I’ve been to Atlantic City a handful of times since it is such an easy and quick getaway from New York City. There is always something going on like a concert or festival. I especially enjoy going for the Food and Wine Festival (similar to the one in New York City but more affordable) that is usually the last weekend in July. Of course there are the casinos, nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping too.
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Getting from NYC to Atlantic City
If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get there is the Lucky Streak bus from Greyhound, which runs pretty regularly and takes about 2 ½ hours. A round trip bus tickets costs $45 but you receive a casino credit for $25 that can only be used at the casino where you arrive. You get a voucher that can be inserted in any of the machines (I prefer the penny ones!). Once you have played $25 on the machine you can cash out and any winnings will be yours.
You pick up the bus in the north wing lower level of the Port Authority Bus Terminal (42nd St and 9th avenue) from either gate 79 or 80. You should buy your ticket at the ticket booth right by these gates and avoid the long line at the Greyhound counter on the main level. For some reason, they only accept cash. The tickets are good for anytime, so you don’t have to decide which return bus you will take. There are also Lucky Streak buses from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Baltimore.
Pros: The bus seats are comfortable and there are power outlets which always come in handy. There is wifi but I didn’t use it, so not sure how reliable it is. You can also store your large bags under the bus and there is space above your seat for any carry-on items.
Cons: The bus is usually full and there are some interesting characters. And of course, the traffic can be bad and unpredictable, I had one trip where it took almost 5 hours. Still from NYC, this is the best way to get to Atlantic City without a car. Trains are really not an option because you would need to connect in Philadelphia or Trenton – it would take longer and is more expensive.
What to Do and See in Atlantic City
While some parts of Atlantic City are a little run down, there are some nice newer Vegas-style casinos like Borgata, Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget, which are all about a 10 minute drive (use a taxi or uber) from the strip of casinos on the Boardwalk. Last time, we stayed at Harrah’s, but the Borgata is probably my favorite casino in Atlantic City. Quite often you can find groupons for discounted hotel stays, especially if you are planning on going during the week.
The Borgata has several great restaurants including the Bobby Flay Steakhouse and the reasonably priced Noodles of the World (NOW). NOW has good quality noodle dishes from all parts of Asia. The portions are large, so you can easily share. There are also a few high end shops like Just Cavalli and Hugo Boss in the Borgata. If you want to go clubbing you can try the nightclub MIXX or there are also more casual bars like the Gypsy Bar. At Harrah’s, you can check out the Pool after Dark, where the resident DJ is Pauly D, from MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore.” When we were there, they were handing out coupons for free entry for women during the day in the casino.
The hotels on the boardwalk are older, but if you just want to gamble they are fine and also have some good restaurants (Buddakan, Il Mulino). The boardwalk also has some shops and places to eat and drink. If you don’t feel like walking on the boardwalk, there are rolling chairs that you can ride in. The beach by the boardwalk is average. If the beach is what you are looking for there are other areas of the Jersey Shore like Sandy Hook might be better.
I do also like the outlet stores in Atlantic City. They are walking distance from the Boardwalk and have some great stores including Coach, Kenneth Cole, Michael Korr’s, and Banana Republic to name a few. The Coach store usually gives you a coupon when you enter for even more savings.
When you are ready to head back, you can pick up the bus at one of the casinos. Check the schedule to find out times. I think Bally’s has the most bus options. You need to get there early to make sure you get a seat. Pretty much all buses stop at the bus terminal but I would not try to pick one up there, as many of the buses fill up before they even get there.
I think Atlantic City is great for a quick getaway. Have you been to Atlantic City? I would love to hear about your experience. Where do you like to stay and what are some of your favorite things to do?
- You will need cash for the bus ticket.
- Check to see if you can find a groupon to save money on your hotel, especially if you are planning on going during the week.
- When coming back from Atlantic City, catch the bus from one of the casinos. Many buses fill up (especially on Sunday) by the time they get to the bus terminal.
- If you are looking for a beach destination in New Jersey, you might want to consider Sandy Hook.
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