atlantic city guide


Image above: “Watching the Bathers, Atlantic City, N. J.” (1908–1909) via the NYPL Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

Today’s Atlantic City Guide comes to us from Shannon O’Neill, a librarian, archivist and native New Jersey-an. Having spent the past 10 years living in New York City and Los Angeles, she recently returned to her roots. Her zine, Get in the Archives, is forthcoming on the Greenpoint, Brooklyn, small press, No Now. And today, she showcases the wonderful delights of the renowned Atlantic City. Shannon has put together an incredibly comprehensive guide to this historic coastal city full of interesting shops, landmarks and even a few famous casinos. Thank you, Shannon, for this wonderful guide! — Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!

For all of its reputations, Atlantic City is a beautiful city by the sea with an incomparable history that begs to be shared. Nestled in the Southern New Jersey coastline, Atlantic City is one hour by train from Philadelphia and two hours by bus from New York City, making it an ideal weekend or day trip for anyone living in or visiting the tri-state area.

Atlantic City is physically an island, and — figuratively — it is something of an island itself. It is solitary and strange: a small town masquerading as a metropolis. It is at once romantic and perverse, vibrant and haunted; there is no place quite like it. While the streets of Atlantic City are familiar to some in the form of a Parker Brothers’ Monopoly board, the stark juxtapositions they present in reality can be disorienting. You may find yourself staring up at the glitter of the Revel Casino, while your back is turned to the emptiness of “Pauline’s Prairie” — a barren tract of land, the product of a failed 1960s urban redevelopment scheme, now used as a makeshift putting green by a handful of retirement-aged men.

At one point in its history, Atlantic City was not so much of an island. It was the “Queen of Resorts.” Incorporated in 1854, Atlantic City was conceived as a place of respite where one would go for fresh saltwater air and healing. This quickly changed upon the creation of a railroad between the city and Philadelphia. Tourism boomed, and the island was transformed from a tranquil retreat to a raucous party. Until the 1960s, Atlantic City was the resort destination in the continental United States. It was cool and cosmopolitan. Irving Berlin summered here; W.C. Fields, Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra first performed in Atlantic City; and it is where Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis united. There were rumrunners, numbers runners and mob hits; diving horses; Miss Americas; and Fannie Lou Hamer’s famed 1964 Democratic National Convention speech.

Then Atlantic City experienced the fate of many American cities in the late 1960s: a declination in industry — in Atlantic City’s case, tourism — and the rise of suburbanization and urban crime. Though Atlantic City is not — and may never again be — the city it once was, she has not lost her charms.

There are gorgeous art deco buildings to explore, miles of pristine beach and Boardwalk, quirky historical sites and some of the most celebrated local cuisine on the East coast. You will find that Atlantic City’s retail landscape offers a different experience than Manhattan’s East Village or Los Angeles’ Silverlake. Sorry, you will not be able to purchase letterpress stationery or Eames-inspired housewares in this city. And though we do not have trendy boutique shops or a thriving gallery scene, we do have a building in the shape of an elephant and the world’s largest pipe organ.

Establishing your bearings in Atlantic City is not difficult since much of the city is laid out in a grid. Nonetheless, to aid you in your travels, here is a customized Google map of all of the locations in this guide: Atlantic City Google Map.

Boardwalk

While the Boardwalk is not a “neighborhood,” per se, it is often called the heart of Atlantic City. First constructed in 1870, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is the world’s longest and was the first of its kind. Grand hotels once lined the Boardwalk. Now casinos stand in their place, composing the city’s skyline. On the Boardwalk, typical resort shops hock Atlantic City-themed souvenirs, and food stands provide all that is greasy, gooey and good.

