15 Free Things to Do in Atlantic City, NJ

Free Things to Do in Atlantic City, NJ
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As the inspiration for Monopoly, Atlantic City may be the most popular destination in New Jersey.

This seaside city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, attracts millions of people every year who enjoy the beautiful beaches and boardwalk or gamble at one of the many casinos.

Jeremiah Leeds first settled the city in 1783.

In 1853, it adopted Atlantic City as its name and became a "resort town."

Atlantic City was then incorporated into a city in 1854, in time with the launching of the Camden and Atlantic Railroad.

There's always something fun to do and see here, from attending special events like concerts and sporting matches to playing arcade games on the boardwalk.

If you're looking for some activities for your vacation, here are free things to do in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Admire the Ocean Views along the Atlantic City Boardwalk

View of Atlantic City Boardwalk
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Built in 1870, the first Atlantic City Boardwalk protected the hotel's lobbies and other buildings from the sand and rising tide.

At its peak, the Atlantic City Boardwalk was seven miles long.

However, the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane destroyed much of it.

Today, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is still a popular attraction for locals and tourists.

Giant ferris wheel at Atlantic City Boardwalk
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This iconic attraction is perfect for people-watching, grabbing a bite from one of the food carts and vendors, or simply taking in the sights.

As you stroll along this famous boardwalk, you can admire the ocean views and even window-shop in the many boutiques.

The Garden Pier museum is also on the boardwalk and makes a great place to learn more about this historic city.

People strolling at Atlantic City Boardwalk
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Explore the Garden Pier for a Unique View of the City

Launched in 1913, the Garden Pier is one of Atlantic City's most popular attractions.

This landmark is a 700-foot-long pier with a stunning garden connected to the open-air B.F. Keith's Theatre.

In 1921, Garden Pier hosted the first Miss America beauty pageant, which was held to attract tourists to come to Labor Day.

However, Garden Pier was destroyed during the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane and underwent numerous renovations to restore its historical appearance.

Today, Garden Pier is home to Atlantic City Historical Museum and Atlantic City Art Center, a must-visit location for history buffs and art lovers.

Take a Day Trip to Atlantic City Beach

Waves crashing on the shores of Atlantic City Beach
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One of the ways to enjoy the beautiful weather in Atlantic City is by heading to the beach.

There's a lot of space on Atlantic City Beach, so you should find a spot perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and playing beach volleyball or football.

You can lounge on the sand, watch the people, enjoy the warm water, and swim out to the ocean for a refreshing dip.

Aerial view of Atlantic City Beach
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Otherwise, you can bring snorkeling gear to explore the water and discover exciting sea life, like fish and sea turtles.

If you get tired of swimming, you can take a walk along the shoreline and enjoy the stunning views.

Whether looking for family-friendly fun or an adult-only adventure, Atlantic City Beach is the perfect venue for a memorable day trip.

People swimming at Atlantic City Beach
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Attend the Free Organ Recitals at the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall

Built in 1929, the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall boasts a rich heritage and is one of the City's most iconic cultural venues.

The building was initially known as Atlantic City Convention Hall and functioned as a sports venue.

In 1945, the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall was the base of the U.S. Air Force during the Second World War.

Today, the building hosts numerous events and performances, including the Daily Recital and Tour held every day from May to October.

Enjoy the 30-minute recitals where experienced organists play the Midmer-Losh Organ.

Marvel at the massive organ built from 1929 to 1932, designed by known organ architect Senator Emerson L. Richards.

In addition to the recitals, you will also get a glimpse of Atlantic City's history through a tour that also lasts for 30 minutes.

If you're in Atlantic City, take advantage of this free and fun cultural activity!

Discover American History at the New Jersey Korean War Memorial

View of New Jersey Korean War Memorial
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Near Atlantic City Boardwalk, the New Jersey Korean War Memorial honors the American soldiers who served in the Korean War.

This memorial is unique because it features bronze statues representing the men and women of New Jersey who fought in this critical war.

You can study the 12-foot "Mourning Soldier" statue holding several dog tags as if searching for his fallen friends and comrades.

Flags at New Jersey Korean War Memorial
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The memorial also features an "honor wall" inscribed with the names of all New Jerseyans killed or missing during this war.

This site is a great way to learn about some of the lesser-known aspects of history.

It's perfect for anyone interested in military sites or wanting to learn more about American culture.

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

Check Out the Historic Atlantic City Murals

Atlantic City is full of historical sites, but one of the most unique is the Atlantic City Murals.

These murals, located throughout the City's many neighborhoods, are part of the Atlantic City Arts Foundation's 48 Blocks A.C. Program.

The 48 Blocks A.C. Program seeks to revitalize the city by drawing attention and bringing people to these often overlooked areas.

Featuring at least 70 murals, this art district is perfect for anyone exploring exciting works of art.

The murals are an eclectic mix of themes, styles, and images that showcase the talent of local artists; some depict historical scenes, while others paint a beautiful setting.

Various materials are also used by different artists, as some artists used paints, glass, graffiti-style letterings, or even objects glued on the walls.

A self-guided tour is available if you have time to spare; it will take you three to four hours by car to see all of them.

Why not explore the historic Atlantic City Murals and discover a new side of this vibrant city?

Visit the Keeper's Museum at the Absecon Lighthouse

Facade of Absecon Lighthouse
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If you want to see the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, you can visit the Absecon Lighthouse Keeper's Museum.

About 400,000 tourists have learned about the Absecon Lighthouse's fascinating cultural roots since its reopening in 1999.

After two acres of the historic property were restored, the lighthouse and gardens opened to the public in 2003, making it perfect for visiting the Absecon Lighthouse Keeper's Museum.

