A family reunion in Atlantic City, New Jersey?  Sure, why not?  Before AC acquired its current fame as a place of palatial casinos, beauty pageants and high-octane nightlife, its tourism draw rested on something much more enduring:  its seaside location.  Originally born as a health resort that was just a short train ride away from Philadelphia, Atlantic City became as famous for its elaborate hostelries as for its natural beaches.

For most family reunion travelers, however, elaborate accommodations don’t rank as high on the must-have list as a plethora of family-appropriate activities.  If your group is looking for a place that’s filled with all kinds of outdoorsy experiences, you’ll find them in Atlantic City – along with a huge variety of eateries, shops and other reunion necessities.

How Can My Family Travel to Atlantic City?

Thanks to its proximity to several thriving metropolises, Atlantic City is within a day’s drive for about a third of Americans. If you’re driving in from anywhere on the East Coast, getting to AC is as easy as hopping on I-95 or the Atlantic City Expressway.

If you’re traveling in from elsewhere in the US, you can make use of Atlantic City International Airport, just a few minutes from the downtown area, or drive the hour from Philadelphia International Airport.  You can even ride the train in, as visitors did so many years ago; take the New Jersey Transit rail system from Philadelphia, sit back and enjoy the trip.

What Can My Family Do Outdoors in the Atlantic City area?

First of all, you’ll want to hit the beach. While there is sand and surf as all good oceanside beaches have, Atlantic City’s beach also has its famous Boardwalk.  This means you can literally combine sandcastle-building and shopping in one place.  Or you can make time to learn to surf, paddle a kayak or do some sport fishing.

If your group is into the historical, they’ll definitely want to check out Absecon Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in the U.S.  It’s been lovingly restored, right up to the 200-plus-step climb to the top of the house.

Another way to experience the water is to be on it – in a boat, that is.  Sightseeing cruises depart daily in Atlantic City; for kids, dolphin-watching adventures await, while adults may want to book historical cruises of nearby Cape May or enjoy a sunset dinner cruise.

And we can’t forget golf.  Atlantic City has more than enough course space to continue a friendly competition or two.  In fact, AC has been ranked as one of the top 10 golf cities in the country by ForbesTraveler.com.  And for golfers-to-be (and perhaps their fun-loving moms and dads) there’s always a round of mini-golf.

Finally, for quieter times, visit Atlantic City’s public parks and nature preserves.  Sometimes a contemplative walk or a morning spent bird-watching can provide that island of tranquility that a busy reunion needs.

What Restaurants Will My Family Enjoy in Atlantic City?

To alleviate a bout of the munchies – and head off the bout of bad moods that will surely occur if the munchies are left unchecked – take your group to one of Atlantic City’s many restaurants. And we do mean many: TripAdvisor lists well over 300 eateries in AC.  This close to the ocean, your group will surely want to enjoy seafood.  Dock’s Oyster House, although pricey, consistently gets good reviews.   Or your group can chow down on burgers, subs, pizza and other American comfort food favorites.

Of course, your meals don’t have to be strictly in a restaurant setting. Why not pack your group’s preferred outdoor fare and escape to one of the area’s parks? Estell Manor Park, Gaskill Park, and John F. Kennedy Park in Somers Point all have picnic facilities that your family can enjoy.  And when you’re exploring the Boardwalk, be sure to try funnel cakes, saltwater taffy, fudge, fresh-cut French fries or one of the other treats that AC is known for.

Where Can We Stay in Atlantic City?

After a day spent exploring, swimming, fishing or shopping, there’s nothing like getting back to your own little sanctuary. Thanks to its touristy past (and present), finding a comfortable place to stay for your group presents no problem.  In keeping with its opulent history, your group certainly can opt to stay in luxurious hotels or resorts. But you can also find quieter, group-friendly spaces in budget and midpriced hotel chains, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals.  The deciding factor may well be the size of your group, its overall energy level and your collective budget.  Either way, you certainly will not lack for options.

Can I Get Help Planning My Atlantic City Family Reunion?

Certainly.  Visit atlanticcitynj.com for special deals and packages, visitors’ guides and more.

So when it’s time to round up the family once again, don’t get stuck spending all your time indoors.  See Atlantic City from a different perspective – one that focuses on its natural, active, outdoorsy side.