5 Best Photo Opportunities in Atlantic City

Photo Opportunities Atlantic City

Lee Van Grack

Atlantic City's glittering skyline of casinos and hotels rises above the humble backdrop of a working class city – one of four seaside towns along an eight-mile-long barrier island not that far from sparsely populated marshlands and pine forests. One thing we sometimes forget, however, is that Atlantic City was a resort for more than a century before the first casino opened. Legalized gambling was only brought to the famed Boardwalk in 1978. Atlantic City photo opportunities were first introduced by nature, whose beach and sea provided an ideal backdrop for America's first playground. But don't stop at the shore. Carry your camera whenever you're outside. The days of diving horses and dapper Prohibition-era gangsters are past, but there's plenty to photograph in this iconic city, where even the street signs – which you'll recognize from the Monopoly game board – are photo ops. Here are five of the best photo opportunities Atlantic City can offer.

1. The Romantic Photo: Absecon Lighthouse

Perched on the northern tip of Atlantic City – on Rhode Island Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific – is the 150-year-old Absecon Lighthouse. The 228-step climb to the top is worth it for the 360-degree panorama of the Atlantic, the beach, the casinos and the city, but if you can't make the climb, don't worry. The lighthouse itself against the sunset, as viewed from the ground, is one of the most timeless and atmospheric photography landscapes in Atlantic City.

Absecon Lighthouse
31 S. Rhode Island Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Sep-Jun: Thu-Mon 11AM-4PM; Jul-Aug: Daily 10AM-5PM
Adults $7, children 4-12 $4, children 3 & under free

2. The Quirky Photo: Lucy the Elephant

Standing six jumbo stories over Atlantic Avenue – and surely the only wooden Victorian elephant on the National Register of Historic Places – Lucy the Elephant is the sole survivor of an 1880s trio of buildings shaped like elephants. She's sold real estate and beer over the years, caught fire and been struck by lightning, but nowadays Lucy is a great place to take a photo unlike any other in the Atlantic City area, or possibly anywhere in the world.

Lucy the Elephant
9200 Atlantic Avenue
Margate, NJ 08402
Mon-Fri 11AM-4PM, Sat & Sun 10AM-5PM
Adults $6, children 4-12 $3, children 3 & under free

3. The Family Fun Photo: Steel Pier

You won't find diving horses any more on Steel Pier, but you will find the best family and kid-oriented photo opportunities Atlantic City has to offer here at this 110-year-old playground. This pier was once a legendary showplace, nicknamed "The Showplace of the Nation," and it featured the likes of Mae West, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Today, Steel Pier is home to a modern-day amusement park geared to family entertainment, including go-karts, a roller coaster, a rock-climbing wall and a custom-made, double-decker carousel with scenes of old-time Atlantic City. Bring the kids and seek out the best photo ops - the giant Ferris wheel at night, adorned by the neon Steel Pier sign, with the casinos glittering in the distance.

Steel Pier
1000 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Seasonal hours
Admission free. Ride costs vary; ride specials and day passes often available

4. The Scenic Photo: Atlantic City Beach

Wake up early, dodging the morning cyclists, which are allowed on the boardwalk before 10AM, and walk across to the beach at sunrise. The waves roll and crest as the sun peeks up over the ocean here on the photogenic beach, an oft-overlooked scenic Atlantic City gem right next to the casinos. Nightlife and gambling seem a lifetime away as you aim your camera east at the Atlantic. The sand here is free to wander around on – no beach passes required. The beach is also wide, clean and safe, thanks to the Atlantic City Beach Patrol. Want to snap the best photo of the sunrise? Search for one of the Atlantic City rescue boats that perch up on the shore near the beach patrol lifeguard stands. If you're lucky enough to spot one – the lifeguards don't go on duty until 10AM – you'll find one of the best photo ops in town. The words "Atlantic City" are emblazoned on the rescue boats, which rest quietly on the sand in the morning sun.

5. The Classic Photo: The Boardwalk

Nothing says Atlantic City like a shot right down the Boardwalk. In the game Monopoly, Boardwalk is the most cherished prize, the top spot coveted by each player. Back in 1870, the Boardwalk was only eight feet wide, but today it's seven times wider, so stand back and plan for a wide-angled shot. Casinos and glitzy shops rise above one side of your frame, while nature falls away to sand and shore on the other. The transition is the Atlantic City Boardwalk, full of colorful characters, excited children, neon signs and best of all, rolling chairs, used as hand-pushed taxis for tired visitors. Atlantic City travel photography doesn't get better than this.
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