• Atlantic City has plenty of activities and attractions for families with children.
  • The city’s kid-friendly beaches and boardwalk are great for a day of fun in the sun.
  • Families can also enjoy interactive museums and other educational attractions in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City may be known for its casinos and nightlife, but it’s also a great destination for families with children. There are numerous activities and attractions that cater to kids of all ages, from beaches to amusement parks to interactive museums.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a longer vacation, Atlantic City has plenty to offer families.

Several years ago, I was invited on some press excursions to help promote these Atlantic City activities for families. It’s been about 10 years, and while many improvements have been made, there are some things that families should know.

the beach of atlantic city

We have done a day trip many, many times, usually for the Atlantic City Airshow. But recently we stayed over for a few nights so that we could visit the new Atlantic City Indoor Waterpark.

Families can take a stroll on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, which offers stunning ocean views and a variety of shops and restaurants.

Atlantic City Free Beaches

Atlantic City is known for its beaches, and there are plenty of options for families with kids to enjoy.

Most beaches in New Jersey charge you to use them. While this may seem odd to some people outside of our region, it’s common here. It helps the local governments keep them cleaned and fund lifeguard salaries.

Booking.com

As far as I know, only Atlantic City beaches and Wildwood beaches are free.

Atlantic City Museums

Atlantic City has a plethora of museums that are both educational and fun for kids. Here are two interactive museums that are worth a visit:

Ripley’s Believe It or Not

Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a museum that is sure to capture the attention of both kids and adults. The museum boasts of over 400 exhibits that are both strange and fascinating. From shrunken heads to a two-headed calf, the museum has a wide variety of exhibits that are sure to leave visitors in awe.

One of the highlights of the museum is the interactive exhibits. Visitors can touch and feel some of the exhibits, making the experience even more exciting. The museum also has a mirror maze that is sure to challenge visitors.

Atlantic City Aquarium

The Atlantic City Aquarium is a great place to learn about marine life. The aquarium has a wide variety of exhibits that showcase the diversity of marine life. Visitors can see sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles up close.

One of the highlights of the aquarium is the touch tank. Kids can touch and feel some of the marine animals, making the experience even more exciting. The aquarium also has a 3D theater that shows educational films about marine life.

Overall, these interactive museums are a great way for kids to learn while having fun. Visitors should plan to spend at least a few hours at each museum to fully experience all they have to offer.

Steel Pier Atlantic City

Steel Pier is a classic amusement park located on the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk. The park offers a range of thrilling rides and attractions, including the famous Ferris Wheel, which provides stunning views of the ocean and the city skyline.

Other popular rides at Steel Pier include the Slingshot, the Crazy Mouse, and the Mix.

In addition to the rides, Steel Pier also features a variety of games and food vendors. Visitors can try their luck at the arcade games, or enjoy a tasty snack from one of the many food stands.

With its fun atmosphere and beautiful location, Steel Pier is a must-visit attraction for families visiting Atlantic City.

A ferris wheel on the Atlantic City steel pier.
The iconic view of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City

TopGolf Atlantic City

This was a real surprise! We had never been to a TopGolf before, but the boys saw it while we were eating at Wahlburgers at Ocean Resort. (You can read more about Wahlburgers in my article about Best Places to Eat with Kids in Atlantic City.)

But anyway, when leaving there, they noticed the Topgolf. So, the next night we made a reservation and went. It provided spectacular views of the beach and pier. The food was decent and not outrageously priced.

two boys playing golf  at topgolf atlantic city
They really enjoyed this. It’s $60 to rent the suite for one hour.

And, Topgolf isn’t just for golf. There’s baseball, football, zombies and more.

playing football at topgolf
Brian playing football at TopGolf.

Atlantic City Bowling

Inside the Showboat Resort, there is mini bowling in the arcade.

We had a lot of fun with that, and it was cheap! Just $3 per kid, per 10 frame game.

Family-friendly bowling lanes in an Atlantic City bowling alley.

Atlantic City Miniature Golf

Miniature golf is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy.

My boys enjoyed the indoor mini golf at Showboat. We were staying there, so it was nice for them to be able to roam the entire arcade and first floor area without me. I stayed nearby, but didn’t hover, if that makes sense.

There is an outdoor course on the Boardwalk, across the boardwalk from Boardwalk Hall. We didn’t want to go that far south in the evening. During the day, we all felt it was too hot to do mini golf in the hot sun.

A family group enjoying mini golf in showboat Atlantic City.
Was kind of hard to photograph because of the neon and the black lights.

Roller Skating at Showboat

We didn’t do this, but Showboat Resort has rollerskating.

A vibrant neon sign promoting family-friendly roller skating at showboat atlantic city
I also saw those PVC frame things to assist smaller kids and those who need help skating.

Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a must-visit destination for families with kids. The boardwalk is a four-mile stretch of shops, restaurants, and attractions that runs along the beach. Here are a few highlights:

  • Steel Pier Amusement Park: This amusement park features rides, games, and food vendors.
  • Absecon Lighthouse: Families can climb to the top of this historic lighthouse for views of the city and the ocean. This is up near the inlet at the northern end of the boardwalk.
  • Atlantic City Beach: The beach is free to access and offers plenty of space for families to relax and play in the sand.
  • Boardwalk Tram Service: Families can ride the tram up and down the boardwalk for a fun and convenient way to see the sights.

