17 Free Things to Do in Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City, NJ
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As the sun sets, casting a golden hue over the iconic skyline of Atlantic City, the city's charm becomes undeniable.

Often perceived as a haven for gamblers, this vibrant city offers a dazzling array of casinos, dining, and entertainment venues.

Yet, it holds more than just the glitz and glamour of its famous boardwalk. Hidden within its folds are countless joyous experiences that require no expense.

For both long-time residents and curious explorers, Atlantic City offers a wealth of free delights waiting to be discovered.

This guide will unveil some of the best things to do in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that come without a price tag.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Heather Wire, Helen Howard, Tony Childs, Betty Ruder, Riley Phillips, Gabriela Banton and Adelina Buckley.

Take a Walk Down Memory Lane on the Atlantic City Boardwalk

View of Atlantic City Boardwalk
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Locals have a saying that goes, "If you haven't strolled the Boardwalk, you haven't truly experienced Atlantic City." I second that wholeheartedly.

I've seen the Atlantic City Boardwalk change and evolve since my childhood.

Despite it being in operation since 1870, it has never lost its charm.

During the day, you'll find the boardwalk buzzing with activity.

It's like a vibrant carnival on the beach.

A variety of shops and eateries are lined up, offering everything from designer clothing to delicious funnel cakes.

One of my personal favorites is the fried soft-shell crab.

It's the delicacy of the Boardwalk, and it's delicious!

Giant ferris wheel at Atlantic City Boardwalk
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The Boardwalk can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, but there's a certain camaraderie in the crowd.

We're all there to enjoy the views and try out the exciting foods.

But it's not just about food and shopping.

One can't ignore the splendid ocean views, the trickling of waves, the laughter of children playing near the shore, and the seagulls swooping to snatch a chip or two.

As the sun sets, the lights from the amusement park and the nearby casinos bring a whole new vibe to the Boardwalk.

It's like the Boardwalk gets a second life after dark.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is where I have created countless memories.

It's a place where time slows down, and I feel alive.

People strolling at Atlantic City Boardwalk
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Explore the Artistic Gems at The Noyes Arts Garage

Interior view of the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University
SnowFire, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One sunny afternoon, I wandered into a true gem tucked away in Atlantic City - The Noyes Arts Garage.

As soon as I stepped in, I was greeted by a breath of creative air that instantly changed my mood.

This hidden treasure from Stockton University offers a vibrant palette of art and culture that is truly refreshing in our city.

As an art enthusiast, I was thrilled to see a diverse display of art pieces from local artists.

The wide range of artistic styles and mediums was impressive, from intricate sculptures to expressive large-scale paintings.

Moreover, the Arts Garage is not just a gallery but a hub where artists come to create, making it a living, breathing entity that constantly evolves with the creativity of its inhabitants.

One of my favorite parts of the Arts Garage is the Black History Section.

Here, I found myself lost in thought, transported by the powerful artworks that sparked conversations on topics that matter.

It was an enriching experience that enlightened me in more ways than one.

The opportunity to meet the artists in their studios made the visit even more special.

It was a unique experience to converse with them, understand their creative process, and witness their passion for creating their masterpieces.

As if the compelling artworks were not enough, the Arts Garage also hosts classes that allow visitors to experience the magic of creating art firsthand.

I registered for a pottery class, and I must say, watching your creation come to life is a feeling that's hard to match!

Moreover, if you are looking for unique gifts, the gift shop offers an array of handcrafted items by resident artists.

It's a great place to pick up a piece of local art to take home.

Finally, after a day of cultural immersion, the on-site cafe is the perfect place to cool off and enjoy local treats.

The Noyes Arts Garage is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike, shining as a beacon of creativity in the heart of Atlantic City.

Go Fishing Fun at The Pier at Garden City

"Another day in paradise!" I always say as I go down to my favorite spot, The Pier at Garden City.

There's something magical about the pier: its large umbrellas provide shade, and dozens of benches line the walkway.

It's a fantastic spot to take in the stunning ocean views, feel the gentle breeze, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a shark or a jellyfish!

On the pier, you'll find a lively bar that serves a wide variety of drinks, perfect for sipping as you watch the sunset paint the sky.

They even host karaoke sessions daily, which I admit I've been known to partake in on occasion. It's an absolute blast!

And if karaoke isn't your thing, they also regularly feature bands that fill the air with delightful music.

One of my favorite things to do at the pier is to visit the arcade.

