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A place we love to travel to is Atlantic City, New Jersey. Yes, this sea-side town is famous for its casinos and nightlife, but we love AC as both a parents-only getaway and a family trip. Since we do often bring kids to Atlantic City we ALWAYS get asked if there is enough family fun to justify a visit. And the answer is a resounding YES – there are so many great things to do in Atlantic City with Kids!
Things to do in Atlantic City with Kids
Atlantic City, New Jersey is a beach town in the southern part of the state. Located about 100 miles south of NYC, Atlantic City (or AC as its commonly known) is a great weekend road trip from the New York area.
I find the history of Atlantic City fascinating. One of my favorite books OF ALL TIME is Boardwalk Empire I highly recommend this book for all my history loving friends. For the past century, AC has been a summer destination for many PA, NJ and NY families. However, with the legalization of gambling and the entrance of casinos in 1978, “America’s Playground” often conjures up images of granny at the slot machine and grandpa at the $9.99 buffet.
I have been visiting AC since I was a child. My parents love to gamble and we often took trips to Atlantic City with our extended family. Even back in the early 90’s, we kids enjoyed playing in the boardwalk arcades and visiting the Steel Pier.
When hubby and I were dating and first married, AC became our favorite weekend getaway since we both enjoyed the casinos, and the restaurant/nightlife scene that emerged in the early 2000’s. Since having kids, we have visited many times as a family, both in the summer and winter. We have found so many great things to do, no trip to Atlantic City has left us bored or regretting bringing the little ones! Here is our list of the best thing of Atlantic City for families.
Atlantic City with Kids: In the Summer
Atlantic City Beach– So as I mentioned, Atlantic City is a beach town. In fact, its nicknamed “The City by the Sea.” When we visit in the summer, we always spend a day at the beach.
Not all of the casinos are located on the beach – if you want to be able to walk right out of your hotel onto the sand, then look at staying at the Tropicana (our go-to place), Bally’s, Caesar’s, Resorts, Hard Rock or Ocean.
I love that the piers and jetties keep the water calm. The beach is free and there are lifeguards. Since we drive to Atlantic City we load up our car with all our beach essentials. But, you can rent chairs from the hotel and you can pick up some sand toys in one of the little dollar shops on the boardwalk.
Heading to the AC shore? Then check out my FAMILY BEACH VACATION PACKING LIST
Bike Riding on the Atlantic City Boardwalk –
JULY 2019 UPDATE: The company that rented bikes at Tropicana and Resorts has closed down. I talked to the woman at the Tourism Board and she mentioned the proprietor retired and they were looking for someone to take over. Fingers crossed that they do! In the meantime, you can bring your own bike (and helmet) and bike on the boardwalk from 6am to noon in the summer months!
DECEMBER 2019 UPDATE: I was walking along the Boardwalk with hubby and saw a bike share kiosk near Ocean Casino – did not snag a pic, but this is promising!
This is probably MY favorite Atlantic City activity, and something my kids look forward to doing each summer!
In the summer months you can only ride bikes on the boardwalk from 6am until 10am. At two spots (outside the Tropicana Hotel and outside Resorts hotel) you can rent bikes by the hour. And not just grown up bikes, you can rent bikes with training wheels, an adult bike with a baby seat (holds up to 40lbs, my small 5-year-old went in the baby seat last summer) or a tandem bike (little man and I did this last year).
The boardwalk is a great place to ride – its very flat and easy terrain. I usually start at Tropicana, head north to the end of the boardwalk, and then back south into Ventor City. In an hour, I can usually bike 7-9 miles. On the north end, you pass all the casinos, new and old and to the south of AC the beach houses of Ventor and Margate are a sight to see! My one tip would be to bring your own bike helmets.
Steel Pier – The Steel Pier was once home to the diving horse show – yes a real diving horse! This seaside attraction has been replaced with a full-on amusement park, which your kids will love visiting. We usually head to the Steel Pier (you can take the boardwalk tram for $2/person) in the late afternoon and spend a few hours on the rides. I always manage to find a discount on Groupon, although last summer I had to purchase the Groupon 24 hours before activating it, so you might need to plan for this.
Atlantic City with Kids: Year Round
Mini-golf on the Boardwalk – Yes, mini-golf is open year-round! We have played in late December when the temperature was around 40 degrees. The mini-golf course is in the sun, and protected from the wind by Boardwalk Hall – but of course in inclement weather it’s always a good idea to call ahead to see if its open!
Ripley’s Believe it or Not – Last winter, we visited AC during a VERY cold stretch, so we decided to check out Ripley’s Believe it or Not. This was our first visit and everyone really loved it!
I thought Ripley’s Believe it or Not was going to be an exhibit of all sorts of gross stuff, but it’s totally not that. Ripley was a collector of artifacts and oddities, so the museum is full of super interesting things to look at. Really amazing stuff. We spent the entire day at Ripley’s – the museum is also much bigger than it looks from the outside.
