Planning Your First Trip to Atlantic City

If you’re planning to visit Atlantic City then you might be
feeling a little nervous. You’re probably spending a lot of
money on this trip, and you want to do it right. There’s no need
to worry though, as this guide can help make sure you do.

On this page we provide tips for travelling to Atlantic City,
finding suitable lodging at the best prices, and having the most
fun for your money while you’re there. We also cover getting
from place to place within the city, where and what to eat, and
what to do for fun. There is, of course, plenty of information
on all the gambling activities available too.

Atlantic City is a wonderful destination, and not just for
gamblers. To get the most out of your visit it really is worth
taking the time to plan things properly.

Travelling to Atlantic City

Most people flying into Atlantic City from within the US use
Spirit Air or Southwest (formerly Air Tran). Both carriers are
well-known for providing affordable airfare in general, so
flying in doesn’t have to be a huge financial burden.

Tip: You can save money on flights if you are flexible with the dates you travel.

If you’re travelling on a budget—and these days, who isn’t?—be
flexible with your dates. Fares vary in price depending on
supply and demand. An airline will charge more for a particular
flight if they have sold a lot of tickets, and less if they
haven’t. You want to shop around to find the cheapest dates
possible, and using websites like Kayak and Travelocity is great
for checking multiple dates for your trip. Booking your flights
two or three weeks in advance also helps you get a better price.

Tip: It’s almost always cheaper to fly Sunday through Thursday if you can.

Everyone travels on Friday and Saturday, so demand is great
and supply is low. Other days of the week therefore tend to be
much cheaper. The only exception to this is when special events
like conventions are happening.

Accommodation in Atlantic City

Tip: If you’re looking for the best prices, the best time to
visit is mid-week.

Hotel prices in Atlantic City are set using supply and
demand. Most travelers like to stay over the weekend, so the
hotels raise their rates accordingly. Friday and Saturday are
the most expensive nights of the week to stay, while Sunday
through Thursday nights are the most affordable.

Avoiding special events can also save you a lot of money. If
you’re traveling to Atlantic City during the Miss America
Pageant, Restaurant Week, The Airshow, or Oktoberfest, you can
expect to pay top dollar for your room and board. You can also
look forward to fighting huge crowds.

When it comes to weather, the best times to visit are from
March through August. The average temperature during those
months is in the low 80s. Of course, if you’re spending most of
your time in the casino gambling, the weather outside probably
doesn’t matter so much. In that case, the best time of year to
visit Atlantic City is whenever you can get the time off work.

Choosing Where to Stay

A lot of visitors to Atlantic City like to take advantage of
travel packages. These include your hotel stay as well as the
other perks specific to that package. Golf packages and spa
packages are especially popular. These kinds of packages usually
include airfare and dining, too. But if you’re on a budget,
booking your stay separately from everything else is the way to
go, even if you want to stay at one of the luxury hotel/casinos
on the Boardwalk.

The casino resorts on the Boardwalk include Bally’s, Borgata
Hotel Casino & Spa, Caesars, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s Resort,
Resorts Casino, Tropicana Casino and Resort, and Trump Taj Mahal
Casino Resort. If you’re looking for luxury, go with the
Borgata. If you’re looking for the best price, book two or three
weeks in advance and use one of the hotel comparison engines on
the Internet to find the best price.

If you’re truly budget-conscious, you can find Comfort Inns
and other budget hotels elsewhere in the city, but factor in the
cost of transportation to the sights and sounds. Depending on
what kind of rate you can find at the casinos on the Boardwalk,
it might save money to pay more for your hotel since you won’t
have to pay for transportation.

If you want to get a free room upgrade, you might want to try
the following little trick. When you’re giving the desk clerk
your credit card, include a $20 tip. Ask if there are any free
room upgrades available. If something is available, she’ll often
accommodate you. If not, she’ll usually return your $20. This
isn’t a trick exclusive to Atlantic City, but it works here as
often as anywhere else, especially during low-occupancy periods
at the hotels.

