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Skyline of Atlantic City, New Jersey at night at the boardwalk

Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore - You'll love it!

Not your normal beach destination!

Try it before you dismiss it

I had never been to the Jersey Shore until 12 years ago, and now I can’t stop visiting!  As a southwest desert dweller, the quickest ocean trip was always Southern California. Several years ago, when I went to Atlantic City (AC) for business. I just fell in love with the sand, the culture, the food and the flat-out fun that can be had along the shore. Keep in mind that AC isn’t the only place to go, there are so many other fun towns along the shore like Ocean City, Asbury Park, Wildwood and Seaside Heights (made famous by the Jersey Shore reality TV show).  Most shore towns have an active boardwalk scene with great local eats, drinks, amusements, and history.  For this blog I will concentrate on Atlantic City which is a great place to start your love affair with the Jersey Shore.

Getting There:

Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) the closest airport to AC at about 12 miles from the heart of the boardwalk. Rental Cars are available, or you can get into town via taxi or rideshare services. Currently only 1 airline serves the airport, so flights are very limited.

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is about an hour away from AC by car (66 miles) and is served by most airlines. All major rental car companies are available at PHL. Shuttle and car services are available but can be pricey. The cheapest transpo choice, if you have some extra time and want to see the countryside, is via train. You can take the airport line into Philadelphia to the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station where you catch the Atlantic City Rail. Depending on the timing, the trip should be between 2.5 – 3.5 hours. This option takes a little research so you’re not stuck waiting in the train station for hours to catch your AC train.

Getting around:

Unless you are planning to spend all your time at your resort or on the boardwalk and beach, I recommend a rental car so you can visit local areas of interest very close to AC.  On the Boardwalk, rolling chairs are popular to get from one end to the other. Taxis/Rideshare are also available to easily move around town.

Where to stay:

Most visitors want to be in the heart of the action which is the Boardwalk. There are several hotels right on the boardwalk, both with and without casinos.  These resorts open onto the boardwalk and beach. For a central location with easy access to the entire boardwalk I recommend Caesars Palace Atlantic City. On the southern end of the boardwalk Tropicana is also a great choice.

Another popular spot for visitors is the Marina area, while the hotels here have no access to the beach, water views are standard. Harrah’s Atlantic City and Borgata are great selections here.

What to do:

Aside from the obvious beach and gambling there are a ton of local places to visit either in town or a short drive away. Here are some of my favorite things to do:

Shore Towns: AC may be the most well-known, but there are many others to visit. One of my favorite diversions is a day trip north to Asbury Park.  Asbury Park has so much history and the beach is one of the best in the US.  Starting on the Garden State Parkway you’ll head north for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Pro Tip: Don’t just take the straight shot, when you get to Tom’s River, head over to the New Jersey 35 so you can make stops in Seaside Heights, Lavalette and Point Pleasant along the way. It will take longer but it adds to the adventure.

Lucy the Elephant: A quirky bit of local architecture, this giant elephant was built in 1881 as a marketing ploy to sell plots of land in the area. She has made it through hurricanes, floods and redevelopment and still stands over 140 years later.  Lucy is found just south of Atlantic City in the town of Margate City.

Steel Pier: An amusement park built on a pier over the Atlantic Ocean right on the Boardwalk. It’s been around in one form or another since 1898 and provides an afternoon or evening of youthful diversion.  Even if you aren’t into rides, the classic fair type of food is a reason to visit.

Shopping: Smart city planners turned much of “downtown” AC into a giant outlet mall with a ton of stores. Walk along streets made famous in the Monopoly game like Atlantic Avenue and Baltic Avenue popping into shops for some deals.

Winery Tour: Spend an afternoon sipping some of New Jersey’s local wineries. There are several great wineries within 30 – 40 minutes of town including: Tomasello Winery, Sharrot Winery and Plagido’s Winery in Hammonton, and Bellview Winery in Landisville.

When to visit:

Being in the northeast, the best months to visit are late spring through fall so you can easily partake in the outdoor sand and sun activities.  Wintertime can be cold and a bit dreary and many boardwalk restaurants, shops, and attractions will be closed for the season.

While this may not be the ideal place to go for a west-coaster, anyone located in the Midwest and East Coast really should give Atlantic City a try.  The city is looking great, and the hotels have all been refreshed in recent years.  Off you go!


  • Atlantic City, Jersey Shore

    Beach and Steel Pier

  • Lucy the Elephant outside of Atlantic City Margate City Jersey Shore New Jersey


  • Abandoned Carousel Building, Asbury Park, New Jersey

    Asbury Park

  • Point Pleasant Jersey Shore

    Point Pleasant

  • The boardwalk in Ocean City, Jersey Shore

    Ocean City