Top 13 Cheap, Family-Friendly Summer Activities Around Atlantic City, New Jersey for 2015 (No Gambling!)

    Think Atlantic City, New Jersey is just Sin City, Jr.? Think again — Altlantic City and the surrounding areas are a great place for the whole family to enjoy. While Atlantic City’s casinos and gambling have struggled in recent years, there are still tons of great things to see when you’re under 21 or you have family. A.C. isn’t just for the high rollers and 21st birthday parties! A visit to Atlantic City can be surprisingly low-cost, too — if you know where to look.

    1. Lucy the Elephant Hotel

    Lucy the Elephant in Margate is a great, cheap activity for the family.
    Lucy the Elephant in Margate is a great, cheap activity for the family.

    This is one the kids are going to love — you can see a giant elephant right in Margate, and even take a tour through her. Lucy the Elephant is almost a hundred and fifty years old, and she’s still going strong. Kids will remember the giant elephant building for years to come!

    • Address: 9200 Atlantic Avenue, Margate, NJ 08402-2449
    • Cost: $8 for adults, $4 for kids 3 to 12, free for kids under two
    • Family Fun Factor: 9 out of 10

    2. Interior at Bally’s Wild Wild West

    This is the closest we’ll come to gambling, promise! In the Bally’s WIld Wild West casino, the entryway is a great spot for kids. With some animatronic figures (including a prospector and his donkey!) as well as awesome storm and lighting effects, the Bally’s entryway is a great place to escape the heat for a few minutes if you’re walking the AC boardwalk. It’ll keep the kids entertained, too! Just keep ’em off the casino floor!

    • Address: 1901 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
    • Cost: Free
    • Family Fun Factor: 7 out of 10 (8 out of 10 on a really hot day!)

    3. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

    If you’re walking the Atlantic City boardwalk, your kids will want to go into this building as they walk by, what with the globe embedded onto the building’s front. Ripley’s 12,000 square feet of the weirdest and wackiest items and exhibits from around the world. Kids of all ages will love it! And best of all — it’s educational, too!

    • Address: 1441 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
    • Cost: This one’s probably the most expensive ticket on the list, but it’s still under $20 per person!
    • Family Fun Factor: 10 out of 10

    4. Steel Pier

    The Steel Pier in Atlantic City has great fun for the whole family.
    The Steel Pier in Atlantic City has great fun for the whole family.

    The Steel Pier in Atlantic City was built over a hundred years ago, and it’s still super fun. Today, the Steel Pier offers a great array of family fun, from indoor arcade games to small thrill rides. You can even get launched up and over the Atlantic Ocean in the Steel Pier Slingshot.

    • Address: 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401
    • Cost: Free to walk through, but you’ll probably have to spend some money on the rides
    • Family Fun Factor: 10 out of 10

    5. Light Show and Patios at The Pier Shops Caesars

    If you have money, The Pier Shops at Caesars is a great mall to visit (and not just if you’re a mallrat). If you’ve got the cash to spare after all of our cheap attraction ideas — you can drop in on Coach, Burberry, or Gucci. If your pockets are a little thin, this mall can make you a little jealous… but fear not, there’s free fun to be had!

    You can visit the patio and porch in the rear of the mall, where you’ll have an amazing view of the Atlantic City boardwalk and skyline. Better yet, there’s a free light and water show in the rear of the mall, just about every half hour. Enjoy a dazzling show of light and water, completely free! Guaranteed to amaze the kids!

    • Address: One Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401
    • Cost: Free if you stay out of the shops!
    • Family Fun Factor: 8 out of 10

    6. Absecon Lighthouse

    The Absecon Lighthouse is one of the oldest in the country. You can climb it on the cheap, too! The most expensive ticket is $7, but seniors can climb for $5 and kids can climb for $4 — or free, if they’re under four! Military vets also get a great discount (A.K.A., FREE). Explore New Jersey’s history and take in a breathtaking view of the Atlantic City skyline and surrounding areas — and learn a little about New Jersey’s history while you’re at it.

    • Address: 31 South Rhode Island Avenue, Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401
    • Cost: $7 for adults, $4 for children ages 4-12, free for kids under 4
    • Family Fun Factor: 7 out of 10

    7. The Atlantic City Aquarium in Historic Gardner’s Basin

    The Atlantic City Aquarium is a wonderful way for the family to spend an afternoon!
    The Atlantic City Aquarium is a wonderful way for the family to spend an afternoon!

    The Atlantic City Aquarium might not be as well-known as the Camden Aquarium, but it’s just as awesome! Located on the Atlantic City waterfront, you can see everything from sharks to jellyfish — and more. Featuring a touch tank and an array of exhibits featuring a variety of sea creatures, this one is sure to please kids and parents both.

