Food and Fun, Not Gambling, Makes Atlantic City A Shore Thing

by  Chanize Thorpe | Jul 25, 2014
Atlantic City, NJ skyline
Atlantic City, NJ skyline / AppalachianViews/iStock

Atlantic City has long been popular with visitors looking to try their luck at the casinos. But a couple of years ago, hotels like Revel started the non-gaming trend, when it brought Beyoncé in and set a new tone to the gambling destination. Suddenly there were more bars, nightclubs, restaurants by famous chefs, and even an outlet mall. Unfortunately, almost just as quickly as it opened, Revel and two other casinos are facing closure by this summer's end. The Atlantic Club has already shut its doors, and the Trump Plaza and Showboat are next on the chopping block if a windfall doesn’t come.

Luckily, the fate of Atlantic City doesn’t have to depend on its casinos, and it remains affordable for those who know where to look. Here are your options for both accommodations and entertainment: 

Saving on Hotels
The easiest way to save on hotels? Take your vacation midweek, outside of holidays, and prices are pretty fair. While Memorial Day weekend rates can run up to $500 or $600 per night, hotels under-the-gun like Revel have reduced their prices to lure more guests. Even hotels who’ve remained buoyant from bankruptcy feel the pressure and still offer good bargains for AC vacationers.

For example, The Borgata, one of the most deluxe hotels in Atlantic City, is charging $129 during midweek July. Caesars is cost-effective at $148 on Wednesday nights in August. Plus, the Romanesque arena has a spa, so it may be wise to spend that extra cash on a relaxing rub down instead of the roulette table. Bally’s offers $120 a night rates for a Monday night visit.

Resorts Casino has a competitive Sunday through Thursday package starting at $129, which includes: a Rendezvous Tower or Deluxe Ocean Tower room; a $20 food and beverage credit; admission for two to the spa; and two revue show tickets. If you want a party-hearty hotel, head over to The Chelsea, where an Annex room will run you $99 (including breakfast voucher) mid-August. And, if you’re set on staying at Revel, don’t count it out just yet: Tuesday stays can be had for as little as $159 per night.

If you do insist on traveling to Atlantic City during the weekend, Bally’s only jumps to $180 on Fridays in August, and the Showboat will let you lay your head on a Saturday night for just $173. Revel is still confident in a last-minute miracle and charging $399 rack during Saturdays in August (but that might be adjustable). Use this knowledge and book quickly.

What to Do There
Again, it's no longer about the casinos, so you don't have to gamble to have fun. Take advantage of the entertainment that the city's only trying to expand. Lady Gaga played a sold-out concert on the boardwalk in June. Hall & Oats, Jill Scott, and the Roots have all rocked out on various stages, UFC fans descended upon the boardwalk earlier this month,  and the Miss America Pageant shows no signs of switching locations.

This coming weekend, noted chefs and TV personalities like Martha Stewart and Marcus Samuelsson will be hosting food demos, beach parties, and clam bakes at the annual Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival -- with opportunities to taste and purchase new craft beers, wines, and gourmet eats. Visitors can also expect car shows and other hobbyist events to make the trip worth the while.

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