When Donald Trump has an obsession with issuing negative tweets about a place, well, they must be doing something right. And it seems like nowhere draws as much ire as Atlantic City in the man’s eyes; perhaps because of all his casinos failed here spectacularly. What he neglects to mention, though, is that America’s Playground is undergoing somewhat of a resurgence, with the declaration that its ‘best days are in front of it’. That’s some turnaround, and we for one are excited. If you’re feeling the pull too, then you might want to consider these; our 5 IDEAL travel tips for Atlantic City first timers.

TRANSPORT TALK

It’s important to get to grips with the numerous travel options and their wildly varying prices before you touch down in Atlantic City. Firstly, if you’re driving directly into AC, consider a different mode of transport; parking is obstructively expensive, even in hotels. Flying into New York or Philadelphia and taking the train, greyhound or bus into town is a better, more budget friendly idea. Once inside the city, there are free shuttle buses to ferry you around to and from the boardwalk, which are subsidised by the casinos and therefore likely to stop outside your hotel as the former and the latter are inextricably linked here. This link extends to a scheme whereby you can trade your bus ticket for slot machine voucher, if that’s your jam.

CASINOS ON A BUDGET

Should you be here to gamble, then there a few things you can do to make the casinos a little less impactful on your purse. Firstly, most casinos offer ‘frequent player cards’, which offer incentives, discounts and extras for those who patronise loyally. These perks include free meals and (even more) free drinks, as well as increased winnings percentages and perhaps a free stay in their adjoining hotel if you indicate you’ll return. If you are planning to hit the tables, be kind to your budget by putting in some practice first online, where you can play live casino games without financial commitment.

Within the casinos you can drink for free, as long as you’re stationed at a slot or table, and tip the waiter. And like other top gaming resorts across the globe, the casinos provide much more than just an opportunity for you to blow your budget, with free shows at Caesar’s Palace a nightly occurrence.

SEAFOOD FOR DAYS

Well, you’re by the shore, it would be rude not to, right? Atlantic City is famed for its seafood, particularly of the all-you-can-eat, indulgent variety, so if you’re a fan of the sea’s bounty, you’re sure to be satisfied in America’s Playground. September the 7th, 8th and 9th see the Atlantic City Seafood Festival, featuring 40 local restaurants slinging the good stuff straight from the sea via a little heat and seasoning. Oyster houses are big business in the city, with Harry’s and Dock’s two of the local’s favourites. And unsurprisingly, the casinos host some of the most well-appointed seafood buffets you’ll find anywhere in the country; the Borgata buffet is perhaps the best place to get your fish fix. If you still haven’t had your fill, Harrah’s resort and casino do a particularly fine all-you-can-eat king crab offer, too.

DOWN ON THE BOARDWALK

The longest boardwalk in the world, clocking in at 5.5 miles, the wooden way is reason alone to visit Atlantic City. Though it’s a strip of glitz, glamour and casinos which beckon you in, you don’t actually have to splash to cash to enjoy the boardwalk; it’s great simply for strolling and people watching. The Atlantic City Convention Center is also housed here, with trade shows and entertainment regularly open to the public. The Absecon Lighthouse is another top attraction (and one of the oldest in the country) which you can marvel out from the outside without spending a cent. And perhaps most famously, the Steel Pier with its neon lights and brash nature is a spectacle in itself. If you’re a thrill seeker, you’ll find enough Ferris wheels and fairground rides to satisfy you here.

MAKE TIME FOR THE BEACH

Though the brash and bawdy elements of Atlantic City don’t exactly chime succinctly with the sophisticated New Yorker vibe just up the road, you’ll still find plenty of Big Apple residents making a weekend pilgrimage to AC’s beaches. Unlike other places in New Jersey, they’re free to access, and great for a surf. For a stretch of sand so close to the boardwalk, the Atlantic City Beach is surprisingly spacious, making it the perfect place to set up for the day, kick back, and take in some rays.

 

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.