The Keeper's Museum features exhibits and artifacts of the lighthouse, where you can learn more about its history and the lighthouse keepers.

Interior view of the light difussing dome at Absecon Lighthouse
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Included in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, you can also see exhibits on ocean life, shipwrecks, local memorabilia, and much more.

Since the grounds around the Absecon Lighthouse are free, you can take some snaps with the lighthouse as your background.

Otherwise, enjoy the views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Head to the Keeper's Museum at the Absecon Lighthouse and learn more about this historic site.

Night view of the Absecon Lighthouse
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Wander the Civil Rights Garden

As an essential part of American history, the Civil Rights Movement is commemorated in the Civil Rights Garden.

The Civil Rights Garden is a stunning and serene location tucked away in a city better renowned for its promenades, beachfront, and casinos.

The $2 million project was the first significant civil rights memorial park built in a northern state.

Located on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, this garden was established in 2001 and consisted of 11 granite columns, trails, plants, and flowers.

The granite columns feature quotations from African-American leaders of the movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Jacobs, and Rosa Parks.

It is a must-visit for those interested in the history of America.

Discover the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University

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

One of the cornerstones of Atlantic City is art.

You can head to the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University to discover more about the local arts scene.

Located on Fairmont Avenue, this unique building is home to several galleries that are free to the public.

The galleries feature different kinds of art, from paintings to sculptures and photographs, if you're looking for a place to appreciate art in all its forms.

It has exhibitions that change regularly, so you can always discover something new when you visit the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University.

Exhibits include Bottles, Containers, Stelae, Under a Concrete Sky, and Stories of Displacement, among others.

They will also let you watch artists' work and ask them questions so that you can learn about the artists' creative process.

The Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University is one of the best places to discover Atlantic City's booming art scene.

Spend a Day at the Atlantic City Free Public Library

Located on North Tennessee Avenue, the Atlantic City Free Public Library is the city's cultural and educational hub.

You should visit the Library, which the locals embraced in a public referendum in 1901.

The Library boasts a wide selection of books and educational materials, which means you'll find something that speaks to you.

They also host many educational programs and events, such as design contests, computer skills, or craft programs.

You can let your kids join Story Times at the Library, which includes a craft activity.

If you're looking for fun and learning in one go, spend a day at the Atlantic City Free Public Library.

Attend the Free Summer Concerts at Gardner's Basin

Boating at Gardner's Basin
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You can also attend the free summer concerts at Gardner's Basin.

Located along New Hampshire Avenue, these concerts feature musical acts of different genres, such as R&B and hip-hop.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their chairs and food, as the event organizers will provide live music.

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

You can also enjoy other activities while waiting for your favorite artists to perform.

You can explore Gardner's Basin, nestled in the Absecon inlet, which provides views of the Atlantic Ocean, and the magnificent sunset.

If you want to explore Atlantic City's lively culture, attend the free summer concerts at Gardner's Basin.

Boats docked at Gardner's Basin
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Discover the Wonders of the Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm

Scenic view of Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm
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Learn how wind power is generated at the Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm at Absecon Boulevard.

This wind farm consists of five individual turbines that stand up to 380 feet high and generate enough power to supply New Jersey's wastewater plant.

The rest is offered to the primary power grid.

Touted as the first wind farm in New Jersey, the Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm offers summer tours of how the turbines work and their overall function.

There are also educational sessions on harnessing solar power for the city.

The tour is offered every Wednesday at noon at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority's Wastewater Treatment Facility.

This tour is perfect if you want to understand the inner workings of an alternative energy source.

Join the Atlantic City Waterfront Sculpture Walk in the Marina District

Take the 1.1-mile-long Atlantic City Waterfront Sculpture Walk in the Marina District.

One of the best places in Atlantic City for bird watching and taking a stroll is the paved Atlantic City Waterfront Sculpture Walk, which traverses a backdrop of water and marshland.

Harrah's and Borgata are just two casinos linked by the Atlantic City Waterfront Sculpture Walk.

This trail also provides a scenic area for guests to enjoy outside the casino's grounds.

In 2013, art was included in the trail, as the Noyes Museum of Art at Stockton College installed artwork along the Atlantic City Waterfront Sculpture Walk.

The trail will lead you to a small park near the Brigantine Bridge, where you can rest and enjoy the scenery.

The Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm is visible from the trail, so take advantage of this unique hiking experience in Atlantic City.

Marvel at the World War I Memorial

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

Who would have thought you would find a Greek temple in Atlantic City?

Built in 1922, the World War I Memorial at O'Donnell Park resembles a Greek Temple Monument.

Moreover, this World War I Memorial is one of the most intricately detailed monuments in New Jersey.

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

Named "Liberty in Distress," the World War I Memorial depicts Lady Liberty holding a broken sword, despondent over the horrors of war.

The World War I Memorial has appeared in several documentaries and is considered a National Historic Landmark.

Frederick McMonnies sculpted the monument.

To witness art at its finest, visit the World War I Memorial.

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

Other Things to Do Nearby

Discover the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey

Inspired by the hardworking of founder Ralph Hunter, Sr., the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey is one of the City's most fascinating cultural attractions.

Ralph started collecting cultural gems after retiring from a long career in retail; he did this by touring or observing his environment.

Located on Fairmount Ave., this museum features several exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of African Americans in the United States.

The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey features 20th-century artifacts that chronicle African Americans' struggles, successes, and contributions.

You can also find exhibits on the paintings, branding, and books describing African American history in Southern New Jersey.

Admission is free for this museum, located in Newtonville, New Jersey, 36 minutes from Atlantic City.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to discover more about Atlantic City's fascinating history or experience its booming art scene, these great attractions will surely delight you.

So what are you waiting for?

Experience the free things to do in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for a budget-friendly adventure!

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