There is nowhere else in the US that spells out ‘American family vacation’ quite like Atlantic City. It’s been one of the most popular tourist destinations for decades, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. From the beaches to the Boardwalk, there are plenty of things to do in Atlantic City. Furthermore, despite what anyone says, there’s so much to do there that isn’t gambling. After all, it’s about more than slots and Blackjack. It’s about togetherness, and there’s something for every member of the family in Atlantic City.
If you're keen on taking road trips, you're probably already aware of the scope of roadside attractions in the US. But did you know that the oldest one in the country is in Atlantic City? It's true. Her name is Lucy, the Elephant, and she was built in Margate City, which is just five miles from Atlantic City, in 1881. Lucy also isn't just pretty to look at; you can actually go inside of her to explore. Additionally, she's also six stories high, making her the biggest elephant in the world. You know, if you ignore the technicalities.
Every vacation destination has its staples, and one of Atlantic City's is the White House Sub Shop. Founded in 1946, the White House Sub Shop sells deliciously hot and cold submarine sandwiches, but it's the history of it that really makes it special. Celebrities from every era have dined there including members of the Rat Pack like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Oprah Winfrey and Joe DiMaggio. Perhaps an even better story than that is the fact that after The Beatles played a concert in Atlantic City in '64, they stopped at the White House for one of its world-famous hoagies.
Salt water taffy is a northeastern delicacy. Although nobody knows how it was originally conceived, thanks to a man named Joseph Fralinger it's now synonymous with Atlantic City. Fralinger brought salt water taffy to the Atlantic City Boardwalk when he took over a taffy stand. The rest, as they say, is history. Over the years, Fralinger experimented with all kinds of flavors and even had the idea of packaging it up so visitors could take it home as gifts. What that did was create Atlantic City's first ever souvenir.
There's nothing that instills the feeling of pre-war Americana than a tram ride on a boardwalk. Riding the tram car in Atlantic City is an activity that never gets less exciting with age. On the contrary, if you ride the tram as a kid, you'll want your own kids to experience it even more. The tram is a great way to get around Atlantic City, and it's definitely the most popular. An all-day pass is relatively inexpensive and means you can hop on and off the tram cars at will. More time for walking the beach? Sounds good to us!
Originally opened in 1898, the Steel Pier has been the best place to go for family entertainment. While these days the amusement park and thrilling rides are an exciting pull for people of all ages, the Steel Pier also has a long history. Atlantic City was, for a time, the biggest pull for entertainers such as P.T. Barnum's circus. It was also famed for the Diving Horse Show. The Diving Horse show was, essentially, exactly as it sounds. A stunt rider rode a horse that dived from the top of a high platform into the water.
Ripley's is a name recognized around the world. With over 30 'Odditoriums' in countries from China to Denmark, there's something unique to be found in each. The Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium in Atlantic City, which opened in 1918, is rightfully located on the boardwalk. Inside of this bizarre building is even more bizarre items. As well as a lock of George Washington's hair, there are shrunken heads and a roulette table made out of jellybeans. Kids will love the maze and the fascinating artifacts... but so will adults.
Surfing might not be something you picture when you think of Atlantic City, but your mind is about to be blown. If you've ever been on the beaches of Atlantic City, you should know by now that it has some of the biggest waves in Jersey. Where better is there to go surfing? You don't need to be a pro to surf either. You can learn how to surf at the Atlantic City Surf Club. If you're a surfer on their way to AC, check out Crystal Beach, the Delaware Avenue Beach, and Downtown Beach.
Boardwalk Hall has been a staple on the Atlantic City scene since 1929. Originally known as the Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall, the hall has housed everything from ice hockey to boxing matches. In fact, the hall is the original home of the Miss America Pageant. Inside of the building is the world's largest pipe organ and the footsteps of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Jersey's boy Bruce Springsteen, and The Beatles. Catching a show or event at the Boardwalk Hall is a must for all family vacations to Atlantic City.
The spirit of the "Boardwalk Empire" Atlantic City is still alive and well in the wood stain of the boardwalk. Many of the buildings that were buzzing in the 20s are still standing to this day. Prohibition was a law that made it illegal to make and sell liquor, but if anything, it was also a law that made people drink even more. Atlantic City, with its mob connections, was the center of law-breaking tourism. Alcohol was everywhere and a huge pull for tourists. You can still visit some of the popular sites of the time, although most have been taken over by other businesses.
Open all year round, Absecon Lighthouse was opened in 1956. As well as being New Jersey's tallest lighthouse, it's the third-tallest in the United States. Pay a little to ascend 228 steps, and you'll get the best view that exists of the Atlantic City skyline. Not only will you get stunning, breathtaking views, but there's an educational museum, gift shop, and exhibits to boot.