The inspiration behind the board game Monopoly, Atlantic City has long fascinated travelers with its unique blend of history and recreation. The Atlantic City Boardwalk, built in 1870, still beckons visitors today with its plethora of shopping venues and restaurants. Along the Garden Pier, the Atlantic City Historical Museum ushers patrons into the past with a locally focused permanent exhibit featuring artifacts, costumes, posters, postcards, souvenirs, and Miss America memorabilia. A half mile from the Garden Pier stands the Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey's tallest lighthouse at 171 feet. Nautically inclined travelers can trek up the 228 steps to the apex to come face-to-face with a fresnel lens that has lit up the night for mariners since 1857. From the beacon's lofty peak, visitors can revel in stunning views of the Jersey Shore.
The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, located above the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and a hop away from a plethora of dining and nightlife options, pampers guests with a luxurious retreat. The hotel’s casino entertains with table games and slot machines, offering a gambling space in which visitors can win money for grad school or blinged-out marble busts of Flava Flav. The deluxe room’s king-sized bed—or two double beds—cushions horizontal forms with a pillow-top mattress as comfortable as a down-filled marshmallow (a $179 value on Friday nights). The upgraded beach view deluxe room features a king-size bed and an expansive ocean panorama (a $120 value/night). Both rooms include early check-in beginning at noon (a $50 value) and late checkout ending at 4 p.m. (a $50 value).
Atlantic City's glittering streets are packed with opportunities to win and spend big, from glitzy casinos to high-end shopping boutiques. Casino-goers can brush up their poker faces with drop-in games or poker tournaments. Slot machines and table games such as blackjack, roulette, or craps hobnob with mahjong and TV-themed games. Players can take their winnings to the bank or put them to fashionable use at couture boutiques for men and women along the Boardwalk or in the city's hotels.In addition to its abundant shopping opportunities, the Atlantic City Boardwalk teems with history, entertainment, and classic boardwalk fare. Walking tours acquaint curious wanderers with a rundown of the Wooden Way's colorful history, from its Jazz Age heyday to the casino revival of the 1970s. Then, of course, there's the fare, which includes sticky-sweet mountains of fudge and world-renowned saltwater taffy beckoning from carnival-style vendors along the walk.
Hearty helpings abound at Pirone's, where chefs construct a sizeable menu of steaks, seafood, pizzas, and other traditional Italian specialties. As the dinner curtain rises, feast your eyes and your lips upon an opening number of fried calamari ($11) or mussels marinara ($10) before moving on to sing the praises of a tender, boneless chicken cacciatore ($17) backed by peppers and onions, and simmering in a marinara mushroom sauce. Waiters cart plates of meat- or cheese-tortellini alfredo ($16), chosen from among more than 22 pasta picks that range from traditional spaghetti with meatballs ($22) to an eggplant-topped baked ziti ($16). Meal-goers can appease meaty appetites with a mushroom-infused veal marsala ($19) or a thick-cut steak à la Pirone ($21) topped with mushrooms, provolone, shrimp, sherry sauce, and a miniature model of the restaurant, and those who prefer sliceable sustenance can snack on a sliver of spinach-and-ricotta pizza ($8–$17) or divide a mini calzone ($7) into five mini-er calzones.
Harrigan's has been serving up Irish hospitality by way of fresh seafood, steak, and sandwiches for more than 25 years. Commence evening eating with a lip-smacking starter from the dinner menu, such as potato skins loaded with corned beef, jack cheese, and sauerkraut ($8.99). Make Irish eyes smile from lid to lid with Guinness-kissed beef potpie ($14.99) or Irish-whiskey chicken marinated with Jameson. Nautically nosh on the surf o' turf ($18.99), or challenge butter- and garlic-infused steak, paired with fries or frizzled onions ($15.99), to slake demanding dental requests. Harrigan's also houses a fully stocked bar backed by bartenders friendly enough to rotate customers' frowns 90 degrees.
Brickwall's friendly ambiance livens up the final block of Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, revitalizing a once-forgotten neighborhood with warming food and local events. An industrial-style interior sets the stage for an eclectic menu of updated homestyle plates, sporting appetizers such as cajun seared shrimp with parmesan grits ($12) and savory main courses such as a dry-rub half-rack of ribs ($15). More herbaceous hankerings can be answered with earthy eats such as potato, pesto, and parmesan fusilli ($14). Satisfy a sweet tooth with a single dessert of blueberry cobbler, or swaddle a whole mouth's worth with a half-dozen post-dinner dishes (desserts are $3 each, or $15 for six). The tavern's extensive drink selection includes ample offerings of wine, beer, and creative cocktails to wet the whistles of patrons lacking their own camel-like water supply.