It’Sugar – My kids love a visit to It’Sugar located on the Boardwalk across from Caesar’s Palace. This mega, candy store is filled with every candy you can imagine, and some you never even dreamed possible!
AC Aquarium – In the fall of 2016, when I ran the AmeriHealth Atlantic City Half Marathon, I ran into an area of the city I had never been to. I saw a sign for an Aquarium, so on our next visit, we decided to check it out.
The AC Aquarium is located in Gardiner’s Basin, a quick drive from the casinos. On a December day, we spent about a half day at the Aquarium. This aquarium has a few touch tanks, and several displays teaching about the local marine life. Helpful docents were on hand to answer my kids’ MANY questions and given the small size and intimate setting, you can really learn a lot of info!
Atlantic City Arcades – Nothing says “kiddie casino” quite like an arcade trip! There are several on the Boardwalk, and there is the Fun Station on the lower level in the Tropicana Casino. Kids can get in on the winning and hopefully come home with some adorable prizes!
Swimming – When booking a hotel, especially in colder weather, definitely opt for a hotel with an indoor pool. Again, this is another reason we love staying at the Tropicana Hotel! They have a great indoor pool on the sixth floor that is open year-round. In warmer months, we LOVE the outdoor deck off the indoor pool, there is corn hole, mini-golf, day beds and a bar up there. For the summer, the Tropicana opens a separate outdoor pool as well.
UPDATE: Last weekend hubby and I walked over to Ocean Resort and Casino. Here they have a year-round OUTDOOR pool! Yes, the pool is heated to 88 degrees, and you can swim from the indoor pool to the outdoor pool through a little opening in the window! There is also an outdoor hot tub open year round – we will definitely be considering Ocean for our next family AC trip!
Packing for a pool day? Check out my POOL PACKING LIST
CLICK HERE FOR: Atlantic City Hotel Deals & Discounts
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTIC CITY WITH KIDS:
Here are some other recommendations, ones that we have not yet experienced, but are definitely on our list:
IMAX movie – There is an IMAX movie theatre in the Havana Tower of the Tropicana Hotel. We always plan to go, but we’ve hit times when the movie showing is more for older kids (like Star Wars on our recent trip).
Storybook Land – This is an amusement park near Atlantic City, geared toward the younger set. Many rides you only need to be 36” to ride! Storybook Land does a Christmas extravaganza that in past years we planned to visit, but unfortunately it was too cold!
Central Pier Arcade – This pier, located near Ripley’s Believe it or Not offers arcade games and a full go-kart track. I have been here, as a teenager, but we have not brought our own kids yet. If your child is over 12, they can drive the go-kart, otherwise they can ride with a parent!
Atlantic City Blackjacks Game – No, not a casino game! The Atlantic City Blackjacks are the new arena football team based in AC! They play at the Convention Center. On our recent visit, this seemed to be all the rage as we saw many fans in AC Blackjack’s jerseys getting excited for the latest game!
Fun Places to Eat in Atlantic City with Kids
Rainforest Café – A meal at the Rainforest Café is also an attraction. We seem to always start our AC trip with lunch at the Rainforest Café, my kids are always eager to go.
The Atlantic City Rainforest Café is located on the boardwalk next to the Caesars Casino. In addition to decent food (and drinks, hey it is America’s Playground, after all) kids will love the rainforest show that goes on about every 20 minutes. Thunder, lightening, and animals coming alive (not scary, I promise) simulate the experience of being in an actual rainforest. Kids and grown-ups will love visiting!
Sugar Factory – This is a new addition to our Atlantic City favorites, having just opened in the Summer of 2018. The Atlantic City Sugar Factory is located in the new Hard Rock hotel, this restaurant serves savory meals along with a gigantic menu of sweet concoctions! Known for its goblets – giant fishbowl drinks served smoking or with candy (can be made alcoholic or non-alcoholic) as well as their crazy milkshakes! On our recent visit, we ordered a few shakes and our server offered us a blue goblet!
Broadway Burger Bar – This is a burger and fries joint located in the Tropicana. We love eating at the Broadway Burger Bar, because its casual, with great options for kids, and parents! On our recent visit, the kids enjoyed this jumbo pretzel appetizer, while we had this amazing buffalo cauliflower app! The burgers (both meat and veg) are also really good!
PRO-TIP: Take the Boardwalk tram when traveling from one point on the Boardwalk to another! Kids ride for half-price and its a fun way to see stuff along the Boardwalk! An economical and easy way to get around!
Atlantic City is a great family destination when the grown-ups want to do some gambling, the family wants to enjoy a great foodie destination and the kids want some fun stuff to do! For more on where to stay, and our favorite AC restaurants check out: 48 Hours in… Atlantic City AND Another 48 Hours in … Atlantic City.
Have you been to Atlantic City? With kids? What are you favorite things to do in Atlantic City?
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