Atlantic City Getaway: 8 Things to Do

Detail of a slot machine. Kerwin Siy
By Lauren McCutcheon

If you live between Philly and New York, no doubt you've at least once believed that a midnight road trip to A.C. was an absolutely brilliant idea. And why not? New Jersey's own Vegas-by-the-sea is one big neon-lit, adults-only, all-night party (sort of). And if the casinos don't take your money, the shopping, spas, and steakhouses will. Beach? What beach?

Here are eight of our favorite stops in the city and nearby.

Photo Caption: Detail of a slot machine.
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The Atlantic City Boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants, food stands, casinos and more. Photo courtesy Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
Once a fashionable seaside pedestrian thoroughfare, A.C.'s wooden 4-mile Boardwalk has taken a decades-long turn for the seedy, with little to recommend but a view of the Atlantic, a ride in a rolling chair, and salt water taffy -- for that, go to historic Fralinger's (Park Place and the Boardwalk; tel. 609/344-0758; www.fralingers.com), preserved in Bally's.

Photo Caption: Looking south along Atlantic City's boardwalk
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Sun Deck of Pier Shops at Caesars, Atlantic City. Stinkie Pinkie
This glamorously rehabbed pier stretches from Caesars Palace out into the Atlantic via high-end shops -- Gucci, Judith Ripka, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Scoop -- usual mall suspects -- Banana Republic, Juicy Couture, Kenneth Cole -- and clever shopping surprises -- a very Willy Wonka candy store, a Starbucks with an ocean view -- that terminate in a fountain-and-music-show that occurs every half hour. Restaurants and bars fill the third floor: chic Asian-fusion, retro-fun dining, a big wine bar and bistro, basic seafoodery, a mammoth sports bar, and a nearly cozy Irish pub.

Where: 1 Atlantic Ocean (btw. Arkansas & Missouri aves.)

More Info: tel. 609/345-3100; www.thepiershopsatcaesars.com. hours vary; shops generally open from 11am-8pm.

Photo Caption: Sun Deck of Pier Shops at Caesars, Atlantic City. Photo by Stinkie Pinkie/Flickr.com.
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The Quarter at Tropicana, Atlantic City. Photo courtesy Tropicana Casino & Resort Tropicana Casino & Resort
Before Caesars had the Pier, the Trop had the Quarter, a vaguely Havana-themed indoor mall with a big Irish pub, even bigger Cuban restaurant and dance club, a little karaoke bar, an IMAX movie theater, and a chic spa.

Where: 2801 Pacific Ave. (at Iowa Ave.)

More Info: tel. 800/843-8767; www.tropicana.net. Hours vary.

Photo Caption: The Quarter at Tropicana, Atlantic City. Photo courtesy Tropicana Casino & Resort
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Inside the White House Sub Shop, Atlantic City. Paul Lowry
A local institution, known for its bread (baked across the street at Formica Bros.), cheesesteaks, tuna hoagies, celebrity visits, fast pace, and line out the door.

Where: 2301 Arctic Ave. (at Mississippi Ave.)

More Info: tel. 609/345-1564.

Photo Caption: Inside the White House Sub Shop, Atlantic City. Photo by Paul Lowry/Flickr.com.
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AC Outlets - The Walk offers fabulous shopping all year long. Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
A discount strip mall with off-price outlets for Nike, Coach, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, and the Gap. They're just a couple of blocks away from the Boardwalk (behind Caesars), close to the train station and the bus depot. Shopping is obviously the attraction here, but if you prefer beer to bargains, head to the big brewpub the Tun Tavern.

Where: Atlantic Ave. to Bacharach Blvd., Arkansas to Indiana aves.

More Info: tel. 609/ 872-7002; www.acoutlets.com. Daily Jan 2-Mar 8 10am-7pm; Mar 9-May 31 10am-8pm; Jun 1-Sept 10 9am-9pm, Sept 11-Jan 1 10am-8pm.

Photo Caption: AC Outlets-The Walk offers fabulous shopping all year long. Photo courtesy Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
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The Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse and the third tallest lighthouse in the United States. Photo Courtesy Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau. Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
One of A.C.'s rare seashore attractions is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse. Climb all 228 steps, watch gulls circle overhead, and see clear to England. Sort of.

Where: 31 Rhode Island Ave. (at Pacific Ave.)

More Info: tel. 609/449-1360; www.abseconlighthouse.org. Admission $7 adults, $4 children. Sept-June Thurs-Mon 11am-4pm; July-Aug daily 10am-5pm.

Photo Caption: The Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse and the third tallest lighthouse in the United States. Photo Courtesy Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and The Water Club. Photo Courtesy Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau. Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
This golden bayside property most closely resembles what casinos advertise themselves to be: glamorous, flashy, and fun. Decked out in Dale Chihuly chandeliers (unfortunately), sequined-dressed nightclub-goers, and restaurants from Michael Mina, Bobby Flay, and Wolfgang Puck, the Borgata attracts its fair share of torpid slots players, but it's got the most high rollers in town, too. The gaming floor seems to be recession-proof, with an overflowing poker room and plenty of blackjack tables (though very few $5-limit ones). Hotel rooms here aren't cheap, but they're pretty and clean and splurge-worthy, as is a day at Immersion, the elevated spa in the Water Club, the newer tower.

Where: 1 Borgata Way (Exit 1 from Expressway)

More Info: tel. 888/692-6742 or 609/317-1000; www.theborgata.com. Open 24 hours a day.

Photo Caption: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and The Water Club. Photo Courtesy Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Lucy the Elephant is a treat for both children and adults alike. Enjoy a tour inside Lucy or stop in the gift shop for those must-have souvenir treasures. Courtesy of Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
Before you skip town, head south about 5 miles to see Lucy, a circa-1882, six-story, wooden, "elephantine colossus" folly, now a museum, playground, and great photo-op.

Where: 9200 Atlantic Ave. (btw. Decatur St. & Washington Ave.), Margate

More Info: tel. 609/823-6473; www.lucytheelephant.org. Admission $6 adults, $3 children. Mid-June to early Sept Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-5pm.

Photo Caption: Lucy the Elephant. Courtesy of Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau
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