I may be a grown-up, but there's no age limit on fun.

If you ask me, I can't resist a good game of Skeeball, and the arcade has plenty of old-school games that bring out the kid in me.

Plus, it's not every day you get to play arcade games with the vast ocean as your backdrop.

And let's not forget about the fishing!

The pier is a popular fishing venue, and I love spending a quiet afternoon casting my line into the blue waters.

Whether you're an experienced angler or a newbie, there's something incredibly freeing about fishing off the pier.

Trust me, visiting The Pier at Garden City is an experience you wouldn't want to miss!

Climb New Heights at Absecon Lighthouse

Facade of Absecon Lighthouse
Kate Iniakina / Shutterstock.com

If you ever find yourself in Atlantic City, seeking an adventure that embodies the city's rich history and spirit, look no further than the Absecon Lighthouse.

Its impressive stature and captivating 360-degree views have become a cherished part of my daily life.

The Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest in New Jersey and the third in the U.S., is more than just a landmark.

It's a testament to the city's resilience and enduring charm.

I appreciate the most that the $10 entrance fee goes directly toward the museum's maintenance, ensuring that this historical marvel continues to enchant visitors and locals alike.

The climb to the top might seem daunting, especially for those who aren't fond of heights, but trust me, it's worth it.

Interior view of the light difussing dome at Absecon Lighthouse
Kwok Min Hui / Shutterstock.com

The higher you climb, the stronger the exhilarating Atlantic breeze and the more mesmerizing the views.

And there is something incredibly satisfying about reaching the top: a sense of achievement met with a charming card to commemorate your journey.

I'm not one to keep good things to myself, so I often urge friends and visitors to experience the Absecon Lighthouse for themselves.

Remember, it's not recommended for young children, but older kids and adults will surely enjoy this unique Atlantic City adventure.

And don't forget to keep an eye out for great deals on Groupon!

Night view of the Absecon Lighthouse
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Take a Walk Through History at the Civil Rights Garden

Every time I stroll through the Civil Rights Garden, I feel like I'm stepping back in history.

Whoever thought that granite columns could hold so much power and emotion?

Each one is a silent testament to the tireless struggle and achievements of the people during the Civil Rights era.

The rhetoric engraved on them is profoundly moving and never fails to stir a deep-seated emotion in me.

In the middle of the garden, a statue of a hand reaching out, which is truly majestic.

It portrays the universal symbol of unity and peace, which is what the Civil Rights Movement was about.

This statue never fails to inspire awe and respect when I see it.

Over time, I've realized that the garden isn't just about the big names we know from the history books.

It's also about the innumerable unspoken heroes who played vital roles in shaping our society and government.

Every visit is an eye-opening experience that brings me closer to understanding and appreciating their immense contributions.

Today, the garden remains tranquil, providing a much-needed respite from the bustling city.

A bench or two inside would be a welcome addition, making it a perfect spot to sit in quiet contemplation.

If you're ever in town and curious about the Civil Rights era, I highly recommend you visit the Civil Rights Garden.

It's a beautiful, serene place to reflect on our history and remember those who fought for equality and justice.

Reflect at the New Jersey Korean War Memorial

View of New Jersey Korean War Memorial
rewelda / Shutterstock.com

There's something incredibly humbling about starting the day with a sunrise stroll along the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

Caught between the rhythmic crash of the waves and the hushed whispers of history, I often find myself pausing at the New Jersey Korean War Memorial.

Majestically located at the intersection of Park Place and the Boardwalk, this profoundly moving tribute never fails to remind me of the immense sacrifices made by brave servicemen and women.

I always take a moment to study the bronze figures standing tall at the memorial, particularly the 12-foot "Mourning Soldier."

Gripping dog tags in his hands, he stands as an emotionally impactful sentinel, his eyes seeming lost in the memories of his fallen comrades.

The silent stories these figures narrate - stories of sacrifice, camaraderie, and heroism - echo the brutal realities of the Korean War and the enduring human spirit that withstood it.

Flags at New Jersey Korean War Memorial
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Moreover, the memorial also houses two battlefield reliefs tucked behind cascading sheets of water, which flow into reflecting pools.

But the part that always gives me pause is the eternal flame.

Flickering above a wall inscribed with the names of those killed or missing in action, it beats like a heart, an enduring testament to the lives lost and the legacy they left behind.

I highly recommend visiting the New Jersey Korean War Memorial for anyone interested in paying their respects or learning more about this historical period.

