AAA Four-Diamond Waterfront Resort with Lively Casino
Formerly the Trump Marina, Golden Nugget Hotel was transformed into a luxury waterfront resort by the famous Golden Nugget chain from Las Vegas. Following a $150 million renovation that added a spa as well as a rooftop pool, the hotel opened in April of 2012 and quickly earned AAA’s prestigious Four Diamond status. You can see the results of the makeover in the casino, where crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, flat-screen TVs line the walls, and nearly 1,500 slot machines cover the floor. Gamers can test their luck at table-game classics such as roulette and blackjack, and a separate poker room hosts multiple tournaments with low buy-ins daily.
Outside of the casino, H2O Pool and Bar is the resort's other main attraction. Said to be as large as a football field, the outdoor pool deck has built-in seating and an intimate lounge area with a fire pit. Views overlook Frank S. Farley State Marina. The pool and hot tubs stay open year-round, and drinks are served at the poolside bar. On weekends you can enjoy a cocktail inside one of two interior lounges or at Live Bar, which hosts live bands and DJs.
Golden Nugget Hotel has a variety of restaurants, including the waterfront Chart House, which specializes in fresh seafood. The all-you-can-eat buffet is a nod to the resort’s casino roots, and it stays open for lunch and dinner. The onsite spa has a gym, steam room, jacuzzi, and relaxation area; use of the facilities is free with a spa or salon treatment, or accessible for a fee.
Atlantic City, New Jersey: Casinos and Carnival Rides Lining Historical Beachside Boardwalk
No trip to Atlantic City is complete without a stroll along its signature boardwalk, which stretches for 6 miles along New Jersey's eastern coast. Originally built in 1870 to keep sand out of hotel lobbies, the boardwalk grew in popularity as a place where you could drink and gamble during Prohibition without much trouble from the police, as depicted in HBO's Boardwalk Empire. The boardwalk is still popular for its casinos, but it's family-friendly, too; visitors are just as inclined to sit at the beach or stop at one of the many carnival rides.
On the boardwalk, it's worth it to check out the Absecon Lighthouse, which is more than 150 years old. It's possible to climb its 228 steps to the top, which features sweeping views of the city skyline and the sea. Down at the base, you'll find a replica of the original light keeper's lonely cloister and the collection of sock puppets he created to keep him company.
Proving further that Atlantic City isn't all nightclubs, boardwalk, and casinos is Gardner's Basin, a maritime village along the bay. Here, a community of artisans uses seashells and driftwood to hand-make items such as wind chimes and picture frames. However, the Basin's biggest claim to fame is the 25,000-gallon Atlantic City Aquarium swimming with turtles and rays.