The best of Atlantic City, from boardwalk to beaches

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Jen Lyons

Skyline and beach of Atlantic City
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Atlantic City, New Jersey, is many things to many people. It’s a fun-filled beach town for a family vacation. It’s a shopping destination, whether you’re looking for outlet mall deals or designer boutiques. And it’s perhaps the best-known gambling and nightlife spot on the East Coast. There’s so much to do in Atlantic City, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are seven of the best things the city has to offer. 

1. Wander the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk 

Arguably Atlantic City’s most famous and enduring site, the Atlantic City Boardwalk stretches five miles along the coast and is packed with attractions. Up early? From 6 to 10 a.m., the boardwalk is open to bike riders, and bike rentals are available. After that, it’s foot traffic only. Visitors shop for souvenirs, dine at local eateries, enjoy amusement park rides, watch street musicians and performers, and explore the piers that attach to the boardwalk at various points along the way. 

2. Try your luck at a local casino

Whether you play high-stakes blackjack, the penny slots or something in between, Atlantic City’s nine casino resorts offer plenty of ways for you to see if Lady Luck is on your side. Caesars Atlantic City boasts a whopping 145,000 square feet of gaming space. It’s located right on the boardwalk and features two restaurants from famed chef Gordon Ramsay. The most upscale casino in Atlantic City is undoubtedly Borgata, with its Chihuly glass sculptures, marble floors and exclusive poker lounges. Even if gaming isn’t your thing, Borgata offers restaurants by award-winning chefs, a decadent spa and perhaps the city’s best nightlife scene. 

3. Get the adrenaline pumping on the Steel Pier 

Built back in 1898, Atlantic City’s Steel Pier offers over-the-ocean amusement park rides for visitors of all ages. The younger set will enjoy a carousel, bumper cars and spinning teacups. Teen and adult visitors looking for a more heart-racing experience won’t want to miss the chance to get flung around on the Freedom Flyer or go 225 feet in the air in just 1.5 seconds on the Slingshot. Everyone can enjoy carnival games, classic boardwalk fare like funnel cakes and ice cream, and a ride on The Wheel, a 227-foot-tall Ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas. At night, it’s lit by almost 15,000 colorful lights.  

4. Check out New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse 

Absecon Lighthouse is not only the tallest in the Garden State, but it’s one of the oldest remaining lighthouses in the country. Built in 1857 and used until 1933, today the lighthouse offers sweeping views of the Atlantic City skyline and waterfront to those willing to climb the 228 steps to the top. There’s also an on-site museum and a replica of the lightkeeper’s dwelling. 

5. Visit the African American Heritage Museum

With over 12,000 artifacts, the African American Heritage Museum is a must-visit for its honest portrayal of Black history and culture in Atlantic City. On permanent display are an exhibit exploring stereotypes, a portrait collection, early furniture and fixtures, and a fascinating exhibit about the prosperous Black neighborhood that used to occupy a large section of Atlantic City. You’ll also find rotating exhibits with works from local artists. 

6. Do a tasting at Little Water Distillery 

Ironically located in a Prohibition-era warehouse, Little Water Distillery is the first legal craft distillery in Atlantic City. Owned by two brothers, the distillery has been making spirits since 2016, with current offerings of rum, gin, whiskey and vodka. Stop in for a tasting or opt for a weekend tour that includes history, education on the distilling process, and plenty of opportunities to taste the fruits of their labor. 

7. Soak up the sun at Atlantic City Beach 

No visit to Atlantic City is complete without spending a day at the beach. Atlantic City Beach is a classic East Coast beach, with soft, beige sands, plenty of space and rolling waves popular with families and boogie boarders. Get there first thing in the morning to stake out your spot, then spend the day building sand castles, people-watching and sunbathing. When it’s time for a snack, a souvenir or more sunscreen, you’re just steps from the boardwalk. 

Become a Jersey Shore regular 

Put down roots in Atlantic City and along the Jersey Shore as a co-owner of a Pacaso second home. Pacaso manages and maintains it, so you can just arrive, unpack and enjoy everything this area has to offer, from boardwalk to beaches.

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