Atlantic City, the legendary New Jersey beach resort, still offers teeth-achingly good saltwater taffy, as it has since 1889. Folks still stroll along the now 5.5-mile-long Boardwalk, stopping to buy a sweatshirt here, a candy apple there. Some opt to be pushed along in wicker chairs, enjoying the breeze, as folks have done for almost a century.
But change has arrived. The classic Steel Pier is embarking on a $102 million renovation project that will feature state-of-the-art rides, a massive Ferris wheel, a museum, night clubs and a 2,000-seat ballroom (the fabled diving horse has thankfully gone on to greener pastures). Perhaps most important, The Miss America Pageant returned to Atlantic City this fall, where Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri (the first of Indian descent) won the coveted rhinestone-studded crown. The event, and the city, were packed over that weekend. Some traditions don’t die.
While so much is deliciously unchanged in Atlantic City, much is also thrillingly new. Gambling around the clock became legal there in 1977, catering to everyone from serious high rollers to folks who play the penny slots all day. Big names — Aerosmith, Madonna, Beyoncé, Metallica — now perform there.
Great spas vie with five-star dining for visitor dollars. A few of the top choices: Robert’s Steakhouse at Trump Taj Mahal, FIN at Tropicana for fresher-than-fresh seafood, Ono at the Atlantic Club Casino for great Chinese and sushi with a view. The casino hotels are new, well kept and want your business. Get away from the fray at the Golden Nugget, for well-priced rooms and suites.