Get ready for Atlantic City’s biggest summer season yet
By Sean Chaffin
Sun, surf, sand, and some casino gaming. Atlantic City is perfect for all of this each summer and the scene just keeps getting better. As vacationers break out the beach chairs and sunglasses, properties are upping the experience with even more amenities and offerings on the horizon this summer.
From new outdoor experiences and entertainment options to renovated rooms and expanded gaming opportunities, players are in for a big summer this year in AC. Grab the beach towel and sunscreen as well as that lucky charm, a gaming getaway awaits at one of the country’s favorite seaside spots. Here’s a look at what to expect this summer in America’s Playground.
BALLY’S ATLANTIC CITY BRINGS PLENTY OF SUMMER ACTIVITIES, FRESH NEW ROOMS
This Atlantic City staple is under new ownership and unveiled property-wide renovations on Memorial Day weekend, just in time to kick off the summer season. That includes the all-new Bally’s Tower, featuring 750 fresh rooms, a new hotel lobby, the Carousel Bar, and The Yard venue.
The all-new hotel lobby design includes a complete facelift—from carpet to walls and a reimagined front desk with new finishes. The updates make the arrival experience align with the brilliant new guest rooms. The new Carousel Bar also features something completely different: a 360-degree rotating experience with views of the casino and hotel lobby. The facility features an elevated 24-seat rotating bar reminiscent of a carousel and is the first venue of its kind in New Jersey. The bar seems perfect for summer as guests enjoy modern cocktails with Atlantic City flavors like saltwater taffy, cotton candy, funnel cake, and more.
Speaking of perfect for summer, The Yard may have the perfect tagline for a summer sea and casino getaway: “Beers, Eats & Beats.” This unique venue is located in the Bally’s courtyard right next to the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Guests can sip a craft brew at this beer garden-style venue while checking out the live entertainment, gastro-pub menu, and a wide range of local and national beers. A mixologist will happily mix up a nice cocktail as well. Ramp up the fun by grabbing a spot at the ’90s-themed arcade games. Drop in a lounge seat at the indoor or outdoor stage when a band takes the stage. The summer fun continues at Legends VIP Beach, just off the Bally’s Beach Bar. This area is for Bally Rewards Legend members and offers private lounges, beachside butler service, beach massages, and more.
A summertime stay at Bally’s is now even better with the newly remodeled Bally’s Tower. Rooms feature a design inspired by the Atlantic City beach and Boardwalk. The contemporary and clean design reflects a bright and soothing coastal environment.
The tower includes 112 corner deluxe king rooms with extra space and unmatched views. The suites feature separate sitting areas and a spa-like experience in each bathroom, complete with ocean or bay views. The 45th through 48th floors also now include 16 new penthouse-style suites. These best-in-class properties include dining areas, pool tables, wet bars, custom rainfall showers, and more. Stay and play in style this summer at Bally’s.
PRIME TIME AT BORGATA
Any trip to one of AC’s most popular resorts now includes the new restaurant B-Prime Steakhouse. The contemporary steakhouse concept opened in June with a curated collection of the best steak cuts available, sourced from Japan, New Jersey, Idaho and Texas. For more drink options, check out the Borgata Beer Garden, with a full-service canopied bar serving more than 15 domestic and craft beers along with mouth-watering bar snacks and bites.
Numerous entertainment options also await including Premier Nightclub with a captivating theatrical atmosphere featuring top DJs. The Burlesque Show also runs each Thursday in the Music Box. Several big names also hit the Borgata this summer including:
Funambula (July 21–24) – Bello Nock and Funambula bring a Cirque-style extravaganza with beautiful dancers, amazing motorcyclists and more.
Trevor Noah (July 22) – The host of the The Daily Show on Comedy Central brings his “Back to Abnormal” Tour to AC.
Steely Dan (Aug. 6) – Join the band for the Absolutely Normal Tour for classic rock hits such as “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Dirty Work.”
Rick Springfield (Aug. 19) – Rock out to hits like “Jessie’s Girl” at the Borgata’s Event Center with special guests Men at Work and John Waite.
No summer trip to the Borgata would be complete without a trip to the fabulous pool. The atrium-style facility features a tropical environment with the option of simply lounging, hitting the pool, or relaxing in one of two large hot tubs. Need some sun? Head outdoors in the courtyard and take it easy.
