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One of my favorite places to visit is Atlantic City. I love the casinos, the beach, boardwalk, and the cheesy Jersey Shore vibe. I always have fun there. My earliest memory of visiting AC was after my cousins wedding… in 1992! Last October, I ran the 2016 AmeriHealth Atlantic City Half Marathon with that same cousin! My husband even proposed to me in a limo on a surprise getaway to the Borgata!
We have visited AC almost every year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2011 we took our infant daughter and in 2012, 13 & 15 headed down without kids. This year, I wanted to spend time all together so the four of us headed down for 48 Hours In… Atlantic City.
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48 Hours in … Atlantic City, New Jersey
Where to Stay: Atlantic City
There is only one answer to this question- we are loyal fans of the Tropicana Atlantic City. The Tropicana is a big property, with four hotel towers. On this trip we stayed in a suite in the West Tower. We love that the Tropicana is always renovating the rooms and they don’t let the accommodations get old and stale.
In 2004, Tropicana added the Quarter area with great restaurants, nightlife and an IMAX theatre. They also recently revamped their Boardwalk area adding in Casa Taco and Tequila Bar (which we loved eating at sans kids) and a Philly favorite, Chickie’s and Pete’s.
The Tropicana is at a great location on the Boardwalk. Their beach is really nice in the summer months. From the Tropicana you can easily walk down the boardwalk into Margate or head north up to the Caesar’s/Bally’s area.
Whether you are with your family, on a couple’s getaway, or a friend’s trip I highly recommend staying at the Tropicana. I also highly recommend their player’s club (loyalty program) where you can earn comps at restaurants, free accommodations and discounted or free parking.
Where to Dine: Atlantic City
On this recent trip, we ate so well in AC, and we didn’t even hit all of our favorites! Upon arrival we went straight to the Rainforest Café. We ate here in 2015 and my daughter has literally been asking to return ever since.
The Rainforest Café is open, despite being attached to one of the now-closed Trump hotels. The food is okay, burgers and fries- stuff like that, but the kids love the rainforest atmosphere and the “show” that happens every 10 minutes or so. They also love the slurpees that are served in reusable cups, complete with an animal toy in the bottom of the cup.
A decent lunch and a fun experience, definitely a must-do on a family AC trip!
Cuba Libre– We ate here the first night in Atlantic City. This is one of my favorite Tropicana restaurants. It is located in the Quarter and keeps with the Cuba theme of the Havana tower. This restaurant always has a vegetarian dish for me, and plenty of great choices for the kids and my meat-loving husband.
On this trip the grown-ups both had paella, vegetarian for me and seafood for my husband. If you like rum, there is also an extensive list. I had wine, but hubby tried the signature mojito – yum! We have dined here many times and the food is always delicious.
Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern– I almost don’t even want to blog about this restaurant because I feel like its AC’s best kept dining secret. This hidden gem is always crowded and they don’t take reservations – unless you have a large party. But trust me, its worth the wait.
Angelo’s is a freestanding restaurant that is located on the southwest end of the outlet mall, The Walk. Back in the early 90’s when my family first started coming here, the neighborhood was much shadier. The restaurant has a parking lot or you can take a cab or Uber from your hotel. We drove over and arrived a little after 7. We did have to wait in the bar area for almost an hour. I knew there would be a long wait, so we were prepared with activities for the kids.
The food at Angelo’s is delicious, consistent, and a great value for what you pay. The best part though, is the amazing salad they serve family style to the table. I could literally drink the dressing its so good. I really look forward to this meal on each trip to AC.
Country Kitchen– Breakfast at the hotels can be expensive. The Tropicana charges $19 a person for the Fiesta Buffet. It is a really good buffet and we love it when we get 2 for 1’s, but it’s a bit pricy for my family, most of whom are not big breakfast eaters. Myself being the exception, I love a good breakfast buffet. So in Atlantic City, we eat breakfast at Country Kitchen.
Country Kitchen is located in the Days Inn, a few feet south along the boardwalk from the Tropicana. CK has pancakes, crepes, omelets, and skillets – your typical breakfast food. My kids loved the chocolate chip pancakes and I had an omelet one day, and a skillet the next. Oh and they have grits, which I love but are hard to find up North!
What To Do: Atlantic City
Just like my 48 Hours in … Vegas post, I want to emphasize there is so much more to do than gamble in AC. But of course, for the grown-ups there is that and again, I highly recommend the Tropicana casino- it’s big, clean, and has every game you would need and more!
But outside of the casino’s famous ding! ding! ding!, there is lots to do in Atlantic City, even for the kids. In the summer months, the beach and outdoor pool are a no-brainer. I really like the beach in AC – first of all it’s free. You just walk on. Second, the sand area is large and the water is fairly calm considering you are in the ocean.
This December, we were blessed with a warmish winter day (temps in the 40s) and enjoyed walking along the Boardwalk. We walked from Tropicana to the Rainforest Café. We then hit the Caesar’s Pier (which is now called The Playground) and visited the IT’SUGAR store. We also ventured up to the third floor for great views of AC, the beach and ocean. The kids loved running around up there!
After lunch and window-shopping, we played mini-golf at Atlantic City Miniature Golf. In the winter it seemed that mini-golf was open depending on weather, so check before you head out. The mini-golf is located across from the Trump Plaza, on the Boardwalk.
Back at the hotel the kids enjoyed the newly renovated indoor pool at the Tropicana. The indoor pool is located on the 6th floor of the South Tower. There were tons of kids there and my guys loved the disco lights in the pool!
Lastly we visited the Atlantic City Aquarium! Back in October when I ran the AmeriHealth Atlantic City half marathon, we ran through the Northwest part of the barrier island, a part called Gardiner’s Basin that I had never been to! I saw the aquarium and logged in my memory for a return trip with the kids!
We spent about two hours at the aquarium. There are lots of fish and reptiles to see, but there are also many open touch tanks! The kids touched little sharks, stingrays and crabs! We also found a super nice and helpful docent who answered all of our many questions about the local sea life. The kids really enjoyed this aquarium!
Admission was $8/person and we found a discount coupon here!
We did so much in AC I didn’t even have time to gamble! I did hit the new gym at the Tropicana (AtlantiCare Lifecenter Fitness) and on the second morning opted for a run on the icy Boardwalk. We all had a blast and hubby won a few bucks in the casino. We can’t wait to return in warmer weather!
Shop this post for my favorite Atlantic City stuff. P.S. The book Boardwalk Empire is one of my favorite books (non-fiction)! Also we always watch Snake Eyes before an Atlantic City trip! Have you ever seen it???
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