There’s more to do in Atlantic City, NJ than table games, like shopping, go karts, mini golf, and more. Find Things To Do In Atlantic City That Aren’t Gambling in this post.
If you’re wondering when to visit, we suggest spring break. Find out our Fun & Frugal Spring Break Destinations via that link.
Atlantic City, New Jersey is known for being a destination for gamblers. It’s basically Las Vegas East because there are so many casinos in a small area. But it’s more than gambling. There are so many things to do in Atlantic City that aren’t gambling.
Atlantic City is a family destination, if you can believe that. Our family used to go all the time when we were kids. We would go with a bunch of other families and make a weekend of it. Most of the adults would go to the casino to play and one adult would stay with the kids.
So, our list of things to do in Atlantic City that don’t involve gambling has activities for adults on it but also some for kids too. Definitely make it a family trip.
Just keep in mind that if you do gamble, that’s for people who are 21 and over. Anyone younger is not allowed on the casino floor, cannot place any bets, and cannot even watch other gamblers from a distance.
10+ Things To Do In Atlantic City That Aren’t Gambling
Hang out at the beach
Atlantic City is right on the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the casinos line the boardwalk, which leads right to the beach. Some of the casinos do have a private section of the beach for their hotel guests, but the majority of the beach is public.
What’s great is that you don’t need a beach tag to get onto the beach. You can bring chairs, towels, umbrellas, and toys and spend the entire day in the water and sand.
You can also eat on the beach, so pack a cooler with beach snacks, but be sure to leave your glass bottles and alcohol in your hotel room. Drinking alcohol on the beach isn’t allowed, unless a permit is requested for special events or exceptions. So just leave the liquor at home.
If the beach at Atlantic City is your first beach vacation in a while, check out our The Best Family Beach Vacation Tips for some help planning that part of your trip.
Swim at the hotel pool
If you’re staying in Atlantic City and the beach isn’t your thing, almost all of the hotels have access to indoor and/or outdoor pools for hotel guests.
The pool at Harrah’s allows free access to the pool for hotel guests during the day (it’s included in your resort fee) and non-hotel guests can pay a cover charge (the exception is Saturday after 11 am when hotel guests have to pay too because there’s a DJ at noon).
Then there’s The Pool After Dark. The Pool After Dark does requires a cover charge from hotel guests and non-hotel guests because of the big names that come deejay, like Jersey Shore’s Pauly D, Ja Rule, Kevin Federline, and more. So check the pool’s website before you go.
There are some other casinos, like Bally’s, that will allow paid public access to the pools. Bally’s does charge its hotel guests also, so check these things out before choosing what hotel to book.
The Wheel At Steel Pier
Ferris wheels are so much fun, especially in towns like Atlantic City because there’s so much to look at. So The Wheel At Steel Pier (1000 Boardwalk) gives you an aerial view of the entire town during its 15 minute ride.
It’s $13.50 for a ride (kids 2 and under are free), and it is open from 2 pm to 8 pm Monday through Friday; noon to 11 pm on Saturday; and noon to 9 pm on Sunday.
Yes, there are night hours. Atlantic City is beautiful lit up, but I know what you’re thinking. Ferris wheels are cold at night. Worry not. Each of the 40 gondolas are temperature controlled. They can also hold up to six people each, so the entire family can have fun together.
If you don’t go for a ride, be sure to look for The Wheel at night when it’s lit up by 14,500 lights. It’s a pretty sight to see.
Play Games And Throw Axes At Steel Pier
If you don’t do heights, you can still do the Steel Pier (1000 Boardwalk). It’s Atlantic City’s oldest theme park.
Steel Pier was founded in 1898, and of course, Steel Pier has changed a bit since then. It currently has rides (including a carousel and bumper cars), food (like pizza and fries), and carnival games (you can shoot hoops, squirt guns, and more). The whole pier has a very carnival-like vibe to it. But it’s better than the carnival because it’s open year round.
There are so many restaurants in Atlantic City.
Many of the casinos have a buffet, so that’s always a crowd pleaser.
