Getting Active & Outdoors
• Get your golf on: Casino gambling and sports books are not the only games in town. Golf is another option, especially now that several previously private courses in and near the destination are open for public play. One of the oldest facilities of its kind in the U.S., the layout at the Atlantic City Country Club has been named the number-one public golf course in New Jersey by Golf Week, Golf Magazine and Golf Digest. The course is known for its finely manicured fairways and large sloping green complexes protected by sand bunkers. Long carries over natural ponds and saltwater marshes make a formidable challenge for any golfer. The Vineyard National Golf Course at Renault at Renault Winery Resort & Golf features a 7,200-yard layout with vineyard views. Meandering subtly through South Jersey’s Pinelands, the course offers challenges at every turn — such as an island green surrounded by treacherous bunkers at the third hole, and a bentgrass hollow at the 10th hole. Situated on 350 acres of land, the Ballamor Golf Club has wide, easy-to-hit fairways and large greens. One highlight is the 15th hole, a 347-yard par four with a challenging tee shot. After clearing the water, players must decide whether to carry a massive bunker on the left corner of a dogleg with a 220-yard drive or take a long shot with bunkers everywhere in sight.
• Bike the boards: A bicycle ride is one of the best ways to experience Atlantic City's famed five-mile Boardwalk and all it offers. Cycle nonstop or pause to enjoy ocean views, shops, restaurants, bars and traditional beach-resort treats like salt water taffy and fudge. B&K Bike Rental operates two rental shops — one at North Carolina Avenue and Boardwalk and one at Iowa Avenue and Boardwalk. Rental rates are $8 for the first hour and $1 for each additional 15 minutes.
• Ride the waves: Atlantic City has three surfing beaches: Crystal Beach at New Hampshire Avenue, Delaware Avenue Beach and Downtown Beach at Raleigh Avenue. Several surf shops on the Boardwalk, including AC Surf School and the Inlet Surf Shop (609-515-7640; no website), provide surfing lessons as well as rent out equipment. Paddleboard rentals and lessons also are available.
• Hit the sand: Atlantic City's expansive beaches are great for a run or walk. There's no need to purchase a beach badge — admission is free, even during the busy summer months.
• All aboard: Boardwalk Tram Service operates electric tramcars that transport visitors anywhere along the Boardwalk from the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel Atlantic City to the Tropicana Casino and Resort. Adult fare is $4 one way and $8 for an all-day pass; group rates are available on request.
Extending Your Trip in Atlantic City
• Award-winning eats: Atlantic City’s Kelsey & Kim’s Southern Cafe has been named to Yelp’s list of the best fried chicken joints in all 50 U.S. states, while Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall has ranked as number six on USA Today’s list of the 10 best beer bars in the country. Try Kelsey & Kim’s fried chicken atop fluffy waffles or by itself, with a side of macaroni and cheese, collard greens, coleslaw, potato salad, candied yams, rice and gravy, broccoli, or string beans. Other specialties include slow-smoked barbecued pork ribs and shrimp and grits. Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall offers 40 different craft beers on draft and more than 60 in bottles and cans. The menu also includes craft cocktails and a modern twist on hamburgers and hot dogs.
• Thrills and chills: The Steel Pier stirs up excitement with more than 20 rides, from classics like bumper cars to extreme options like the Slingshot. The Steel Pier's newest attraction, the Observation Wheel, transports riders 227 feet above Atlantic City to enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean and skyline from inside one of 40 climate-controlled gondolas. Opportunities to play hoop-shooting, crane, and squirt gun games for prizes of all sizes, along with stands serving boardwalk fare, complete the experience.
• Off the Boardwalk: View a host of oddities that includes everything from a spider made from scissors and knives to the world’s smallest production car and a roulette table made entirely of more than 14,000 jellybeans at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium. It is located along the boardwalk, just down from the Steel Pier.
Mad for Macaroons
The G. Carl Tripician Co.
has been making macaroons since 1910, when the shop was set up on the Boardwalk. The almond and coconut delights are made with the original recipe and join a delicious slate of modern delectables.
• History lesson: Journey back in time by climbing the 228 steps of the Absecon Lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse, which recently underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration and now features a Fresnel Lens exhibit in its original Oil House, a museum, and a replica of the original light keeper’s cottage.
• Retail therapy: From quaint boutiques and kitschy stores on the Boardwalk to malls and outlet centers, Atlantic City is a paradise for shoppers. The Quarter at Tropicana beckons with more than 25 luxury shops, while The Playground at Caesars houses stores that feature high-end fashions, accessories, jewelry and more. Tanger Outlets The Walk is the place to go for discounts on a wide variety of brand-name merchandise, including apparel, shoes, home furnishings and accessories.
• See the Cape: Not far from Atlantic City — and well worth the short trip — is the seaside resort town of Cape May. Stroll the Historic District for a look at the Victorian architecture for which Cape May is known. The Emlen Physick Estate, built in 1879, offers a glimpse of life as it was lived more than 100 years ago. Eclectic and traditional shops, along with restaurants, line the Washington Street Mall, a pedestrian promenade that spans three blocks.
• A corking good time: Take a break from cocktails and casinos with a visit to one or more wineries in the Atlantic City region. Bellview Winery in Landisville produces more than 20 estate-grown varietals and more than two-dozen wines. Renault Winery, one of the oldest continuously operating establishments of its kind in the U.S., is now being revitalized by Vivamee Hospitality to reflect the vision of Master Vintner Louis Nicholas Renault, who hailed from Rheims, France, and established his winery in Egg Harbor City in 1864. Hamilton is home to Plagido's Winery, which specializes in hand-crafted, artisanal wines produced from small lots of grapes using a basket press, as well as DiMatteo Vineyards and Winery, whose Pasquale Red, Chambourcin, Niagara and other varietals are consistently featured in the Winner’s Circle at the prestigious International Wine Competition and other events.
