This New Jersey City Has Miles Of Beaches And Plenty Of Thrills

Lively casinos are just one of the thrills along the beaches and boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Beyond its oceanfront resorts, the state's gambling mecca will keep you busy with amusement park rides, arcade games, and water sports. It's a place permeated by a rich sense of history, too, and not all of that is as lurid as the Prohibition-era, Emmy-winning HBO series, "Boardwalk Empire." Atlantic City was the original home of the Miss America pageant, which it hosted for decades. It also inspired the Guinness-certified world's most popular board game, "Monopoly," which took its street names from real ones here.

Atlantic City Beach follows its famous boardwalk for 4 miles before it crosses into neighboring Ventnor City. In 2024, erosion from coastal storms thinned out the shoreline, resulting in the closure of some beach sections, most notably the ones in front of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. However, this is a free public beach, and it's long enough to find plenty of open areas between other piers where you can sink your feet into the sand.

Take to the skies with Atlantic City Parasail, and you'll have a seagull's view of the beach. When your luck runs out at the casino, it costs nothing to unroll a beach blanket and watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer, and you can check the latest advisory conditions with Safe Beach Day.

History and heights in Atlantic City

Atlantic City Beach is one of the best boardwalk beaches on the Jersey Shore. Surfers can catch a wave at Crystal Beach, while signs on Chicken Bone Beach illuminate the city's segregated past. Not far from the latter is the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, which houses what is considered to be the largest pipe organ on earth. This historic venue hosts everything from concerts and comedy shows to adrenaline-pumping MMA fights, as seen in the Oscar-nominated film "Warrior." Some of its legendary performers, such as The Beatles, have dined at White House Subs. In business since 1946, the original sub shop on Arctic Avenue has served its arm-length steak and Italian sandwiches to names like Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey.

On the Atlantic City Boardwalk — the world's oldest and longest boardwalk — you can eat salt water taffy at Fralinger's and take rickshaw-style, rolling chair rides like it's the late 1800s. Jutting out from the boardwalk, the Steel Pier amusement park has been operating for 125-plus years, though its Ferris wheel (officially just "The Wheel") was only added in 2017. If riding and parasailing aren't your thing, another way to get a bird's-eye view of the coastline is by booking a tour with Steel Pier Helicopters at the end of the pier. You can also take in an elevated view from the state's tallest lighthouse, Absecon Lighthouse, a 171-foot landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

Try your luck in casinos and boardwalk arcades

It may seem counterintuitive to visit a beach resort town with nine casinos and actually save money, but New Jersey has the cheapest flights on average in the U.S., while Atlantic City holds the country's cheapest airport. If you want to play it safe with your flight savings, you could put it toward your coin game budget at Playcade Arcade on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The Central Pier Arcade closed temporarily in 2024 due to a fire. However, it's another popular boardwalk entertainment center with a go-kart raceway where you can zip over the water.

For those who prefer table games and slot machines, Atlantic City's casinos have earned it a reputation akin to a mini Las Vegas. In an analysis of Tripadvisor reviews, ranked the city's four safest casinos as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, and Borgata Hotel Casino. True to its name and giant guitar sign, Hard Rock is another venue like the Boardwalk Hall, where the calendar is always hopping with high-profile concerts, comedy shows, and other live events. Golden Nugget and Caesars are both older casinos that opened in the 1980s when the city underwent rapid growth to become a gambling and boxing capital. Staying in the lap of luxury at Borgata, which opened in the Marina District in 2003, might help you appreciate why Atlantic City remains one of the 100 most popular American tourist destinations.