We stayed at the Chelsea Pub & Inn (8 S Morris Ave), which is a bed and breakfast a couple times and breakfast was included in the price of the hotel.
But for the most part, the casino hotels don’t offer a complementary continental breakfast, which you know is one of my favorite things. No worries, though. It just means you can eat out one more meal and enjoy the local cuisine.
There are huge chain restaurants in the casinos: Hooters (2821 Boardwalk) is in Tropicana, the Rainforest Café (2201 Boardwalk Avenue) on the boardwalk, Johnny Rockets (1900 Pacific Ave) in Bally’s, etc.
There are also smaller, local restaurants that are Atlantic City staples, like the Knife and Fork Inn (3600 Atlantic Ave) and Chef Vola’s (111 S Albion Pl) where the photo above is from. Thank goodness my brother’s wife knew someone because Chef Vola’s in a small, hole-in-the-wall, BYOB, cash-only, reservations-only-if-you-have-a-referral restaurant that serves fantastic old school Italian food. You can say you know me, but that won’t get you anything.
If you’re looking for something less exclusive, our favorite sandwich shop of all time is White House Sub Shop in Atlantic City. It serves the biggest sandwiches ever and has been doing so since 1946.
Play At Atlantic City Mini Golf
No beach vacation is complete without a round of mini golf. Those two just go hand in hand.
Luckily, there’s Atlantic City Mini Golf (1 Kennedy Plz). It’s right on the boardwalk across the street from Boardwalk Hall. Believe it or not, there are 18 holes on the course with contours, elevated greens, and real waterfalls.
It’s a great option when it’s too cold to swim but not cold enough for there to be snow on the ground.
Go To The Spa
If you’re anything like me, your life is high stress 24/7. And the lights and action of Atlantic City don’t do much to mellow you out.
Unless … you go to the spa.
The now defunct Revel Casino actually tried to mesh the two. It was two buildings — one was a casino and the other was a spa resort. That flopped. But there are still spas in Atlantic City for you to get your relaxation on.
There’s Qua Baths And Spa at Caesars (2100 Pacific Ave), Spa Toccare and Immersion Spa in Borgata (1 Borgata Way), and Spa & Salon at the Golden Nugget (600 Huron Ave). So you can get a full spa experience without actually ever leaving your casino hotel. And bring your man with you. You know I’m a big fan of a couple’s massage.
I love shopping, especially outlet shopping.
Oh sure, some people will try and convince you that you don’t get great bargains at the outlets, or that you are purchasing poor-quality products. But I never listen to any of that.
I love shopping at the outlets and Atlantic City has the Tanger Outlets (2014 Baltic Avenue) there, which are great. You can shop at the Gap Outlet, Michael Kors, Puma Outlet, and more. The only thing that I don’t like is that these outlets are outside. That’s cold in the winter.
Luckily, there is a ton of indoor shopping.
Every casino has stores, but the best is the Playground Pier (1 Atlantic Ocean), a luxury shopping pier at Caesars. It’s actually completely separate from the casino, so you don’t even have to walk through the temptation of the one-armed bandits. There’s IT’SUGAR for kids, Tommy Bahama, and more.
If this sounds familiar, it used to be called The Pier Shops at Caesars. And, when it was there, there was a six-minute light show that is really cool to watch. We’ve seen it a few times and it was always great.
Atlantic City Aquarium
If you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids during the day, especially if it’s raining and you can’t do the beach, check out the Atlantic City Aquarium (800 N New Hampshire Ave). It’s open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. There are over 100 varieties of fish and marine life in the aquariums, including a shark touch tank.
There are also live feeding shows and daily stingray feedings as well. You have to check the daily schedule for those, but they’re really fun. Plus, the Atlantic City Aquarium’s admission is only $10, so it’s a frugal family treat.
As of March 2022, the aquarium is temporarily closed for renovations. It anticipates being closed through the summer 2022.
