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Atlantic City, NJ: The ultimate guide to the Boardwalk and beyond

Atlantic City, NJ, is back on its feet and open for business post-Sandy. Discover the best places on and off the Boardwalk to eat, shop, play and get pampered.

Photograph: Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority
Atlantic City

Take a walk (or a ride in one of the iconic rolling chairs) along the famous four-mile-long seaside promenade in Atlantic City, NJ, and you’ll be partaking in a tradition that goes back to 1870, when America’s first boardwalk was a mere eight-foot-wide strip that was dismantled at the end of each season. Since then, the Boardwalk has been the subject of songs, starred in movies, lent a stage to showbiz legends, beauty queens, high-diving horses and boxing cats, and houses the most expensive property on the Monopoly board (designed by an out-of-work salesman with fond vacation memories).

After the Camden and Atlantic Railroad was built in the mid-19th century and grand hotels sprang up along the seafront, hordes of visitors arrived in “America’s Playground” for its beach, sophisticated entertainment, quirky attractions and undercurrent of sin. Though A.C. has suffered a few turns of fortune over the past century and a half, the old excitement is back. A new generation of casino-hotels offer not just gaming, but a dizzying range of diversions, from early-morning yoga to late-night burlesque. Whether you want glitz or kitsch, it’s all packed into just under 12 square miles. Get some five-star R&R at a luxurious spa, dine at restaurants helmed by some of the country’s top chefs and take in a world-class show (everyone from Ol’ Blue Eyes to Beyoncé has played here). Or head inland for a steak at one of Nucky’s old hangouts, and save a bundle on holiday shopping at the city’s outlet stores. With apologies to Boardwalk Empire’s Senator Edge: You can expect to have everything.

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40 things to do in Atlantic City, NJ, this summer

From early-morning yoga to late-night pool parties, with surfing, wine tasting and shopping in between, activities in Atlantic City, NJ, go far beyond gaming. Atlantic City, NJ, is back in action for the season. The recently revamped Steel Pier is debuting eight new rides, and public art has arrived on the Boardwalk. The calendar of events includes the World Championship of Sand Sculpting, the Atlantic City Offshore Grand Prix and the Atlantic City Airshow in June and the return of Miss America in September. Or perhaps you'd prefer a more hedonistic getaway, dining at the best Atlantic City restaurants and chilling out in one of the best spas? Of course, you've got to try your luck at least once while you're in town—consult our Atlantic City casino guide for ten prime places to play.RECOMMENDED: The full guide to Atlantic City, NJ 1. Get a seagull’s-eye view of the skyline Climb the 228 steps to the top of New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse (the third tallest in the U.S.) for a 360-degree view of the Atlantic City skyline. Below the restored 1857 Absecon Lighthouse, a reproduction of the 1925 keeper’s house contains antique photographs and memorabilia. 31 S Rhode Island Ave between Atlantic and Pacific Aves (609-449-1360, abseconlighthouse
.org). Mon, Thu–Sun 11am–4pm; $7, seniors $5, children $4. 2. Meet Mr. Peanut at the Atlantic City Historical Museum Located on the 1913 Garden Pier, this repository of A.C. history emerged from Sandy largely unscathed and is expected to reo

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Buses to Atlantic City from NYC and other transport options

From affordable buses to Atlantic City to stretch limos, here are the best ways to get to the Jersey Shore destination. Though the railway was key to the resort town’s early development, there is no longer a direct train connecting NYC to Atlantic City. Buses to Atlantic City are plentiful and the trip takes about two hours by road. Once in A.C., the Jitney ($2.25; jitneyac.com) is the best way to get around town.Academy Bus Academy runs the most extensive service from NYC, operating multiple lines that depart from Port Authority and three additional locations. The coaches whisk you to almost every major casino in Atlantic City, and each one offers bonus packages to Academy customers, such as $25 in slot machine credits or food vouchers. 800-442-7272, academybus.com. See website for schedule, stops and destinations. Round trip $36.Greyhound Lucky Streak Greyhound provides service to eight A.C. casinos from Manhattan and Brooklyn, and offers bonus deals similar to those offered by Academy. 800-231-2222, luckystreakbus.com. Round trip $37–$40.Hampton Luxury Liner Hampton’s once-a-day bus originates in Long Island, makes a stop in Queens Village, and finally departs Manhattan from Broadway and 45th Street at 10:25am, bound for Resorts and Borgata. Along the way, riders enjoy lavish amenities like movies shown on five flatscreen TVs, reclining leather seats, free Wi-Fi and a snack bar. 631-537-5800, hamptonluxuryliner.com. Round trip $45–$60.Limo to Atlantic City This limous

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Atlantic City hotels: Where to stay in the Jersey Shore resort