Boardwalk Hall — Architecture enthusiasts will appreciate this marvel of engineering. Built in 1929, its 137-foot barrel-vault ceiling set precedents for clear-span space construction. In the early 2000s, Boardwalk Hall — formally known as the Atlantic City Convention Center — underwent a restoration and has since been revived as the city’s premiere venue for concerts and events. 2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 348-7000

Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society (ACCHOS) Tour — Philadelphia likes to boast that it has the world’s largest pipe organ when, in fact, it only has the world’s largest functioning pipe organ. Atlantic City’s Midmer-Losh is the world’s actual largest organ with over 33,000 pipes, and you can see each and every one of them — from pinky-sized to 64-foot pipes — on the ACCHOS monthly tour. Be prepared; you truly will see each and every pipe, and the tour, though incredibly fascinating and an amazing back-end view of Boardwalk Hall, can take as long as three hours depending on your tour guide’s pace. Make sure you register for the tour in advance by emailing the organization. 2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ, info@acchos.org

Rolling Chairs — In the early 1900s, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle paid the resort a visit and, upon seeing all of the people riding in rolling chairs, thought he had found himself in “an extraordinary city in which everyone was an invalid.” Riding in a rolling chair was the pinnacle of wealthy leisure-class amusement, and the chairs were so popular that they congested the Boardwalk — at points creating rolling chair gridlock. Though a less ubiquitous and more egalitarian activity than in the early 1900s, traveling by rolling chair is a great way to enjoy a scenic tour of the Boardwalk. Depending on your driver, rates are calculated by the block or the amount of time you ride, and tip is not included. Royal Rolling Chairs, 1601 Boardwalk-Basement, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 347-7500

Steel Pier — While on the Boardwalk, ride a Ferris wheel and daydream that you are Sonora Webster Carver, your diving horse plunging into the ocean from a platform 60-feet in the air. 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-4893

Fralinger’s and James’ — Three words: Salt. Water. Taffy. Atlantic City is the birthplace of this delicious confection, and Fralinger’s and James’ candy stores were its first purveyors. Both shops use original recipes and ingredients and offer vintage reproductions of their candy tins — the 1910 Fralinger’s Mermaid Tin is a favorite. One can also purchase old-timey treats like molasses paddle pops, caramellows and peanut brittle, but a trip to Atlantic City without trying salt water taffy is blasphemous. Fralinger’s — 1325 Boardwalk #1, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-2177; James’ — 1519 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 344-1519

Boardwalk Casinos — Eight — soon to be nine — of the city’s casinos line the Boardwalk: the Hilton, Bally’s, Caesar’s, Resorts, Showboat, Tropicana, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. The city’s newest casino, the Revel, is slated to open in the summer of 2012.

Uptown/Inlet/Marina

These neighborhoods encompass the “Northside” — a historically African American section of the city. While this district once thrived with corner stores, barbershops and nightlife, its physical and cultural landscape has been altered by economic and social turmoil. Don’t let the whole city blocks of razed land fool you; Uptown, the Inlet and the Marina are some of the most culturally rich neighborhoods in the city and deserve a visit.

Absecon Lighthouse — More than 150 years old, the Absecon Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and the third tallest in the United States. By the time you reach the 228th step, your thighs will feel as though they have heartbeats, but the 360-degree view at the top is well worth the next day’s sore muscles. Curiously, due to the island’s artificial growth, the lighthouse stands in the middle of the city, rather than along the coast. 31 S. Rhode Island Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 449-1360

Gardner’s Basin — Once a landing site for the illegal distribution of alcohol, Gardner’s Basin is now a maritime park that offers a small aquarium, boat cruises and fishing excursions, a burgeoning artists’ colony, dining and concerts. Rent a bike from Web Feet Water Sports and peddle yourself around town. The Basin is located next to a functioning commercial fishing fleet and across the water from the Smuggler’s Cove boathouses — many of which were originally owned by rumrunners who built their homes over docks in order to conceal their activities. 800 N. New Hampshire Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 348-2880