Gambling in Atlantic City

Casino games and poker are both popular gambling activities
in Atlantic City, but unlike Las Vegas, there is no legal sports
betting here—yet.

Casino Games

You can play at one of eight (or nine, depending on whether
or not you include Wild Wild West as part of Bally’s) different
casinos in the city, and you’ll find gambling machines, table
games, and poker at almost all of them.

You must be at least 21 years old to gamble in an Atlantic
City casino, but under-age people can go in the casinos as long
as they aren’t gambling or drinking alcohol. They aren’t allowed
to loiter in the gambling areas, though—they’re just allowed to
walk through those areas.

Slot machines in Atlantic City are much the same as they are
at any other casino gambling destination. The house has the
edge, it’s usually large, and players have no decisions to make.
Players who like machine gambling but want better odds or a game
where their decisions matter should look into video poker.

Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild are the two most popular
video poker variations. At any given time, the video poker
manufacturers are experimenting with additional video poker
titles. These have different odds. The safest bet is to look for
a video poker game you have some understanding of. Compared to
slot machines, video poker games are a much better deal for the
player. Even the worst video poker game in Atlantic City
probably has a better payout percentage than the best slot

New Jersey has specific rules about counting cards that have
spurred the casinos in Atlantic City to change their blackjack
. Most casinos in most parts of the world retain the right
to ban players who are using advantage techniques while playing
blackjack, but in New Jersey, it’s illegal to do this. As a
result, the blackjack games in Atlantic City are almost always
played using eight decks and are often dealt from a machine that
continually shuffles the cards. The casinos have made it almost
impossible to get an edge by counting.

It’s not all bad for blackjack players in Atlantic City
though. The casinos tend to have generous rules options. It’s
not unusual for a basic strategy player to face a relatively low
house edge of 0.36%. Since the casinos have made it impossible
to get an edge by counting, they’ve made up for it by making the
rules options more favorable to the player.

Atlantic City roulette is usually a better deal for the
player than roulette in other U.S. destinations. In Las Vegas,
almost all roulette wheels have a 0 and 00. In Atlantic City,
most roulette wheels only have a single 0, which effectively
cuts the house edge over the player in half. Of course, a 2.70%
edge compares poorly with a 0.36% edge at blackjack, but some
gamblers aren’t interested in doing the work necessary to master
basic strategy.

Craps is also available and popular in Atlantic City. If
you’ve never played before, you deserve to experience this game.
It’s one of the most exciting and fun experiences you can have
in a casino. And the house edge is low, too, as long as you stay
away from the more exotic bets. The most basic bets—pass, don’t
pass, come, don’t come, and the odds bet—all offer a house edge
on par with blackjack or video poker.

You can’t use skill to get an edge at craps, but getting on a
hot streak can be one of the most exciting experiences you’ll
ever have in a casino anywhere. Like Las Vegas casinos, the
resorts in Atlantic City often offer free lessons for games like
craps during their non-peak periods. You should take advantage
of them.

If you’re going to gamble on the casino games in Atlantic
City, you should practice a little bit online at the free online
casino games first while you’re still at home. You’ll have a
better sense of how the action works, and you’ll be less likely
to embarrass yourself by committing a faux pas. You might also
invest in one of the better books about casino gambling for
beginners. I’m a big fan of Andrew Brisman’s book, The Mensa
Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways. It’s a little dated, but
it contains some of the clearest explanations of how casino
games work in print.


The poker rooms in Atlantic City vary dramatically in size.
The Golden Nugget, for example, has a tiny room with only 10
tables. Borgata, on the other hand, has a large poker room with
85 tables. All of the casinos with poker rooms offer regular
tournament opportunities, but the only casino cardroom to offer
large-scale events is Borgata.

