Simply thinking of an Atlantic City vacation conjures images of the boardwalk, shopping, amusement park rides and the beach. After the kids cut loose on the boardwalk and the beach, you can slip in some interesting learning opportunities as you visit landmarks and historical sites in the area. Vacation rentals in Atlantic City vary from cozy beach houses to high-end apartments close to the beach. While you ponder the possibilities, here is a list of the 12 best Atlantic City vacation rental locations.

1. Atlantic City

Your most difficult task in Atlantic City is deciding what to do next. Even if you never enter a casino, dozens of family-oriented adventures line the famous boardwalk. Steel Pier, Atlantic City Boardwalk features 25 rides for all ages, games, food, and live entertainment, all located on the water’s edge, providing breathtaking views of the ocean. In service since 1857, the Absecon Lighthouse, the state’s tallest, offers visitors an opportunity to climb the 228 steps for an amazing view of the city skyline. Your family is sure to stay so busy that unwinding in your vacation rental can provide its own special kind of respite.

2. Brigantine

Just across the bay from Atlantic City’s world famous boardwalk, the Brigantine Golf Links features authentic Scottish links designed by Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek. The course includes views of the bay, marshes and a rolling terrain. Off the golf course, you can enjoy water sports when you choose between boogie boarding, surfing, and parasailing. With Atlantic City Parasail, you take off and land directly from the boat for exciting flights up to 500 feet above the water. Imagine stepping out the door of your vacation rental, sauntering down to the water and gathering seashells.

3. Ventnor City

Ventnor City vacation rentals put you in the midst of the classic Jersey Shore vacation experience. On any given day, you can let your kids play in the sand, watch kites soar above, and sit beneath brightly colored beach umbrellas. The Ventnor City Boardwalk extends about a mile and includes benches for resting. Some visitors enjoy biking along the boardwalk instead of driving to the casinos and many attractions in Atlantic City.

4. Margate City

Imagine awakening to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean waves in your vacation rental at the beach in Margate City, just two miles south of Atlantic City. A couple of miles away from the frenetic pace of the Atlantic City boardwalk, Stacey’s Surf and Paddle rents surfboards and paddleboards. They teach surfing and stand up paddling lessons as well as paddle yoga. When you’re ready to look around, Lucy the Elephant rises six stories in Josephine Harron Park along the beach. In 1881, James V. Lafferty constructed her of wood and tin sheeting. Guides lead visitors on a tour up the spiral staircase inside her legs up to the howdah on her back.

5. Longport

It’s time to drop out of the mad hustle and bustle of the daily grind when you book your vacation rental in Longport, at the south end of Absecon Island. The beach presents so many ways to have fun: sunbathing while the kids build sandcastles, sightseeing, or enjoying a tranquil picnic. If you need a place to relax those jangled nerves, this is it. Anglers enjoy packing their coolers and boarding one of Stray Cat Sports Fishing charter vessels for a great fishing experience. They provide the bait and tackle, and, they offer morning and afternoon trips.

6. Somers Point

Your pet-friendly vacation rental in Somers Point provides easy access to the dog park, beach, fishing piers, art galleries, parks, and walking tours. The John F. Kennedy Park features a playground for the kids and a small beach for walking during low tides. The Municipal Beach Park employs lifeguards for daily swimming and a playground area. Somers Point Pier is adjacent to Municipal Beach Park, handy for anglers and simply enjoy the water views. If you enjoy art galleries, the Chora Leone Gallery typically displays the works of more than a dozen artists, including pieces for sale. Jersey Shore Tours specialize in leading visitors through landmarks in towns around the Somers Point area.

7. Ocean City

If you stay in Ocean City, there’s enough to keep your family adventures exciting and make some amazing memories. Any day is a good day to take a break from the beach and visit the Ocean City Boardwalk amusement parks, arcades, water parks and mini golf featuring pirate folklore. Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and Playland’s Castaway Cove feature fun rides for all ages. For a special treat, a pirate voyage aboard the Sea Dragon includes the kids getting face paint, dressing up as buccaneers, and learning to talk like pirates.

8. Absecon

You can find a comfortable vacation rental in Absecon that places you within mere minutes of the Jersey Shore. If you’re ready to go wet and wild, Extreme Windsurfing rentals include windsurfing boards with full sail rigs and paddle boards. They teach surfing, windsurfing, and paddle boarding lessons, allowing you to bring your own gear or rent the equipment they carry.

9. Pleasantville

It’s easy to fall in love with Pleasantville, just about 30 miles south of New York City, three miles from Atlantic City and a million miles away from it all. The family adventures revolve around the wonders of nature and natural resources, including Rockefeller State Park Preserve. The park provides a tranquil setting for hiking, horseback riding and snowshoeing in the winter. The beautiful Thirteen Bridges Loop Trail leads to 13 bridges over a meandering brook. Fox Hill Farms offers guided trail rides through the preserve, allowing riders to see the pristine forests from a unique perspective. Riders must be at least 12 years old, and Fox Hill Farm provides safety helmets upon request.

10. Northfield

Northfield is less than a 15-minute drive from Atlantic City any time it suits you to visit the casinos, restaurants, and hundreds of attractions along the famous boardwalk. If you want to spend some time closer to your vacation rental, you can take the kids to Northfield Tiki Tee, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop and miniature golf course. Birch Grove Park covers 271 acres, featuring wooded areas, a playground, picnic areas, and several fishing lakes.

11. Egg Harbor Township

If you stashed your golf clubs in the garage of your vacation rental, you can book tee times at a scenic golf course. Harbor Pines Golf Club features seven sets of tees to allow golfers to negotiate the course according to their personal levels of expertise. The picturesque course includes 12 ponds situated for optimum appeal and challenge. The 520 acres of wooded space provides privacy on each hole. When it’s time to take the kids out, Storybook Land invites you to stroll down memory lane with your children through storybook classics intermingled with attractions and rides. For visitors who bring their own boats, Somerset Cove Marina offers boat slips, fuel, repairs and storage to ensure the optimum enjoyment of recreational boaters. They sell bait and tackle as well as used boats.

12. Smithville

Just 12 miles north of Atlantic City, Smithville is a village that includes more than two dozen restored historic buildings now used as shops and restaurants. After browsing and strolling through Historic Smithville, you can stop by Tomasello Winery to taste and select your perfect wine. Choices include red, white, rose, fruit and sparkling wines. The Smithville train takes riders around the Village green portion of the Village on a fun six and a half minute ride.