New Jersey : Safety by City
- Asbury Park
- Atlantic City
- East Orange
- Hamilton Township
- Jersey City
- Long Beach Island
- Mountain Lakes
- Mt. Laurel
- New Brunswick
- Red Bank
- Seaside Heights
- Toms River
- Upper Township & Ocean City
- West Orange
Atlantic City, New Jersey, is known as “America’s Favorite Playground,” and it’s not hard to see why.
With beaches, the famous boardwalk, casino action, nightlife, spas, shopping, and dining, this place is vibrant with activities for everyone.
It does beg the question people have been asking for decades—is it safe?
A.C., as it’s commonly called, has been a tourist destination since the mid-1800s.
The HBO show Boardwalk Empire showcased a Prohibition-Era Atlantic City with a few creative liberties.
It was also home to the Miss America competition for years.
While Atlantic City is considered to be the Las Vegas of the East Coast, it wasn’t until the 1970s that gambling was legalized here.
Nevada legalized it back in 1931.
Even today, A.C. gives Las Vegas a run for its gambling dollar.
This is a town that embodies both the grit of the big city with the recreation of the Jersey Shore beaches.
While it’s one of the more dangerous shore cities in the state, it also offers the most action and excitement.
You can also look out the rear end of an elephant if that sounds fun.
(Don’t worry, I’m referring to Lucy the Elephant, an iconic structure in nearby Margate City.)
If you’re looking for trouble or indulgences, you’ll find it here.
You really control how exposed you become to the risks, but you can also take important steps now to plan ahead.
Warnings & Dangers in Atlantic City
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here with an increased risk at night. Crime rates and crime prevention efforts have improved substantially in the past decade.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Atlantic City is connected to NJ Transit and the Atlantic City Rail Line. Taxis and rideshares will be easy to find. Rental cars are plentiful. The immediate Boardwalk area is walkable, but you might want car service for the eight miles of beaches on this barrier island.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
45 pickpockets or purse snatchings each year for the past five years, on average. You really want to keep your belongings close and secure while carrying only what you need. Small clutch purses and wallets that can be stored in hidden jacket pockets are ideal.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is another medium risk, with hurricanes and Nor'easters causing potential issues throughout the year. Most notably, Superstorm Sandy in 2012 caused a lot of damage.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
Robberies were down 600% over the past decade in 2021, but the rates are still twice the national average. 68% of the robberies from 2018 through 2021 were highway robberies, meaning there's a medium risk, and you should watch your back here.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Major tourist areas are always going to have a medium risk, but you probably won't find many places with more security and surveillance at one time. It's critical that you report anything suspicious you see.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scammers are just waiting to separate you from your money, and that could start with rental homes long before you arrive. Review the Atlantic County and Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) websites before you come to see the latest scams. You'll need a tough disposition to say no to vendors and panhandlers. Do not believe any sob story someone tells you during your visit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Two dozen sexual assaults were reported in 2021, which is the latest year we have crime data. Considering the number of people who visit here, it's statistically not a high risk, but you need to treat it as such. Between the nightlife, comradery, and crowds, it's easy to get swept up in a round of shots or a penthouse suite after party. Stick with your friends, and don't leave any woman behind. You can always ask the hotel or casino security to escort you to your car or room.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance and zero violations. A huge funding surge will help improve the water systems in the coming years. You should still check the social media sites for the city to see if there are any immediate concerns, like water main breaks or flooding contamination of the water supply, just to be safe.
Safest Places to Visit in Atlantic City
AtlanticCityNJ.com is the official tourism site for the city.
There’s a free tourism guide updated each year you can download for free and without giving personal information.
The bureau also has social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
I’m sure the last thing you’ll think about when you arrive is going to a museum, but I think it’s a good idea to start with the history museums to learn about the area.
It gives a little more context to all the exciting adventures ahead.
Museums here include:
- The Atlantic City Experience: It’s a history museum, but not the boring kind. This immersive and interactive space walks you through the eras of A.C.
- The African American Heritage Museum: The museum is dedicated to the influence and accomplishments of African Americans in South Jersey.
- Noys Arts Garage of Stockton University: You’ll find this art museum filled with creativity from the community and more great history from the original “Nucky” era and beyond.
Absecon Lighthouse is the tallest in New Jersey and one of the oldest in the state, being lit for the first time in 1857.
You can take the steps up 228 feet to see the views, tour the gift shop, and explore the fenced yard.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk is an icon stretching four miles between the casinos and the beach.
The boardwalk does continue on beyond the center of the city, making it a great sunrise stroll or evening walk.
The boardwalk is wide and has gone through several iterations due to storms or wear and tear since the first section was installed in 1870.
You’ll find the steel pier with games and fun right outside the Hard Rock Cafe.
That’s also where “The Wheel” (a Ferris Wheel) is located.
The beaches of Atlantic City are free but know that once you enter Ventnor City to the south, beach stickers are required.
A.C. has nine casinos, and if you’re wondering what the best one is, that’s going to be up to you.
Each one offers the same gambling and the same odds, but it’s the interior, spa services, restaurant selections, and room quality that will differentiate them for you.
Gamblers should stay where they will play, as the rewards programs and incentives will add up.
