48 Hours in Atlantic City
48 Hours in Atlantic City
...with Destination Philly A.C., a DMC Network Company
Atlantic City is more than just casinos and gambling. It is a resort city on New Jersey’s Atlantic Coast, also known for its beaches, iconic boardwalk, spa treatments, performance acts and restaurants. Atlantic City is a unique and historical destination, best known in the 19th and early 20th century for wealthy New Yorkers and Philadelphians to travel to a nearby resort destination for the weekend.
Here, we will explore the in-and-outs of Atlantic City while tasting the iconic eats and summer treats, and sightseeing alongside the ocean views. Come and venture outside of the big hotels and casinos with us!
For future article reference, Jerseyans similarly to our West Coast friends in Southern California, use the term “Shoobie” for a tourist who visits the seashore for a day, primarily to use the beach during the summer months.
The Team at Destination Philly A.C.
Shoobie The best way to start the day is breakfast on the bay at Gilchrist located in Gardner’s Basin. Their fluffy, yet slightly crispy-edged World-Famous Blueberry Pancakes have been a favorite at this neighborhood charmer for almost 75 years. Its quaint maritime location hosting views of the city skyline and comfort foods are surely worth the wait.
While waiting, explore Gardner’s Basins’ exhibits such as the Steel Pier Diving Bell, once utilized to lower guests down to the seabed at the famous amusement pier.
Walk off your pancakes with a stroll on our iconic boardwalk or rent a bike for a ride along the boards with great ocean views. See the surfers catch some waves and watch the boats sail by. Don’t forget to pick up some sweet classic shore treats such as Salt Water Taffy, Fudge and Macaroons (different from the French Macarons!) from Fralinger’s, who have been crafting homemade goodies since the late 1800s.
Like a Local: Take a trip to Hot Bagels & More to taste what the New Jersey ‘Taylor Ham’ versus ‘Pork Roll’ debate is all about. Enjoy pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiched between a homemade, authentic hand-rolled water bagel. This old-fashioned bagel technique, New Jersey’s water and all fresh ingredients are what makes the bagels so delectable.
Never heard of Taylor Ham or Pork Roll? Taylor Ham is to pork roll as ChapStick is to lip balm. It is a breakfast staple since birth for many of us Jerseyans, as it is listed on menus right next to bacon, ham, scrapple and breakfast sausage.
Work off the pork roll debate at The Leadership Studio, a brick-and-mortar yoga studio in the heart of Atlantic City located on Tennessee Ave as part of the newly deemed Orange Loop district. This non-profit yoga studio is able to provide services to encourage social, emotional, physical health and healing in the city.
Shoobie: Explore the Orange Loop, taking its name from everyone’s favorite childhood board game, Monopoly. This hub of attractions includes three beach blocks of restaurants, live music, a bean-to-bar chocolate shop, yoga spots and coffee shops serving a variety of engaging experiences. Land on the Orange Loop today!
A few steps away, and you’re on the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk! Take a ride on a notorious rolling chair, originally introduced in 1884, to Steel Pier.
Good old-fashioned fun is found at Steel Pier, the 1,000-foot-long amusement park built off the boardwalk and over the ocean. Take a ride on one of AC’s newest attractions, the 227-foot-high Observation Wheel for a bird’s-eye view of the city and ocean. Reminiscent of the London Eye, take a ride inside climate-controlled gondolas with beverages in hand from the bar below for Instagram-worthy pictures.
Make a pit stop at one-of-a-kind, Tony Boloney’s. This Atlantic City original playful pizzeria is well-known throughout the world for their creative pizzas, subs and grub. Google “Taco Pizza” or “Unicorn Blood Mozzarella Sticks”. You will not want to pass up a taste at this Jersey staple!
Like a Local: Founded in 2015, the Atlantic City Arts Foundation was developed to support a creative culture by engaging artists to create murals throughout the community and transform empty spaces to highlight the rebirth of Atlantic City. Grab a map from online and go on a self-guided tour to explore the murals and more about the creative individuals behind them.
Shop until you drop at the Tanger Outlets! With over 100 stores in this open-air outlet mall and plenty of deals on all your favorite designer brands, you are sure to smile!
Take a break from shopping and visit the original White House Sub Shop, originally opening in October 1946. This sub shop became one of the most popular sub shops in the country by original owner Anthony “Tony” Basile, which began as Mr. Basile’s tailor shop. While business was scarce during WWII, his wife would sell sandwiches (on breads from Formica’s bakery across the street) that she made in her kitchen. After the war, he decided to close his tailor shop and open the front of the building as a cold “submarine” sandwich shop. Celebrity favorites include: Frank Sinatra, Oprah Winfrey, President Clinton, and Tommy Lee!
Local tip: Try their traditional Italian Submarine! The key to the taste of the sub is in the bread, where it can only be made here in Atlantic City, and their top quality “Prime” meats.