Tony Baloney’s — More than just a pizza and sub shop, Tony Baloney’s hosts an annual street festival and pizza-eating contest called Pizza Slaughterfest. If devouring an entire menu’s worth of pizza is not quite your speed, Tony Baloney’s also offers milder — though no less fun — pizza-making classes. 300 Oriental Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 344-8669

Kelsey and Kim’s — This restaurant is the epitome of soul food in Atlantic City. The sheer sight of their baked macaroni and cheese elicits a drooling, Pavlovian response. 201 Melrose Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 317-4215

Gilchrist’s — Atlantic City’s prodigal restaurant is finally coming home. Gilchrist’s left the city in 2007 for a mainland location in neighboring Absecon and is now reopening in Gardner’s Basin. It’s an everyman’s restaurant where you can sit dockside and eat your breakfast next to politicians and fishermen. 804 N. Rhode Island Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ

Borgata’s Restaurants — If you’re more interested in celebrity chefs than everyman restaurants, head across the water to the Borgata Casino Hotel and Spa, and check out Bobby Flay’s Steak, Michael Mina’s Seablue or Wolfgang Puck’s American Grille. 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 317-1000

Marina Casinos — Three of the city’s casinos are located in the Marina district: the Borgata, Harrah’s and the Trump Marina (soon to be reopened as the Golden Nugget).

Midtown

Midtown is Atlantic City’s commercial and civic center. Should you have the urge to indulge in retail therapy, Midtown is your chance to do so.

The Pier Shops at Caesar’s — Atop the Boardwalk’s former Million Dollar Pier, this is Atlantic City’s high-end shopping mall. Betsey Johnson, Scoop NYC, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and others have stores here. One Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-3100

The Walk Outlets — If you’re on a tighter budget, Atlantic City’s outlet shopping offers a nice variety: J.Crew, Brooks Brothers, Clark’s and Lacoste to name a few. 1931 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 872-7002

Farmers’ Market — This might possibly be the world’s smallest farmers’ market. Quantity, however, should not be an indicator of quality. New Jersey grows the finest produce. You will never taste a better tomato, blueberry or cranberry. Local farms on the mainland provide their harvests to the farmers’ market on Thursdays and Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm, from July through October. Atlantic Avenue between North and South Carolina Avenues (Center City Park), Atlantic City, NJ

The Atlantic City Free Public Library — As an information professional, I would be remiss if I did not highlight the city’s library. The library has an exceptional staff, a finely curated selection of DVDs (you’ll be hard-pressed to find many other small public libraries that carry copies of The Exiles), free Wi-Fi, and the city’s best historical resources — the Alfred M. Heston Collection and The Atlantic City Experience. Atlantic County, New Jersey, residents are eligible for free, full memberships to the library. Visitors who reside outside of Atlantic County can apply for cards that will allow them to access the Internet, but not the library’s circulating collections. Additionally, throughout the year, the library offers a number of free events that are open to the public. 1 N. Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-2269

Civil Rights Garden — The Civil Rights Garden is located next to the library’s former home — a Carnegie Library building that opened its doors in 1905. Designed by artist Larry Kirkland, this serene sculpture garden provides a quiet contrast to the distractions of nearby Pacific Avenue. Pacific Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard (behind the Carnegie Library), Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 347-0500

The Irish Pub — A former Prohibition speakeasy, the Irish Pub is a watering hole straight out of another era. You must have a pint here. 164 St. James Place, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 344-9063

Buddakan and The Continental — Stephen Starr’s famed restaurants can be found inside The Pier Shops at Caesar’s. If you’re looking for upscale, modern Asian cuisine or global tapas fare, these restaurants are for you. One Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-3100

Ducktown/Chelsea

Ducktown is Atlantic City’s “Little Italy.” This is somewhat of a misnomer; a large Vietnamese community also represents the neighborhood. Be it Italian or Vietnamese, Ducktown is all about the food. Chelsea, the southernmost neighborhood in Atlantic City, is perhaps one of its most multi-ethnic neighborhoods. Though Chelsea is largely residential, it does have pockets of commercial, culinary and historic sites that are worthwhile.

