Take a typical Jersey Shore beach vacation -- complete with boardwalk and souvenir shops -- throw in a little Las Vegas, and you have Atlantic City, N.J. Since the legalization of gambling in the city in the late 1970s, Atlantic City (or just AC) has attracted visitors who mostly want to try their luck at the tables and sometimes want to lounge on the beach. New luxury hotels, hopping nightclubs and upscale shops are spiffing up ... continue»
See the Best Hotels in Atlantic City»
The best time to visit Atlantic City is either from March to May or from June to August. Although a nice breeze blows through AC in the summer, the days are defined by humidity with average highs in the low 80s. Temperatures drop in the evenings, so bring a sweater or jacket, especially if you're going to enjoy AC's nightlife. Spring and fall see milder weather, while temperatures can dip below freezing during the winter. If you're more interested in the casinos, you'll find that any point in the year is worth the trip. Most offer discounts and other perks year-round to attract new guests and repeat visitors.Best Times to Visit Atlantic City»
Atlantic City Neighborhoods
Those of you who've played Monopoly will surely recognize AC's streets. Across from Bally's Casino you'll find board-game favorites, Park Place and the Boardwalk. Pacific and Atlantic avenues are the major roads into the city and intersect streets with state names like Pennsylvania and Connecticut avenues. Most of the city's activity is centered on the four-mile Atlantic City Boardwalk, which is lined with attractions, casinos and nightclubs.
Jutting off the main Boardwalk are several different piers with separate attractions. Steel Pier is a historic amusement pier and features carnival games and rides, located in front of the Trump Taj Mahal. Located next to Showboat Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, Garden Pier houses the city's cultural attractions like the Atlantic City Art Center and the Atlantic City Historical Museum.
Overlooking the Absecon Inlet in the north end of Atlantic City is Absecon Lighthouse. The tallest lighthouse in New Jersey boasts 200-plus steps to reach the top's fantastic view.
Some visitors leave the immediate area to see Lucy the Elephant in Margate City. The town's 90-ton "Lucy" is a six-story zoomorphic building where visitors can snap pictures, tour her insides or climb to the top for a view of her surroundings.
Casinos on the Boardwalk Strip
Casinos along the Boardwalk strip include Bally's Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and Tropicana Casino & Resort. The casinos -- and especially their showrooms -- are where Atlantic City's nightlife is centered. Headlining musicians, dancers and comedians perform here regularly.
Showboat Atlantic City
Located at the Boardwalk's northern end is the Mardi Gras-themed Showboat Atlantic City. Look no further than this casino if you like a jazz soundtrack, not Top 40s.
Trump Taj Mahal
On the Boardwalk and off Virginia Avenue is Donald Trump's Trump Taj Mahal, complete with a South Asian theme (including an elephant statue). The Taj Mahal is one of the most popular casinos in the city, complete with bustling poker tables and noteworthy dance clubs.
Resorts Atlantic City
A block south of the Taj is Resorts Atlantic City, the city's first casino conveniently located near the shopping outlets and the 1100 block of the Boardwalk at Pennsylvania Avenue. After a recent renovation, it's still colorful and casual but it also sports new sleek interiors. However, some recent visitors lament the food options and room availability here.
Caesars Atlantic City
South of Resorts is Caesars. The ritzy and gaudy property (a replica of Michelangelo's David sits in the middle of the casino floor) regularly attracts performers like Jimmy Buffett. Caesars is one of the more high-stakes casinos, but experts note it often offers promotions for its regular patrons.
Bally's Atlantic City
Next to Caesars is Bally's Atlantic City, which sits at the intersection of Park Place and the Boardwalk. It's actually home to many casinos and more than 10 restaurants, as well as a couple bars. The Wild Wild West Casino is the most popular spot here.
Located off Mississippi Avenue, Trump Plaza is described as less lavish (and less gaudy) than some of its counterparts. Writers say it is more accessible to a larger range of visitors since it also has some lower-stakes tables.
A little south along the Boardwalk from Trump Plaza is the Tropicana. Since being recently renovated, the laid-back property has been spruced up with a new shopping center and an IMAX theater. In addition to some great poker tables, the Tropicana also features family-friendly dining options.
Atlantic City Hilton
At the southern part of the Boardwalk is the Atlantic City Hilton, which prides itself on being quieter and less gaudy than other AC casinos. Writers say it is one of the most family-friendly casino hotels and affords some great views of the water, as well as a beach bar.
Casinos off the Boardwalk Strip
North of the Boardwalk are another collection of casinos that tend to attract a younger demographic.
Harrah's is located near the Farley State Marina, north of the Boardwalk. This casino is best known for its slot machines, but it also features several restaurants and a theater.
Trump Marina Hotel Casino
Writers say this Trump property is geared to the younger crowd. Sitting right next to Harrah's in the marina, you can arrive here by yacht and dance to Top-40s tunes all night.
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Also nearby the Farley State Marina is the Borgata, one of the hottest and most popular properties in the city (and the most recent addition). The huge casino has plenty of tables and slot machines, plus trendy restaurants that lure in younger visitors.
Although the main areas of Atlantic City are generally safe, the city can get somewhat seedy at night. You should always have common sense both on the streets and in the casinos. Never walk alone after dark, and keep your valuables close. If you are unsure of where you are going, it may be a good idea to take a cab.
Be sure to take care of your belongings at the beach. The city has more than its fair share of unsavory characters that wander the shores and piers.
Security is typically very tight within the casinos themselves. That said though, the main concern is theft and pick-pocketing. Again, writers say to use common sense and not to be flashy and keep a close eye on purses and slot tickets.
The best way to get around in Atlantic City is with your own two feet -- most attractions are within walking distance. If you're worn out from walking, you can hop on the AC's Jitney minibuses or be pushed along the Boardwalk in a shaded rolling chair. Cars are convenient in Atlantic City as well, especially if you'll be traveling beyond the city limits. Rental agencies have offices in both of the nearby airports; the Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) is about 15 miles from downtown AC while the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is an hour's drive by car or bus.Getting Around Atlantic City»