Atlantic City may have its financial ups-and-downs, but what remains constant is how much fun you can have there. Because of its beach location you might think of it only as a summer resort, but there's plenty to do all year long. Start with a stroll along the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, built in 1870. Or, ride in one of the historic "Rolling Chairs," first introduced in 1887. There are even a number of artsy and cultural venues to explore.
1) See Some Fabulous Entertainment
Headliners are part of Atlantic City's entertainment scene year-round, not just during the summer months. The list of performers on any given night in the various AC hotels is truly amazing. The comedians who return every year include Wanda Sykes, Ralphie May, Jerry Seinfeld, and Lewis Black. Nik Wallenda's circus troupe performs frequently in AC. And, you can attend concerts by some of the greats such as Aaron Neville, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello, and The Temptations. You can also enjoy some great, low-key entertainment at one of the beachside venues such as the acoustic duo "Five Times Famous" at the Landshark Bar & Grill (1133 Boardwalk; atlanticcity.landsharkbarandgrill.com).
2) Treat Yourself To Spa Treatments & Indoor Pools
No matter what the season, the wonderful hotel spas and indoor pools are open. Spas: In addition to facials and massages, the spas offer saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzis, and all-day access to fitness facilities and private pools. The Borgata even has two spas: the stylish Spa Toccare and the stunning Immersion Spa at The Water Club, with panoramic views of AC.
Pools: Relax or party poolside. The indoor pool at The Water Club at the Borgata is a tropical paradise. At Harrah's, the glass-domed, pool oasis becomes an impromptu nightclub on The Pool After Dark nights.
3) Learn To Surf
Not only is the surf good in New Jersey, you can take lessons from some champion surfers:
Jersey Devil Surf (1133 Boardwalk; www.jerseydevilsurf.com) - According to Andrew DiPasquale, manager of the Jersey Devil Surf Shop, the best time to surf in AC is fall and winter. This cool surf school is run by the Randazzo brothers, Joe and Dean "The Jersey Devil," the only New Jersey wave rider to have competed on the World Tour.
Atlantic City Surf & SUP School (acsurfschool.com) - Surfing instruction by East Coast Champions and NSSA National Team Members.
4) Enjoy Great Dining
Throughout the year, you can pick up a quick, tasty snack at one of the many Boardwalk eateries or have a delicious, leisurely meal at any number of fine restaurants. Atlantic City Restaurant Week (www.acrestaurantweek.com; March) is a great way to sample the offerings. Some of the best options are family-owned restaurants that have stood the test of time:
Dock's Oyster House (2405 Atlantic Ave; Tel: 609/345-0092; www.docksoysterhouse.com) - Opened since 1897, Dock's is famous for seafood, especially its raw bar, but the wasabi tuna is also to die for.
Knife & Fork (3600 Atlantic Ave; Tel: 609/344-1133;
www.knifeandforkinn.com) - The real AC political boss "Nucky" Thompson was a regular at this surf & turf favorite, opened in 1912.
5) Shop Till You Drop
Pick up some famous, Atlantic City salt-water taffy and a DO/AC T-shirt, then get down to some serious shopping:
Tanger Outlets - The Walk (2014 Baltic Ave; www.tangeroutlet.com) - There are 100+ brand-name, outlet shops with no tax on clothing. Get everything from the latest Calvin Klein fashions to fishing gear at Bass Pro Shops. At The Walk, even The Wave Parking Garage provides an artsy shopping experience, housing the Noyes Art Garage of Stockton University. Here you'll find local crafts, art galleries, and artists' open studios. For a unique gift, get a portrait of your pet by Stephanie Segal Miller.
The Playground (1 Atlantic Ocean; www.playgroundpierac.com) -
This shopping, dining and entertainment complex on the Boardwalk has top-name stores such as Apple, Burberry, Gucci, and L'Occitane.
The Quarter at Tropicana (2831 Boardwalk; tropicana.net) -
Within the Tropicana Casino & Resort, the Havana-themed mall contains boutiques, a wide dining selection, entertainment, and nightlife venues.
Where to Stay: There are hotels for all tastes in AC; most of them offer special packages along with mid-week and seasonal discounts. (Note: If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke, be aware that none of the casino properties are smoke-free. Try a smoke-free hotel such as The Chelsea.)