The Quarter — Tropicana’s Quarter offers more than 30 stores and over 20 restaurants. In the event that the warehouse stock at the Brooks Brothers outlet does not meet your needs, you can visit the store’s second Atlantic City location at The Quarter. And, if you find yourself in the market for an anti-snoring pillow, you can visit the Quarter’s Brookstone. 2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 340-4000

Greek Temple Monument — Created by the Beaux-Arts sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies, this memorial to the fallen soldiers of WWI rests on the far south end of O’Donnell Park. A personal favorite piece of architecture — the Masonic Temple constructed in 1926, turned former headquarters to the Atlantic City Police Department, and now an abandoned building — is on the nearby corner of Ventnor and North Hartford Avenues. Along Albany Avenue in O’Donnell Park, between Pacific and Atlantic Avenues, Atlantic City, NJ

**A brief moment of transparency: Due to dietary constraints, I have not eaten at most of the restaurants I recommend here since my early adulthood. Do not let this lessen your faith in me as your guide. Many of these restaurants have existed since the turn of the century; they have stood the culinary test of time and are legendary.**

Little Saigon — While you can scrap together a vegan/vegetarian meal at most of Atlantic City’s dining establishments, Little Saigon is the only restaurant that offers a separate vegetarian menu. Go for the summer rolls. 2801 Arctic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 347-9119

Knife and Fork Inn — The Knife and Fork Inn first opened its doors in 1912 and was an exclusive men’s club. It is now a bastion of fine dining in the city. Their extensive wine list, sadly, does not promote any of the local Southern New Jersey vineyards, but I’m certain the $945 bottle of ’00 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild will pair excellently with your surf ‘n turf. 3600 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 344-1133

Formica Brothers — Pronounced “For-mee-ka” Brothers, this bakery has been an Atlantic City tradition since 1919. It bakes its famous bread onsite. Wash down your sfogliatelle or cannoli with a cup of Seattle’s Best coffee. 2310 Arctic Ave # 1, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 344-8723

White House Subs — Don’t be intimidated by the line that snakes halfway down the block. It moves quickly. Order an Italian Sub (make sure you don’t call it a grinder or hero; in Atlantic City, we eat subs), and sit beneath photos of the shop’s famous patrons. White House Subs has its bread delivered directly from Formica Brothers, which is literally down the street, so you can expect the freshest, crispiest, most delicious vessel for the already delicious contents of your sandwich. 2301 Arctic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-1564

Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern — I’m fairly certain I once sat at a table next to Nicky Scarfo at Angelo’s. The Mancuso family has been serving locals and tourists its traditional Italian-American dishes from this location since 1935. 2300 Fairmount Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 344-2439

Dock’s Oyster House — Dock’s is Atlantic City’s oldest restaurant. It opened in 1897 and has been operated by the same family — the Dougherty’s — ever since. As its name suggests, Dock’s is most famous for its raw bar with oyster selections from New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida and Prince Edward Island. 2405 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-0092

Chef Vola’s — Tucked in the basement of an unassuming house on one of the city’s tiniest streets, this Italian restaurant is reservations only (which you should make well in advance), cash only and BYOB. When trying to make reservations, your call may go unanswered, or — when you finally do get through to a human being — you may be brusquely questioned, “How do you know about Chef Vola’s?” The food is worth the abuse. Chef Vola’s is frequently noted as Atlantic City’s best restaurant and was awarded a 2011 James Beard Award. 111 S. Albion Place, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 345-2022

Downbeach, Ventnor and Margate

Also located on the island, south of Atlantic City, are Ventnor, Margate and Longport. Much quieter than Atlantic City, these towns have excellent beaches and a more relaxed vibe.

