I think we can all agree, New Jersey has a bad rep. I’ll openly admit I’ve been referring to it as Dirty Jerz in menial conversation for years now. Somewhere along the way, to Jersey’s dismay, it became associated with pollution, mobsters and a host of generally undesirable attributes. So much so, in fact, that there’s a website called Armpit NJ. Look it up. It’s pretty comical.
That being said, I’m going to say something that I will probably not say again for a subsequent 15 years or so, because that’s who I am as a person. I was wrong. One hundred and thirty miles of coastline mark the Jersey Shore, boasting scenic, sandy beaches and some charming hidden gems. My five-day stay was replete with lovely sights, breathtaking sunsets and delicious meals, all sans pollution and to my knowledge, mobsters.
If you weren’t following my Instagram this past week, here’s a peek:
I’m in no way going to pretend I was in the laps of luxury, because anyone who’s been to Atlantic City knows that would be a stretch further than the AC boardwalk, which is actually remarkably lengthy. I will say, though, that Dirty Jerz ended up serving as proof that there is beauty hidden in unsuspecting places if you take some time to look for it.
The Low Down:
Just Back From:
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Mode of Transportation:
Car. To be precise, I lounged in the backseat of my Grandpa’s Nissan with my Mom while he rode shotgun and my Dad drove. Just your average four hours of Frank Sinatra XM coupled with a mild dose of road rage mixed with Red Bull. Another story for another time, friends.
Where We Stayed:
Tropicana Casino & Resort. I should preface this part with the fact that I really had nothing to do with the travel plans. I pretty much latched myself on to my parents’ vacation, so everything was pre-planned for me (Third wheelin’, heeey). Regardless, I had zero complaints. The beach-front resort boasts 2,079 rooms and suites, 24 places to dine, a handful of bars with live entertainment, retails shops and of course, a bustling casino. Consequently, no matter your age or your interests, there’s undoubtedly something for you. It’s interesting to note, though, that Tropicana is actually located on the lower end of the boardwalk. A fact I didn’t realize until we decided to walk the boardwalk’s length on the third day, and noticed just how far we were from the shopping outlets and other major hotels. You’ll never notice this, though, until you actually head down to the other end. Tropicana has a bustling vibe, not to mention plenty to offer, so despite the fact it’s a bit secluded, you’ll never feel that way during your stay. Plus, our room had a waterfront view. Cue happy jig.
Best Meal I Ate:
Scampi alla verdi at Il Verdi, and it was decadent.
Anyone who has dined with me on more than one occasion knows I’m an 80 percent atmosphere, 20 percent food kind of girl. The meal could be a 10 out of 10, but if the atmosphere is poor, I probably won’t return. My philosophy is that I could cook fabulous meals at home (well… semi-fabulous meals, at least), so if I’m paying to go out, I want the whole package. I have high dining standards. I call it my beer budget, champagne taste lifestyle. That being said, Il Verdi was champagne.
The restaurant itself is located inside Tropicana, which I’ll say threw me a bit at first, because inside Tropicana means no outside waterfront view. Trust me, you won’t miss it. Despite being located inside the hotel adjacent to the casino, the restaurant is on the high-end side. In other words, don’t roll in straight off the beach.
You’ll be greeted at the entrance by a pretty dapper host, who will then lead you down a black marble hallway lined with mirrors, which will then undoubtedly leave you feeling like you’re set in the scene of a 1960’s Italian mobster film. Don’t worry, the feeling will pass, after which you’ll notice the decor itself is actually pretty Manhattan-chic featuring black marble accents, elaborate gold chandeliers and sophisticated window drapings.
As the aesthetics might hint, Il Verdi is known for their fine Italian cuisine. Their meticulously curated dishes and their award winning wine list combine to create a memorable dining experience, evident in the most delicious, decadent dish of scampi alla verdi I may ever consume.
Best Night Out
Tango’s Lounge. I’m not one to rage. In fact, I think I’m actually an 80 year old trapped inside a 24 year old’s body. So bars where I can sit, listen to music and relax are my spirit animal 90 percent of the time. What I liked about Tango’s was that I could do just that while encompassed in a high-energy vibe. Plush black leather couches served as our oasis as we sat for two hours and listened to the outrageously talented cover band, whose name I cannot remember because I convinced myself I would not forget it and thus, didn’t write it down. Don’t worry, there’s a dance floor too, in case your inner college kid decides to come out.
The rooftop at Tropicana Casino & Resorts. There are few things better than a rooftop bar on the perfect summer day. Do not argue me on this. This one just happened to come with a pool and a bounty of gorgeous cabanas. Plus, scattered flowers just begging to be photographed.
Lounging by The Pool at Harrah’s Resort. When my parents told me they were vacationing in Atlantic City and asked me to come along, I in no way expected to find paradise. I will say, though, that I came as close as a girl can hope for at Harrah’s. Five secluded hot tubs, sun-soaked day beds and a sea of palm trees culminate the tropical oasis at Harrah’s indoor pool, which boasts a beautiful 82 degrees 365 days a year. Happiness. All of the happiness.
Travel Must Haves
First, I think it’s extremely important to note that I got this hat, which I dubbed my vacation hat from Torrid for free. I told my father this while also explaining that clearance was buy one get one free and he quickly stated that doesn’t make it free. I beg to differ. Regardless, it was like they knew I was vacationing and needed the most perfect head wear.
AC is the ultimate beach destination, so leaving without a bathing suit, sunglasses and a pair of chic yet easy-to-throw-on sandals will leave you sad. Trust me on this one. Head to Instagram to see the most festive pair of vacation shorts you’ll ever see. Bonus: They were $15 from H&M. Hashtag America.
That’s AC in 10 minutes, sans high-end outlets that were practically screaming my name as we exited the city. Next time, AC.