The Borgata has the widest array of unique games, like Spanish 21, while Resorts Casino has some of the highest betting limits.
The resort spas are top-notch, and you can visit any spa regardless of where you are staying, though you might get a discount if you use the spa in your hotel.
Look for day passes to enjoy the amenities even if you aren’t getting a spa service.
Visiting the Atlantic City Aquarium is a great way to learn about sea life and help feed the animals.
I particularly like the stingray exhibits because you also learn how to avoid these creatures in the sea.
The “Stingray Shuffle” is when you shuffle your feet as you enter the water.
The vibrations will cause buried stingrays to find a new home.
Places to Avoid in Atlantic City
You should definitely stay in the tourist area and don’t wander too far off that path, especially at night.
Casinos have some of the best security on the planet, so everything will be seen by “the eye in the sky.”
Without sounding too Captain Obvious, don’t walk down dark alleys or stumble around intoxicated by yourself.
While great efforts are being made to crack down on crime, you just don’t want to create a crime of opportunity or display signs of vulnerability.
Many areas of Atlantic City allow drinking outside, like on the Boardwalk.
Parts of the beaches allow alcohol too, but drinking in the daytime is setting yourself up for dehydration and a hangover before dinner.
Avoid drinking too much and have a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage.
Do not swim in the ocean if you’ve been drinking.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Atlantic City
- Atlantic City does have its own police department. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609)347-5780. Follow the department on Twitter @AtlanticCityPD and Facebook @AtlanticCityPolice.
- You can sign up for AC Alerts through the city’s website. That will get you critical emergency information like incoming severe weather, road closures, accidents, and shelter-in-place orders.
- There will be places in Atlantic City that have clothing requirements, like no sandals or flip-flops. However, you don’t want to walk the Boardwalk in heels. Bring flip-flops with you if you’ll be doing a lot of walking during your night on the town.
- If you park in a casino garage, take a photo of your car, the parking level, and any distinguishing characteristics. These garages are HUGE, and it’s easy to get lost. I actually was almost in tears one night thinking my car had been stolen from Bally’s parking lot. Turns out, thanks to the help of a security guard with a golf cart, that I was on the right floor but in the wrong section.
- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Quality monitors beach water quality throughout the summer. Check the website before you go, or ask a lifeguard when you arrive.
- Check out the Safe Beach Day website, and you can get an overview of all the beaches, from water quality to rip tides to water temperatures.
- Cannabis is legal in Atlantic City, but it’s not a free-for-all. Read the “Cannabis for the City” section of the city’s website to see the rules and restrictions.
- If you’re celebrating a special event like a birthday or anniversary, but sure to mention it at check-in. That could get you a free upgrade or buffet passes.
- Using the ATMs in the casino will come with a hefty surcharge, like $10, on top of the fees your bank charges. If you use a credit card at the casino cage to get cash out, you could pay a fee of up to $100 for the service.
- Anglers will need to register with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreation Program. A separate license is needed for shellfishing and clamming. If you’re taking a charter, ask about the specific requirements of that vendor.
So... How Safe Is Atlantic City Really?
I was actually excited to dive into the crime data in Atlantic City and was surprised with what I found.
While the violent crime rate is still 28% higher than the national average, it has dropped 350% since 2011.
In 2021, 24% of violent crimes were against strangers.
That’s another number that surprised me.
I thought it would be higher.
In late 2022, the police department started a crackdown on crime initiative that is now in full swing.
Atlantic County, New Jersey Prosecutor Will Reynolds told WPG radio, “The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office is creating a working group of law enforcement agencies at the local, county, state, and federal level to address violent crime in both Atlantic City and the rest of Atlantic County.
This will be a game changer for law enforcement that will include targeted investigation and targeted prosecution.”
Reynolds also noted that there’s a huge crackdown on illegal drug sales.
He walked the boardwalk a few times in plain clothes and said he was approached numerous times to buy drugs.
All the criminal activity you’d expect here that would impact a tourist still rings true.
There are a lot of thefts, car break-ins, and violent attacks.
In one incident from January 2023, a 67-year-old woman was just walking down the boardwalk when a man attacked her with a brick wrapped in a t-shirt.
The attack was unprovoked, and the two did not know each other.
This is a town that is really improving its crime rates but still has a long way to go before it’s going to get a low-risk ranking from this website.
Be careful at all times here, especially after dark.
How Does Atlantic City Compare?
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A passport and visa or visa waiver are required for all international guests to get through Customs and Border Patrol. To see the latest rules and processes, check out the U.S. State Department website.
The U.S. Dollar is the only currency you can use here. The casinos will do anything to get your money; currency exchange options will be plentiful. The only thing is that you'll pay the highest fees for that service. Your home bank will have the lowest rates. You will need cash to play slot machines or get chips for the table game.
Plan for all four seasons, from winter storms to beach weather, depending on when you visit. As a beach town, the breeze will be hefty. You might want to keep long hair up or limit flowing skirts or dresses. Bring comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen.
Atlantic City International Airport is just 11 miles away. The Philadelphia International Airport is larger and just 65 miles away, which would take about an hour to drive.
We always recommend travel insurance to busy tourist spots, especially when they are prone to severe or winter weather.
Atlantic City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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