Lucy the Elephant — Who doesn’t love zoomorphic, novelty architecture? Lucy was built in 1900 and was once a summer vacation home and later a tavern. She is now a National Historic Landmark site. Make sure you have the chance to climb to the top of her howdah. One of Lucy’s windows is perhaps the finest example of bawdy Victorian humor I’ve ever experienced, but I’ll leave you to discover which window it is. 9200 Atlantic Avenue, Margate, NJ, (609) 823-6473

Jagielky’s — If salt water taffy does not appeal to you and chocolate is your sugary vice, pay a visit to one of Jagielky’s two locations. Ventnor Store — 5115 Ventnor Avenue, Ventnor, NJ, (609) 823-6501; Margate Store — 8018 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, NJ, (609) 822-2204

NJ Yoga Zone — After you’ve gorged on all of Atlantic City’s delicacies, treat yourself to one of Melissa’s Vinyasa classes. NJ Yoga Zone is a small studio with passionate and inviting instructors. Try your first down dog, reawaken your practice or push your yoga to a new level — NJ Yoga Zone is open to all yogis. Buy a multi-class pass; they never expire! 7809 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, NJ, (609) 822-5800

Sage — Lisa Savage is easily one of the best chefs in New Jersey. I often find that pan-ethnic restaurants lack a strong identity, but Lisa seamlessly blends Mediterranean, Italian, Asian, Spanish and American cuisines in her menu. BYOB. 5206 Atlantic Avenue, Ventnor, NJ, (609) 823-2110

Malelani Cafe — Across the street from Sage is a great place to relax with a cup of Illy coffee. Malelani has free Wi-Fi and a selection of delicious teas. 5205 Atlantic Avenue, Ventnor, NJ, (609) 822-5007

Two Cents Plain — I worked a number of summers here hunched over a sink, scrubbing dried hot fudge off of plates with Sleater-Kinney blaring on the tape player we had in the back. Two Cents is the apotheosis of old-fashioned ice cream parlors. Their ice cream topped waffles (baked fresh) are divine. This shop, like most ice cream stands in the area, is seasonal. 9305 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, NJ, (609) 822-2800

Greater Atlantic City Area

If you traveled to Atlantic City by car, take time to explore the mainland. It’s full of gems.

Delsea Drive-In — About an hour’s drive from Atlantic City, this is New Jersey’s only remaining drive-in theater. Delsea always shows a double feature for $8 and serves veggie burgers at its concession stand. It may also be the only drive-in theater in the world that serves stir-fried asparagus. 2203 S. Delsea Drive, Vineland, NJ, (856) 696-0011

Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center — Surrounded by natural resources like wood, sand and silica, Southern New Jersey was once the glass manufacturing center of the United States. In Millville, New Jersey’s glass-making traditions are kept alive. Watch glass blowing demonstrations or check out the Museum of American Glass — one of the most comprehensive collections of glass folk art. While in Millville, have a vegan lunch at Wildflower Cafe, and peruse the shelves at Bogart’s — a used bookstore and cafe. Wheaton Arts — 1501 Glasstown Road, Millville, NJ, (800) 998-4552; Wildflower — 501 N. High Street, Millville, NJ, (856) 265-7955; Bogart’s — 210 N. High Street, Millville, NJ, (856) 327-3714

Noyes Museum — Just north of Atlantic City, in Oceanville, is the Noyes Museum. This small institution emphasizes New Jersey fine art, crafts and folk art. On your way to the Noyes Museum, stop off at Seafarer Antiques and pick up a turn-of-the-century box compass to help guide you around Southern New Jersey. Noyes Museum — 733 Lily Lake Road, Oceanville, NJ, (609) 652-884; Seafarer — US Highway 9 and Lilly Lake Road, Oceanville, NJ, (609) 652-9491

