Overall: Atlantic City was a fun place to visit for a weekend trip. Being there during off-peak season was nice, but I think going during the warmer months will be more enjoyable for most (i.e. more beach time vs spending all day in casinos). I would recommend a car but it isn’t necessary due to most attractions being within walking distance. Getting from the ACY airport to the casinos is rough and will cost you at least $30-$50 each way. Best for couples or trips with friends who want a chill mix of gambling and beach-getaway.
I treated Tristan and myself to a long weekend in Atlantic City last weekend to celebrate Tristan’s birthday and graduation in the month of March. It was a trip of Firsts — our first time traveling somewhere new together, our first time in Atlantic City, and our first time gambling. Atlantic City is known as being the home of the Miss America pageant and its casinos were the first legal ones on the East Coast. It reminded me of a less-glamorous, less-crazy Vegas but I wasn’t there during peak season so my experience might not be the most telling. Regardless, I’ll fill you in on how my trip went.
Flight and Transportation
Tristan and I took Spirit Airlines, which amounted to around $66 per person, including one checked bag between the two of us. The flight was a little over an hour long each way and we had no issues whatsoever. I made the amateur mistake of not looking into transportation beforehand, as I expected it to be easy to get from the airport to city center (about 10 miles). The taxis at the airport advertise they will take you from the airport to any casino for $27 for up to 4 people — do this because I spent $50 each way. When you need to call a cab to get back to the airport, definitely ask them for a price quote in advance as well because my hotel told me it would be about $30 but I was charged $50 again by the cab company. I was not pleased, but what can you do? Other than the flight and cabs back and forth from the airport, we spent the weekend completely on foot since everything was in walking distance. Other transportation options include:
Rolling carts on the boardwalk (see picture further below for an example) where you sit in a plastic-covered carriage of sorts and have someone do your walking for you. I didn’t find this to be economical or fun, but if you’re into that go for it!
Jitney shuttles run between casinos for $2 a ride. For more information on how to ride the Jitney and its routes, see their website.
Accommodations (Quality Inn Flamingo)
Protip: Try to go during the week instead of the weekend if you can, as hotel rates are significantly less expensive on weekdays.
We stayed at the Quality Inn Flamingo (more of a motel than a hotel) which had good reviews in terms of cleanliness and convenience. Breakfast was also included, so I thought it was an overall better deal. We stayed over the weekend for about $90 a night but if we had gone during the week, the rate would have been $42 a night. See the Quality Inn Flamingo website.
The room was a good size and very clean, with a loveseat sitting area and a small desk to work at.
The sheets and bed were comfortable but the pillows that the hotel uses are on the smaller side and square – more like couch pillows than bed pillows in my opinion.
I wish that there had been a bathtub, but the shower was quite nice and handicap-accessible so I’m not complaining.
The breakfast buffet was really good! There are a number of both cold and hot options and they even had a waffle maker! Win.
The Quality Inn Flamingo is literally 2 blocks from the beach/boardwalk and 2 block from the Tropicana Hotel and Casino so it is extremely convenient to most attractions.
The fitness room is not what I would call functional. Most people probably aren’t interested in working out while in Atlantic City, but for those of us who want to attempt being active (without running on the boardwalk) the Quality Inn Flamingo isn’t the place for you. The treadmill did not run smoothly and the other machine (seemed like an elliptical/stair-master hybrid of sorts) was difficult to figure out. Also, the room was probably 80 degrees. No ideal.
The shampoo and conditioner that the hotel provided were sub-par (very watery and did not lather well), but will get the job done. If you’re particular about your toiletries, definitely bring your own.
What to Do
Everything you “need” to see is within walking distance. Atlantic City (the town, not the casino-boardwalk portion) is a kinda grungey — some of the buildings look like they need a facelift, but most have character.
A trip to Atlantic City probably wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the casinos. I went to Vegas a while ago but didn’t partake in any gambling during that trip. The casinos there were packed and crazy and I honestly don’t remember half of what I did while I was there, but the vibe of the casinos in Atlantic City is more laid-back. This time around, Tris and I tried our luck a few times just for fun (and it was).
If you’re interested, we liked Bally’s Casino (and their smaller, Wild Wild West Casino) best since it tended to be quieter and the smoking/non-smoking sections are more clearly partitioned so you don’t have to smell cigarettes all the time. Also, they have electronic Blackjack that starts at a $5 minimum bet (in case you’re intimidated by the tables).
Caesar’s Casino – Protip: You’re “not allowed” to take pictures in the casinos.
Bally’s Casino – the above is an example of the rolling carts you can take on the boardwalk.
Boardwalk and Beach:
The boardwalk is nice, though you can’t see the beach from it. All of the casinos have entrances on the boardwalk and there are a lot of restaurants, local shops, and small arcades to pass the time. I think if I come to AC again it will definitely have to be in the summer, as there is really very little to do here other than gamble. It would have been nice to get some time in the sun and the sand.
And then there’s shopping. To be honest, I wouldn’t really recommend the shopping in the casinos and the shops on the boardwalk are typical tourist wares. The Quarter at the Tropicana (link here) has a few shops but nothing to write home about. The Pier Shops at Caesar’s (link here) housed a few luxury brands (Louis Vuitton and Gucci) but most of the mall is empty space. Instead, go to the Tanger Outlet’s (link here). It was about a 20-minute walk from the Quality Inn Flamingo and there are a lot of brand-name outlet stores (as well as non-outlet mall-stores like H&M and Forever21) as well. Otherwise, save your dollars for NYC or something.