CAESARS RAMPS UP POOL SCENE, RESTAURANT OFFERINGS
Dining and relaxation just got better at Caesars. The property recently announced a complete pool deck transformation just in time for summer. The new pool experience includes stunning beach and ocean views from the rooftop of Qua Baths and Spa. The pool offers two levels of seating with modern lounge chairs, daybeds and cabanas for the best in relaxation. The bar also lets guests order a refreshing cocktail or beer with one of the best pool views in the city, all overlooking the beach and Boardwalk. Summer doesn’t get much better.
Diners also can live like modern- day Caesars at the property. The resort has added two new restaurants for the best in dining. Chef Gordon Ramsay opens the East Coast’s first Hell’s Kitchen restaurant at the property this summer, with design features giving a nod to the red and blue teams featured on the television show. Expect some of Ramsay’s signature classics like Beef Wellington, the Hell’s Kitchen Burger, Lobster Risotto, and handcrafted cocktails.
Visitors will also notice plenty of changes in the hotel including newly renovated rooms and suites in the Centurion and Ocean Towers. Rooms range from 450 to 700 square feet with spectacular views and fresh design elements. The decor displays a modern Roman aesthetic with rich hues of blue and cream colors, drawing inspiration from local scenery, including the beach, ocean and the famed Boardwalk. Guests will notice contrasting white and gray tones with contemporary furniture, including modern bathrooms with oversized showers, mirrors, and other high-end amenities. The property continues adding to the classic Atlantic City Caesars experience.
ENTERTAINMENT EXPLOSION AT GOLDEN NUGGET
From the casino to the stage and beyond, numerous opportunities await vacationers this summer at the Golden Nugget. That includes a packed schedule of performers and acts for every taste. Head to the The Deck Bayfront Bar and Restaurant for festivals and activities all summer long. Music fans will enjoy a step back in time on Aug. 13 with Deckstock, a re-creation of the famous 1969 Woodstock music festival in New York. Enjoy the sights and sounds of tribute bands and acts featuring The Animals, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, David Bowie and more. The Deck also features nightly live entertainment with weekly theme nights including reggae, country, rock, cover bands, and more. The Rush Lounge also offers live nightly entertainment. The great music continues at the property with some other great acts, including Yacht Rock Legends featuring Elliot Lurie, Walter Egan, Bill Champlin, and Peter Beckett on Aug. 6; and The Spinners on Sept. 17.
Casino players are also in luck this summer at the Nugget, with numerous promotions in the works. Gamblers can earn entries into the $250,000 Labor Day Sweepstakes through Sept. 3. Earn 5X entries every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday with 10X entries during the grand finale weekend, Sept. 2–4.The property will announce 10 winners every 30 minutes from Sept. 4 from 2–8 p.m. In July and August, players can earn a tier credit multiplier every Sunday. Premier members earn
2X tier credits, Chairman members earn 3X, and Elite members earn 4X. Players also earn 2X comp dollars every Monday, and 2X tier credits and 2X slot dollars every Tuesday and Thursday. Everyone’s a winner this summer at the Golden Nugget.
HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO ATLANTIC CITY: AMAZING ART SHOW, PRO WRESTLING, ENTERTAINMENT AND MORE
An eclectic mix of events is planned this summer at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience runs at the property through Aug. 28, allowing guests to witness more than 300 iconic masterpieces, including classics such as “The Starry Night” and “Café Terrace at Night.” The show has sold over 2.5 million tickets globally, making it one of the most popular current traveling exhibitions. Make it a day of culture by taking in this amazing experience.
On a completely different note, ramp up a night of fun with the superstars of the WWE on Aug. 14.The Sunday Stunner offers plenty of fun with headlocks, dropkicks and plenty of high-flying action. Tickets start at just $25. Numerous other acts hit the Hard Rock stage this summer as well including John Fogerty, the founder of Creedence Clearwater Revival, on Sept. 9. Other major acts include Sam Hunt, July 23; The Joe Perry Project, July 23; Chris Isaak, July 29; Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, July 30; Five for Fighting, July 30; Alicia Keys, Aug. 6; Rod Stewart, Aug. 19; and Ringo Starr & The All Starr Band, Sept. 24.