Atlantic City offers plenty of adventures for families with kids. From miniature golf to strolling along the boardwalk, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

A view of the ocean and a ferris wheel in Atlantic City.
A view of the ocean and a Ferris wheel in Atlantic City.

Educational Spots

Atlantic City offers plenty of opportunities for families to learn while having fun. Two that are worth checking out are the Atlantic City Aquarium and the Absecon Lighthouse.

Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City New Jersey
Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City New Jersey

Atlantic City GoKarts

Yes, Atlantic City has GoKarts!

They are also inside of the Showboat Resort. We did not do them because my boys only brought Crocs. You must have regular sneaker or close-toed shoes to do this activity.

gokarts in atlantic city
It’s $25 per session. And bring close-toed shoes, and NOT Crocs! We learned the hard way.

Indoor Rock Climbing in Atlantic City

This is another activity that my boys could not do. They only brought Crocs, and you must have regular closed toed shoes or sneakers. Next time!

indoor rock climbing is a family friendly atlantic city activity
I did not see a price for this.

Frequently Asked Questions about Atlantic City

First, let me address the elephant in the room. And I don’t mean Lucy!

Atlantic City was long known for gambling and just being…..seedy and sketchy. But, that’s a price they paid when you’re promoting nothing but gambling for over half a century.

The gambling attracted a certain seedy element and crime. Yes, some of that is still there today.

And, since in gambling, “the house always wins” you will see many people who are down on their luck. My son’s friend (age 14) even noticed this as a kid. One day he said, “Man, on the boardwalk it’s fine….but get one block off the boardwalk and it looks really sketchy.”

It does. We have been approached by people down on their luck, many times over. Most are harmless. Only a couple of times over the years have I felt unsafe. But it wouldn’t be honest and transparent of me not to mention it, if you are unfamiliar with this “less than family friendly” aspect of Atlantic City.

My son still talks about the time he saw a guy running in traffic right near the ACE entrance, yelling and carrying on. Yes, every city has this problem, I get that.

But, one year we parked under Boardwalk Hall for the airshow and there was a guy peeing in the stairwell. Another year, we were in a parking garage where someone clearly has just stopped to take a crap, right on the sidewalk.

I have empathy for these folks, no one is a bigger bleeding heart than me. I still don’t want to walk through human excrement on my vacation.

Also, marijuana is now legal in NJ. We smelled it everywhere. I get it, it’s legal. That doesn’t mean that I want to experience it everywhere I go. I feel the same way about alcohol and cigarettes, which are also everywhere you go in AC.

I feel like AC has an extraordinarily large number of visitors who smoke cigarettes. And, they’re all over the boardwalk and the beach. It’s annoying. I hate cigarette smoke.

When we walked the boardwalk one night, my son said, “I feel like I’m going to go home smelling like pot” and then they laughed. They’re teens, they know what it is. There are also stores named things like “420” and such on the boardwalk.

Again, I’m not a prude or na├»ve, and I know it’s legal. I don’t want to see beer stores or tobacco shops on the boardwalk either. It’s not family friendly, in my opinion.

I don’t want to leave my hotel each morning and walk into a cloud of cigarette smoke, but that’s what happened. Then, walking back to my hotel with my Starbucks coffee, if I didn’t give money to a person asking for it, I was called a b!tch.

It won’t prevent us from visiting again. But I think a week would be too long. Three to four days was enough to do what we wanted to do.

lifeguard boat atlantic city
Life guard boat on the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

What are some fun activities for kids in Atlantic City?

Atlantic City is a great destination for families with kids. There are many fun activities that kids can enjoy, such as dolphin watching ocean cruise adventure, parasailing experience, Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City Boardwalk Tram Service, Steel Pier Amusement Park, Gardner’s Basin, Lucy the Elephant, and Atlantic City Aquarium.

What are some kid-friendly attractions in Atlantic City?

Some of the best kid-friendly attractions in Atlantic City include the Steel Pier Amusement Park, the Atlantic City Aquarium, the Absecon Lighthouse, Lucy the Elephant, and Gardner’s Basin.

Which hotels in Atlantic City are best for families with kids?

My pick is definitely the Showboat. You can read more in my full article about the Best Place to Stay in Atlantic City with Kids.

Steel Pier atlantic city
Steel Pier in Atlantic city

Is Atlantic City a good destination for a family vacation?

Yes, Atlantic City is can be a great destination for a family vacation. There are many fun activities and attractions for kids, as well as great hotels and family vacation packages.

There are some things to know, which I’ve outlined above.

Family Friendly Atlantic City

Ok, the big question–is it accessible.

Yes, mostly. There are individual features and attractions that are not accessible (like rock climbing and the indoor waterpark).

All attractions, prices and features in this article were current and accurate at the time of publication in August of 2023.