Welcome to NYLON’s City Guides, your one-stop shop for the ideal vacation. Here, you’ll find the ultimate recommendations when it comes to where to stay, eat, drink, shop, and more for the world’s hottest cities — all tried and tested by NYLON editors. Read on for your ideal, NYLON-approved itinerary.
Atlantic City stands out in the American imagination for its outsized impact. For a city that’s only 12 miles long, it rivals Las Vegas (which has 16 times as many people) as a destination for indulgence. Its mystique also comes from its references in pop culture — from Boardwalk Empire to Bruce Springsteen’s immortalization of the city on his Nebraska album, Atlantic City has been forever cemented as a top destination for a weekend away filled with people-watching, the clamor of the casino, and the glitz of over-the-top New Jersey nightlife. Read on for what to do during a trip to AC, whether in the high days of summer or the dead of winter.
WHERE TO STAY
From the Borgata to the Ocean Casino Resort, there’s no shortage of places to drop your anchor in Atlantic City, but one place stands out among the rest: the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. This location of the worldwide franchise has been voted the best place to vacation in AC, and for good reason: the 4 million square foot property, which sits right on the boardwalk with views of the iconic, neon-lit ferris wheel boasts casino games including 2,250 slots, luxe rooms, 31 spa treatment rooms, and seemingly endless food and beverage options. The thing that makes it stand out the most? The Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena. Hard Rock’s dedication to music means the 5,500 seat venue regularly hosts major acts in entertainment, from artists like Pitbull and Alicia Keys to John Mulaney and Kevin Hart.
WHERE TO EAT
If you end up at the Hard Rock, there’s always the brand new Sandpiper Coastal Bar & Grill, which has a seasonal menu of fresh, tapas-style Northeastern favorites and a wide selection of wine pairings and craft cocktails. Or, go for surf & turf at the Council Oak Steak and Seafood fine dining spot. Dock’s Oyster House, open since 1897, has all the fresh seafood you can eat. Elsewhere, there’s the Knife and Fork Inn, which has been welcoming visitors since it opened in 1912, or the hard-to-book Chef Vola’s, where classic red sauce dishes will transport you to another time. Chef Jose Garces’ twin restaurants, the Latin-infused, seafood-focused Olon and the Japanese-leaning Okatashe are both worth a trip, as is the iconic White House Sub Shop, known for the best hoagies outside Philadelphia (with a second location inside the Hard Rock).
WHERE TO DRINK
Unless you’re there for summer boardwalk fun, Atlantic City is all about nightlife. All of the casinos and hotels feature their own watering holes, from the swanky Gypsy Bar at the Borgata, to the low key Lobby Bar at Harrah’s. The Firewater Saloon at Tropicana has the kitschy vibe AC is known for, while the Biergarten offers views of the bustling boardwalk, making it perfect for both daytime and evening imbibing. The Bungalow Beach Bar offers the kind of Jersey Shore experience you might be looking for in the middle of the summer, while Cuba Libre has a campy, vintage feel.
WHAT TO DO
When you hear the words “Atlantic City,” the faint clinking of a slot machine might also tickle your ear. Whether you’re hitting craps, roulette, or blackjack tables, posting up at a slot machine with a drink (and cigarette, if you’re feeling really daring) in hand, or simply watching others win and lose big without risking it all yourself, half the fun of AC is getting dressed up and strutting the casino floor.
If gambling’s not your thing, there’s still plenty to do — from frolicking on the boardwalk during the summer months, to hitting up one of the many luxury spas the city boasts. Get a facial at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spa, or a massage at the Rock Spa Salon at the Hard Rock. The Exhale Spa + Bathhouse at the Ocean Casino Resort has a jetted pool, jacuzzi, Himalayan Salt grotto and lounge area to relax in.
Finally, the city’s plentiful venues bring in all kinds of entertainment — from the aforementioned Hard Rock Live arena to the independent Anchor Rock Club.