Atlantic City Hotels range from glitzy everything-under-one-roof complexes to chic boutique hotels. Here’s where to get a room. No, you don’t have to sleep during a weekend getaway to this casino hub on the Jersey Shore, but these Atlantic City hotels offer enough restaurants, clubs, bars, pools and shopping to make checking in worth your while. Whether you’re looking for a bargain room or a swank suite, there’s a resort to suit your budget and taste. The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel Though the Atlantic Club is on the budget end of the Boardwalk’s accommodations, it has such luxurious amenities as a health spa and an indoor pool. A range of packages offer value for money—the Room and Food Package ($70/night) includes $25 dining credit and access to the spa (usually $15), which has a sauna, steam room and gym. Boston Ave at Boardwalk (609-347-7111, atlanticclubcasino.com). Rooms start at $59/night.Bally’s If you remember your Monopoly geography, you know that the corner of Park Place and Boardwalk is a pretty swanky address, but this resort aims to offer guests a good deal. Classic rooms in the 1930 Claridge Tower start at less than $50. Affordable grub is also on the menu; hotel guests can chow down at the Reserve, a seafood and steak restaurant, for just $39 for a four-course meal, including lobster bisque and prime rib. 1900 Pacific Ave at S Ohio Ave (609-340-2000, ballysac.com). Rooms start at $41/night.Borgata From its custom-made mattresses, topped with 300-thread-co

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Best spas in Atlantic City: The prime pampering spots

The best spas in Atlantic City are luxurious havens, complete with pools, steam rooms and indulgent treatments. Relax before an evening out or recover from the night before at one of the best spas in Atlantic City. Indulge in a decadent treatment or just lounge in the Jacuzzi or steam room—you could easily spend a full day in these choice sanctuaries, whether solo, as a couple or en masse. Bask Spa at RevelExhale Mind Body Spa, which has 18 locations across the country and one in Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean, is behind Revel’s sprawling health and relaxation complex. While there are separate whirlpool baths and steam rooms for each gender, men and women can mingle in the 3,000-square-foot contemporary take on a classical bathhouse, equipped with hydrotherapy pools and a healing salt room. If Exhale’s signature body-blitzing Core Fusion and yoga classes sound like too much effort, let someone else do the work. Book a massage, facial or a results-driven therapy, such as the Acu-Organ Detox ($165); the spa claims that it releases toxins, improves organ function and boosts energy through a combination of acupuncture and abdominal massage. Indulge in: Exhale’s signature Flow Massage ($165) gets in deep to ease tension using a “wave” technique that is less painful than standard deep-tissue massage and incorporates detoxifying lymphatic drainage.Immersion Spa at the Water ClubBorgata’s chic nongaming hotel annex is aptly named: The Water Club has five pools, including a l

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Holiday shopping in A.C.: From discount toys to designer gear

Save on holiday shopping at Atlantic City’s outlet mecca or offload some of your winnings on a designer spree (clothing is tax-free). Why should a New Yorker shop in A.C.? The answer is 8.875 percent. There’s no sales tax on clothing and most shoes in New Jersey, which means you’ll save even more cash at Tanger Outlets–The Walk (800-405-9555, tangeroutlet.com/atlanticcity). The collection of 100 outlet stores, spread over nine city blocks just north of the Boardwalk and bordered by Atlantic, Baltic, Ohio and Mississipi Avenues, offers discounts of up to 70 percent. Stop into Coach’s separate stores for men and women for deals on bags, wallets and shoes, then snag basics and trendier gear at Gap, Banana Republic, DKNY, H&M and J. Crew. The complex also offers a parade of sneakers by Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok and Converse. If you have kids on your holiday shopping list, save yourself a manic trip to Times Square (as well as dollars) at the Toys “R” Us outlet, and stock up on cut-price truffles at Lindt.For more upscale splurges, hit The Pier Shops at Caesars (609-345-3100, thepiershopsatcaesars.com), a three-level mall opposite the casino on the former Young’s Million Dollar Pier, with the fabulous address 1 Atlantic Ocean. Spend your winnings at Scoop, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Apple, or pick up an A.C.-specific piece of art at Oh My Godard Gallery (609-441-2040), which sells works by Jim and Kathleen Keifer, the official Monopoly fine artists. A 12-by-20

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Best Atlantic City restaurants: Where the locals eat

The best Atlantic City restaurants aren’t only found in big hotels. A.C. has several historic eateries in addition to an array of top-toque talent. Traditionally known for Italian food, Atlantic City offers wildly eclectic dining options, from well-known chain eateries to celebrity-chef destinations powered by the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Marc Forgione and Geoffrey Zakarian. In the casino resorts, you can nosh on everything from tacos and burgers to prime rib and lobster. It’s also worth heading to the Downbeach communities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport for spots the locals love. Angelo’s Fairmount TavernLocated in the Italian district once known as “Ducktown” because of the livestock-keeping practices of its residents, this clubby haven serves prodigious portions of peasant food to local bigwigs. Founded in 1935, the institution has consistently offered quality marinara, clam and meat sauces. Also popular is the Steak Angelo, an homage to the late family patriarch who held court here for decades; it’s a Sicilian-style pan-seared 16-ounce New York sirloin, served with roasted peppers, black olives and artichoke hearts in balsamic sauce. 2300 Fairmount Ave at N Mississipi Ave (609-344-2439, angelosfairmounttavern.com)Azure by AllegrettiNYC-based chef Alain Allegretti’s A.C. outpost is a stark white masterpiece fronting the blue Atlantic. Azure represents guilt-free indulgence at its most elevated. The healthful, seashore-inspired creations are derived from

