Shore Things: Atlantic City

No matter your budget, Atlantic City has something for you, from a spectacular free airshow to a $5,000 manicure.

The Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
Photo courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention Center and Visitor Authority.

Best of all, the beach at Atlantic City is free (no beach tags required).

Ventnor, Margate, and Longport—the towns that share Absecon Island with Atlantic City—also have lots to offer, including the best spot to find your perfect beach book.

Atlantic City Airshow
Thunder will roar over the Boardwalk when the annual airshow takes flight from 10 am to 3:30 pm on August 25, 2010. The show features stunts by Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Air National Guard crews, all performed over the water and the Boardwalk (and 100 percent free). The crowds can be massive—and the traffic worse. Consider coming the day before to watch the planes practice instead. You can’t miss them—they’re loud enough to drown out the seagulls. (609-348-7000;

Atlantic City Historical Museum
Atlantic City’s storied past comes to life at this free museum. The permanent exhibit—“Atlantic City, Playground of the Nation”—includes pictures, postcards, souvenirs, and a lifesize Mr. Peanut. Pick up your free Heinz pickle pin before you leave. (New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk, 609-347-5839,

Atlantic City Cruises
Cruisin’ 1 from Atlantic City Cruises is not your average tour boat. It’s large and sleek and plies the waters off Atlantic City several times each summer day. You can enjoy it for morning cruises, dolphin watching, or happy hour, or you can charter the entire ship for a private party of up to 150 people. (800 North New Hampshire Avenue, 609-347-7600,

Bar Menu at Trinity
Skip the restaurant tables and grab a seat at Trinity’s bar if you can. The bar menu has tasty steals, like mini-shepherd’s pie, beer-battered sliders, and a mini-Reuben. There also are happy-hour beer and whiskey specials Sunday through Friday. That’s one cheap trip to Ireland. (Pier Shops at Caesars, 1 Atlantic Ocean, 609-345-6900,

Blue Heron Pines Golf Club
Play eighteen holes amid the pine forests. Opened in 1993, Blue Heron is renowned for its fast greens and abundant sand. Blue Heron offers stay-and-play packages with overnight deals at the Woods at Blue Herons Pines or nearby hotels. (550 Country Club Drive, Egg Harbor City; 609-965-1800,

Boogie Nights at Resorts
Whether your want to relive your disco days or don that disco dress your mom once danced in, the Boogie Nights dance party every Friday and Saturday at Resorts is a rocking time. Cover is $10 to $20 a person, depending on how crowded the club is. Looking for a deal? If you’re bringing a group, the $100 fee for a VIP table is the way to go. (1133 Boardwalk, 609-340-7698,

Chairman’s Tower Suite at Trump Taj Mahal
Don’t let the overblown ’80s glitz that greets you at Trump Taj Mahal’s entrance fool you. The 39-story Chairman’s Tower, new in fall 2008, offers a cool vibe without a hint of gold elephants or chintz. For a big splurge, book one of the extravagant suites, which clock in at more than 1,000 square feet and feature a living room-dining area, spacious master bedroom, two flat screen TVs, 1.5 baths, Italian linens, and Jacuzzi tub. (1000 Boardwalk at Virginia Avenue, 609-449-1000,

Chelsea Pub & Inn
Not to be confused with the new Chelsea Hotel, this is a Victorian inn set atop the Chelsea Pub. It has been greeting Atlantic City guests for 25 years. Nothing fancy, but the rooms, some of which sleep up to four people, were updated as of 2006. With in-season rates from $49 to $179 (including parking), this Chelsea is a bargain. (8 South Morris Avenue, 609-345-4700, chelseapuband

Dieci Mani treatment at Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars
Want pampering? Got $5,000? The Dieci mani treatment is a head-to-toe, three-hour spa experience that involves Vichy waterfalls (targeting relaxation spots on your body), a Roman bath ritual, facial, and massage, all with a personal spa attendant. (2100 Pacific Avenue, 609-343-2400,

Dock’s Oyster House

Want a taste of classic Atlantic City? We’re not talking about 1920s Steel Pier classic. Dock’s was founded in 1897 and is still run by the same family. Much of the menu changes depending on what’s coming in fresh from Jersey farms and waters. The tomato dishes, for example, are always creative in the summer. Then there are Dock’s classics—dishes like pan sautéed crab cakes, beef and reef, and Dock’s seafood fry—which have been on the menu since the start. (2405 Atlantic Avenue, 609-345-0092,

Free Live Music

You don’t need to pony up for a ticket to hear live music in Atlantic City. The House of Blues Restaurant, located one floor below the House of Blues concert venue at the Showboat Hotel & Casino, features live coffee-house and acoustic-style music on Friday and Saturday nights. Not quite your thing? How about live piano music that matches the retro ’50s theme of the Chelsea Hotel? The pianist hits the keys at 6 pm on Friday nights on the fifth floor at the Chelsea. There is also a “Small Bites and Sweets” menu Fridays starting at 2 pm. Drinks are $5 and appetizers range from $7 to $12. (Showboat: 801 Boardwalk and Delaware Avenue, 609-236–2583,; Chelsea: 111 South Chelsea Avenue, 800-548-3030,

