Atlantic City, NJ
Atlantic City—or just ”AC”—is a showy highlight of the Jersey Shore, a stretch of beach along southern New Jersey that spans over 200 miles. Visitors head to this East Coast entertainment capital to experience the casinos, shopping and nightlife housed in an eye-catching contrast of historic and modern structures along the famed four-mile boardwalk.
Since its late 19th-century founding, Atlantic City has undergone various states of renaissance and re-invention. Bustling in the 1920s as a popular vacation stop where mobsters ruled and alcohol flowed despite Prohibition, by the mid 20th century the crowds in Atlantic City had thinned, lured by new vacation spots made accessible by highways and automobiles.
Today, proximity to Eastern cities feeling the gas crunch and a re-energized casino environment have much to do with AC’s renewed popularity. Atlantic City’s beaches and varied attractions make its resorts and hotels appealing getaways for tourists, particularly for those in nearby cities like Philadelphia and New York.
Amateur and professional gamblers explore the dozen casinos in Atlantic City around the clock. The gold-faced tower of the popular hotel casino Borgata claims a slew of restaurants and nightclubs, the largest poker room in Atlantic City and a 2,400-seat live performance venue. Jutting along the boardwalk is the hard-to-miss ancient Roman facade of Caesars Atlantic City, with luxury accommodations, an extensive gaming area of 145,000 square feet and the Pier Shops at Caesars. Topping any fashion fan’s list of things to do in Atlantic City, the posh mix of shops, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, are housed in a glass-front cylindrical tower, where a dramatic light, sound and waterworks show is staged hourly. Although shopping is plentiful along the boardwalk and in hotels, visitors can break away and head to Baltic Avenue, where Tanger Outlet Center is located.
Boardwalk Hall, an indoor sporting and live entertainment venue with soaring arched ceilings, is among the historic attractions on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, which bills itself as the longest in the world and is dotted with piers. Garden Pier has been neatly re-crafted in warm-tone wood, with places to linger and observe the beachfront. Located along the pier is the Atlantic City Art Center, a showcase for regional artists, and Atlantic City Historical Museum, which focuses on the city’s colorful past, with exhibits ranging from the Miss America Pageant to Atlantic City’s distinct architecture and the free-wheeling days of Prohibition.
The city that founded and hosted the Miss America Pageant from 1921 until its move to Las Vegas in 2006 still boasts a lively calendar of festivals, happenings and year-round things to do. Atlantic City hosts the Boardwalk Rodeo, the biggest Western rodeo on the East Coast, and the Atlantic City Airshow, an impressive display of aerial maneuvering aptly nicknamed “Thunder Over the Boardwalk.” In spring, brewers and fans of craft beer make their way to the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival to congregate over new and limited-release brews, culinary demonstrations and live musical acts.