Atlantic City as a quick getaway destination was a very pleasant surprise. I was looking for an affordable location on the beach. That was the deal breaker; it had to be on the beach. After looking through every town in NJ, MD and DE, I settled on Atlantic City because of the casinos. I do not really gamble, other than football bets with friends for Starbucks. The casinos were not the draw in of themselves. They were the means to a nice hotel on the beach.
All the casinos seemed to have mid-week deals on rooms. It was a matter of comparing who had the best price for a standard room. Once I found several locations under $100 a night for a standard room, I compared the facilities themselves. With dietary restrictions, I need to make sure that there was food that I could eat. The Trump Taj Mahal won based on the fact that the website advertises the following restaurants, including a buffet and an american cafe, in the hotel:
IL MULINO NEW YORK
MOON AT DYNASTY
WHITE HOUSE SUB SHOP
TRATTORIA IL MULINO
THE RIM NOODLE BAR
PLATE AMERICAN CAFE
HARD ROCK CAFE
ROYAL ALBERT'S PALACE
MAHARAJA EXPRESS & SALAD EXPRESS
The problem was over half of those restaurants were not open, including the buffet, or had severely curtailed hours of operation. Nowhere on the webpage does it list the restaurant as seasonal: http://www.trumptaj.com/dining/ . Only the two very pricey steakhouses were open besides the fast food and the hit or miss american cafe.
Instead of being able to just base ourselves at the hotel for all our needs except the beach, I spent more time than I had planned on web searches (not on the hotel wifi which was not free but on my phone's data plan) trying to find restaurants in walking distance that could accommodate my needs (no red meats, no fried foods). The House of Blues in the Showboat Casino advertised a pasta dish on their online menu and the menu posted outside of the restaurant but when we were given menus in the restaurant, it was no where to be found. After explaining my situation to the waiter, he spoke to the chef, who kindly made me a pasta dish.
The location itself was great, on the boardwalk, a short walk to the Landshark and Steel Pier. The room was very nice and clean with view of the beach from the side. The staff were very kind and helpful but the Taj fell short of my ideal hotel because of the need to forage for food. The Taj could have at least put signs in front of their restaurants saying when and why they were closed instead of just closed. We had to ask at the desk to find out Plate was open from 7a-2p only. If the Trump Taj had put the correct information on their website, I would have selected a different hotel.
I recommend Atlantic City (see blog post on Atlantic City fun). I do not recommend the Trump Taj Mahal.
Atlantic City has a lot to offer if you are interested in the beach and nightlife. The beach was nice (see slideshow above). It was clean. Lifeguards were on duty from 10a-6p. The water was nice, a little chilly at first but after the heat of the beach it was refreshing. We literally walked out of the hotel doors, crossed the boardwalk and were on the beach.
Walking on the boardwalk in the evening was a nice way to wind down the day. There are benches and Adirondack chairs placed all along the boardwalk. They are the perfect place to sit and people watch or just plan your next move.
The pictures, in the slideshow below, were taken from the deck of the Landshark Bar (http://atlanticcity.landsharkbarandgrill.com/ ) . The restaurant has a wonderful open deck that overlooks the ocean plus the lower bar area shown in the pictures. It was a nice place. The music was not too loud so you could still have conversation and the service was great. Almost all the big chains, HardRock Cafe, House of Blues and Margaritaville had outdoor dining areas but Landshark was the only one actually located on the beach itself.
We arrived around 5p on a Monday evening and left shortly after breakfast on a Wednesday morning. Tuesday was spent on the beach. It was a nice break. Only a 3 hour drive and the beach is waiting at the end. For a quick break, I would recommend Atlantic City. Good prices on hotels if you are willing to do some work to find them and food outside of the major chains seemed to be reasonable. The beaches certainly weren't crowded. I can't say whether they will be back in July and August but for June, they were great. So got a free day, get an early start and do the Atlantic City beach for a day!