Whether you know anything about it, Sin City just sounds like a place a person should visit at least once in a lifetime. And it is. But if you’d rather not drop a grand on a trip to Las Vegas right now, look south for your next gaming getaway. Atlantic City is an effortless and affordable car-free escape, and who doesn’t love a city by the sea?
Here, five things Atlantic City has that you won’t find in Las Vegas.
1. An Easy Breezy Budget-Friendly Escape
Skip the pricey plane ticket and the hassles of flying. Atlantic City is easily accessible by public transit, which offer roundtrip tickets from Manhattan for as low as $30. And with quality hotel packages starting at $69 per night, including food, entertainment, and waterfront views, we say it’s a sin not to go to AC.
Before a day of play, enjoy a peaceful morning stroll along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, dating back to 1870 and considered to be the grandfather of boardwalks. While Las Vegas is landlocked, gridlocked and overrun with tourists, the seaside esplanade makes AC a relaxing pedestrian-friendly destination year round. You can also pick up a bike at B&K and go for a cruise along the scenic four-mile boardwalk. Rentals are $9 for the first hour and $1 for each additional 15 minutes. Open from 6:45AM- 12:00PM daily.
3. Absecon Lighthouse
Either for a great introduction or a sweeping farewell, the Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest and the country’s third tallest, fits the bill. Fresh off a multi-million dollar restoration, the 150-year-old lighthouse offers soaring views of Atlantic City’s skyline and the Atlantic Ocean, if you’re up for scaling the spiral staircase’s 228 steps. For the maritime enthusiasts, pay a visit to the Lightkeeper’s dwellings and its history museum to learn about the structure and spectacular Fresnel Lens.
4. The Wind Farm
After adventures on the water, go gain an appreciation for it. Book a unique Environmental Tour with ACUA (Atlantic County Utility Authority). The ACUA offers three tours, including visits to the county’s recycling center, landfill, and composting facility, but we recommend the Wastewater Facility Tour & Wind and Solar Projects. It may sound a little field trippy, but trust us, it’s worth a look. Lasting about an hour, you’ll visit the green-roofed ACUA Wastewater Treatment Facility, which keeps the area’s marine and freshwater environments clean and clear. While Las Vegas has received failing grades from the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, and was named by Travel + Leisure as one of America’s Dirtiest Cities, Atlantic City boasts having the world’s largest hybrid wind and solar powered treatment facility, and the first coastal and urban wind farm in the nation. And best of all, like the solar and wind energy, it’s free.
5. The Ocean
Get suited up to cool down with a $4 Yuengling or $5 Jack and Coke at Sammy’s Beach Bar followed by a dip in the ocean. Las Vegas may have pools and a dancing fountain but AC has surfing, sailing, dolphin watching and many more aquatic adventures for when your hands tire of rolling the dice.
Check out the offMetro Guide to Public Transit from NYC to Atlantic City for car-optional directions. Atlanticcitynj.com is also a great resource for unique activity ideas and special offers.
Photos: Absecon Lighthouse, Bally’s, PMillera4, Atlantic City Parasail
The co-founder and editor-at-large at offMetro, Lauren is a sustainable travel specialist and freelance journalist with frequent bylines in National Geographic, Bicycling Magazine and Shape. Follow Lauren’s adventures at @laurenmati.