If you need to watch your budget while visiting Atlantic City, don’t worry, you’ll still find plenty of things to do. Whether you want to enjoy the beach or the outdoors, stroll among shops or delve into Atlantic City’s intriguing past, here are a ten free things you can do in Atlantic City without spending a dime.
Visit the Atlantic City Historical Museum
This small museum, located on Garden Pier at the Boardwalk and New Jersey Avenue, is home to the award-winning exhibit “Atlantic City: Playground of the Nation”. You’ll learn all about Atlantic City’s past here through memorabilia, artifacts, and vintage photographs. Especially interesting is the Miss America memorabilia, and the continuously playing video presentation, Boardwalk Ballyhoo. Pick up a copy of the video, or other books and items about Atlantic City at the gift shop by the register. The museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm and admission is free.
Watch The Water Show
The Water Show (known simply as “The Show”) at the eastern end of the Pier Shops at Caesars is a Bellagio-style sound and light extravaganza that runs every hour on the hour starting at noon. You can view the spectacle from the Boardwalk level or from either the second or third floor levels, and best of all, it’s free.
Visit the Absecon Lighthouse museum
While it’ll cost a small fee to actually climb the 150-year-old lighthouse’s 228 steps, it’s absolutely free to visit the Keeper’s House Museum, exhibits and grounds. If you’ve got some cash to spare, the climb to the top is worth it for the breathtaking views of the Atlantic City skyline you’ll have up top. You’ll also get to check out the original first-order Fresnel Lens, first lit in 1857. It’s New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse and one of the oldest in the country. You’ll find it at Pacific and Rhode Island Avenues within walking distance of Showboat Casino.
Pay your respects at the Korean War Memorial
Pay your respects at this memorial, located at Brighton Park where Park Place meets the Boardwalk. It’s meant to ensure that future generations remember the proud and dedicated service that our veterans gave to their country, the legacy they continued, and the freedom they fought for. It’s open daily, and it’s free.
Stroll the docks and Crafters’ Village at Gardner’s Basin
For a change of pace, visit historic Gardner’s Basin, located at New Hampshire Avenue and the Bay, where Absecon Inlet meets Clam Creek. It is across from the Senator Frank S. Farley State Marina and Atlantic City’s Coast Guard station. Here you can stroll, for free, watching deep-sea and back bay fishing charters ply their trade, as well as a variety of cruises offered by Atlantic City Cruises, such as dolphin-watching cruises, sightseeing cruises and cocktail cruises.
Other attractions at Historic Gardner’s Basin include the Flying Cloud Café, the Back Bay Ale House and Bayside Basin Antiques. Also of interest at Historic Gardner’s Basin is the “Diving Bell,” once an attraction at Atlantic City’s famed Steel Pier. Historic Gardner’s Basin even has its own artists’ colony.
Stroll or bike the Boardwalk
No one should miss a stroll along Atlantic City’s world-renowned Boardwalk. Not only is it family-friendly (for the most part), it’s been rated by ForbesTraveler.com as one of the “Top 10 American Boardwalks.” Built by Alexander Boardman (yep – the “Boardwalk” is named after Boardman) in 1870 as a collapsible footpath to keep people from getting sand in hotel lobbies, today the Boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants, casinos and nightlife. This more than 4-mile long wooden walkway is the ideal place for a stroll or early morning bike ride (from 6 am to 10 am).
Dating from 1870, ForbesTraveler.com rates the Boardwalk among the “Top 10 American Boardwalks.” Lined with dining, gambling, nightlife and a wealth of fun family attractions (and some not-so-family friendly), you’ll find some of the poshest hotel casinos in the world here, including Caesar’s and the Trump Taj Mahal, as well as some kitschy tourist draws such as the famed Boardwalk Rolling Chairs.
Dance at Club Worship
Club Worship, an eclectic three-level nightclub at Showboat’s House of Blues, has free admission on Thursdays for “Reggae Nights” at 8 pm, and every Saturday for “Seductive Saturdays” at 10 pm. The club sports a spacious dance floor and exclusive VIP seating and bottle service.
You’ll also find a cozy fireside lounge, sacred prayer rooms, great dining, and live entertainment. Located at 801 Boardwalk, it’s open all night, so it’s a pretty good bet that you’re going to be feeling it the next morning. On regular nights, themusic ranges from Top 40 to hip hop and trance. The club gets hopping around 11:30 pm with pulse-pounding music and crowds of people.
Enjoy Atlantic City’s beaches
This will be most appreciated during hot, sunny summers, but Atlantic City’s beaches are free, a rarity at the Jersey Shore.
Grab your winnings and head over to the Pier Shops at Caesar, where you’ll find two levels of luxury retailers and a variety of excellent restaurants. Don’t feel intimidated by the big name shops, though, you’ll also find an Apple store, the Body Shop, and Banana Republic, to name a few. Even if you don’t spend a dime, it’s fun to stroll the pier, then take in a view of the majestic Atlantic Ocean from the pier’s Surf Deck at the far eastern end.
Two other excellent shopping areas include the discount outlet shops at The Walk and The Quarter, a Cuban-themed shopping district at the Tropicana.
Watch annual surfing competitions
Well, why not? Keep tabs on the Facebook page of the Atlantic City Surfing Club to see what’s happening. You may catch a competition. And it’s free.
For more details about free things to do in Atlantic City, check out the guide, The Best Free Things to Do in Altantic City.