Game On
Need to catch the big game—any game—while in Atlantic City? Then hit Game On, a sports bar ringed with over 90 flat-screen TVs showing major and not-so-major sports (like UFC fights and horse racing). It’s a high-energy, casual-dress code hangout, too. It’s even got a mechanical bull. Game On is a bar, no doubt, but don’t skip the food. The burger menu is spot on. (Pier Shops at Caesars, 1 Atlantic Ocean, 609-345-6800,


Not all ritzy restaurants are in the casinos, or even in Atlantic City, as Gertrude’s proves. This cozy Ventnor spot offers fresh seafood, organic meats, and the best of Jersey farms. Check out the Shore photography by Geoffrey Ansel Agrons. (7309 Ventnor Avenue, Ventnor; 609-823-3003,

Island Half Price Books
As the name suggests, this Margate shop sells used books at half price. It also stocks new books at 20 percent off. This is a great spot for browsing, and the kids’ area includes games and toys that will keep them occupied on the beach or a rainy day. (9412 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-0300)


Make your own candy bar at this two-story haven of chocolate, caffeine, and all things sweet. The make-your-own starts at $7.99 a pound. The store also carries fashion, novelty, and gift items. Ogle the replica of Lucy the Elephant (see next item for the real thing) made of jelly beans—1,050,493 in all. (Pier Shops at Caesars, 1 Atlantic Ocean, 609-289-4200,

Lucy the Elephant
What would it be like to live in a giant wooden elephant? Get an idea by visiting Lucy, the matron of Margate. Built in 1881 to attract tourists (and to sell beach real estate), this 65-foot-tall pachyderm has been an apartment and a tavern. You can still look inside on a guided tour and get a 360-degree view of the Shore by climbing into her howdah—the arch on her back. (9200 Atlantic Avenue, Margate, 609-823-6473,

J. Crew Outlet

Yes, it’s an outlet, but prices can still be high if you are not aware of the back room. That’s where ladies can grab J. Crew items at more than half off. You’ll find an impressive stock of in-season clothes, like tissue-thin t-shirts, strapless cotton dresses, night-ready halter tops, summer-weight cardigans, and preppy printed shorts. Make sure you look along the bottom shelves, too, for beach-ready totes. (131 North Arkansas Avenue, 609 348-0370,

Looking for spiffy, high-end duds for your little ones? Kidragous, a bright and tightly packed corner store in Margate, stocks brand names like True Religion, Merrill, Ed Hardy, and Juicy Couture in sizes for the little ones—newborn to preteen, to be exact. Not exactly bargain shopping, but the kids will be decked out in style. (8009 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-0488)

Kobe Beef Burger at Old Homestead

At $41, this isn’t just any burger. The Old Homestead’s version of the American classic is 20 ounces of tender, flavorful, domestically raised Kobe beef. And don’t skip the Tater Tots, which perfectly complement your pricey patty. (1 Borgata Way; 609-317-1000;

Ozzie’s Luncheonette
Yes, we do love Longport, just like the mugs at Ozzie’s say. But we love this diner even more, from the black-and-white photos on the walls to the classic diner food menu on the tables. Don’t let the name fool you—Ozzie’s does great breakfasts, too. (2401 Atlantic Avenue, #2, Longport, 609-487-0575)

The Pool at Harrah’s

Yes, the Pool at Harrah’s is used for swimming—during the day and for hotel guests only. But after dark, it turns into a nightclub with A-list DJs, all under a huge dome that lets in the moonlight. The Pool also has a roof deck—an outdoor oasis that reminds you the ocean is near. (777 Harrah’s Boulevard, 609-441-5233,

Prix-fixe menus at Trump Plaza

You don’t need to visit Atlantic City during restaurant week to get a great meal at a great price. At Trump Plaza, Max’s Steakhouse and Roberto’s offer a four-course prix-fixe menu for $35 each. No gimmicks, no conditions. The menus are available at Max’s on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, and at Roberto’s on Wednesday and Thursday year-round and include items like peppercorn-crusted salmon, New York sirloin, mussels, and trofie Bolognese. They also have a rotating $15 wine selection. (The Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue, 609-411-6000,

The Quarter at the Tropicana

The new addition to the Trop has more than 30 shops and 21 restaurants under one roof—including the eye-popping Red Square and classics like the Palm Restaurant—plus Atlantic City’s only Imax theater. The Havana-inspired atmosphere makes this a fun place for indoor strolling and people-watching. (2801 Pacific Avenue, 800-843-8767,

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