Last week, we provided our Top-10 Las Vegas trip tips . The list was well received by our readers, prompting us to start a trend here at the weekly Top-10 list department.
While we realize that Las Vegas is the most popular gambling destination in the world, it is not the only one. There are plenty of other areas to visit where gambling is the main attraction. And we're making it our job to help you plan those trips in a way that you make the most of your time away from home and get the best bang for your buck.
This week, we head to Atlantic City and, with the help of Elaine Shapiro Zamansky from the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, we present 10 important things to consider as you hit the world famous Boardwalk.
10. Plan ahead
Having a game plan before you go on a trip is important no matter where you're going. It also helps you save money as well. The first thing you should do before planning a trip to A.C. is to visit the Atlantic City Visitors Authority Web site. There is a plethora of well-mapped out information here on anything and everything you need to know about the area. There's an event calendar, suggested itineraries and maps. You can even book your trip through the Web site. And, as Zamansky points out, be sure to surf the site for the many printable coupons it offers. They can save you money on meals, hotels, shows and other attractions.
9. Take advantage of free parking
Unlike Las Vegas, parking in Atlantic City is easy and convenient. Each casino and most hotels/motels have their own parking garages or lots, and there are additional surface lots throughout the city. Most of the casinos charge a small fee ($5 to $10, more if there's a large special event that night). But Zamansky clued us in on this useful tip: Save your casino parking receipt. If you leave that casino and drive to another before 6 a.m. the next day, you can use your parking receipt to park for free at the second casino.
8. Get on a roll
Atlantic City is made for walking. Most things are close by, and many of the casino resorts, hotels and attractions front a two- to three-mile stretch of the famous Boardwalk. But if your feet just won't carry you anymore – or if you want to be treated like royalty – hop aboard one of the ubiquitous rolling chairs that ply the Boardwalk. They are wicker chairs on wheels that hold up to three people and are pushed by live people. Fees start at $5 for up to five blocks. If you'd like a longer tour, you can negotiate the price.
7. Jump on a jitney
Another mode of cheap and unique transportation that Atlantic City has to offer are the iconic jitneys. The Atlantic City Jitney Association was started in 1915 and is the longest running non-subsidized transit company in America. (The term "jitney" is an old English term that means nickel.) For $2.50 per person, per ride, the blue, 13-passenger, light blue, mini-buses run the length of the city along Pacific Avenue (parallel to the Boardwalk), as well as routes that can take you to Gardner's Basin, the Marina District and the Atlantic City Outlets. The jitneys run 24 hours a day, with no set schedule, but you rarely have to wait more than 10 minutes for one. Look for signs designating jitney pick-up locations and routes at numerous street corners, and ask the driver to let you know when your stop is coming up. Don't be offended if one of them passes you by – that just means it's full and the next available one will stop for you.
6. Taxis are inexpensive
Of course, the old standby of public transportation – the taxi – is another convenient way to get around Atlantic City. Not only are taxis plentiful and available at all casino resorts in Atlantic City, they can be a real bargain, especially if you compare the rates to other major U.S. cities. In Atlantic City there's a cap of $13 per ride within the city boundaries, plus tip. That's right, a $13 maximum, whether you have one person in the cab or four, as long as you're staying within the Atlantic City boundaries. In Vegas, you'll be lucky to go more than five or six blocks down the Strip for $13.
5. Buy show tickets in advance
Atlantic City is fast becoming the East Coast Mecca for entertainment. Some venues are relatively small, and tickets can be in big demand. So it's imperative to purchase in advance. Aside from the casino resorts, you'll find great shows at venues such as the House of Blues and Boardwalk Hall, the city's main event arena. For a frequently updated look at what's going on, visit the Calendar of Events at the Visitors Authority Web site.
4. Make dinner reservations
Atlantic City is experiencing a restaurant boom, with great eateries in every cuisine, price range and style. The top restaurants are in big demand, especially on weekends. If you'd like to dine before 9:30 p.m., make sure you have reservations. If food is your thing, Zamansky suggests hitting Atlantic City Restaurant Week in March. This special week (March 1-7) will offer a great opportunity to eat at the finest restaurants for fixed price lunches at $15.09 and fixed price dinners at $33.09.
3. Go outside the Boardwalk
As great as Atlantic City's Boardwalk is, don't overlook the rest of the city's casinos. There are three more resorts in the Marina District -- Borgata/The Water Club, Trump Marina Hotel Casino and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City. But keep in mind that they are not within walking distance from the Boardwalk, so this is a great way to take advantage of those $13 max taxi fees.
2. Travel mid-week
Even with thousands of new hotel rooms available, Atlantic City hotels are usually at capacity on weekends, any time of the year. The means the best rates are available mid-week (Sunday-Thursday nights). There are always plenty of special rates and packages available.
1. Do more than just gamble
Atlantic City isn't just about casino gaming. There's a real beach and Boardwalk, which means you can also enjoy fishing, boating, beach volleyball, surfing, bicycle riding on the Boardwalk and beach bars (in season, of course). There are also museums, a historic lighthouse, an intimate aquarium and at least a dozen top-notch golf courses in the area. And don't forget shopping – there are several relatively new shopping districts. The Atlantic City Convention & Visitor's Authority has visitor information centers on the Atlantic City Expressway, at Boardwalk Hall and at the corner of Mississippi Avenue on the Boardwalk. Zamansky urges you to stop and ask for help because that's what they're there for!