A weekly column by Catherine Dugan. This week: Road Trip to Atlantic City
If you’re lucky enough to make Cape May your home base, even for a few days, you never want to leave. But if your friends want to deal you in for a road trip to Atlantic City, you may want to ante up, especially when their ace in the hole is an overnight babysitter.
A spontaneous trip to AC is always fun. Take the Garden State Parkway north for an hour or so, and you’ll find yourself in America’s Playground. Atlantic City boasts 11 casinos. Most – the Hilton, Showboat, Tropicana, Caesars, Bally’s, Trump Plaza, and Trump Taj Mahal and Resorts, are located along the boardwalk; follow signs for the marina to find the Borgata, Trump Marina, and Harrah’s. The billboards on the way – or the coupons you got in the mail – will help you choose your destination. Pay five dollars to park and keep the receipt, since you can move your car to another casino without having to pay again.
Lean times mean bargains for gamblers (keep your eyes out for the dollar blackjack tables) and non-gamblers alike (look for special spa rates). Weeknights and early mornings are good times to learn new table games without annoying the more experienced gamblers. Your dealer will advise you to ignore any nasty comments from your tablemates. If they knew it all, they wouldn’t be sitting with you at the five dollar table. You can find quality singers at casino lounges for the price of a cocktail, or visit the House of Blues for some late–night music. If you’re ready to strap on your dancing shoes, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to show off your retro dance moves at Boogie Nights or rock out at the Gypsy Bar.
There are also plenty of places to eat, from fine dining to snacks, but pay attention to closing times, or you’ll go hungry. The drinks are free on the gaming floor, but you want to keep your wits about you if you leave the casinos, especially after dark. Like all cities, Atlantic City has a crime problem, and the boardwalk is just another city street. Don’t flash your winnings, and keep your game face on.
If you’re a fan of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, you can walk in the footsteps of Nucky Thompson (or his real life counterpart, Enoch Johnson). Much has changed, but you can still see some 1920s touches. The Ritz – Nucky’s home – remains, but is no longer a hotel. Check out the boathouses used by rum runners at Gardner’s Basin. The Atlantic City Historical Museum, on New Jersey Avenue, gives you a taste of the city’s Prohibition era, and you can’t beat the price – free.
Roll the dice – take a chance on Atlantic City.
Next week: Tea for Two