Atlantic City for Kids?
October 1, 2013 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Is Atlantic City fun for non-gamblers the way Vegas is? I was thinking of taking my 12 year old daughter there on a day trip (it's about a two-hour drive one way). She'd love all the shopping and fantasy buildings of Vegas, but my impression of Atlantic City is that's it's less about fun and more about the single-minded pursuit of gambling. Opinions, anyone? If there are decent beaches nearby, that could make it more worthwhile too.
posted by ubiquity to Travel & Transportation around Atlantic City, NJ (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
AC is pretty sketchy and run down, other than the casinos and some strip malls. I believe all NJ beaches close after Labor Day.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2013

Atlantic City is in my opinion a depressing dump. Especially if you don't gamble. The casinos are just casinos and don't have interesting things outside like in Vegas. There are some other nice beach towns nearby. How about Ocean City? or Cape May.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

AC is sort of a dump. The casinos are all big, unadorned blocks with a logo on them. There's that strip with outlet stores, but that's about it for non-casino entertainment. I've been there twice and I'm not sure I'd ever go back without a particularly specific reason.

Also, I believe the beach is still run down from Sandy.
posted by griphus at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2013

I go to Cape May in the off season a lot but I don't know if a kid would find it interesting. There is a lighthouse and bird watching. And you can walk along the beach and boardwalk.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2013

I went with my mom and grandmother when I was 13. Some of the buildings were impressive, my mom let me pull the slot machine lever, and we had lunch in a cool-looking restaurant. The boardwalk was ok. IIRC, the boardwalk was ok with some expensive rides. Ok day, but I was a pretty easy-to-please kid. It wasn't fun, per se. The beach is pretty awful there. Of all the NJ beaches I've been to (Philly girl here), AC is the absolute worst.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:41 AM on October 1, 2013

I've been there a few times and I'm not much of a gambler. I think if your trip is soonish before the weather gets cold, you should be OK to go on the beach, walk on the Boardwalk, etc. But I think most stuff on the Boardwalk will be closed.

There are shops at Caesars which remind somewhat of the Caesars shops in Vegas, but just a much smaller scale. There is a Rain Forest Cafe on the Boardwalk, and there is an outlet mall within easy walking distance from the Caesars area with typical outlet shops. There is also a Melting Pot fondue restaurant. A 12-year-old might think that is neat. There is an IMAX movie theater at the Tropicana casino. It's a sketchy place but I think you could have a fun day there if you planned it right and didn't just try to wing it.

Interplanetjanet is right. Ocean City is really nice, but again, it's starting to get pretty sleepy this time of year on that Boardwalk. Cape May is BEAUTIFUL, but still we're off season there as well.
posted by mzwz at 7:45 AM on October 1, 2013

No, it's awful.
posted by Perplexity at 7:46 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

AC is fine for adults but not terribly kid friendly, for sure.

You could take them to the Rainforest Cafe for something to eat.

The Boardwalk also has a Ripley's "Believe it or not" exhibit that they may or may not enjoy.

If you want the kid to enjoy the beach, you can take them to either Ocean City or even nearby Brigantine and have a better beach experience. The beaches on the South Jersey coast are closed, in that they aren't supervised by life guards this time of year. But I'm pretty sure you can still go on them.
posted by PsuDab93 at 7:47 AM on October 1, 2013

Absolutely NOT.

The boardwalk closes after the Miss America pageant and there's nothing open. The casinos are dumps, and...ew. Just no.

Go to Philly and do the sites there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:00 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been to a lot of places, and Atlantic City is probably the most depressing. It's nothing like Las Vegas in any of the good ways, and I would avoid it.

Seconding Cape May for a special weekend on a beautiful beach (stay at one of the cute bed and breakfasts that are scattered around in antique houses in town). For shopping and big city fun, I agree--Philadelphia is the way to go.
posted by anonnymoose at 8:17 AM on October 1, 2013

Just wanted to add: if your daughter likes shopping and you're looking for an OMG-this-is-fun-and-ridiculous experience, have you thought about a day trip to the King of Prussia mall? It's one of the largest mega-malls in the country and on the nicer side. That may not be your thing, but it is definitely an experience.
posted by anonnymoose at 8:23 AM on October 1, 2013

Agreeing that I'd do Cape May for beach or maybe KOP for this time of year.
Even the nicer part of AC is kind of dumpy and unimpressive. I've had to drive up from DC for work things a couple of times and there's just not a lot of fun stuff to do, the first time I went I extended my hotel reservation before arriving and ended up leaving early.
There's a small stretch of boardwalk open in summer but there's not anything special about it. At least in Vegas there's plenty of things to gawk at in the good way but really AC doesn't have that even in summer, I'd never suggest it during the off season and I love the beach during off season.
posted by KAS at 8:31 AM on October 1, 2013

Oh, and the ferry from Cape May to Lewes is kind of neat, and you get to explore two places in one little trip. You can take your car or go on foot. If you would miss the outlet shops that AC has, there are a bunch of outlets in DE maybe an hour away from Lewes. The outlets might be too much to tack on to a day trip though.
posted by KAS at 8:36 AM on October 1, 2013

We have gone on bad weather days and took the kids to the hotel indoor pool. We just walked in without a room or without asking. It was a great day, but it could have been anywhere USA. AC is pretty meh if you asked me.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:40 AM on October 1, 2013

Generally, no. You might be able to find some specific thing that she'd love, though. My memories of Atlantic City are largely and favorably colored by a memory of a day trip we took there when I was about her age. The Moscow Circus was doing a show at one of the casinos and so we went there, did the boardwalk thing, ate ourselves sick on saltwater taffy, and I remember having such a great time. Even though I know Atlantic City is a depressing dump, I have some residual fondness for it because of that trip.

I don't think you'd want to just turn up without a specific event/attraction to see, though, especially this time of year.
posted by Stacey at 8:46 AM on October 1, 2013

I agree with everyone- nothing for kids in Atlantic City. A day trip to Ocean City on a weekend could be fun; some of the stuff on the boardwalk might be open and the Music Pier could have some concerts.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2013

Well if you were going this weekend you could combine it with a trip to the festival in Smithville, NJ. Between the 2 you could have an enjoyable daytrip, but I think AC for a whole day as a kid might be a stretch for entertaining.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:08 AM on October 1, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice and alternatives. I believe y'all have talked me out of it.
posted by ubiquity at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

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