This past weekend, with a coming hurricane at sea, we made a weekend trip to Atlantic City. My girlfriend had a conference to attend and the hotel had been booked for a month or so in preparation for the event.
Atlantic City is an interesting city, many people have described it to me in recent years as disgusting, and falling apart. I was expecting a pretty downtrodden sort of place, but really I think that people are a little harsh on the city. It is no longer the Vegas of the East Coast anymore. With the opening of casinos in surrounding state, AC has taken a downturn in recent years. On the surface, arriving late at night, the city is beautiful.
When you start to look a little closer is when AC starts to show its age. Stores signs for very popular shopping places, have unlit lights... almost every place displays this aged look. Casinos have dated looks in certain places. ATM's charge $6 for the privilege of getting your own money to go gamble away to the same casino. Service is rude and restaurants are sub par.
Our weekend started out at a restaurant owned by Gordon Ramsey, the celebrity chef from England. I was excited for this, I have always wanted to try one of his restaurants. The menu lacked even one meal that could be made vegetarian... so I ate 2 sides, each a whopping $11. Their burger was almost $30, and it arrived cold. When sent back, the 2nd burger came back lukewarm, obviously not being cooked to order. The meal was very disappointing, and I'm not a picky eater.
Of the 4 restaurants we ate at, only 2 were enjoyable. In fact the continental breakfast at the Sheraton out shined the other 2 restaurants. Really Atlantic City isn't a place I'd spend a whole lot of time if I had the choice, but it isn't as bad as it sounds on the surface. So far I have made it sound pretty down in the dumps, but if you like casinos, and shows, then it may be a closer alternative if you are in the North East USA.
There are still casinos to enjoy, the Sheraton is really a nice hotel, I enjoyed it immensely. Buddakan and Wingcraft restaurants are excellent places to eat. The city still hosts some interesting comedians, and singers. Last weekend featured Madonna. If you want the place to yourself, avoid Saturday's. Friday and Sunday were enjoyably vacant. There is a shopping pier thats all enclosed and has some pretty nice places.
I think the overall point here is that AC still has some charm. If you enjoy what is offered, it is a decent weekend destination. While not my choice, it seems to fit certain people very well, so don't write it off completely.