food is good and on par with many other restaurants in the area, but the ambiance is the real attraction here.
Happy hour with pizzazz
Because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere! But it doesn’t have to be for you to enjoy a drink at the lively Margaritaville. Though they also serve classic American fare, the real prize here is the drink selection and the event schedule – they often host live music.
It’s a great place to stop for lunch between sightseeing, or dinner after a long day of exploring.
Nero’s Italian Steakhouse (in Caesar’s)
Fine Italian dining
Love a good steakhouse? Then you’ll love Nero’s. In fact, it’s a required stop for any steakhouse aficionado. Nero’s Italian Steakhouse is among the top choices in fine dining in Atlantic City and, just like their exquisite menu, their cocktails are also impressive.
Located inside Caesar’s, Nero’s luxurious surroundings will put you in the mood for a nice candlelit dinner with that special someone. The restaurant even has great views of the boardwalk. They serve brunch on Sundays, so you can bring the whole family for one of the best meals they’ll have in Atlantic City.
The Sugar Factory (inside Hard Rock Hotel)
Unique desserts & drinks
Located inside the Hard Rock Hotel, the Sugar Factory is home to some ‘sweet’ delights – they serve some of the most unique drinks and desserts you’ll ever come across.
The Sugar Factory’s specialty is in its name. This restaurant boasts some of the biggest, most amazing desserts such as frozen hot chocolate and rainbow doughnuts. If you’re feeling adventurous, then go for the famous King Kong Sundae. It can serve up to 12 people and is topped with all sorts of sweet goodies. Some drinks even feature the dazzling feature of dry ice!
But sugar isn’t the only thing they do right – they have some amazing alcoholic drinks as well. Enjoy one in their elevated marble bar that looks over the casino below.
👉 Pro Tip: The Sugar Factory is popular and sometimes crowded. If you can, reserve a table before you arrive for quicker seating.
Bar 32 Chocolate and Cocktails
A chocolate lover’s dream come true
📍 Map It: 121 S Tenessee Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 | Phone: (609) 248-6960 | Website | Hours: 4 pm – 10 pm Sunday, Wednesday & Thursday. Friday & Saturday 4 pm – 12 am. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Chocoholics, welcome to paradise! Bar 32 Chocolate and Cocktails’ chocolate-themed menu is chock full of all sorts of chocolatey confections. Their decor is divine and has a cozy, yet upscale feel. Plus, the staff is amazing and can even help you pick the perfect drink and dessert.
As a chocoholic myself, this place is a dream come true. From chocolatey drinks to a wide variety of chocolates and even some great American fare, you won’t be disappointed.
👉 Just starting to plan your trip? Our comprehensive travel guide to New Jersey is the perfect resource for constructing your itinerary!
Museums & Culture in Atlantic City
World War I Memorial
Honoring the fallen
History buffs will definitely want to pay a visit to the World War I Memorial – a national historic landmark found in Atlantic City’s O’Donnell Memorial Park.
Built in 1922, this memorial is there to honor the major battles fought during World War I. It contains the names of the battles, as well as the different military services involved in the war. It’s a somber piece of history, but the architecture is beautiful and serves to make sure those that served are not forgotten.
Atlantic City Historical Museum
Discover Atlantic City history
Inside the Atlantic City Experience in Boardwalk Hall is the Atlantic City Historical Museum. In this museum, you’ll discover Atlantic City’s rich history and what makes the city unique.
There are some exhibits in the Main Library, where you can learn more about Atlantic City, and they sometimes even host events. More information about exhibits is available on their website as well.
Hours and availability of exhibits vary so it’s a good idea to call ahead and see what’s available before making the trip to the museum.
🚗 Need a car rental? Driving is a great way to take day trips from Atlantic City, and Discover Cars is the perfect service for finding and booking the best vehicle option for you!
Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation
Explore Black history and music
Chicken Bone Beach was once a racially segregated beach back in the early 1900s and was so named because of the mounds of chicken bones buried in the sand. Once segregation was over, the beach pretty much disappeared and became part of the rest of Atlantic City’s beaches.
It now has a Historical Foundation that promotes black culture and unity. They often hold events such as jazz concerts on the boardwalk. It’s a great place to take in good music and learn more about Atlantic City’s history.
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do in Newark
New Jersey Korean War Memorial
Remembering the brave
Yet another great stop for history buffs, this moving Memorial honors the fallen who valiantly fought in the Korean War. It features the names of the soldiers, elegantly inscribed in black marble.
Right across the street from the beach, this memorial is a beautiful tribute to those who fought during this difficult time.
👉 Want More? Check out all my New Jersey travel guides. They’re totally free and written by locals!
As you can see, even if you’re not into gambling and the casinos, there are plenty of things to do in Atlantic City. Come visit and you’ll see why people come back again and again!
Traveling to other places in New Jersey? Check out my list of the best places to visit in New Jersey for your next NJ vacation!