Blueberry Festivals and Pick-Your-Own Produce — Dueling blueberry capitals of New Jersey, Whitesbog is about an hour due north of Atlantic City, and Hammonton is about 45 minutes northwest. Both cities host annual blueberry festivals. Egg Harbor is home to one of Southern New Jersey’s most famous farms — Butterhof’s. Its roadside market offers a cornucopia of produce. Come pick your pumpkin in the autumn and your strawberries in the spring, get lost in their corn maze or hang out and devour one of their made-on-the-farm pies. Whitesbog Village — 120-34 Whitesbog Road, Browns Mills, NJ, (609) 893-4646; Butterhof’s — 5800 White Horse Pike, Egg Harbor City, NJ, (609) 965-1285 or 609-965-4696

Waldor Orchids — These internationally renowned orchid growers are located in Linwood, 15 minutes south of Atlantic City. Their greenhouses are open to the public Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm. Pick up a couple of their Brassavola Grand Stars. 10 E. Poplar Avenue, Linwood, NJ, (609) 927-4126

Ryan’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor — Also located in Linwood is Ryan’s Barbershop. Your average barber may not be 90% covered in tattoos, but Ryan’s is not average. Fun fact: Ryan’s is located a few doors down from Schoppy’s which has supplied Miss America with her crown since the first pageant in 1921. Come here for the best shave and a haircut in New Jersey. When you are finished, don a Miss America-inspired tiara on your new coiffure. 1051 Shore Road, Linwood, NJ, (609) 365-2492

Toilet Water — This shop is one of the few record stores on the Southern New Jersey shore where you can still buy vinyl. Toilet Water is in Ocean City — another, albeit more family-friendly, island town with a boardwalk. It is 15 to 20 minutes outside of Atlantic City. Toilet Water specializes in independent record labels and Carol, the store’s owner and drummer for Philadelphia pop-punk band Rowsdower, hand selects the merchandise. 642 Asbury Avenue, Ocean City, NJ, (609) 399-1001

Mac and Mancos — If you have never had a slice of Mac and Mancos accompanied by a glass of birch beer soda, then your life is not complete. 758 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ, (609) 399-2548

Bonterra Market — In a sea of Italian meats and shellfish, Bonterra Market is a vegan’s lifejacket. If you plan on staying in the area for a few days and want to stock up on animal-free snacks, Bonterra is your best bet. 3112 Fire Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ, (609) 484-1550

Smitty’s Clam Bar — A local favorite, Smitty’s closes for the winter season, and when it re-opens each May, everyone cheers. The Clam Bar is BYOB, no reservations and a 90-minute wait is not unheard of. Its bayside setting is a nice spot to watch the sunset as you wait for your clam chowder and bucket of littleneck steamers. 910 Bay Avenue, Somers Point, NJ, (609) 927-8783

Athenian Garden — When I lived 3,000 miles away, I desperately tried to recreate the skordalia they serve at Athenian Garden — the area’s best Greek restaurant. It’s impossible. Served with fresh pita, this almond spread is unrivaled. It is also insanely garlicky, so make sure you’re not kissing anyone after dinner. Order the skordalia with the tabouli and melitzanosalata for a perfect trio. 619 S. New York Road, Galloway, NJ, (609) 748-1818

Renault Winery — Founded in 1864, Renault Winery is one of the oldest, continually functioning winemakers in the nation. Take their tour and sample their award-winning wines. 72 N. Bremen Avenue, Egg Harbor City, NJ, (609) 965-2111 extension: 0

Stay

Seaview — This turn-of-the-century resort hotel has played host to Presidents Harding and Eisenhower, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. It’s 8 miles outside of Atlantic City and home to the Red Door Spa. 401 S. New York Road, Galloway, NJ, (800) 205-6518

The Inn at Laurel Bay — A bed and breakfast in Ocean City, the Inn at Laurel Bay is the loving project of the Szabo family. With reasonable summertime rates and a cafe at street level, the Inn at Laurel Bay is a great choice for accommodations in the area. 400 Atlantic Avenue, Ocean City, NJ, (609) 814-1886

