What to Know When Planning a Night in Atlantic City

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Atlantic City has long been a popular option for New York City residents seeking a different kind of night out, or even a weekend away. As you might expect, this sort of activity more or less came to a halt during the worst of the pandemic in 2020. Now, however, we’re seeing a little bit of a tourism push from Atlantic City — and it appears to be working. A May article on NorthJersey.com offered a number of positive indicators regarding tourists returning to Atlantic City, and activity returning to the area’s casino resorts specifically.

It’s a lot of fun to know that this option is back on the table, and we figured now as good a time as any to offer a few tips to New Yorkers who want to make the trip. Here are a few things to know if you’re eyeing a night out (or weekend away) in Atlantic City.

You Can Take the Bus

Driving from Manhattan to Atlantic City typically takes just a hair over two hours’ time. If you’re going with a group, it’s not an unreasonable trip to split the costs of a ride-share. However, if you want a cheap, convenient option that’s just about as quick, there are regular buses making the trip as well. This is the easiest way to do it all things considered, though you should make sure you have your return trip planned in advance. Sometimes the latest buses back to New York leave around 10:00 or 11:00pm.

Of course, a guide  found on TripSavvy.com about making this very trip points out that a helicopter ride is an option. It takes about 45 minutes and it’s actually something plenty of people do. But it will also cost a few thousand dollars, so most people don’t have the option.

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A Few Casinos Stand Out

Atlantic City is often branded as a sort of little brother to Vegas. That’s fair enough in a sense, but it’s important not to twist things in your head and expect something too similar. Atlantic City is fun, but it doesn’t have anything approaching the variety of high-end casino resorts you see in Las Vegas. Ultimately, just a few casinos in town stand out as high-quality options compared to the rest. Stick to properties like the Borgata, Tropicana, and Ocean Resort — and perhaps the Hard Rock — and you’ll be in for a great time out. Dig any deeper into the peripheral casino resorts, and you may be disappointed by the general quality of the establishments.

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Casino Poker is a Little Bit Different

Most of the gaming in live casinos is pretty self-explanatory. Slots speak for themselves; roulette is just about as easy; and you can at least get the basics of blackjack down just by watching for a few minutes. But poker is a different experience, particularly given that many (if not most) visitors are more accustomed to playing on their phones or online. A feature posted on Poker.org delved into some of the key differences, pointing out even little things like the need to calculate the pot on your own (whereas in an online game the computer tells you how much money is in play). Ultimately, playing poker in a casino means buying your own chips, sitting at a table with people you don’t know, calculating in real time, and projecting confidence all the while. It’s a lot of fun, but you should expect a different experience than what you might be used to if you occasionally play digital poker.

You Can Save the Shows for New York

Getting back to the Vegas comparison, a lot of people might approach a night or weekend away at casino resorts expecting to run into some live entertainment. In Vegas, after all, you can hardly walk a block without having the opportunity to see some kind of music, comedy, or circus act. There are shows in Atlantic City as well, and plenty of good ones. But it’s not really a defining aspect of the scene the way it is in Las Vegas. And given that New York City can justifiably be thought of as the unofficial capital of the world for Theater and Live Performance, you may a well save the shows for the city, and focus your Atlantic City energy elsewhere.

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You Should Wander a Little

It’s unquestionable that the casino resorts are Atlantic City’s main attractions. But as much as the city is sometimes portrayed as being rather down on its luck, it can actually be a charming place to wander. You can hang out on the beach, stroll along the famous boardwalk, enjoy some great casual dining and shopping, and even stumble on a bustling beach bar here and there. If you have an extra hour or two, it really is a place worth exploring beyond the casino floors.

Hopefully this serves as a helpful guide if you’re thinking about a trip to Atlantic City! It’s a good place to celebrate the reopening of the world, as well as an easy destination to enjoy.

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