By Pat Gallen

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – In Atlantic City, the casinos can often be the main attraction. But a hidden gem along the northend is Gardner’s Basin, where the underrated Atlantic City Aquarium sits.

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“You can actually get with the animals and feed them and pet them,” said Brandi Lewis, with the Atlantic City Aquarium. “You can do that in the wild, but you can actually do that here and see them nice and close and personal.”

SummerFest Heads To Historic Gardner's Basin In Atlantic City

Credit: CBS3

The aquarium isn’t just fish. While they do have sharks you can touch, and smiling stingrays, they house a 213-pound Loggerhead sea turtle. We also met a tortoise who just wanders around. He’s one of many land-based creatures on display.

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“We’ll do animal shows, we’ll bring out scorpions, tarantulas, the tortoises… snakes, talk to the public about them, let them get up close, not touch them, but up close and see them,” said Lewis.

Walk out of the aquarium and there are plenty of places to shop and grab a bite. But if you stroll through the basin, make sure you jump aboard Atlantic City Cruises for a trip around Absecon Inlet. Jeff George will be your captain and guide.

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“I’m the longest running tenant, I’ve been here for 20 years. The basin is a great place, people say it’s the hidden jewel. Hopefully, more people will come down to see, between the aquarium and the boat ride, and the fishing tours,” said George. “The history of Atlantic City is fantastic, but the future is very promising. I’m very excited about what’s happening in Atlantic City, the investments that the two new casinos are bringing to town… it shows they believe in Atlantic City, as we do. I’ve seen some down times, all of us have made it through it, persevered, and hopefully now we continue on that.”