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Atlantic City, New Jersey

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • The Atlantic City Boardwalk (1870) was created to keep sand out of beachfront hotels and railroad cars.
  • The Miss America Pageant got its start (1921) as a publicity stunt to extend the resort season.
  • Streets on the Monopoly board are named for Atlantic City’s streets.
  • In its earliest years, the boardwalk was dismantled and stored each winter.
  • Saltwater taffy was created (1880) by accident; a vendor’s candy was soaked by ocean water.
  • The Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City is New Jersey’s tallest Lighthouse at 171 feet tall and is seasonally open for climbing.

The amazing, accidental boardwalk

Atlantic City has been a beach resort since the day it got a name (1853) and a charter (1854). The only outstanding question has been this: Is it riding the wave of good times, or has it fallen on hard times? The area has experienced both, but seems to be riding a pretty good wave now, triggered by legalization of gambling here in the late 1970s.

Over the years, despite the ups and downs, the city fathers (and mothers and average Joes) inadvertently invented a few things that are indelibly tied to the city and have enhanced its appeal — specifically, the Atlantic City Boardwalk, saltwater taffy and the Miss America Pageant. (The pageant left Atlantic City in 2006 after 85 years, but the memories live on.)

About that boardwalk: In its first iteration, it stretched only a mile, but enough to do its job — keep sand out of the fancy hotels and the railroad cars the highfalutin guests came to town in. Those visitors adopted the boardwalk as their promenade of choice, and due to heavy usage, public demand and a storm, the boardwalk was rebuilt four times, bigger and better protected on each occasion, the last time in 1916. (The boardwalk survived the 2012 Hurricane Sandy largely intact.)

At the outset (1870), no commercial activity was allowed within 30 feet of the boardwalk, but that prohibition was gone by 1883. Stores lined the promenade and entertainment piers were added. Considerably later, 1978, the first of the big, glittering casino hotels debuted, effectively extending the city’s appeal to a broader base of potential visitors.

As a result, Atlantic City today is a beach resort that, broadly speaking, combines the de rigueur sandy beaches and wide array of water-based fun with the activities, entertainment, food and comforts associated with gaming and the boardwalk. The relatively new gaming resorts brought additional attractions, especially fine dining and shopping, not to mention the higher-level hotel services, while the beloved Atlantic City Boardwalk is noted for its own style of amusements — not always so high end, but which carry an emotional appeal that is unique to this destination.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Climb to the top of the 171-foot Absecom Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse, for a sweeping view of Atlantic City. Choose the lighthouse for your wedding venue.
  • Go out in a sailboat. Take sailing lessons.
  • Sample the product at Tun Tavern Brewery and Restaurant, the city’s only brewery. You’ve gotta love the address: 2 Miss America Way.
  • Go scuba diving to look at shipwrecks off the New Jersey coast.
  • Or stay on the water in a kayak or canoe in the wooded New Jersey Pine Barrens in southern Jersey.
  • See something of Atlantic City and area from a helicopter.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Try your luck in one of the big casinos, and include at least one show featuring a big-name entertainer.
  • A visit to the area isn’t all about modern resort developments and entertainment facilities. Nearby Batsto Village traces its roots to 1766. Another place with historic interest is the restored Historic Smithville and Village Greene.
  • Hammonton, in the Greater Atlantic City area, calls itself the blueberry capital of the world. Pick berries at a local farm, eat unusual blueberry dishes at Blueberry Factory and, if you time it right, attend the town’s annual Red, White and Blueberry Festival.
  • Attend one of the outdoor Chicken Bone Beach Concert Series performances. These jazz concerts are seen at the Kennedy Plaza stage in July and August.
  • At Gardner’s Basin, join a dolphin sightseeing cruise. Or, charter a boat for a private party.
  • Study history for a spell. Learn about Atlantic City’s origins at the Atlantic City Historical Museum on Garden Pier. Another, quite different choice is the Civil Rights Garden, which commemorates in sculpture the events and people associated with the civil rights movement.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take a leisurely stroll on the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk. Eat saltwater taffy.
  • Shop until your credit cards squeal. You can make fast work of that in the upscale boutiques in town, or make resources last longer at Atlantic City’s outlets.
  • It is a resort here. Play golf and luxuriate in one of several full-service spas.
  • In Atlantic City and neighboring towns, several vendors stand by to meet the needs of aspiring fishermen and women. So go sport fishing.
  • Spend some time doing what a long line of predecessors did: Go to the beach. Build sandcastles.
  • Take in traditional boardwalk-type diversions. Play the games and watch the entertainment at Steel Pier Amusements.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority at