Atlantic City

If you’re a devotee of Monopoly, the board game invented in 1934 by Charles B. Darrow, no matter where you land on the board, there’s something of interest. Even decades after the world’s best selling game, the Boardwalk in Atlantic City is still the stuff of games and dreams.

Known originally as the gambling centre of the east coast, Las Vegas has nothing over this sea side gaming oasis. From adults to kids, there seem to be enough for everyone. Just imagine within a tank full of gas, over 90,000 million people can visit from urban centres like New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Baltimore and it isn’t in a desert. In fact, Atlantic City has a magnificent beach, raked and cleaned every day leaving no trace of the rubbish that seems to pile up by evening.

My early morning walk, there wasn’t even a gum wrapper to be seen; only seashells near the shore line and a few early risers making sand castles with their kids. The sand sifted through my toes and the sight of the various ocean front hotels’ colorful cabanas against the backdrop of the Boardwalk is a good way to start the day l of entertainment and exercise. Joggers and fast and slow walkers don’t have to give up their exercise routine. And early morning is the time for cyclists who have the even surfaced Boardwalk for their rides. Bikes can be rented and used up until 10AM. But after that designated time the wide wooden walkway becomes a traffic jam of people of all ages.

The yellow lined middle section is supposed to be for chair rides taking the place of cabs. These rickshaws are pushed by hand by friendly men and women, usually young and on holiday break although I saw many grey haired, mature looking people who probably have been doing these ‘taxi rides’ for years. However, I admit that having a human having to push me from one destination to another seems cruel, however, with some prodding I gave in for the experience. The young man who was my ‘driver’ had to keep yelling, honk honk, to get the pedestrians off his ‘road’ areas since there are not bells or whistles. He was a young Romanian student who had just graduated in his native country with plans to return with a fistful of money after the summer rush to start is post graduate degree. As for aches and pains, he convinced me that only the first few days were painful. He also explained how much he enjoys every day speaking with his fares and learning more English. It’s approximately $5 for 5 city blocks. This ride is a good opportunity to see what’s available for everyone. For instance, there’s always a small queue for Ripley’s Believe it or Not. The building design looks as though it’s about to fall, as the well designed to be cute, huge cracks and slanted exterior is just an introduction of some of the zaniness inside.

Atlantic City

There are a variety of outdoor cafes which are always filled with both the bikini types to the mature one piece suits that have just left the beach. Takeout food counters are plentiful for those who aren’t watching their waistline or are avoiding the many very fine expensive restaurants in the area. Luckily there are enough benches along the side to catch your breath, sit and watch the passing scene (which let me tell you a wild and intriguing parade). Of course, you pass some of the most well known casino hotels. Tropicana is one of the oldest and largest with 2600 rooms but in need of renovations and its here you can see nightly Broadway performances. One evening I saw a good production of Fame. Caesar’s Palace and Casino, part of the umbrella that also covers the off -the -Boardwalk hotel a distance from this area, the stunningly designed, fairly new, Harrah’s Waterfront Tower (must mention the domed glass-in pool area filled with tropical plants and where ultra violet rays are eliminated) is a great attraction for those in need of ‘retail therapy’. At The Pier there is upper end retail from Gucci and Louis Vuitton to mid level Victoria’s Secret and Anne Taylor type shops. In this complex among the many eateries is a marvelous innovation with floor to ceiling curved window areas fitted with beach chairs and real sand, palm trees and plants, all overlooking the ocean.

The other Fashion outlet off the Boardwalk is filled with a huge variety of stores.

The 1.250 room Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and their relatively new attached luxurious 350 room Chairman Tower seems smaller than it really is. Of course, there’s drama before even entering as seven 2 ton stone elephants flank the entrance to the Carrera marble hotel lobby. There’s a brightness and directional walkway which skirts one of the largest (161,000 square feet) casinos in the world. Cashing out noises persist. Along the walkway is a fine white table cloth cuisine experience at Il Molina and by 6.30pm every table filled. Many guests are eating just before the performance in the 5,000 seat on-site Etess Arena where Marc Anthony was performing. Add your Comp Dollars gained while at the casino to purchases at any of the on-site stores or evening performances. Other hotels are taking this interesting recession tip to add to their amenities.

Just outside across the Boardwalk from this hotel is The Steel Pier, once the centre of attraction of the city. Kids still love the ferris wheels and other carnival attractions.

Away from there is the Gardner’s Marina. It’s a lovely, quaint area of the city where large boats are moored, new sizeable houses have been built and high quality craft shops in quaint cabins have non ‘kitschy’ handmade products. An aquarium should be happy hour for both adults and kids with the fine water displays of sea creatures, big and small.

And who wouldn’t go off the Boardwalk for the best Mac & Cheese (macaroni with the greatest mix of Italian cheeses) at Teplitzky’s atThe Chelsea Hotel? I’m still thinking about my tasting of this one time fast and simple meal.

But it’s still the casinos that pull in the crowds. From the games of choice there’s the clinking of the slots, the hoots of success from the tables, the private areas for the big spenders. These huge venues are definitely the top reason to visit. Gaming is big.

And starting in October West Jet Airlines will fly directly from the larger Canadian cities. It will be a coup for Canadians who want to feel as though they’re in a far off country but and having unique experiences.

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