While Las Vegas may be the self-proclaimed Entertainment Capital Of The World, the idea of getting into an airplane to enjoy the adult delights that this mecca provides can seem like too much work to many East Coasters. In 1853, the first hotels in a rapidly developing beach resort known as Atlantic City opened, taking advantage of some of the choicest beachfront property on the Jersey Shore.
While this means that this town existed well before Vegas broke ground, much of Atlantic City’s current appeal and reputation stems from it being the eastern alternative to the former adult paradise. This started to come into being with the imposition of Prohibition in the 1920’s, as countless speakeasies quenched the thirst of countless city-folk from both Philadelphia and New York City.
By the time it was lifted, this beachside haven’s reputation was firmly established, and when Atlantic City’s fortunes began to flag in the middle portions of the 1900’s, the approval of legalized casino gambling brought it back from near death, completing its transition into the de facto Vegas of the East.
Like the city it mirrors, Atlantic City has much more to it than poker tables and slot machines; there is a full slate of activities one can pursue here, all within easy reach of two massive megalopolises to its north and south.
Don’t rely on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as your source for the backstory of this long time Jersey beach resort. Instead, drop by the Atlantic City Historical Museum, which will fill you in on the story of this burg’s colorful characters and businesses, including the real facts behind the reign of Nucky Johnson over Atlantic City’s political and business community, who is the central character in the aforementioned television series.
Other features here include factoids on the Monopoly board game, which was based on the streets and real estate of Atlantic City, and the rise of the brand of Mr. Peanut, which was created and sold on the Boardwalk for 40 years before eventually going worldwide.
One fixture that unites and binds coastal communities together are lighthouses, which warn sailors of shoals, reefs, and land that may not be apparent at night. Atlantic City’s Absecon Lighthouse is a particularly special specimen, as it is the third tallest of its kind in the United States. Inside this 150+ year old structure, one can find memorabilia from a bygone era, as well as some of the best views of the Atlantic City skyline that can be found in the area.
As this East Coast resort’s mojo has returned, so have a flood of A-list entertainers. While many do shows at this cities’ casinos, many more pack in the crowds at Boardwalk Hall, a concert venue that will see performers and events as diverse as KISS, Cirque De Soleil, and the Miss America Pageant on its stage through the remainder of 2014.
A visit to Atlantic City isn’t official until you have set foot on The Boardwalk, a promenade that has served as the social locus for this seaside community for generations. Along its length, the Steel Pier (an amusement park set over one thousand feet of water, with rides, restaurants and more) will thrill you with its daring rides, sampling its trademark saltwater taffy will likely give your dentist fits, but will leave your tastebuds in a better place, and for those sticking around after park, its critically acclaimed 3D Sound and Light show will dazzle you with the latest in surround sound and video projection magic.
Need to turn over your wardrobe, but unwilling to pay extortionate rates to do so? While the cost of new clothing can add up quickly, Tanger Outlets offers heavy discounts on brand name wear as a direct from factory set of retailers. Tilting the balance even more in your favor is the fact that New Jersey does not tax most forms of clothing, so if your running short on wearable underwear, wait until you come here to stock up!
Finally, this article would not be complete without mentioning the elephant in the room – the fact that Atlantic City is packed with casinos from end to end. Among them, the more famous ones are the Taj Mahal, built by none other than the world famous real estate mogul Donald Trump, and the Borgata, host to one of the most prestigious poker tournaments in America outside the WSOP, the $3 million dollar guaranteed Borgata Poker Open, as well as some of the best cash games in the city.
If gambling doesn’t interest you, you’ll probably still spend a fair amount of time in these casinos, as many of best restaurants, nightclubs, and concert venues in Atlantic City can also be found here.