Each element of this memorial is thoughtfully and beautifully designed to evoke a sense of reverence - a poignant reminder of the pride, dedication, and heroism of those who served in the Korean War.

Sculptures at New Jersey Korean War Memorial
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Enjoy Endless Summer Days at Atlantic City Beach

Waves crashing on the shores of Atlantic City Beach
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One of the greatest joys of living here is spending countless summer days at Atlantic City Beach.

To me, this beach is a sanctuary where the rhythm of the waves against the shore and the salty sea air create the perfect backdrop for relaxation and fun.

What's incredible about this beach is that it's free to enjoy!

You can find plenty of free parking spots with a little bit of savvy.

And to add to your convenience, there are showers on the boardwalk, so you can wash off the sand before heading back to your car – no more sandy car interiors!

The beach is a sight to behold, with miles of fine-grained sand stretching out before you, leading to the glassy expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

For instance, the water is clean and clear, and, on most days, the waves are moderate enough for a refreshing swim.

Aerial view of Atlantic City Beach
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Remember to bring your beach gear and toys, and you're ready for sun-soaked fun.

One of my favorite things to do here is to stroll along the boardwalk, with the ocean's roar on one side and an array of shops on the other.

There's something for everyone – from trinket shops and beachwear outlets to delightful food stalls offering snacks.

And when the time is right, the beach turns into a vibrant venue for music festivals and other events – there's never a dull moment!

Whether you're a visitor or a local like me, Atlantic City Beach offers a sublime blend of natural beauty, convenience, and entertainment.

It's an experience!

So, the next time you're in town, remember to drop by and soak up the sun, surf, and the vibrant atmosphere that makes this place unique.

People swimming at Atlantic City Beach
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Unwind at Chicken Bone Beach

Atlantic City, marked with glitz and glamour, houses an unexpected gem - the Chicken Bone Beach.

It's my go-to spot for relaxation and an integral part of my routine.

Located right next to the vibrant Rainforest Cafe, it's just a quick stroll from my home.

The beach, once segregated, now stands as a monument to unity and black culture.

It's a physical reminder of the history and resilience of our community.

The Chicken Bone Beach Heritage Society folks are doing a commendable job promoting this legacy.

Moreover, the wide-open, clean beach is a treat for the senses.

It's much more laid back than other bustling shore beaches in the city.

I enjoy taking long walks, soaking in the serene views of the formerly Trump Tower in the backdrop.

One of my favorite pastimes here is fishing under the pier.

It's peaceful, and the view as the waves roll in is mesmerizing.

The people here are warm and welcoming.

Family-like, you could say. The grills on the beach often roar to life, filling the air with mouthwatering aromas.

Chicken Bone Beach is a communal gathering space, a beacon of unity, a piece of history, and my little sanctuary.

Spend the Day at Gardner's Basin

Boating at Gardner's Basin
Aneese / Shutterstock.com

Picture this: it's a balmy Saturday morning, and I find myself at the picturesque Gardener's Basin, a spot that always surprises me with its serene beauty.

The day starts with the spectacular view of the sunrise, which turns the sky into a canvas of orange, pink, and purple.

I then stroll around the place, watching the city slowly wake up, and people trickle in to enjoy their day.

The basin is a hub of activity, livened by the sounds of music from the occasional concerts here.

Meanwhile, the shows are a high point for me - there's something about the combination of live music and the stunning natural surroundings that makes for a marvelous experience.

As the day goes on, I find a spot to sit, relax, and soak in the calm, idyllic atmosphere.

King Neptune's statue at Gardner's Basin
Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com

The sun shines down, casting a golden hue over the basin, creating a sight that's nothing short of breathtaking.

If you're a photography enthusiast like me, you'd know there's no better spot to capture the magic of a sunset than here.

I spend my days at Gardner's Basin in my own world, forgetting the hustle and bustle of city life.

Here, I find peace and tranquility amidst the beauty of nature, a place that allows me to connect with my inner self.

Can there be a better way to spend a day?

Boats docked at Gardner's Basin
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Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll at the Oscar E. McClinton Waterfront Park

There's nothing like spending a sunny afternoon at the Oscar E. McClinton Waterfront Park.

Tucked away in Atlantic City, this park has been my go-to sanctuary for years.

Taking a walk alongside the water is always a treat.

The view is breathtaking, with the shimmering Atlantic stretching as far as the eye can see.

