Atlantic City Beaches

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Atlantic City Beaches
No matter what time of year you visit Atlantic City, you’ll want to take advantage of its amazing coastline. In summer, swimmers and sunbathers flock to the wide beaches, while on some winter afternoons you can have the place all to yourself.
By Martin Fritz Huber, AFAR Contributor
Photo by Martin Fritz Huber
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    The Famous Boardwalk
    You can’t talk about Atlantic City’s beach without mentioning the boardwalk. This storied walkway was first built in 1870 and was initially meant to act as a buffer between beachgoers and the swanky hotels that were none too thrilled about all the excess sand. By the ‘30s and ‘40s, the expanded promenade was attracting local and big-name entertainers like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, whose careers are now tied in with Atlantic City lore. Despite coastal storms and millions of pedestrians, the boardwalk continues to endure as the symbol of Atlantic City.
    Photo by Martin Fritz Huber
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    Riding the Waves
    Atlantic City has plenty to offer active visitors in the way of ocean water sports. The beach at Jackson Avenue is especially popular with kayakers and windsurfers, and off-limits to swimmers—no need to navigate bobbing bathers as you paddle out into the waves. There are three designated surfer beaches without any lifeguards on duty, so if you know what you’re doing, you can challenge the powerful swells of the Atlantic. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s never too late to learn at the Atlantic City Surf School, an academy run by former surfing champions, who will have you hanging ten in no time.
    Photo courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
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    The Iconic Steel Pier
    Almost as recognizable a symbol of Atlantic City as the boardwalk itself, Steel Pier is another local landmark that has been around for over a century. This is where Miss America was crowned for several years during the ‘30s, and where people came from far and wide to witness novelty acts like fighting kangaroos and diving horses. Today, Steel Pier is home to carnival rides and fun—if not entirely healthy—foods. For a more peaceful pier experience, a beautiful three-and-a-half mile walk south along the boardwalk will lead you to Ventnor City Fishing Pier, a low-key spot favored by local anglers.
    Photo courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
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    Go Fish
    If you’ve been coming up empty at the blackjack tables, it might be time to try your luck at something else—like saltwater fishing. While fishing is not permitted in swimming areas, some of Atlantic City’s jetties are open to amateur anglers hoping to pull in striped bass and bluefish. If you'd prefer a less precarious perch, Ventnor City's fishing pier opens onto the Atlantic. Yearly memberships or day passes are available to access the pier; you may also consider the fishing piers at Ocean City, a few miles south. Charter boats and fishing cruises are widely available, as well as whale- and dolphin-watching outings.
    Photo by Steve Ogle/age fotostock
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    Other Sandy Shores
    The Atlantic City beach has earned its reputation as one of the top destinations on the Jersey shore, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other commendable spots nearby. The beaches at The Wildwoods and the town of Cape May, on the southern tip of New Jersey, are less than an hour away by car. While the former includes five miles of wide public beaches and the rare opportunity to eat a gourmet breakfast from atop a giant Ferris wheel, the latter claims to be the nation’s oldest seaside resort. Thanks to the small-town vibe, rustic lighthouse, and Victorian architecture, a beach day in Cape May might prove to be the perfect antidote to Atlantic City’s occasional overstimulation.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Active Atlantic City
    When the charms of a cheap beach book and a cool drink don't suffice, Atlantic City’s beaches provide plenty of opportunities to do more than just bask in the sun. Biking is permitted on the boardwalk between 6:30 and 10:00 a.m. during high season; off-season, it's 6:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Early morning is also the best time to go for a long summer run, before the beach crowds and families are out and the sun becomes too strong. If you prefer workouts with a competitive edge, Atlantic City has a lively beach volleyball scene. So make sure to practice the timing on your spikes, buddy up, and try your luck against the locals.
    Photo courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
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    The Cure for Cold-Weather Blues
    Atlantic City resorts try to attract guests in the low season with bargain rates and the promise of less-crowded casinos. While such incentives may tempt some potential visitors, one of the most charming aspects of wintertime AC is its vast, windswept beach. It begins with the eerily beautiful sight of the empty boardwalk, not uncommon even on a brilliantly sunny January day—and continues when you walk out towards the crashing waves. Despite the cold, the experience of being alone on a beach, watching the tide roll out, remains singularly sublime.
    Photo by Martin Fritz Huber