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).
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.
At Cedar Creek Sporting Clays, sharpshooters take aim at clay pigeons that launch in unpredictable patterns and angles from 16 automated stations. As gunslingers take in the range's 75 acres of verdant pineland, a member of Cedar Creek's trained staff guides them through the critical precepts of firearm safety and usage before ushering gun-toting groups out to the first station to field any practical questions about the course. Deadeyes peer over the rifle's barrel, marking and shattering discs that launch in variable sequences like milk saucers hurled by enraged housecats. Two different cages accommodate the ambitions of casual shooters as well as tournament-ready gunslingers. Visitors hunting for comprehensive muzzle mastery can learn directly from owner and NSCA-certified instructor Joseph P. Scull, Sr., whose individualized lessons target proper stance, eye dominance, and catchphrase timing.
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.
One pound of sliced Angus steak topped with a mix of melted cheese and Guinness barbecue sauce, served alongside a basket of fries. For finishing this behemoth yourself, the personnel at Harper's Pub treat you to a complimentary drink and add your snapshot to their wall of fame. More often, however, the kitchen whips up smaller sandwiches, wraps, and burgers packed with ingredients ranging from ranchero sauce to mozzarella sticks. Over at the bar, bartenders draw draft beer from 18 tap lines and stock 40 types of seasonally appropriate bottled beers in the fridge. Open until 3 a.m., the pub entices night owls with free WiFi, broadcasts of Sunday-, Monday-, and Thursday-night football games, and weekly hooting lessons.
Beef, jumbo wings, chicken fingers, jalapeño poppers, french fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, honey mustard, and melted cheese. Those are some of the items available on The Whiskey Barrel's menu, and somehow, they all fit on the Mother of All Barrels sandwich. The 12-inch behemoth anchors a menu full of similarly hearty, borderline ridiculous sandwiches, burgers, entrees, and jumbo-sized wings that come in a variety of sauces, from whiskey BBQ to garlic-teriyaki and hot & honey.
The food provides fuel for late nights at the pub, which, like the drive-thru window outside every grandma's kitchen, stays open until 2 a.m. six times a week—including for live music performances every Saturday. Beer specials accompany all Flyers hockey games, and happy-hour deals Monday–Friday help nerves unwind after another long, hard day of resisting the urge to burn the dictionary.