Gracing the east coast of the United States, Atlantic City, New Jersey, is well known as a conference center and a vacation destination, and its clubs and leisure hotspots draw crowds keen to tread the first Boardwalk in the US and wanting to get to know the city that inspired the original Monopoly board game. The famous tourist attractions are popular and fun, however, to really get under the skin of this city it’s worth going off the beaten track and enjoying the quirkier side of ‘America’s favorite playground.’
The sands of time
Atlantic City is the birthplace of sand sculpting and in 2013 for the first time ever plays host to the World Championship of Sand Sculpting. During the event professional sculptors compete to craft awesome gigantic creations on Missouri Avenue Beach. As well as being lots of fun to watch, sand art has become a serious business and many artists working in sand have collaborated to produce sculptures and sand features for private and corporate clients. Just as ice festivals featuring ice sculptures have become popular, so festivals and competitions exploring sand sculptures now take place all over the world.
A life on the ocean wave
Taking to the water at Atlantic City now goes beyond a leisurely sailing trip. The delights of the Atlantic Ocean include power boating, fishing and diving, surfing (with lessons available) and dolphin watching from one of the Atlantic City cruises. Just 28 miles outside the city it’s possible to enjoy the Wharton State Forest from a canoe or kayak on the calm waters of Oswego and Wading Rivers. A little further on at 37 miles away, there are canoeing and kayaking options at Atison Lake, with access to the Mullica or Batsto Rivers.
Less than 50 miles south of the city at Cape May there are wonderful opportunities for birding by boat, and even a wetland safari tour that visits the stunning Cape Island Creek Preserve – a crucial migration stopover for many different species.
Play and stay extremely safe
Lovers of the great outdoors can have the best of both worlds in Atlantic City. Staying near the beach in a great hotel such as Tropicana Atlantic City provides access to the pleasures of the famous Boardwalk and the beach – so besides a quiet sunbathe, guests can enjoy swimming, jet skiing and surfing. An increasingly popular activity, extreme windsurfing, is also available about one and one half miles away at Jackson Avenue Beach in Atlantic City and less than four miles from the hotel at Lakes Bay, which has a reputation for being among the top 10 most consistently windy spots.
Cycling is permitted along the Boardwalk in the mornings from 6.30am to 10.00am, so enthusiasts can take a ride to Spring Lake, passing through seaside towns such as Asbury Park and Bradley Beach along the way. There are also great hiking and biking trails in local parks, including Estell Manor Park and Lake Lenape.
There is no doubt that Atlantic City is a special place – just scratch the surface of the glitzy image and there is a fascinating wealth of interesting and different events and activities to enjoy.