After four years of living in New York City, I finally made it out to the vibrant, rowdy New Jersey town of Atlantic City. Considered the East Coast version of Las Vegas, Atlantic City certainly has its share of great nightlife, dining and entertainment, but I quickly realized there’s much more to Atlantic City than the glitz and the excitement of its casinos. This New Jersey city has a softer side as well, and I set out to explore both sides of Atlantic City on my recent visit.
To make my impromptu Atlantic City getaway a reality, I relied on HotelTonight to book a great last-minute hotel in Atlantic City. Within a few clicks on my phone, I had booked a hotel room in the center of the city, and I was ready to head out of New York and into New Jersey for a weekend filled with excitement, sunshine and plenty of fun.
As someone who lives in a “concrete jungle,” I simply couldn’t resist heading to the beach as soon as I arrived in Atlantic City. The Atlantic City Beach is free and open to the public year-round, and I was surprised at how clean and well maintained this expansive stretch of beach was. I spent the afternoon lounging on the soft, sandy beach and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. I found that this particular beach is ideal for boogie boarding and body boarding because of its waves, so it’s a great spot for those looking to enjoy some great water sports.
While I know that the Atlantic City Boardwalk is a hotspot for tourists, I simply couldn’t travel to this popular New Jersey vacation destination without enjoying the fun and excitement of the Boardwalk. This four-mile long Boardwalk is lined with great restaurants, bars, shops and even carnival-style games, which is why it’s always busy with tourists and locals alike. After a nice long stroll on the Boardwalk, I stopped at a pub to grab some dinner and a cold beer.
You can’t think of Atlantic City without picturing casinos, which is why I decided to pop into a few of the biggest casinos after dinner. All of the casinos in Atlantic City are open 24 hours a day, so there’s never a bad time to test your luck at the tables (or at the slot machines). Popular casinos like Bally’s and Caesars are filled with visitors and locals at all hours of the day, and Atlantic City’s casinos also offer a great dining and entertainment options. Most of the main casinos are located right off the Boardwalk, so they are easy to get to on foot if you’re staying in a central Atlantic City location.
One of the best things about visiting New Jersey is that you can finally escape the sky-high price tags of New York City, which is why I made sure to check out the Tanger Outlets during my stay in Atlantic City. This attractive open-air outlet mall has more than 100 stores, ranging from athletic clothing to high-end designer footwear, and I quickly discovered that the Tanger Outlets are just as popular among locals as they are with tourists. After all, who doesn’t want to get a great deal when they’re shopping? I spent the morning perusing the great bargains at these outlet stores before heading out of Atlantic City.
Since I rarely make it out to the coastal cities of New Jersey, I wanted to make the most of my spontaneous weekend getaway and see more areas of the state than just Atlantic City. I have heard so many great things about Cape May, an idyllic East Coast beach town that is regularly ranked as one of the best coastal destinations in the country. I wanted to see Cape May’s award-winning beaches and charming boardwalk for myself, so I hopped in the car and drove an hour south to this beloved New Jersey city. The drive was definitely worth it, as Cape May blew me away with its beauty, its charm and its pristine beaches. Even though it’s only a short drive away from Atlantic City, this calmer coastal town feels like a world away.
I’ll admit it – I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Atlantic City. While this town is certainly built for tourists, there’s also plenty of heart and energy in this coastal community that makes it so beloved among locals. Even though I was only able to spend two days in Atlantic City, I felt that I made the most of my short trip by exploring as much of the town as I could. This impromptu Atlantic City getaway certainly wouldn’t have been as easy or as stress-free without HotelTonight, which helped me book a great last-minute hotel in the heart of Atlantic City.