For some, it's just not a vacation unless you get some cultural understanding of the area, whether it's the whimsical, the bizarre or the aquatic.
Day One: Morning: Begin your tour with a walk on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to New York Avenue, where everyone in the whole family will love the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. Thought it may look like it’s about to be destroyed by a wrecking ball, the museum features more than 400 of the world’s most unusual, fascinating and bizarre exhibits in 13 themed galleries including a collection of shrunken heads.
Day One: Afternoon: Next, located at Pacific and Rhode Island Avenues, is the Absecon Lighthouse. What better way to get the full view of the city then from New Jersey's tallest lighthouse? Make it a family outing and climb the 228 steps to the top of the historic Absecon Lighthouse. You'll receive a "Congratulations, You Made It" badge of honor and enjoy the sights from this 150-year-old charming attraction.
Historic Gardner's Basin: we call it the "other" Atlantic City. Take a drive to the bayside end of New Hampshire Avenue in the Inlet district and park on-site. Once there, take a stroll along the bay of Atlantic City and enjoy wonderful views, dockside dining, a seasonal artist colony and the Atlantic City Aquarium. The three-story aquarium and interactive marine life education center features aquarium tanks exhibiting more than 100 varieties of fish. The main tank spotlights fish of the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Look for flounder, striped bass, and "Groman," the resident loggerhead turtle. The kids will love the touch tanks, which allows visitors to "pet" starfish, crabs, sharks and other sea life. In the summer, you can catch sight-seeing or dolphin-watching cruise, a fishing excursion or parasailing trip from Gardner’s Basin, too.
Day Two: Morning: Just to the north of Atlantic City over the bridge in Brigantine is the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. The center is a private, non-profit organization that is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles. Stop in for a visit; there's a museum and gift shop featuring "Cupid the Seal" t-shirts, pins, jackets, stuffed animals, window decals and gold and silver jewelry. Daily visiting hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer, but call before you go because hours may vary due to daily activities or operations. For more information, visit www.marinemammalstrandingcenter.org.
Day Two: Afternoon: If you're in the mood for some nature, a short drive from Atlantic City is the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. It features 40,000 acres of coastal salt marshes, upland fields, woodlands and tidal waters. Local flora and fauna abound, and the refuge is a stopover for over 200 species of migratory birds. Go exploring on the footpaths or take a leisurely drive along the driving trail.