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Atlantic City may never hold a card to the likes of Las Vegas, but that’s quite all right. Gambling isn’t the only reason to visit this hard hit Jersey Shore city. In fact, add these non-gaming attractions to your must-do list, and you’re sure to come away a winner.

RELATED: These are the best locals’ casinos in Las Vegas

Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Absecon Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Do Atlantic City

Absecon Lighthouse
Although there may be prettier lighthouses, this one stacks up as the third-tallest in the country and still serves its original purpose. We wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t make it up the 228 steps, but the views of the ocean and shore from the top are spectacular.

Atlantic City Aquarium
Part of Atlantic City’s charming Historic Gardner’s Basin, the aquarium opened in 1999 and has become the enclave’s star attraction. Check out the Ocean Oddities exhibit for unusual sea creatures; pet a shark in the Tropical Shark Touch Tank; and catch the Live Diver Feeding Show at the 25,000-gallon Fish of the Mid-Atlantic exhibit.

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Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey

Atlantic City Boardwalk | Photo Courtesy of Do Atlantic City

Atlantic City Boardwalk
Of course, no trip to Atlantic City is complete without a stroll along its famous boardwalk, built in 1870 and still attracting throngs of visitors to its shops, restaurants and food stands. Get your smart phone out for photo ops including in the “heart” of the boardwalk at the award-winning “Heartwalk” heart-shaped sculpture, created from hundreds of wooden planks salvaged after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the shore; it’s illuminated every night.

Atlantic City Miniature Golf
Located right on the Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue, this family-owned, 18-hole course is pretty small, but not altogether easy. Try it at night when the lights and energy of the Boardwalk add to the appeal.

Arcades
Sure, the casinos may tempt with big payouts, but at least the arcades reward almost every player with some kind of souvenir, and at a smaller, more family-friendly pace. Hit Central Pier Arcade for the games, as well as for the go-kart speedway. Also on the Boardwalk is Playcade Amusements, which claims to be the longest-established arcade in town and gets points for its enticing prize selection.

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beach, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Photo courtesy of Do Atlantic City

Beach fun
Who needs slots when you’ve got surf? Three beaches allow surfing and offer lessons; at Jackson Avenue Beach, kayaking and windsurfing are popular; from Gardner’s Basin, Atlantic City Parasail offers dry take-off and landing parasailing; and beach volleyball, boogie boarding, jet-skiing and fishing are also available at various beaches. If you’re looking to soak up a cool, 1950s atmosphere, head to Wildwood Beach.

Storybook Land
Closed only in winter, this kiddie magnet opened in 1955 and prides itself on being clean and well-maintained. Admission includes access to play areas themed around stories like Mother Goose, Snow White and the Three Little Pigs, kid-sized coasters, a Santa Claus house (the jolly guy and the misses visit during Christmastime), shady picnic areas, and a popular train that loops the park.

Lucy the Elephant, Atlantic City

Lucy the elephant | Flickr photo courtesy of Jim McIntosh

Lucy the Elephant
Of all the quirky things about Atlantic City, you can’t miss this one—literally. Lucy, the larger-than-life wooden elephant, was built in 1881 in Margate (formerly South Atlantic City) and has served as a private home, a restaurant and, since she was restored in the 1970s, a museum. Take the stairs to the “howdah” (canopied pavilion) on Lucy’s back to get a panoramic view.

Boat cruises
Several ocean cruise outfits such as Atlantic City Cruises and Cape May Whale Watcher offer skyline tours, booze cruises and sightseeing boat tours that focus on getting you those Instagram-worthy pics of dolphins and whales.

Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, Atlantic City, hotels

Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club

Golfing
More than 20 public golf courses dot the landscape within about a half hour’s drive of the Boardwalk. A few of the top courses include the Atlantic City Country Club, founded in 1897 and one of the country’s oldest golf clubs (it claims to have coined the terms “birdie” and “eagle”); the beautiful Ballamor Golf Club; and the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, which features both a links-styled course and a forest-lined course. Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery combines a championship course with the option to continue your day with a winery tour and tasting.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
Along the Boardwalk and behind a façade that looks like it’s been cracked in half by a giant globe are oddities like the apropos roulette table made from 14,000 jelly beans, authentic shrunken heads and a wax replica of the world’s tallest man. Also here is a Laser Maze Challenge where would-be spies or thieves try to maneuver under, over and through a room crisscrossed with laser lights.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Family, Types of Travel

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