Atlantic City’s history is one of innovation—myriad things to do, some of which border on the goofy. Where else could there have been a diving horse, a Miss America pageant, or a strolling Mr. Peanut?
Those are artifacts for the ages. Today, Atlantic City is carving a niche as a resort with more than gambling casinos and novelty attractions. Here is a sampling:
*For those who love flying over the water, there is Atlantic City Parasail, with several trips daily from Gardner’s Basin, 800 N. New Hampshire Avenue. The flights start and end on land and send parasailers up as high as 500 feet, perfect for sighting dolphins. No experience is necessary, but reservations are required. (609-345-1212; www.atlanticcityparasail.com)
*Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey’s highest beacon for seafarers—and the third highest in the nation. The 153-year-old landmark, carefully renovated in recent years, has summertime events for all ages. The main kids’ program, Wacky Wednesdays, runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in July and August, with games, crafts, snacks, and stories about pirates and mermaids and all sorts of sea life (children $10 and adults $5). There are full moon climbs in the evenings on July 26 and August 24; on August 4, Absecon will celebrate National Lighthouse Day, with climbs, refreshments, and music. Regular admission is $7, and $4 for children 4-12; free for kids 3. www.abseconlighthouse.org)
*Bally’s Wild Wild West has refreshed after a couple of decades. A new live entertainment venue has sprung up between Bally’s and Caesars, with a beer bar, a full-sized mechanical bull, and, believe it or not, a beer pong area. There is a new Wheel of Fortune gaming area inside, where the casino mascot, Shorty the Sheriff, and casino dancers the Vixens, will entertain.
*Two of Atlantic City’s casinos have refurbished their spa/salons. Resorts’ Serene Blu opened at the end of last year. It is right off the casino floor and offers minimal (chair massages and neck rubs) and the more intense treatments (reflexology and warm stone massage). (609-513-3204; www.sereneblu.com)
Showboat’s redesigned Vive Day Spa & Salon features facials and massages using heated scallop and other exotic shells. (609-343-4118, www.vivadayspa.com)
*New Jersey’s signature tall ship, the A.J. Meerwald, usually moored along the Delaware Bay, visits Gardner’s Basin, 800 N. New Hampshire Avenue, July 29-August 3. The Meerwald, known for its educational programs about sea life, provides the opportunity to sail as fisher-folk did a century ago. (http://www.ajmeerwald.org/)
*The Chelsea, Atlantic City’s boutique hotel, is touting its new Beyond the Boardwalk tours. Among the destinations: Lucy the Elephant, Absecon Lighthouse, the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, and the Noyes Museum of Art. Tours include breakfast at Teplitzky’s, the Chelsea’s main restaurant, and bike rentals to get around the rest of Absecon Island. (http://www.thechelsea-ac.com)
*The Steel Pier, on of Atlantic City’s classic attractions, lives on for a new season with two new rides for kids, a kite-flyer and a chopper-cycle. Also new: a 55-foot-high spinning drop tower, and a free show daily by the Flores Family motorcycle act. (www.steelpier.com)
*The Atlantic City Air Show returns August 25 for “Thunder Over the Boardwalk.” There will be fly-bys as high as 15,000 feet and as low as 50 feet by military and civilian pilots. The show features the usual headliners: the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U. S. Army Golden Knights parachute team. (www.atlanticcityairshow.com)
*Atlantic City’s unique jitney service along Pacific Avenue has a make-over this summer. The 13-passenger buses ($2.25 a trip, 24 hours a day) will be powered by compressed natural gas and are turning green in color as well as fuel. The plan is to cut carbon monoxide emissions by 75 percent and total emissions by half.
*In an effort to improve the overall look and feel of the city, Mayor Lorenzo Langford has asked residents and visitors to nominate the city’s worst eyesores for a list of sites to be renovated or demolished. Those who want to participate can submit their personal eyesores at www.cityofatlanticcity.org or call 609-347-5400.Click here to leave a comment