Plan an Atlantic City Summer Escape... On a Budget

by  Alex Schechter | Apr 18, 2014
Atlantic City, NJ skyline
Atlantic City, NJ skyline / AppalachianViews/iStock

On the first of this month, United Airlines gave Atlantic City a leg up by launching daily service out of Atlantic City Airport to Houston and Chicago. The airport, which was previously only served by Spirit Airlines, lies just twelve miles from the Boardwalk. This makes it even easier for people from the Midwest and the south to get a first-hand glimpse of the waterfront casino town. Here’s how to do this city on a budget this summer:

Make your meals memorable
The sixth annual AC Food & Wine Festival kicks off on July 25, with a three-day clam bake on the beach, a “Beer Bash” (with  a beer garden and live music), and an appearance by Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Considering that tickets for most events start at $75, the festivities may not be for everyone. For a lower-key meal out, head to the retro-inspired Chelsea Hotel’s ground floor, pastel-hued diner, Teplitzky’s, where a brunch of mascarpone-stuffed Challah French Toast will cost you $12.

Lay out in the sun
Despite its abundance of casinos, come summer in Atlantic City, it’s all about the beach. The hip, club-y Revel hotel gives you a chance to splash around at the HQ Beach Club, though there’s a cover charge most days ($20 for ladies, $30 for gents). For a cheaper time out, plan on showing up on July 31 for the free Blake Shelton concert (part of a summer-long outdoor event series; more info here), which will have audiences singing along to hits like “Boys ‘Round Here” in their bathing suits. Meanwhile, public beach access is free all summer long, so show up with a blanket and some suntan lotion and you’re set.

Treat yourself to nicer digs
Unlike in New York City, where top-rated hotels can go for over $500 per night in summer, you can snag a good deal on quality, well-equipped Atlantic City hotels without having to skimp on amenities or location. For example, a basic room at the luxe Borgata in mid-July goes for just $149 per night, and that includes access to a weekly lineup of events (think burlesque shows, A-list comedians, and concerts by the likes of Santana and John Legend), with tickets starting as low as $25. And if there isn’t anything scheduled for the weekend you're in town, the calendar at the nearby Boardwalk Hall is always worth checking – Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, and Aerosmith are all slated to perform this summer.

Ride high, while keeping costs low
If you like to keep active while on vacation, you’ll find plenty of adrenaline-fueled options: perhaps you want to soar 500 feet high over the coast with the only parasailing operation in town, Atlantic City Parasailing (90-minute rides from $70 per person). Or maybe you’d prefer to get airborne the old-fashioned way – theme park rides at the historic Steel Pier start from just $3 per ride, and there’s even a special going on right now, where folks who buy one ticket book before April 30 get a second free.

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