After spending the morning indulging our (my) inner child, we set off to please our grown-up selves in a place we had always heard was akin to the Las Vegas of the East Coast: Atlantic City.
The hotels of Atlantic City rose up from the skyline as we crossed the bridge onto Absecon Island (one of the barrier islands that make up the Jersey shore). After checking into our hotel, we headed in the direction of the boardwalk (a.k.a., Atlantic City’s version of the Las Vegas Strip), eagerly anticipating the debauchery that surely awaited us.
But when we finally made it to the boardwalk, this is what we found.
Apparently, what happens in Atlantic City stays in Atlantic City… because nothing noteworthy happens there, and no one at home needs to hear about it!
Sure, the hotels had the same names as the hotels in Vegas (the Tropicana, Bally’s, Caesars, etc.), but it was clear that Atlantic City’s glory days were long past. The shops were not the flashy one-of-a-kind designer shops scattered throughout Vegas, and the hotels had definitely seen better days. Stale smoke hung in the lobby air like cobwebs as rows upon rows of seniors spent their golden years hunched over penny slots.
What had seemed so glamourous on Sex and the City (my reference) turned out to be nothing more than a row of washed-up hotels on the seashore.
Heinrich and I walked up and down the boardwalk, occasionally entering one of the dingy lobbies before escaping back outside into natural light. There appeared to be only a few shops that repeated themselves along the entire length: some sort of dollar store, a saltwater taffy stand, and worst of all, the T-shirt shops that all had this shirt in their front window:
To be fair, AC does have some claims to fame. It hosts the annual Miss America pageant (some of the winning dresses and tiaras were actually on display in our hotel!), and the game Monopoly took its street names from AC (hence why the Boardwalk is the most valuable property!). And I suppose the boardwalk itself does have some interesting sculptures and an amusement park. And let’s not forget that saltwater taffy is delicious!
Still, after a few laps along the Boardwalk, Heinrich and I headed back to our hotel. After the tranquility of the past few days in rural Pennsylvania, we had perhaps expected the big city to be more than just a wannabe Vegas beside the ocean. But as with any trip, there are hits and misses, and while AC missed the mark, there was plenty that still lay ahead of us.