Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Atlantic City: Vegas of the East

As you know, I spent my New Years on the shores of Atlantic City, NJ with my good friends Curt and Diana.  On New Years Eve, we met up with 6 other friends and had a fabulous time bringing in the new year.  Since I already documented the drunken happenings of that celebration, I'd like to take some time speaking generally about Atlantic City and what it has to offer.
Source: gamblersdata
Timeframe: As I mentioned in my Las Vegas post, it is always debatable how much time is needed when spending time in a city that boasts gambling as its cornerstone.  However, when it's warmer out, Atlantic City has a bit more to offer than just gambling.  For instance, you can take in the Boardwalk scene, stopping at a myriad of stores, eateries and candy shops.  You can also take in the Steel Pier in front of the Taj Majal.  The Steel Pier, which originally opened up in 1898, was famous in its heydey for showcasing the nation's most famous entertainers.  After a 17 year hiatus, Steel Pier reopened in 1993 and now offers patrons 24 rides, many games, snacks and affordable helicopter rides.  If you're also brave enough to bear the cold Atlantic Ocean, you can also of course take in the beach itself.  If without a beach chair, the city's website indicates that there are a number of stands offering daily chair rentals.

To be fair, I should warn you all to stay in the more busy/populated areas of the Boardwalk, because it has some more seedy, run-down areas that should be avoided.
Source: curlybearproductions
Flight options: Atlantic City is home to a small airport (code ACY).  There are only a few well-known airlines that serve the airport, namely AirTran and Spirit.  Spirit actually offers a non-stop flight from Boston to Atlantic City at reasonably priced fares.  In fact, I actually just saw a fare on Bing for $85 round-trip.  The airport offers parking for $1 per hour ($13 max) and is about a 20 minute drive to the casinos.  For more flight options, you could also choose to fly into Philadelphia airport and make the one-hour drive to Atlantic City.  Newark airport is about a two-hour drive.

Hotel options: There are a variety of casino/resorts in which to stay in Atlantic City, including Bally's, Caesars, Showboat, Tropicana, Trump Taj Majal, Trump Marina, Trump Plaza, Harrah's and the Borgata.  The general consensus seems to be that the most updated hotels are Harrah's and the Borgata. As I told you in the NYE post, our friends Curt and Diana were able to score the most amazing deal ever for us at Harrah's for the weekend.

    Source: flickr
    Harrah's atrium on the way to the front desk
    To remind you all, our room in Bayview tower was clean and spacious, especially considering the price! The highlight for me was the large bathroom which had both a standing shower and large whirlpool bathtub.
    Having spent our first night celebrating the new year at Harrah's, we were eager to venture out to a new spot on our second night.  Since Curt and Diana think so highly of the Borgata, we happily jumped in the car and made the 5 minute drive.
    Source: theatlanticcitycasinos
    Borgata lobby
    Our plan was to grab dinner and do some gambling, but we took our time reveling in all of the ornate displays.  It is definitely the nicest casino I've walked through in the city.  They had a great winter display which I believe they update with each season.
    Restaurants: There are a number of restaurants in all of the casinos I mentioned above.  Curt and Diana spoke highly of a number of restaurants at the Tropicana.  They also mentioned that McCormick and Schmick's was great for seafood. On this occasion and being in the mood for some asian fusion, our radar was permanently set on eating at izakaya at the Borgata.
    The restaurant was dimly light and highlighted a number of sexy geishas throughout.  I thought it was a really cool vibe.
    We ordered a number of small plates, including edamame, kobe beef fried rice, chicken robatayaki and a few choice specialty maki rolls.

    Nightlife: Each of the casinos boast nightclubs that (at least on the internet surface) seem to be popular.  I can attest first hand that the Pool After Dark at Harrah's is a great time.  Other popular clubs include mur.mur at the Borgata, Game On! & dusk at Caesars and Casbah at the Taj Majal.

    Overall, if you're looking for a getaway that isn't overly expensive and you do not have expectations for a 5-star resort, I would recommend spending a weekend in Atlantic City sometime.  Stay at the Borgata or Harrah's, enjoy good food & drink, take in the spa, do some gambling and check out the Boardwalk with friends in good weather.  Having been to Vegas, I would still rank the debauchery there as more fun, but Atlantic City is definitely better than its occasional reputation as its ugly step sister of the East.


    1. I wouldn't mind a walk on that beach followed up with that plate of sushi right about now....

    2. ha im with kristen. i was just staring at the beach pic for a long while. :) mmmm beach and sushi, where you at summer

    3. For sushi lovers, stay at that beautiful beaches then enjoy the night at clubs and casino in Atlantic City.