Carisbrooke Inn — Another bed and breakfast, Carisbrooke — located in Ventnor — has an awesome ocean-view front deck. If you plan to rely on public transportation in Atlantic City, the Carisbrooke is a good option. Buses run between Ventnor and Atlantic City. 105 S. Little Rock Avenue, Ventnor, NJ, (609) 822-6392

Casinos — Each of Atlantic City’s casinos offers hotel accommodations. If you’re going to stay in a casino, I recommend the Borgata or its sister property, the Water Club. You might prefer a view of the city’s skyline, but I’d suggest asking for a room with views of Atlantic City’s Wind Farm. Borgata Casino Hotel and Spa — 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 317-1000; The Water Club at Borgata — 1 Renaissance Way, Atlantic City, NJ, (609) 317-8888

Camping—Birch Grove Park — If you’ve been watching a lot of Man vs. Wild, and you’re eager to test your newly acquired nature-survival knowledge, but you’re not quite ready to completely cut yourself off from civilization, Birch Grove Park is for you. Birch Grove’s 271 acres of wooded parkland are quiet enough to make you feel as though you are somewhere remote; however, you are really only ever a mile or so away from the nearest major road. Campgrounds are open April 1 through the end of September, annually. 1700 Burton Avenue, Northfield, NJ, (609) 641-3778

Transportation

Getting There — If you are coming from a considerable distance, AirTran (now Southwest) and Spirit Airlines fly in and out of Atlantic City International Airport. New Jersey Transit trains run between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, seven days a week, year round. In the summer season, the Amtrak ACES train runs twice daily, on the weekends, between New York and Atlantic City. You can also conveniently take Greyhound (whose newest buses are equipped for Wi-Fi) from Philadelphia and New York. Additionally, New Jersey Transit bus lines run from all parts of the state into Atlantic City’s bus terminal.

Getting Around — Atlantic City is small; it doesn’t take much time to walk or bike places. If you are traveling without your own car, the city offers two forms of public transportation: the unique Jitney buses and several New Jersey Transit bus routes (501, 502, 504, 505, 507, 508 and 509 are the most common). Taxis in the city are available, but they are not widespread, and they are expensive.

A note on safety: Atlantic City is a walkable city in that it is a mere 11 square miles. Locals are decent and welcoming. Do not be surprised if a complete stranger waves hello or asks you about your day. That being said, after 9 pm, west of the confines of the casinos can be a ghost town, and there are city blocks full of vacant land, boarded-up homes and dilapidated buildings. Travel as you would in any city: don’t leave your valuables in your car and be aware of your surroundings.

Notable Locals

Vera Coking

Celestine Tate Harrington (deceased)

Valerie Solanas (deceased)

Stephen Dunn

Rodney Jerkins

Jack Abramoff

John Henry “Pop” Lloyd (deceased)

Allan Kaprow (deceased)

Rex David “Dave” Thomas (deceased)

Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (deceased)

iris

So glad you put White House Subs on this list! My dad’s family all lives in ‘Lannic City, and my parents still drive the one hour to get hoagies from White House.

TRAVEL DESIGNERY

WOW, LOOK A THAT PHOTO! YOU CAN ALMOST FEEL THE HISTORY THAT LIVES IN THAT PICTURE, AMAZING. I STILL HAVE TO MAKE A TRIP TO ATLANTIC CITY SINCE I’VE NEVER BEEN.. IT’S ONE OF THOSE THINGS I KEEP PUTTING OFF BECAUSE IT’S SO CLOSE TO NYC IN FAVOR OF GOING SOMEWHERE FURTHER. I’LL MAKE IT A POINT TO VISIT THIS SUMMER WITH THIS GUIDE IN HAND.. THANKS!

–LORENA

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courtney

oh my goodness! i absolutely adore your blog and i’m so happy you featured my hometown. i love love love it!

you hit all the right places!

