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Atlantic City- The Crown Jewel of the Jersey Shore

Aug 17, 2007
Atlantic City is better than ever!

This fun filled destination, famous for gambling and ritzy casinos, offers great entertainment, good restaurants, shopping, relaxing on the beach, and more.

While casino gambling remains its major attraction, the city is intent on becoming a destination that offers fun and excitement for the entire family.

With over 37 million visitors a year, this New Jersey beachfront resort now rivals other major tourist destinations like Las Vegas and Disney world.

It certainly lives up to its motto Always Turned On!

Atlantic City has a long and fascinating history.

Dr. Jonathon Pitney originally developed the city as a seaside health resort for the wealthy residents of Philadelphia. Development as a major resort for the not so wealthy took off significantly after 1854 when Philadelphia investors created a rail line linking Atlantic City with Camden, just across the river from Philadelphia.

It is the real-life model for the board game Monopoly, the nation's first Boardwalk, the world's first big Ferris wheel, the first color postcards, and the home of the first Miss America Beauty Pageant.

During prohibition and the depression, Atlantic City was a center for bootlegging, smuggling, speakeasies and illegal gambling. The mafia found Atlantic City to be a good place for profitable business operations and vacationing. The nearby Pine Barrens were convenient and well suited for the mafia's activities. Because of its seclusion and forest cover, and close proximity to Atlantic City (as well as New York and Philadelphia where many mafia resided), the Pine Barrens proved to be ideal for distilling, bootlegging, and body disposal.

It was in Atlantic City where the Mafia established itself as a national organization. Fearing the end of prohibition and the loss of profitable bootlegging operations, Mafia leaders from the Midwest and East Coast, --- Al Capone Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano --- held their first national conference in 1929 at the President Hotel. It was here that they were able to develop a system of arbitration and solidify networks made through bootlegging to become a national organization.

With airline travel flourishing and the Caribbean and Florida becoming a magnet for east coast tourists, Atlantic City experienced a decline during the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

This phenomenon prompted visionary city officials to seek an alternative draw as they campaigned to get the state to open the city to gambling in the hopes of revitalizing the city and restoring it to its former glory days.

With the passage of the Casino Gambling Referendum in 1976, and with the opening of the first casino at Resorts International in 1978, Atlantic City began its resurgence as a major destination for fun and entertainment.

Since then, the City has experienced continued development of hotels, casinos, nite clubs, entertainment, and other fun attractions offering more than casino gambling.

When is the best time to visit?

While there is year round activity, with the summer being the peak season, the more budget minded visitors might consider coming in the winter from January to April, when almost all hotel casinos offer outstanding deals and the facilities are less crowded.

What can families who do not gamble do?

Atlantic City provides lots of entertainment beyond the casinos. Stroll the famous Boardwalk, six miles long and 60 feet wide, paralleling the ocean, it is the largest of New Jerseys boardwalks. It is free! Hop on a historic rolling wicker chair and ride in style. The Boardwalk is the place to see and be seen. Forget the calories and indulge in a juicy hot dog with all the trimmings, chewy saltwater taffy and filmy cotton candy.

In the mood for some shopping? Try the Atlantic City Outlets - The Walk. Its an outlet mecca offering very good shopping from children's clothing to home decor and jewelry, to quality clothing including Coach, Banana Republic, and Brooks Brothers. Enjoy the many restaurants and clubs located within this complex.

Try the Quarter at the Tropicana, where the streets of Havana come alive, with many unique shops and restaurants, from a burger with the kids to fine dining. ]

This city boasts the best concentration of first class restaurants in the state, as well as outstanding Philly cheese steak sandwiches, pizza, and family restaurants.

Enjoy a day at the beaches or on the water with a dolphin/whale-watching cruise, parasailing, or a fishing expedition. This destination also offers great ocean fishing and depending on the time of the year, you might catch Marlin, Shark or Tuna.

Check out the Atlantic City Aquarium located in the Historic Gardner's Basin. It offers a fun and educational look into more than 100 varieties of fish and marine animals.

For golf enthusiasts, there are several championship golf courses nearby, including Blue Heron Pines East and West, The Links at Brigantine Beach, Harbor Pines, Mays Landing Golf and Country Club, Sand Barrens Golf Club, Shore Gate Golf Club and Twisted Dune Golf Club.

If you'd like to learn more about the city in its glory days, visit the Atlantic City Historical Museum and Cultural Center.

The Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum offers many attractions including the world's only wood-carved medieval castle, a roulette wheel made entirely of jellybeans, and a gallery dedicated to disasters and human survival stories.

The Absecon Lighthouse, built in 1857 at 171 feet, is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey. You can climb 228 steps for an unbeatable view of the casinos, boardwalk and shoreline.

Atlantic City is better than ever!
About the Author
Frank Dalotto is a freelance writer and travel consultant. His specialty is writing articles about New Jersey travel, including attractions, events, and restaurant reviews. He is the owner and editor of New Jersey Leisure Guide and a travel consultant for Leisure Travel Mart. He is a member of ASTA (American Association of Travel Agents) and CLIA (Cruise Line International Association).
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