I've enjoyed countless moments here, watching the sailboats drift by as the setting sun paints the sky with hues of orange and pink.

The park isn't just for strolling, though.

It's an angler's paradise, too.

I remember last fall, the fish were practically leaping out of the water, begging to be caught.

On warm summer days, there's often a friendly competition among locals to see who can catch the biggest fish off the Melrose pier or the jetty.

The park is family-friendly as well.

For example, the playground is a favorite among the local kids, and the picnic tables provide the perfect spot for a family lunch.

The trail that winds through the park also leads to the iconic AC boardwalk, a must-visit for any Atlantic City resident or visitor.

While some construction was ongoing last September, it didn't detract from the overall experience.

Thinking about the new amenities and improvements the construction will bring to this beloved local spot is exciting.

Visiting the Oscar E. McClinton Waterfront Park is like discovering a hidden gem in Atlantic City.

It's a place where the hustle and bustle of the city fade away, replaced by the calming rhythm of the waves and the joy of simple pleasures.

Enjoy the Night at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall

Exterior of Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's something about the charm of old buildings that never ceases to amaze me, and the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall is no exception.

Built in 1926, the hall has hosted countless performances and events over the years, cementing its place in the heart of our community.

However, the Boardwalk Hall is not just about the performances.

It's like stepping into a different world located right behind the Hard Rock Casino.

This place is a world filled with games, rides, food, and drink.

One of my favorite memories is getting a self-portrait in one of the tents.

And the helicopter ride? An unforgettable experience!

The hall itself is a sight to behold.

Every seat is positioned just right, ensuring a clear view of the stage no matter where you're seated.

The three giant screens ensure you don't miss a beat, and the food vendors and bars ensure you're never left wanting.

Moreover, the restrooms, too, were always clean.

So, if you're in town and looking for a night to remember, check out the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.

From the performances to the food and games, it's an experience you won't want to miss.

Witness the Power of Wind at the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm

Scenic view of Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm
TruffShuff, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every day begins with a reminder of our community's commitment to renewable energy as I gaze upon the towering wind turbines of the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm.

Located on the outskirts of our town, these majestic structures are a testament to a vision for a cleaner, greener future.

You wouldn't believe the view from the base of one of these giants—it's breathtaking.

I often take my morning jog in the park adjacent to the wind farm to marvel at the sight of the sun's first rays sparkling off the towering turbines.

Their colossal blades catch the wind, spinning in a rhythmic dance that generates power for thousands of homes in our community, including mine.

Weekends are extraordinary.

I often take my kids on a bike ride along the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

From there, we can see the efficient beauty of the wind farm standing proudly amidst the glimmering ocean waves.

It sparks intriguing conversations about renewable energy, and it's rewarding to see the next generation develop an appreciation for such innovations.

If you're ever visiting Atlantic City, take a moment to admire this marvel of modern technology.

It's not just about the casinos and boardwalk here—we're also home to the first coastal wind farm in the United States!

Explore the magnificence of the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm. You won't be disappointed.

Enjoy a Peaceful Retreat at Fisherman's Park

You never really realize how much you need a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life until you find yourself at Fisherman's Park.

Nestled in a quiet corner of the city, this park is fresh air for anyone who wants to relax and unwind.

This isn't your typical park with a playground or a jogging track, but more of a place where you can have picnics or even celebrate small family birthdays.

The beauty of this park lies in its simplicity.

It's mostly green, with a few picnic tables and barbecue grills scattered around.

There aren't any restrooms or water fountains, but that doesn't stop us locals from enjoying a good time.

We usually pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks and, of course, some charcoal for the barbecue.

One of the things that truly makes this park unique is its proximity to the docks.

If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the long-liners docked in the back, a sight you can enjoy while feasting barbecued goodies.

The view of the water is not spectacular, but it's peaceful and calming, making it an ideal spot if you need some quiet time.

Fisherman's Park has a special place in my heart.

It's not a park with rides or fancy amenities, but it's our little slice of peace and tranquility, and that's more than enough for us.

Check Out the World War I Memorial

Exterior view of World War I Memorial
Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Growing up in Atlantic City, I've always had a fascination for the monumental landmarks that dot our humble city.

However, the World War I Memorial holds a special place in my heart.

Its sturdy stone rotunda, erected in 1922, has been a silent witness to the passing of time, standing tall through the city's numerous transformations.

Within the stoic exterior of the memorial, you will find a bronze statue.

Standing an awe-inspiring nine feet tall, this metallic sentinel is a tribute, a reminder of the soldiers who gave their lives during the Great War.