Shoobie: Sail on a Sunset cruise that takes guests along the AC skyline and through the back bays into the Atlantic Ocean. A highly educational commentary is provided by an onboard marine naturalist to ensure your trip is one to remember. Known for dolphin site seeing during the daytime, this cruise has been featured by mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and New Jersey Outdoors. Enjoy the sunset as the fisherman reel in their days’ final catch, clamming boats cruise by and commercial crabbers harvest their catch.
In 1897, Harry “call me Dock” Dougherty believed there was a great opportunity in Atlantic City to open a restaurant that would serve the finest seafood available in a clean, comfortable and friendly atmosphere. And so he opened Dock’s Oyster House, with 60 seats, no liquor license and very high standards. Dock’s quickly became a favorite of locals and tourists alike, with lines often forming out the door. Today, the restaurant continues to blend the class oyster bar feel with the upscale dining and maritime touches that Dock’s fans have enjoyed over the years.
Experience the late 1800’s with one of Dock’s signature drinks and a taste of local Cape May Salts. Discover the differences between several varieties of oysters and what makes each one a star of the raw bar.
Like a Local: Work on your skeeball game – a game to entertain people of all ages! Originally patented in New Jersey in 1908, Skeeball has been virtually the same game for many years. Make sure to stop on by Central Pier Arcade to play novelty boardwalk games, such as cranes, slot machines, poker, coin pushers, skeeballs, and competitive video games. Grab a friend or two to race around the track on go-karts.
After some fun in the sun, visit The Historic Knife and Fork Inn for dinner. Currently celebrating its 107th year in Atlantic City, it has been restored to its original grandeur. The transformation recaptures the look and feel of the landmark building’s Prohibition era roots, including rich mahogany millwork, hand-painted ceilings, a sweeping staircase and balcony, and lushly appointed dining rooms. Their exquisite menus, Prohibition-era ambiance and professional service make it one of the oldest and most historically charged establishments in Atlantic City.
Originally an exclusive men’s drinking and dining club, the Knife and Fork was rebellious during the Prohibition defying laws of an alcohol-free society and continued to openly serve liquor at the bar. The club survived without being raided for some time, perhaps due to the influence of Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, the reigning political boss, who was a Knife and Fork regular. Eventually, federal agents decided to crack down and, in true roaring twenties style, entered the bar and destroyed all of its contents.
Local tip: have a taste of the famous and decadent Lobster Thermidor!
Shoobie: With a playful mix of vintage elegance and vanguard sophistication, Continental invokes the drama of the rat pack days on the Vegas strip. The eclectic global menu showcases a variety of innovative dishes meant to be shared, and of course the brunch cocktails are an essential part of the experience.
Grab some brunch before heading out for the day with views of the Atlantic City Ocean below!
Local tip: try their French Onion Soup Dumplings based with Gruyere Cheese! The Huevos Rancheros and Fluffernutter Waffles are also a must try!
Get some exercise by climbing 228 steps to the top of the Absecon Lighthouse. As New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse and one of the oldest lighthouses in the country, you will find breathtaking views of the city skyline and ocean from up above. During this journey, you will also come face-to-face with the original first-order Fresnel Lens, first lit in 1857.
Make sure to explore the onsite traditional lighthouse-keeper’s home, now a museum.
Like a Local: Maria’s Luncheonette is the perfect luncheonette serving breakfast all day in the heart of the city. Their lunch menu offers homemade soups, sandwiches and desserts as well.
Local tip: Maria’s french toast is a fan favorite!
Atlantic City offers no shortage of casino gambling and sports betting; however, it also hosts a great destination for golf. Guests can move inland about 20 minutes to either Atlantic City Country Club (one of the oldest facilities in the country, established in 1897), the Vineyard National Golf Course located at Renault Winery Resort & Golf, Ballamor Golf Club (one of the most scenic courses around), Seaview Golf Club (with skyline views of the city), or Linwood Country Club (also offering skyline views of the city and food menus that are sure to impress members and their guests).
Shoobie: Just next door to Atlantic City, you will find Margate where a six story-high Elephant can be found. Lucy is her name and she is listed on the National Park registry of Historical Landmarks. Take a tour to learn about Lucy’s unique architecture and history. Climb a spiral staircase through her insides to the howdah on her back for a 360-degree view of the local shore area. Enjoy visiting the only elephant in the world where you can walk through and still come out alive!
As you make your way back to Atlantic City, stop at Girasole for regional Italian Cuisine including homemade pastas and brick oven pizzas. Girasole means sunflower in Italian, and this family-owned restaurant provides a warm, welcoming atmosphere of old-Italian charm reminiscent of being whisked away to the Mediterranean.
Girasole’s food is cooked to order from scratch and never pre-made. The menu items are handcrafted to ensure quality and authentic-cuisine. You will not find items such as chicken Parmigiana on the menu, but you will see dishes that offer lighter and cleaner flavors such as a whole bronzino, either baked in salt crust or grilled with a light lemon caper sauce and grilled vegetables.
Each dish at Girasole is a work of art and created with love and passion during preparation.
