Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY Fri Oct 7, 2011 4:59am EDT

ATLANTIC CITY Oct 7 (Reuters) - Atlantic City, with its miles of sandy beaches and cool ocean breezes, has been attracting visitors since the late 1800s.

It boasts the first boardwalk in the United States and was long synonymous with the Miss America pageant, which it hosted for decades. Charles Darrow, the creator of Monopoly, used the city's street names in the original version of the popular board game.

The city is also the setting for the hit HBO television show "Boardwalk Empire," which is set in the 1920s and based on the book "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City," by Nelson Johnson.

Since 1978, when the first casino opened, Atlantic City has been attracting millions of people a year and has earned the title of "Gambling Capital of the East Coast."

Reuters correspondents with local knowlege help visitors make the most of a 48-hour stay in this gambling and holiday mecca in southern New Jersey.

FRIDAY

6:00 p.m. - Atlantic City has plenty of hotels, motels and inns to suit every budget. In addition to the hotels at the casinos along the Broadwalk and in the Marina district, there is more modest accommodation on the main roads leading into the city.

7:30 p.m. - After unpacking, test your luck at the slot machines and gaming tables at any of the casinos. They cater to all gamblers from those willing to wage small sums to high rollers.

8:30 p.m. - There is no shortage of fine and casual dining. The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa includes Michael Mina's Seablue restaurant and Wolfgang Puck American Grill. Buddakan at The Pier at Caesar's and Royal Alberts' Palace at the Taj Mahal Casino serve Asian food. Or try Patsy's, at the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, which was a favorite eatery of singer Frank Sinatra.

10:00 - The casinos and Boardwalk Hall Arena feature live entertainment and big names, or dance the night away at clubs such as Boogie Nights at Resorts Atlantic City, Mixx at the Borgata or the Pool After Deark at Harrah's.

SATURDAY

10:00 A.M. - After a leisurely start to the day, breathe in the sea air during a casual walk along the famous Boardwalk. Originally built in 1870 to keep sand out of the swanky hotels and railroad passenger cars, the Boardwalk is now crammed with casinos, fast-food restaurants, amusements and souvenir shops.

Start near the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort and head north towards the Tropicana and Trump Plaza and the historic Boadwalk Hall. Built in 1929, the historic building hosted the 1964 Democratic Convention. The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Lady Gaga have performed there.

Further on at the Wild West-themed Bally's Casino, try your skill at $1 Black Jack tables or stop for a bit of shopping at The Pier Shops at Caesars, located on a pier that juts out above the Atlantic Ocean.

Across from the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort is the Steel Pier, which was built in 1898 and includes rides, games and amusements.

No trip to Atlantic City is complete without salt water taffy, which according to legend originated in Atlantic City in 1883 when a candy stand was flooded with seawater. James' Original Salt Water Taffy on the Boardwalk has been making it since 1880 and produces more than 30 flavors.

1:00 p.m. - After working up an appetite, stop for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, The Hard Rock Cafe, which are both on the Boardwalk, or try a sausage and pepper sandwich and funnel cake at Lo Presti's Pizza and Grill at 2601 Broadwalk.

2:30 p.m. - Head to the Absecon Lighthouse at Pacific and Rhode Island Avenues. It is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse and one of the oldest in the country. After climbing the 228 steps visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city.

4:00 p.m. - Treat yourself to a massage, facial, steam room, sauna or jacuzzi. Most of the resort hotels have spa facilities for visitors and guests.

7:00 p.m. - Before dinner have a cocktail at the Blue Martini at Bally's which offers more than 100 variations of martinis or head to 25 Hours, at Resorts, which celebrates “The Art of the Cocktail."

8:30 p.m. - Try the fondue at the Melting Pot, at 2112 Atlantic Avenue, or if you prefer steak and seaford dine at the Knife and Fork Inn, at 3600 Atlantic Avenue, which has been serving visitors since 1927. Dock's Oyster House, on 2405 Atlantic Avenue, has been in business even longer -- since 1897.

10:30 p.m. - Test your luck at the gaming tables and slot machines at the casinos or just soak in the atmosphere and watch the punters try to beat the house.

Midnight - For a bit of celebrity watching have a drink at Dusk, one of the newest nightclubs in the city, at Caesars Casino, or enjoy the live music at 10' Til at the Atlantic City Hilton Casino.

SUNDAY

10:00 a.m. - After breakfast make a trip to Historic Gardner's Basin and the Atlantic City Aquarium/Ocean Life Center at New Hampshire Avenue and the Bay. Open all year, it is home to a variety of sea life.

For something more adventurous, try some deep-sea fishing or dolphin-watching, or a sightseeing cruise, all of which are available at Gardner's Basin.

1:00 p.m. - Enjoy lunch at The White House Sub Shop at 2301 Arctic Avenue, which is said to make the best submarine sandwiches in the city. Try the White House Special.

2:30 - Before heading home shop for bargains at the Tanger Outlet Center-The Walk in the heart of city where more than 100 shops and several restaurants are clustered.

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