    • Address: 800 North New Hampshire Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ
    • Cost: Adults are $8, kids 4-12 are $5, and kids under three are free
    • Family Fun Factor: 10 out of 10

    8. Brigantine Marine Mammal Stranding Center

    The Brigantine Marine Mammal Stranding Center, located in Atlantic City’s neighboring Brigantine, New Jersey, is a wild animal rescue where marine mammals such as dolphins, small whales, seals, and other marine wildlife, such as turtles. You can get up close and personal with these animals, as well as learn about how they live and what their lives are like. You can even adopt a seal and sponsor its care!

    • Address: 3625 Brigantine Boulevard, Brigantine, NJ 08203
    • Cost: Operates by donation
    • Family Fun Factor: 9 out of 10

    9. Cedar Water Lakes at Port Republic

    Did you know New Jersey has red water? It’s called cedar water, and it happens from tannins entering the water and discoloring it. If you like to fish, the lakes around Port Republic are excellent fishing, stocked each year. The lakes at Port Republic are separated by a small waterfall, segregating freshwater from brackish — you can fish salt and fresh all in the same day. Even if you don’t like fishing — it’s a beautiful sight to see at sunset! The salt-water side features a small beach.

    • Address: Mill Street, Port Republic, New Jersey, 08241 — Get Directions
    • Cost: Free
    • Family Fun Factor: 8 out of 10

    10. Batsto Village

    Batsto Village, near Atlantic City, is a wonder of New Jersey history.
    Batsto Village, near Atlantic City, is a wonder of New Jersey history.

    Batsto Village is an amazing piece of New Jersey history, featuring the rich, colonial history of New Jersey. You’ll feel like you stepped back in time as you walk through the old buildings of Batsto, including ironworks, farmhouses, a large mansion, and much more.

    • Address: Route 542 in the Wharton State Forest, Washington Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
    • Cost: Cars are charged $5 on the weekend — otherwise, it’s free
    • Family Fun Factor: 10 out of 10

    11. Richard Stockton College University Observatory

    If you’re from the more urban parts of New Jersey, you probably aren’t used to seeing starlight. Whether you’re closer to Philadelphia or New York, clear skies and stargazing is tough to come by in the old Garden State. Thankfully — The Richard Stockton University (Stockton was recently upgraded from “college” to “university”) provides a great spot for stargazing even when the observatory itself is closed.

    • Address: Port Republic Road (Route 575), Pomona, New Jersey
    • Family Fun Factor: 8 out of 10

    12. Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

    The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is a bird-watching, nature and hunting preserve just outside of Atlantic City. In early November, you can see 100,000+ ducks and geese gathering in the refuge. Or — come in May for turtles laying eggs (drive carefully!) and the arrival of warblers.

    There are a number of foot trails where you can explore the natural world, following signs and posts informing you about New Jersey’s (surprisingly!) complex natural ecosystem. There’s also an off-road trail you can explore in the car. The trail has a number of tall towers offering a better perch for birdwatching, where you can see out over New Jersey’s famed salt marshes and beaches, all the way to Atlantic City.

    • Address: 800 Great Creek Road, Galloway, New Jersey 08205
    • Cost: Nominal entrance fee (less than ten dollars — $4 as of April 18, 2015) for a carload of people. The fee goes to support our national parks!
    • Family Fun Factor: 8 out of 10

    13. The Noyes Museum

    Tucked away in a quiet forest, The Noyes Museum is not very prominent. It’s truly a treasure, however — featuring music and arts, from modern to traditional. With frequent music shows, painting outings and contests, and — of course — breathtakingly beautiful exhibits and scenery, you don’t want to miss The Noyes Museum. Exhibits as of 2015 for the Noyes Museum include a history of the Pine Barrens, a student and young adult gallery, and numerous artist exhibitions.

    • Address: 733 Lily Lake Road, Oceanville (Galloway Township.), NJ
    • Cost: $5 for adults, $4 for students with ID, and free for kids under six
    • Family Fun Factor: 8 out of 10

    Bonus: Cheap Stay

    If you’re looking for somewhere to stay that’s neither a highway motel or a pricey casino, check out The Irish Pub. This historic, beautiful hotel building is amazingly cheap — $55 for a private shower or double occupancy on weekdays, and $90 for a private shower or double occupancy on weekends. You can only beat that along the boardwalk if you’re getting comped! Do note that the hotel does not have air conditioning; those with health concerns or those simply intolerant of heat should beware. It’s worth checking out, though — the historic building is beautifully decorated with items from the Pub’s rich history.

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