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Atlantic City is paradise for anyone looking to tango with Lady Luck on the casino floor or dance the night away to the stylings of a celebrity DJ. But whether you’ve been there before, or you’re just acting like you have, there are some things you ought to know before you visit.
You can hop a train to Atlantic City from just about any major city on the East Coast, including New York, Philadelphia and D.C. From Philly’s 30th Street Station, the trip takes about 90 minutes. Once you arrive in AC, a free shuttle bus service is provided from the centrally-located train station to your hotel.
If you’re taking the bus from another East Coast city, a big insider tip: print your boarding ticket at the bus terminal, and when you arrive at your casino, take it to the customer service counter. Many bus companies have agreements with the casinos along their route, and you may receive a voucher for slot machine play that equals the price of your bus ticket.
If you’re traveling with a big group – say a bachelor or bachelorette party – it may actually be cheaper to ride in style. Once the sun goes down, head out to the valet parking pickup and drop-off area of your hotel. You can ask the concierge about a deal on a limo, and you may end up paying less than $5 per person for a reliable ride all night.
Sometimes it’s a no-brainer: you know you should tip your waiters and your bartenders (18-20%, please), but you may not know how far a tip can go with other people who can make your trip much more fun. If you’re gambling on the casino floor – and especially if you’re winning – be sure to tip your dealer every now and then. You can either pass a chip their way, or place a small bet for them next to your own on the table. You should also tip valets, cocktail waitresses, and hotel housekeeping staff.
Most nightclubs in Atlantic City have cover charges for entry, and they can be as high as $30 a Saturday night. Save yourself a little dough by putting yourself on the guest list ahead of time. Most clubs let you sign up online a week or two before a special event or promotion, and the folks on the list will only pay a fraction of what everyone else is charged at the door. It’s definitely worth it to plan ahead.
The resort casinos all have huge parking garages, and it can feel much easier to just pass your keys off to a valet. If you’re being budget-conscious though, look for signs for “self-park.” You may still have to pay to park (though some hotels validate for guests), but it’ll be less expensive than the valet, and you won’t have to tip anybody but yourself. Just make sure you note where you left your car!
The casinos all have rewards or loyalty programs, and it’s totally worth it to sign up, especially if you’re feeling lucky. You’ll be issued a card to swipe at tables and slot machines, and it allows the casino to track how much you spend (and how much you win) on the floor. If they sense you’re a high roller (even if it’s just for the night), you may be offered a complimentary room to use on this trip or the next.
As long as you’re gambling, your drinks are on the house. Grab a seat at a penny slot machine and wait for a waitress to come by. You can order anything from a glass of water to a cocktail, and as long as you’re gracious (this is someone you should tip!) she’ll keep ’em coming.
Atlantic City’s casinos and resorts are one of the few public places that still allow smoking indoors. Smoking and non-smoking sections are clearly separated, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke as you make your way across the casino floor. If you’re sensitive to smoke, be sure to request a room in the non-smoking section of the hotel, and take care to avoid the smoking sections out on the casino floor.
There’s so much to do in AC that doesn’t involve drinking, dancing, or gambling. Set sail with a fishing cruise through the bay, pepper your friends with paint at AC Paintball, or enjoy a round of golf in nearby Brigantine.
This may seem like a no-brainer. It is a beach town, after all. But many are unaware of Atlantic City’s strong fishing heritage and culture. Many of the city’s restaurants offer incredible dishes built around the catch of the day, and there’s nothing better than a fresh-caught meal.
Most of New Jersey’s beaches require you to pay a small fee for a beach tag. Not so in Atlantic City. Take advantage of the free public beaches, which are just a quick stroll from your hotel room.
Almost every hotel in AC has its own spa, and many of them are world-class establishments that offer massages, facials, soaks, and a number of other rejuvenating treatments. It’s the perfect way to briefly escape the hustle and bustle of this party town, but make sure to book your appointment in advance.
Atlantic City is home to some of the largest shopping outlets in the country, and whether you’re just window shopping or you’ve got money to burn, strolling through the stores is a great way to spend an afternoon. It’s especially good to know if you discover you’ve forgotten to pack a bathing suit or the perfect pair of dancing shoes.
Truly, no one wants you to have a better time in an Atlantic City hotel than the folks who work at an Atlantic City hotel. Forgot toothpaste? No biggie – a quick call to the desk and there’ll be a tube delivered to your door. You can order room service from the hotel kitchen or you can order in from some of the most incredible restaurants on the East Coast. If there’s something the staff of your hotel can do to make your stay better, just ask: you’ll be amazed how far above and beyond they’ll go.