Heather

Love the combo of history with a side of the current Atlantic City. Thanks for the great suggestions!

Emily from Philly

SO very happy that A.C. was profiled on Design*Sponge! I’ve been going there for YEARS and it’s still my favorite destination when heading “down the shore.”

Kathryn

I’ve lived right outside of Atlantic City my whole life, so what a surprise to see it featured on your blog! It was also great to see some of my favorite places on there that I can’t imagine living without – Mac and Manco’s, Smitty’s and Bonterra’s. Another place you should add to your list is Shea’s Cafe in Smithville, just north of the Noyes Museum – the best breakfast around!

tae

thanks! this is an excellent guide, with so many good suggestions for food and sites to visit (and non-casino related sites too!). thanks for including veg food options, that can be so difficult. i did notice, however, that there wasn’t any mention of The Chelsea Hotel (http://thechelsea-ac.com/thehotel.php) as a good place to stay in Atlantic City. my husband and i just stayed there about a month ago and thought it was a really stylish and laid-back boutique hotel. i would definitely recommend it – especially if you want to stay somewhere quieter (it’s the only non-gaming hotel on the boardwalk). we blogged about it here (as well as Lucy the elephant, boardwalk hall, and the Barnegat lighthouse and pier which I would also add to the list of things to do): http://taeandjeff.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/atlantic-city/
http://taeandjeff.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/barnegat-lighthouse/

Norah

You forgot Dino’s Subs! I grew up right in the center of Margate. Jagielky’s is the best chocolate, I recommend the dark-chocolate covered sponges… delish!

NikkiL

When they were accepting donations for the restoration of the Absecon lighthouse they did it in the form of buying a step. You got a little plaque with whatever you wanted it to say and the step number. My favorite, and the most memorable was step 146. It says “Michelle, will you marry me?” Such a great place to get away from the noise of the casinos and the smell of the Jersey shore.

THE CITY SLIPPER

What an intriguing and magical city, cannot wait to visit on my next trip to the east coast (all the way from Melbourne, Australia!) Thank you for this in depth exploration, and love the blog! Cheers.

Julie

Having read this, my decision to put a visit to Atlantic City on the backburner has changed. Here I come Atlantic City! You got me at the beginning when you wrote, “romantic and perverse, vibrant and haunted; there is no place quite like it”

ellemck1

Me and two of my friends went up to Atlantic City for a mini-vacation this past St. Patricks Day. :) We had so much fun walking on the Boardwalk and shopping! I’ll definitely go back there.

Dana

Yay for NJ! So glad to see you included some places for blueberries (Jersey has the best!) and Lucy the elephant.

Borgata also has the Izakaya pub owned by chef Michael Schulson. I can’t wait for my trip to AC this summer so I can go eat some tasty Japanese foods by one of my favorite chefs.

christine

love AC! it’s perfect for a fun girls weekend-i love to go party (pref at borgata- mixx is my favorite) and then during the day go shopping and eat some great meals. like tae said above, i’m surprised there was no mention of the Chelsea Hotel, since it’s the one boutique hotel on the strip. last time we had our girl’s weekend in AC we got brunch there, in the little coffee shop; very cute, it was like you were brought back to a 60s howard johnson’s. lots of fun!

Elaine Hall

Thank you!!!! All the way from Houston, TX!!!!! I have emailed this blog to my husband…I grew up in Brigantine, and met my husband while working at Abe’s which used to be across the “boards” from Steel Pier; after hours, they used to let the penguins out of their exhibits to exercise on the boardwalk !!! We married in Longpoint, (by Mayor Leopardi) and have been in Houston since 1979……but, ooohhhh, I still remember summers on the beach, hangin’ on the Boardwalk at night and pizza, subs and custard ice cream!!!! Thank you for the memories!!!!!!

Jeannie

Wow! What a great article on AC! I live in Avalon, NJ just about 40 miles down the road and I learned so much. What a wonderful resource! Thanks!

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