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Atlantic City stands out in the American imagination for its disproportionate impact. For a city that’s only 20 miles long, it rivals Las Vegas (which has 16 times the population) as a fun destination. Its mystique also comes from its references to pop culture — from Boardwalk Empire to the immortalization of the city by Bruce Springsteen on his Nebraska album, Atlantic City was forever cemented as a top destination for a weekend filled with people-watching, casino clamor and the glitz of New Jersey’s exuberant nightlife. Read on to find out what to do on a trip to AC, whether it’s the height of summer or the heart of winter.
WHERE TO STAY
From the Borgata to the Ocean Casino Resort, there’s no shortage of places to drop anchor in Atlantic City, but one place stands out among the rest: the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. This global franchise location was elected the best place for vacationing in AC, and for good reason: the 4 million square foot property, which sits right on the boardwalk with views of the iconic neon-lit Ferris wheel, offers casino games featuring 2,250 machines slots, luxury rooms, 31 spa treatment rooms, and seemingly endless food and drink options. The thing that sets him apart the most? Hard Rock Live at the Etess Arena. Hard Rock’s dedication to music means the 5,500-seat venue regularly hosts major entertainment acts, from artists like Pitbull and Alicia Keys to John Mulaney and Kevin Hart.
WHERE TO EAT
If you find yourself at the Hard Rock, there’s always the brand new Sandpiper Coastal Bar & Grill, which offers a seasonal menu of fresh Northeastern tapas-style dishes and a wide selection of wine and cocktail pairings. artisanal. Or opt for surf & turf at the fine-dining Council Oak Steak and Seafood restaurant. Wharf Oyster House, open since 1897, offers all the fresh seafood you can eat. Elsewhere there is the Knife and Fork Innwhich has been welcoming visitors since its opening in 1912, or the difficult to book At Chef Volawhere classic dishes with red sauce will transport you to another time. Chef Jose Garces the sister restaurants, the Latin-flavoured, seafood-focused Olon and the Japanese-leaning Okatashe are both worth a visit, as is the iconic White House Sub Shop, known for the best hoagies outside of Philadelphia ( with a second location inside the Hard Rock).
WHERE TO DRINK
Unless you’re here to have fun on the summer boardwalk, Atlantic City is synonymous with nightlife. All casinos and hotels have their own watering holes, chic Gypsy Bar at the Borgataat the lowest Harrah’s Lobby Bar. the Firewater Saloon at Tropicana has the kitschy vibe that AC is known for, while the beer garden offers views of the bustling promenade, making it perfect for soaking up the day and evening. the Bungalow beach bar offers the kind of Jersey Shore experience you might be looking for in midsummer, while Cuba Libre has a campy, vintage feel.
WHAT TO DO
When you hear the words “Atlantic City,” the slight click of a slot machine may also tickle your ear. Whether you’re playing craps, roulette, or blackjack, posting at a slot machine with a drink (and a cigarette, if you’re feeling really daring) in your hand, or just watching others win and lose big without risking it all yourself, half the fun of AC is getting dressed up and strutting around the casino floor.
If gambling isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to do – from frolicking on the boardwalk during the summer months, to hitting one of the many luxury spas the town has. Get a facial at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spaor a massage at Rock Spa Salon at Hard Rock. The Exhale Spa + Bathhouse at Ocean Casino Resort features a jet pool, jacuzzi, Himalayan salt cave and lounge area to relax.
Finally, the city’s many venues offer all kinds of entertainment, from the aforementioned Hard Rock Live arena to indie Anchor Rock Club.