Each intricate detail on the statue, from the soldier's uniform to the expression on his face, is a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of those we lost in the war.

The memorial is a piece of history, a piece of Atlantic City, intricately woven into the fabric of our community.

Interior view of World War I Memorial
Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To the outside world, it might be just another monument.

Still, for us locals, it's a symbol of resilience, a beacon of remembrance, and a silent pledge never to forget the bravery of the fallen.

It's one of those places you must visit to appreciate it truly.

If you're ever in town, make sure to stop by.

We may not have the grandeur of the larger cities, but within the weathered stones of the World War I Memorial, a wealth of history and emotions is worth more than any skyscraper or bustling metropolis.

It's a quiet place filled with poignant reminders of the past.

And it's a place where you can feel the heartbeat of Atlantic City, steady and strong amidst the ever-changing tides of time.

Park bench near World War I Memorial
Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane with Lucy the Elephant

Daytime view of Lucy the Elephant
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

"An elephant never forgets," they say, and that's certainly true for me when it comes to Lucy the Elephant.

Nestled in my hometown and where I always return, this 6-story waterfront marvel has been a quirky landmark since its construction in 1881.

The first time I looked at Lucy, I was a child, and the sight of a gigantic, elephant-shaped building instantly piqued my curiosity.

Over the years, my fascination has only grown as I came to appreciate the historical significance of Lucy and the creative genius behind her architecture.

Some of my fondest memories revolve around the guided tours inside Lucy.

Each tour is a unique experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history of this landmark.

As a kid, I loved peering through Lucy's eyes at the bustling world outside.

It always felt like being on top of the world.

Close view of Lucy the Elephant
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Now, I enjoy showing my little ones the history of Lucy embedded into the walls of the elephant.

While the interior is steeped in historical artifacts, the exterior has undergone various renovations over the years.

But Lucy has retained her charm and dignity.

Today, she stands tall and beautiful, basking in the glory of being a historic landmark since 1976.

Just a stone's throw away from Lucy, there's a delightful little restaurant, a perfect place to unwind after an enlightening tour.

Every visit to Lucy the Elephant feels like stepping back in time and reliving moments of shared history.

Whether it's your first time or a trip down memory lane, visiting Lucy is always a unique and enriching experience.

Take a Journey Through History at the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey

I had always been intrigued by the rich cultural tapestry of African-American history.

One sunny Saturday, I decided to explore the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.

Immediately upon entering, I was greeted with a heartwarming display of quilts, each one telling a unique story of African-American heritage.

While the museum was bustling with a community adult program, it did nothing to diminish its charm.

Instead, it added a lively ambiance, almost making the museum's historical recounts come alive.

The museum houses an impressive variety of art collections and memorabilia, making it a perfect destination for families to learn and appreciate the breadth and depth of black history.

Their diverse and far-reaching collection is a testament to the many narratives that make up African-American history.

So, if you're looking to immerse yourself in a vivid journey through history, the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is the place to be.

Spend an Afternoon at Ventnor City Fishing Pier

Scenic view of Ventnor City Fishing Pier
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

A day at the Ventnor City Fishing Pier is my version of heaven on earth.

The beautiful scenery, open spaces, and the melodic sounds of the ocean and seagulls transport me away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Whether I'm soaking in the sun on the beautiful beach or marveling at the clean waters, each visit feels like a mini-vacation.

It's never been crowded here, a privilege I appreciate more as a local.

The pier's tranquility and peace make it seem like I'm floating above the water.

I frequently find myself here, my favorite spot, gazing out into the ocean - a perspective consistently delivering a profound sense of serenity.

Walkway of Ventnor City Fishing Pier
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Though the pier is open to the public only until the first part, I'm one of the lucky ones to have membership access to the further portion of the dock.

The privilege offers me a more exclusive and private experience, which I love.

Moreover, the pier has a long-standing history amongst the local fishing community.

I've seen many fishermen taking to the pier over the years, their lines dancing in the wind, a testament to the generations of fishermen walking these boards.

Although there's a fee to fish off the end of the pier, the investment is worth it for the experience and the catch.

Final Thoughts

One may think that living in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the charm might wear off year-round.

But trust me, every adventure in Atlantic City is a testament to its enduring appeal.
So the next time you find yourself in my city, remember there's much more to explore beyond the glitz and glamour. And the best part? It doesn't have to cost you a dime.

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