Sports Betting in A.C.
Atlantic City has no sports teams, but it does have sports betting now that wagering on various professional and collegiate sports at New Jersey's casinos and racetracks became legal last summer. Six Atlantic City casinos currently accept such wagers: Bally's, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino.
In Walking Distance
The following are in walking distance of the Atlantic City Convention Center:
Grab a bite (and a brew): The historic Tun Tavern, Atlantic City's first brew pub, offers a rotating menu of handcrafted beers along with casual fare. Lunch specialties include a "super-sized pretzel" served with Ale-infused cheese sauce, sweet stout mustard and cheddar crab dip; or try the Blue Claw Fries covered in melted cheddar cheese and blue claw crabmeat, and dusted with Old Bay seasoning.
For another extensive beer menu plus pub fare prepared from locally sourced ingredients, check out Wingcraft Kitchen & Beer Bar. Wingcraft's "The Manhattan Project" burger, named the "#1 Burger in South Jersey" by At the Shore magazine, is topped with smoked gouda cheese, crispy fried onions and honey barbecue steak sauce. Voted "Best Tequila & Rum Bar" in Atlantic City Weekly's Reader's Choice 2018 Nightlife Awards, Los Amigos goes beyond nachos and tacos in its culinary repertoire to feature creative and Southwestern-inspired dishes. A vegan menu is available.
Atlantic City Excursions
• The Orange Loop, the
three-block expanse is chock-full of one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars
and live music venues. continues to grow. Among the planned new
offerings are a live entertainment venue at the former Dreams Cabaret
building, an expansion of the The Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall.
• Boardwalk sweets: Atlantic City is known as the Salt Water Taffy Capital of the World, and James’ Candy Company, offering dozens and dozens of flavors, is the perfect place to get your fix. For $5, you can enjoy a 30- to 40-minute tour to see how the candy — as well as James’ caramels — is made. Steel's Fudge has been an Atlantic City staple since 1919, when Elizabeth and Howard Steel started selling the confection prepared from an old family recipe that’s still in use today. Flavors range from traditional options like chocolate, chocolate walnut and vanilla to more unusual choices such as pumpkin, pistachio and chocolate turtle caramel. Once featured on the Food Network, Steel’s also offers salt water taffy, popcorn and macaroons. Ices from TLC's Polish Water Ice boast a creamy texture and are made fresh daily. New flavors are added to the menu every year; this year, look for sour blast blue raspberry and cola. Vanina’s Ice Cream is a one-stop shop for all the classic shore treats you can think of: soft and hard ice cream (atop a waffle, if you’d like), fried Oreos, fried cheesecake, fried pickles, smoothies, slushies, fresh-squeezed lemonade and funnel cake.
• Solving mysteries is the fun on tap at Escape AC, housed in the Tropicana. Players are given an hour to discover clues, solve puzzles and break out of one of four Atlantic City–themed rooms: The Poker Room, Casino Cage, the Boardwalk and Backstage. Success rates for sleuths vary between 5 percent and 25 percent. Escape AC accommodates groups of up to 200 people, with 40 players hunting for the way out per round.
• Thrilling obstacle courses across 80 acres of forest fields await at AC Paintball. Large groups of up to 100 players can test out the Black Ops course, while smaller teams can square off on the Hyperball Field. Bookings can be made for full- or half-day experiences.
• Nearby Ventnor offers several great dining options. At Domenico’s (609-822-1300) guests can enjoy traditional Italian favorites (try the Lobster Sinatra, which is sautéed with littleneck clams, shitake mushrooms and pignoli nuts in a light cherry tomato broth on a bed of spaghettini). Stella Restaurant features innovative menu items like Medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese, almonds, applewood bacon and arugula; meatballs with creamy polenta and fontina in a pomodoro sauce; homemade sweet fennel sausage with orecchiette pasta and roasted peppers; and shrimp with smoked bacon, soft polenta, shiitake mushrooms, lemon, garlic, parsley and scallion.
• Bourre brings a New Orleans vibe to the area with frozen Hurricanes and other drinks from the Big Easy, along with Cajun barbecue cuisine.
• Over-the-top cocktails like the Alice In Wonderland-themed Unusual Tales G&T; the Bright Idea, served in a lightbulb with a flamingo straw; and the Kentucky Supper Club, made with Woodford Reserve and Sweet Vermouth Foam, are the order of the day (and night) at 2100 Bar & Lounge at Caesars.
• A taste of Brooklyn Italian cuisine can be savored at Cafe 2825. Staying true to the owners’ Brooklyn and Southern Italian roots, the famous eatery serves fare prepared from fresh, authentic ingredients. House specialties include Sunday Gravy (homemade meatballs, bracciole and Italian sausage in red gravy, accompanied by rigatoni) and Chicken Sorrentino ala Jacquelina (francese-style chicken breast layered with eggplant, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh tomato), among others. Café 2825 is also known for offering “tableside experiences,” such as the preparation of burrata-style fresh mozzarella cheese straight from the curd; it’s then sliced and served warm with sauteed tomatoes and homemade ricotta topping.
Among other top restaurants in Atlantic City are:
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