Atlantic City, on the New Jersey shoreline, has long been known as a beach lover’s paradise, and a gambler’s haven. But recently, the city has begun to look at other ways of attracting a more diverse demographic.
Casinos are still the biggest draw for this resort city, with three separate Trump properties, famed Harrah’s, Caesars, and the recently opened lavish Borgata. So what else can a non-gaming visitor expect?
Five must-C’s of Atlantic City
Read on for five must “C” reasons to visit Atlantic City besides its fantastic casinos:
Clubs: The city has a long history of bringing in some of the biggest touring musical acts, and the splashiest showbiz performances. The past has seen the Beatles and Rolling Stones, while the present sees Lady Gaga and top name DJ’s. There are also some great nightclubs that you should see, or where you should be seen, depending on your stance. Be sure to check out MurMur at Bogata, Casbah at the Taj Mahal, and Jay Z’s 40/40 Club. Also, the Foundation Room at the Showboat House of Blues has started opening their doors to non-members on certain nights. Definitely worth a visit to this lounge and restaurant in a somewhat museum like environ, home to some of the largest African and Indian art collections in the United States.
Cuisine – Beyond the typical Hooters, Hard Rock Café, and fast food fixes along the boardwalk, some top name celebrity chefs have opened properties here offering a wide array of dining opportunities a various price points. Check out Stephen Starr’s Buddakan and Bobby Flay’s Steakhouse. There are also some great local eateries known for their affordable booze and bites, such as Tun Tavern Restaurant and Brewery, Angelo’s Fairmont Tavern, and the Irish Pub. Each casino also has a plethora of dining options, such as Morton’s Steak House at Caesars, Rainforest Café at Trump Plaza, or Wolfgang Puck at Borgata.
Cycling – Most wouldn’t think of Atlantic City as a place to go cycling, although one of the favourite pastimes of both locals and visitors is to ride along the boardwalk during the times allowed for bikes. There’s also a great bike lane running out of the city along Atlantic Avenue and all the way into Ventnor. A good half-day trip would be to bike out to visit Lucy the Elephant, a somewhat odd large sculpture standing alongside the road that visitors can crawl up into.
Clothing – Band name designers have taken up residence here recently, especially within “The Walk” outlet area outside town. Great bargains can be found at such known names as Calvin Klein, DKNY, and Eddie Bauer. The other shopping area is “The Pier,” with many restaurants and shops such as Guess, Banana Republic, and Kenneth Cole. Each of the casino properties also have their own collection of boutiques.
Chelsea Hotel – This is the first non-gaming hotel built in the city in over 40 years. The bohemian look of the lobby provides the backdrop for this casually upscale property. It’s divided into two sections, the more boutique style “Luxe Tower,” and the standard budget savvy “Annex.” There are two great dining facilities on site, the casual “Teplitzky’s” diner and the 1940’s super club themed “Prime,” where oceanview dining can be found. The 5th Floor C5 lounge and the adjoining Cabana Club pool deck is one of the city’s hottest weekend destinations for the trendy set. Be sure to try their delicious signature Chelsea cocktail, made with vodka, mint, cucumber, and prosecco. To complete the stylish offerings, there’s also a saltwater inspired spa, a fitness centre, complimentary bike use, and a pristine beach with the only full beach service on the boardwalk, providing towels, lounge chairs, and umbrellas exclusively for guests.
I’ll end with a bonus “C” – Culture, with a couple more quirky Atlantic City treats. The Knife and Fork Inn is a strange dining anomaly serving an eclectic American menu within the walls of a historic Flemish architecturally designed building. Also, scattered throughout the city are random war monuments paying homage to fallen heroes, not only American Civil Wars, but Korean, Greek and others as well.
This area has long been a weekend getaway for nearby Philadelphia and New York City residents, and now it’s also within an hour’s reach of Canada as well, with regular non-stop Westjet service from Toronto direct into Atlantic City airport. There’s definitely more to Atlantic City than casinos and carnival-like atmosphere. Now go “C” for yourself!
Bryen Dunn is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto (Canada) specializing in Adventure & Eco-Tourism. He’s willing to take on any challenge: leap over tall buildings, climb the highest mountain, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. For more on Bryen, go to: www.bryendunn.com.