Local tip: Order one of the eight brick-oven pizzas, made with Caputo soft wheat flour from Naples and homemade, fresh toppings. Watch as it cooks in the brick-oven located upon the midst of guests along the back wall!
Relax the afternoon away with local music, a drink in hand and a suntan at one of AC’s several beach bars. Choose from The Beach Bar at Hard Rock, Bally’s Beach Bar, The Chelsea Beach Bar, Bungalow Beach Bar, Laguna Grill & Rum Bar, or Landshark Bar & Grill. Step Right Up to the cornhole holes or limbo challenges for baggin’ and braggin’ rights!
Like a Local: Book an afternoon at one of AC’s multitude of spas, such as The Red Door Salon & Spa at Harrah’s Resort, The Pool & Spa at Bally’s, or Immersion spa, a two-story spa located on the 32nd floor at Borgata. At Immersion Spa, you will find 360 degrees of floor-to-ceiling water views while relaxing to a treatment that is tailored to loosen tension. The spa boasts with 16 treatment rooms, ranging from several spa services such as body wraps and scrubs, luxury skin care, Ayurvedic therapies and massages. Spoil yourself with world-class service.
Make your way to Premier, only one of AC’s many and well-known nightclubs.
Located in Borgata, Premier Nightclub welcomes guests into a transformative party experience where clubbing is in theatre style. The 18,000 square-foot club features tiered booths which all focus on the DJ and stage. As one of the most energetic clubs in AC, prepare to party until sunrise.
Head downstairs to the Gypsy Bar, the only place in the building where you will find free live rock music from the city’s best cover bands on a near-daily basis and a large array of tequila. The bar has been known as the place to find high-quality cover music, and to have a good chance of bumping into celebrities, such as Jon Bon Jovi, Dave Navarro and Jimmy Fallon.
The extensive collection of fine tequila selections can be a bit intimidating if you’re not positive on what to try. Don’t worry! Gypsy Bar offers tequila tastings in the form of flights as well as margaritas and non-tequila cocktails.
Local tip: taste the Jalapeno Margarita!
Shoobie: Located in the heart of prohibition-unfriendly Atlantic City, Little Water Distillery is a craft distillery owned and operated by bothers Mark and Eric Ganter, producing small batch rum, the legendary Whitecap Whiskey, 48 Blocks Vodka, Rusted Revolver Gin, and several other artisan spirits for thirsty souls in the Garden State and beyond.
Spend some time in AC’s first legal distillery since prohibition while the Ganter Brothers take you on a journey through the eyes of distillers and discuss how their products are created along with the flavor nuances of each creation.
Local tip: The only decision you have to make is if you want your cocktail shaken or stirred.
Hide and Seek in Atlantic City: Prior to arriving in AC, make a dinner reservation at Chef Vola’s – one the most amazing, yet very difficult to get in underground family Italian restaurants. This experience is like no other. The 85-year-old family-owned Italian restaurant is extremely exclusive (complete with a secret door on the side!) so guests will not get in without a reservation made at least a month in advance.
Local tip: grab a nice bottle of wine as Chef Vola’s is BYOB.
You may never know who may be dining next to you – Beyoncé and Jay Z have been seen on occasion!
Like a Local: Built in the early 1900s to host the city’s growing convention industry, Boardwalk Hall claimed the world’s largest clear span space during that period. This building has hosted many celebrities, concerts, Miss America pageants, sporting events of all kinds, and was even a World War II training facility.
If you are visiting during a concert or show, make sure to book a ticket or two to visit this iconic location and experience its history.
If in town, but not interested in a show, visit the world’s largest pipe organ here and enjoy a free, behind-the-scenes tour of the magnificent musical instrument. Built in the early 1930s, the Boardwalk Hall Pipe Organ was initially created to provide the soundtrack music to silent movies. More powerful than a dozen orchestra, it plays into the 5.5 million cubic feet of air space in the main arena and has more than 33,112 pipes.
Complete your evening at Café 2825, a family-owned business serving simple Italian-American cuisine since 1986. Sourcing fresh, seasonal ingredients from Brooklyn each week, they create dishes to stay true to their Brooklyn and Southern Italian roots. On any given night, you will find the Lautato family ready to host you with pride of their homemade dishes.
Café 2825 is one of the best-kept secrets in town in-between its classic, red brick walls accented by dark woods, hardwood floors, wine bottles and old-school classy Italian décor. Guests feel right at home with its quaint atmosphere.
Begin your meal with a homemade olive loaf loaded with salt-cured olives or the homemade prosciutto bread filled with chunks of Italian ham, capicola and pepperoni, topped with caraway and fennel seeds.
Would you prefer a show with your meal? Order the handmade burrata – a mix of warm fresh mozzarella and ricotta, which is prepared tableside by Lautato himself. The ricotta is stuffed in the mozzarella, complete with fresh tomatoes and roasted peppers when served.
The appetizers themselves are worth the trip, so we will leave your minds to what the dinners are capable of tasting of at Café 2825.
Fresh, quality ingredients; over-the-top personalized services and flavors your Italian grandma would be proud of. Mangiamo!
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