A Day in Atlantic City
Snooki and the Situation have unfortunately become the tangerine mascots of a beautiful strip of Atlantic coast, the Jersey Shore. But the modern Shore isn?t all fake nails and hair extensions.
The Atlantic City Express Service -- or ACES, get it? -- train (ACESTrain.com) is like a New Jersey Transit route in a midlife crisis. It?s all about fun, drinks, and frivolity. By the time you arrive from Penn Station after two and a half hours, you?ll be toasted, courtesy of the line?s Pour Tour, a concerted effort to inebriate patrons with signature seasonal cocktails. Fortunately, shuttles ferry customers from the station to hotels.
Check into the Chelsea (ChelseaAC.com), a boutique hotel thankfully bereft of gaming. Instead of rows of slots and hangdog greed on display, the Chelsea offers 20 floors of contemporary luxury. But forgo the Luxe Tower for the retro Annex, where in the shell of an old motel, you can live out your Mad Men?at-the-beach dreams.
Old Atlantic City, though seedy, has its own charm. Stop at the White House Sub Shop (609-345-1564) on Arctic Avenue and order the Philly cheese steak. With a few booths and the requisite photos of luminaries -- Sinatra, Mr. T, Al Gore -- White House has been serving no-frills sandwiches for more than 60 years with little concession to the changing times.
A visit to A.C., even for 24 hours, wouldn?t be complete without at least a pit stop at a casino. Try Caesars (CaesarsAC.com), where faux marble statues of centurions watch blank-eyed as you feed money into a slot machine. If, however, you are unlucky and wise, stop by the Pier Shops at Caesars -- you?ll certainly lose money, but you might end up with a Kenneth Cole suit or a Bottega Veneta day bag.
Head back to the Chelsea for a bite at the Chelsea Prime (609-428-4545) , a 1940s-inspired steakhouse and one of A.C.?s bright culinary newcomers. Though the eight-ounce filet is tremendous, opt for the line-caught miso-glazed escolar. You are, after all, seaside. Later, why not chance it with the natives at the Westside Bar & Lounge (WestsideAC.com). Sundays, Lady LaBelle?s Amateur Drag Contest lures the tranny chasers in droves.