You can find small stakes action at most of the cardrooms in
the city, starting at $1/$2 no limit holdem with a buy-in
ranging from $60 to $300. If you’re interested in big games, you
can play for high stakes at the Borgata. The $25/$50 no limit
game there has no maximum buy-in. Limit holdem players are
looking at a $2/$4 game in most cardrooms with a minimum $40

Online Gambling

You’ve probably read some ballyhoo about legalized gambling
in New Jersey. If you’re not a resident of the state you can’t
gamble online there, even if you’re visiting a casino resort. If
you are a resident of New Jersey, and you’re interested in
gambling online, you’ve probably already taken advantage of the
new gambling laws there.

What Else to Do & See in Atlantic City

Some people go to Atlantic City just for the gambling. If
that describes you, great! More power to you. But if you’re looking for other stuff to see and do, you
won’t have to look far. Atlantic City has something for
everyone. Here are a few details on a small selection of the

The Boardwalk

This was the first boardwalk in the USA. It opened in 1870—at
the time, the population of Atlantic City was barely over 1000.
Like the Las Vegas Strip, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is about
four miles long. You’ll find multiple attractions along the
boardwalk, including the casino resorts, restaurants, shopping,
and museums.

The shopping on the boardwalk is especially notable. The
Quarter at Tropicana is an indoor shopping mall at the Tropicana
with a unique Havana theme and over 40 stores. The Pier Shops at
Caesars is one high end shopping center that’s always a big hit
with first time visitors. Tangier Outlets The Walk is an outdoor
outlet mall, offering lower prices for more budget-conscious

Most of the casino resorts offer shopping of some kind. The
Borgata Shops, The Shoppes at Water Club, and Spice Road are all
shopping centers located inside of the casino resorts there.
Multiple other shopping malls dot the landscape in the
surrounding Atlantic City. They cater as much to the locals as
to tourists, but if shopping’s your bag, you might want to check
them out, too.

The Beach

Atlantic City is probably the most popular beach destination
on the East Coast, so beach activities are perennially popular
there. Different areas of the beach are designated for different

If you want to surf, you have three choices.

  • Downtown Beach at Raleigh Avenue
  • Crystal Beach at New Hampshire Avenue
  • Delaware Avenue Beach

If you’re into kayaking and/or windsurfing, you’ll want to
stick with Jackson Avenue Beach. And if you hope to go fishing,
you can fish from the jetties on Maine Avenue. You can also fish
from the inlet off the Boardwalk. You can even try surf fishing
on any of the other beaches, but only during non-bathing hours.

Beach activities aren’t limited to fishing, kayaking, and
surfing, though. You can hunt for treasure with your metal
detector, build castles in the sand, play volleyball, or just
lie in the sun and drink.

The Miss America Pageant

The 2013 Miss America Pageant was held in January in Las
Vegas, but the event returned to Atlantic City, New Jersey in
September of that year. It’s now traditionally held every
September there. The beauty pageant has a fascinating history,
and it’s probably the most famous event of its kind in the

Contestants must be between the ages of 17 and 24 and be
United States citizens. They’re judged on multiple criteria,
including the swimsuit competition, the evening wear
competition, the talent show, their private interview, and their
on-stage question. The talent competition has the most weighting
in the competition, counting for 35% of the contestant’s score.

The Atlantic City Art Center

This is located on Garden Pier on the Boardwalk. They’re open
7 days a week from 10am to 4pm. You’ll find various exhibitions
of paintings, sculptures, and photographs on display here
depending on what’s happening on those calendar dates.

Other Attractions

The Garden Pier is, by itself, quite lovely, even if you
don’t visit the Art Center. It has a huge concert stand and a
beautiful garden and fountain in the center.

The Atlantic City Historical Museum is also located on Garden
Pier. It’s free and relatively quiet, so it makes a nice break
from the casinos. It was recently renovated, too. They have
multiple exhibits which change, but they also have one permanent
exhibit: “Atlantic City: Playground of the Nation”. It’s open
daily from 10am to 5pm.

Ripleys Believe It or Not boasts of over 400 exhibits in
their A.C. location. The “Odditorium” is over 12,000 square feet
and has 14 themed galleries on a single floor. You can see the
world’s smallest car there as well as authentic shrunken heads.
Tickets cost $16.99 for adults but only $10.99 for children
under 13. Infants are free, and senior citizens (65+) get a
discounted rate of $13.99.