Walk on the boardwalk
One of my favorite things about Atlantic City is just taking a walk on the boardwalk. For most of the trek, all the casinos, stores, and restaurants are on one side of you and the beach is on the other. Of course, there are exceptions with the piers.
What makes the Atlantic City boardwalk so great is that it really has that Jersey Shore feel. It’s a little run down, has a bunch of oversized pizza shops, and you can run into the 99 cent stores to pick up almost anything. When we were young, we loved shopping at these and buying toys and souvenirs.
See a show
Entertainment is huge in Atlantic City. There are a ton of big name acts coming through at all times. From top comedians to bands to actors (we saw an ad for Rob Lowe coming to do … talking), almost everyone makes a stop in Atlantic City.
Many of the casinos have showrooms where they book these big acts, but there’s also the Atlantic City Convention Center (1 Convention Boulevard) that hosts events like car shows, beer fests, cheerleading expos, and more.
And then there’s Boardwalk Hall (2301 Boardwalk), previously known as the Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall, which is where the Miss America Pageant had been held previously.
So many of the bars and restaurants have live music on any given night. If you don’t have tickets to a show and want to hear music (or even just a DJ), this is the place to be.
And look for the beach concerts too. The photo above is from when Rascal Flatts played the Atlantic City Summer Concert Series. Check out the Boardwalk Summer Concert Series schedule to see who is playing when you’ll be in town.
Go To Playcade Arcade
When we were young, we loved going to Playcade Arcade (2629 Boardwalk). It’s a really good arcade with a ton of games. And it’s located right on the boardwalk.
When we were young, some of the kids would run to play at the arcade while some of the kids would stay to swim at the beach.
One of the best games (which I don’t know if they still have) was a slot machine game. It was exactly like a casino slot machine, but of course you win tokens instead of money. But we felt so cool getting to play slot machines at the arcade.
You can win tickets from some of the games and trade them in for prizes. If you go to Atlantic City often, you can save them up for huge prizes. That’s what my little brother did for a long time. If you don’t go often, or if you’re more impulsive, you can just get a smaller prize.
Drive A Go Kart At Central Pier Arcade & Speedway
Kids — or kids at heart — will have so much fun gokarting at Central Pier Arcade & Speedway (1400 Boardwalk). The speedway is one of the largest over and under racetracks with NASCAR-style go karts.
If you’re not into go karts, there’s still more to do at Central Pier Arcade & Speedway.
As the name implies, there’s a full arcade with racing games, games of chance, and more. You can earn tickets to trade in for prizes, just like the aforementioned Playcade. The difference is that this arcade is a lot younger. You can also play paintball there too, if you’re into that.
Check Out The Absecon Lighthouse
Sometimes, you forget that Atlantic City is a beach town located on the Atlantic Ocean because you just think about the casinos.
Now that Atlantic City as a beach town is in your mind, it will completely make sense that it is home to the Absecon Lighthouse (31 S Rhode Island Ave). At 171 feet, the Absecon Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey. It also is the only lighthouse in the Garden State with its original Fresnel Lens up top. It was officially decommissioned in 1933, but the Fresnel Lens is still lit every night just for show.
The Absecon Lighthouse is open to the public from Thursday to Monday from September until June (with an exception of a two week closure around Christmas and New Years), then 7 days a week in July and August.
There’s a fee to climb the lighthouse, but if you just want to park, that’s free as is admission to the Keeper’s House Museum, exhibits, gift shop, and grounds. The climb leads to an outdoor watchtower, which wraps around the whole lighthouse.
Be Amazed At Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
If you’ve never been to Ripley’s before, check out the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not (1441 Boardwalk) in Atlantic City.
You can check out the Odditorium to take a photo next to the World’s Tallest Man, a roulette table made of over 14,000 jellybeans, and more. Your family will definitely be talking about it all trip.
Ripley’s also has a Laser Maze Challenge in Atlantic City. Green lasers fill a room and your goal is to go over and under them as quickly as you can. It’s a timed event, so the quicker you are the better. It’s a fun way to get in a little family competition.
What are your favorite things to do in Atlantic City? Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know.