To keep the spirit of its musical roots ever near, House of Blues Houston keeps a metal box of mud from the Delta Mississippi beneath its stage and proudly displays the traditional crazy quilt. As the only venue in the revered chain to be built vertically rather than free floating, House of Blues Houston stands as a pillar of entertainment in the Houston Pavilions complex. The hot spot’s Bronze Peacock Room commemorates Houston's rich history and the blues clubs where Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton held sway, and features an enormous hand-painted mural depicting other local legends such as Albert Collins and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
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.
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).
Wine, beer, whiskey?and whisky?if it's a craft beverage, Atlantic City Bottle Company has got it in stock. On the beer side of the equation come packs of such brews as the rich and rugged Stone Smoked Porter, the heavily malted Rogue Dead Guy, and Elysium's hopped-up masterpiece The Immortal IPA. Distillers from all over the world supply a rainbow of whiskeys, from the ruddy tang of Bowman Brothers' small batch bourbon to the thick golden glory of Highland Park's 18-year expression. Oenophiles and vampires trying to keep up the illusion can select wines from all over the globe, including varietals from wine countries in California, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and Argentina. And besides bottles to take home, all of these fine beverages may be sampled in a tasting menu at the Iron Room: Atlantic City Bottle Company's in-store restaurant where chef Kevin Cronin serves charcuteries, artisanal cheeses, game meats, and his specialty Flat Iron Burger.
A block away from the original Lazy Lizard, de Lazy Lizard Brew Pub fills glasses with 20 draft microbrews, including four beers brewed in-house. Guests can pair their pints with gastropub fare such as bangers and mash or paninis as they sup in a separate dining area or at the spacious bar. 11 TV screens scattered throughout the space keep sports fans entertained as they steal sips from a 100-oz. beer tower or lob Old Bay chicken wings at the opposing team.
Pickles Pub's culinary wizards transfigure quality ingredients into a hefty menu of pub grub enjoyed alongside billiards, sports broadcasts, and nightly live entertainment. Rev up idling jaw hinges with the three cheese pub chips, which finds Old Bay-sprinkled Pickles' chips baked beneath a mighty triumvirate of gorgonzola, cheddar, and monterey jack cheeses ($3.50). Sautéed onions and onion straws pirouette across the Bourbonzola burger's half-pound platform of Angus beef, drizzled with Pickles' signature Jack Daniels bourbon glaze and tangy gorgonzola ($9.95), while a personal pizza ($7, plus $0.50 per topping), like a studio apartment, allows the freedom to arrange toppings however you'd like within 10 inches of personal space. In addition to occupying otherwise vacant bellies, Pickles Pub satisfies brains' long-neglected sports receptors with a bevy of high-def televisions protruding from the exposed brick walls. Six pool tables provide both platforms and implements for elevated cue stick fencing matches, soundtracked by nightly live entertainment throughout the summer.