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Atlantic City casino guide: Ten great places to play

Which Atlantic City casino is right for you? Find the best place to try your luck, no matter what your game. Even if you’ve just come to town off the back of season three of Boardwalk Empire, you’ll want to roll the metaphorical dice at least once. Whether you’re a high roller or slots are more your speed, there’s an Atlantic City casino to suit your gaming needs. Poker players will want to check out the Borgata, those with a fistful of pennies should hunker down at the Atlantic Club and social butterflies should pal up to the stylish new kid on the block, Revel.The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel This affordable spot favors low-limit denominations—70 percent of its slot machines are penny slots—but it doesn’t skimp on comfort. In May, the hotel debuted a new casino floor featuring ergonomic, adjustable chairs in the slot-machine and table-game areas. Borgata Sure, it’s got 3,475 slot machines and 180-plus game tables, but serious players come here with one thing on their minds: poker. The 85-table poker room (the biggest in Atlantic City) hosts daily tournaments, with buy-ins as little as $40 and pots as big as $30,000.Caesars Atlantic City Slots give poker a run for its money as the  most popular game here. But the casino is home to World Series of Poker circuit events and to Three Card Poker Six Card Bonus, a nontraditional table game that is popular for its low minimums and high payouts (Caesars has toasted two $1 million winners already). The 145,000-square-foot casino

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Atlantic City visitors guide: Historic sites and new art

Take a stroll along the Boardwalk to discover the resort town’s colorful past—and its vibrant, art-filled future—with our visitors guide to Atlantic City. Though the casino-hotels have more than enough diversions to keep you occupied, it’s worth venturing out to take in the expansive ocean views and historic sights. On the Boardwalk, you can catch a glimpse of the first phase of a major public art project that officially debuts in the spring. Absecon LighthouseSkip a trip to your hotel gym and climb the 228 steps to the top of New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse (the third tallest in the U.S.) for a 360-degree view of the A.C. skyline. Below the restored 1857 structure, a reproduction of the 1925 keeper’s house contains antique photographs and memorabilia. 31 S Rhode Island Ave between Atlantic and Pacific Aves (609-449-1360, abseconlighthouse.org). Mon, Thu–Sun 11am–4pm; $7, seniors $5, children $4.Atlantic City Historical MuseumLocated on the recently restored 1913 Garden Pier, this repository of A.C. history reopened in August under the auspices of the Atlantic City Free Public Library. Displays are devoted to the real-life Nucky (corrupt political boss Enoch Johnson), the Miss America pageant, which made its debut as a local beauty contest in 1921, and Mr. Peanut—a dapper, top-hatted presence outside the now-defunct Planters store on the boardwalk for roughly four decades. A 35-minute film charts the rise, fall and resurrection of Atlantic City, from wholesome seaside r

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Atlantic City club and nightlife guide: After-dark hot spots

Ever since the days when the Rat Pack ruled the Atlantic City club scene, the resort town has been known for nightlife. Here’s where to find the action. When the sun goes down, the scene heats up at The Pool After Dark, the aquatic party playground at Harrah’s Resort (609-441-5233, harrahsresort.com/poolafterdark; Wed, Fri, Sat 10pm–4am). Atlantic City Weekly recently sent a slew of superlatives the Pool’s way, including Best Dance Club, Best Place to Pick Up a One-Night Stand and Best Club to Fist Pump. That final triumph could have a little something to do with the resident DJ: Jersey Shore alum Pauly D. Up the VIP ante by reserving a poolside table, cabana or private hot tub, with premium bottle service provided by bikini-clad waitresses. When it comes to options, Borgata offers a veritable smorgasbord of unique nightlife experiences,  from a rock & roll tequila bar to a swanky ultra lounge. For dance floor-seekers, there’s MIXX (Sat, Sun 10pm–4am or later), a high-energy bi-level nightclub that has attracted the likes of Rihanna and Cee Lo Green. Behind it is the more intimate—but in no way low-key—mur.mur (Fri, Sat, Mon 10pm–4am or later), which features 30 bottle-service tables and a VIP area smack-dab in the middle of the dance floor. A.C.’s newest player, HQ Nightclub, located in a stand-alone structure at Revel (Thu–Sun 10pm–4am; 609-345-2211, revelnightlife.com) offers two levels of party space and  commands sweeping ocean views. With its ongoing lineup of int

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