Where to Eat in Atlantic City

If you’re not on a budget, visiting Atlantic City during
Restaurant Week might be the best activity for you. You can
expect to pay more for your flights and your hotel stay, but you
can experience special menus at a wide variety of restaurants.

Restaurant Week is held in mid-March every year. Examples of
restaurants which have participated in the event in the past
include Back Bay Ale House, Capriccio, Gordon Ramsay Pub &
Grill, Guy Fieri’s Chophouse, Kwi Noodle House, and Nero’s
Italian Steakhouse. Many (if not most) of these restaurants are
located inside the resorts on the Boardwalk.

Unlike Las Vegas, the United States’ other premier gambling
destination, Atlantic City is not known for its dirt-cheap
buffets or midnight meal specials. If you want to eat on a
budget, though, you can find the usual quick service restaurants
with the usual quick service restaurant prices throughout the

Tipping Guide

Tipping in Atlantic City is typical of anywhere else, but
here’s a quick guide to help you out.

  • If you have someone help you with your bags at the hotel,
    it’s customary to tip $1 or $2 per bag. It’s also customary to
    tip a valet $2 to $5 when they’re parking your car.
  • Cocktail waitresses in the casino should get AT LEAST $1
    every time they bring you a drink. $2 is better. If you prefer
    being ignored by the waitresses, don’t tip. That’ll do the trick
    every time. In fact, you’ll probably be amazed at how fast word
    gets around.
  • You tip bartenders, waiters, and waitresses the same way you
    do everywhere else, 15% to 20%. If you’re paying for your drinks
    at the bar on a per round basis, you should tip a dollar or two
    every round.
  • You’re also expected to tip the dealers in the casino. $5 or
    so per hour is plenty. Don’t get carried away with tipping the
    dealers when you’re winning; they don’t have any real control
    over your outcomes. Trying to look like a big shot isn’t going
    to help you get luckier.

Getting Around In Atlantic City

If you’re staying on the Boardwalk, you can see a lot of the
sights just by walking around. That’s what the Boardwalk was
designed for, in fact. Even when it’s raining, you can walk from
between casinos using covered walkways from most places on the

Like most major metropolitan areas in the United States,
Atlantic City has plenty of taxi cabs available. These are great
if you want to check out some of the sights in the city other
than the Boardwalk. Cabs are also affordable—as long as you stay
INSIDE Atlantic City, your cab fare is a maximum of $13. You
should tip your cab driver at least $2.

More frugal visitors might want to take advantage of the
public transportation system. The city has four jitney routes,
and the fare for using the jitneys is only $2.25 per trip.

You can rent personal scooters to get around inside the
casinos. Some people even use these on the Boardwalk. It’s a bad
idea to try to use these anywhere else, though, because of
safety and traffic concerns.

You could rent a car, but it’s probably the frugal choice not
to given that Atlantic City is so small and there are so many
other options for getting around.


Atlantic City is one of the most popular resort destinations
on the East Coast, and with good reason. First timers can have
just as much fun in the city as seasoned visitors. With a little
bit of diligence, you can travel to Atlantic City and stay there
without blowing your entire bankroll. You can have all kinds of
fun, see all kinds of people, eat all kinds of food, and have
all kinds of experiences—the memories of which will last a

We’ve got some more information on Atlantic City, which you
can find on the following pages.

Recommended Hotels in Atlantic City

Here we provide more information on a number of the best
places to stay in Atlantic City. We’ve made recommendations in
different categories to help you find somewhere suitable.

Atlantic City Casino Directory

This directory contains detailed information on all of the
top casinos in Atlantic City. You can find out exactly what each
venue has to offer in terms of gaming and other facilities.

Non-Gambling Activities in Atlantic City

On this page we provide additional information on a
comprehensive range of non-gambling activities in Atlantic City.
You might be surprised at just how much there is to do outside
the casinos.