Though New Jersey’s Atlantic City may be most famous for its boardwalk and casinos, this coastal city offers a range of cultural attractions and activities, as well. Art lovers can explore Atlantic City’s many galleries and museums, while history enthusiasts can learn about the Civil Rights Movement and the city’s long era as America’s playground. Plus, there’s always a concert or live performance on the schedule to keep visitors busy.
Spend an afternoon at the Atlantic City Historical Museum. The “Atlantic City, Playground of a Nation” exhibit teaches visitors about the city’s colorful past through artifacts such as posters, costumes, sand art, and postcards through the years. Interactive exhibits and audio-visual displays provide films of the beauty pageants, diving ponies, and famous residents that define Atlantic City. Admission is free.
The Alfred M. Heston Collection at the Atlantic City Free Public Library offers a deeper exploration into the city’s history. This impressive collection contains documents from the 1800s, such as atlases, maps, menus, books, yearbooks, postcards, and photos, as well as musical recordings and audio-visual materials.
For the best views in town, climb the Abescon Lighthouse. This 223-step lighthouse has watched over the city since 1857. Today, visitors can enjoy 360-degree views of the city and the ocean, buy souvenirs at the on-site gift shop, and tour a reconstructed version of the lightkeeper’s house from the 19th century.
Take a moment to reflect on the struggle for equality at the Civil Rights Garden. Filled with inscribed granite sculptures and columns, this beautifully landscaped park honors the memory of those who fought for civil rights.
Art enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Atlantic City Art Center. The center houses exhibits and collections featuring painting, photos, and sculptures by city, state, and national artists. Check the center’s schedule and attend a concert, class, workshop, or reading. The center’s gift shop specializes in locally hand-blown glass wares.
For the best souvenir shopping in the city, visit the Crafter’s Village. Set in the Atlantic City Aquarium in the heart of the Garden Basin, the village houses multiple art galleries. Browse through the jewelry, pottery, furniture, and woodworks to find the perfect gifts to take home.
Camera buffs should stop by the Al Gold Photography Gallery. This constantly changing exhibit features local photographs – all in black and white – from 1921 to 1964.
Similarly, the Rusty Silverman Lifeguard Art Photo Gallery emphasizes black and white shots of Atlantic City’s beaches, boats, scenery, and lifeguards.
No trip to Atlantic City would be complete without taking in a show or two, and Atlantic City is packed with unique venues. Summer and winter visitors won’t want to miss the live jazz concerts at the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation. Musical performances are outdoors in summer, usually on the beach or boardwalk, while winter concerts are held at the Chelsea Hotel.
For dance, theater, and live music, check the schedule at the South Jersey Cultural Alliance. Performances are regularly held in the intimate, 243-seat Dante Hall and range from chamber music to ballet recitals.
For a lively time, head to the House of Blues Atlantic City. This venue hosts local bands as well as nationally known groups.
Atlantic City Historical Museum
Atlantic City Free Public Library: Alfred M. Heston Collection
Atlantic City Art Center
Atlantic City Aquarium: Crafter’s Village
Al Gold Photography Gallery
Rusty Silverman Lifeguard Art Photo Gallery
Civil Rights Garden
Chicken Bone Beach
South Jersey Cultural Alliance
House of Blues Atlantic City