CHECK OUT A NEW ROOM, SUITE, RESTAURANT OR EVEN A BIKE TRIP AT OCEAN
A trip to Ocean Casino Resort this summer means a more pleasant visitor experience, if that’s even possible. The property is finishing the renovation of 460 hotel rooms and suites, part of $85 million in property development. Beginning July 1, guests can choose one of the new 463-square-foot Contemporary Blu rooms. These new designs draw inspiration from the colors and patterns of the shoreline, offering a beach-inspired stay complete with newly redesigned flooring and wallcoverings for a calming atmosphere. Pops of color complement Ocean’s breathtaking views, and the brilliant bathrooms feature marble flooring, a double vanity, and an oversized shower.
Continuing the beach focus, the newly built suites offer elevated interior finishes and amenities such as dining areas, wet bars, and generous lounge seating. The Social Suite features stylish furniture, distinctive lighting, a freestanding soaking tub, and more.
Sports bettors looking for some action will now have something even beyond the traditional sportsbook at Ocean. Another $5.2 million in project funds have been geared toward the new Gallery Bar Book & Games. The venue features a 100-foot elevated bar and lounge, video poker, blackjack and roulette tables, and 140 feet of LED walls.
The Gallery, located in the center of the casino floor, sets the stage for game nights, wagering on big contests, and sharing some after-hours experiences with friends. A 17-foot open-air staircase connects the area to the Balcony Bar,—a mezzanine bar and lounge where guests can enjoy the ultimate VIP sportsbook experience. The Gallery hopes to upend the idea of the run-of-the-mill sportsbook.
Serendipity3 debuted June 1 and the iconic restaurant and sweet stop brings a one-of-a- kind dining experience to the Jersey Shore. The new eatery features burgers, sandwiches and salads, as well as Serendipity3’s famous desserts, such as Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. A new Starbucks also adds to a growing number of new establishments at Ocean. This new shop offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
BOBBY FLAY DEBUTS NEW RESTAURANT AT HARRAH’S
A much-anticipated dining experience makes its debut soon at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City. Bobby’s Burgers, brought to diners by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, opens in early summer. The fast-casual brand is inspired by Flay’s love of bold flavors and top-quality ingredients. Visitors from the tri-state area can indulge in traditional burgers, fries and shakes with a unique twist. Bobby’s makes use of Flay’s original recipes and classic flavors at moderate prices. “I’m thrilled to bring the flavor and energy of Bobby’s Burgers to Harrah’s Atlantic City,” Flay said. “The AC crowd has been asking me for well over a decade to bring my burger, fries, and shake concept to the city. My goal is to have the entire Jersey Shore eating bacon crunchburgers, crispy fries, and pistachio shakes for years to come.”
Beyond the new dining option, some other nice options head players’ way at Harrah’s. The property is offering special 25% off vacation packages throughout the summer. The Masters of Illusion show makes its debut nightly through September with cutting-edge illusionists, sleight-of-hand tricks, and other interactive magic to leave the audience spellbound. Comedian Eddie Griffin takes the stage Aug. 12, bringing plenty of laughs.
The Pool at Harrah’s offers a fantastic oasis of luxurious escape. The glass-domed facility offers water at a constant 82 degrees in a lush tropical atmosphere. Order a poolside cocktail as you relax and enjoy the nice vibes.
VINNIE FAVORITO BRINGS HIS “JUST KIDDING” COMEDY TO OCEAN CASINO RESORT
Stand-up comedian Vinnie Favorito returns to Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, performing at HQ2 Nightclub every Saturday night through Sept.3.Receiving accolades from Milton Berle and George Carlin is high praise but with a comic like Favorito, it’s more than well-de- served. Known for his unique comedy style, where each member of the audience becomes the subject of their own celebrity roast, Favorito’s approach is at times ruthless, offensive and crass.
Recently, Ocean Casino Resort chatted with Vinnie as he prepared to bring his show back to property, touching on his Boston comedy beginnings, the current state of the world, and how his roast-style comedy continues to resonate with fans.
Live comedy is returning all over the country, and you will be performing at HQ2 Nightclub at Ocean Casino Resort every Saturday this summer. Are you excited to come back to the East Coast?
Vinnie Favorito: I am. I was in Vegas for all of those years and came home to the East Coast. I used to do Atlantic City years ago, so it’s really great to be back.
Would you say that your comedy has an East Coast sensibility?
Oh, absolutely. It’s definitely in my wheelhouse, although I do love Vegas and have fans across the country.
You are known for your roast-style comedy and crowd interaction, but that is probably what people absolutely love seeing you do, is that fair?
I think it is very fair. Listen, I know that the world has changed, but there is still a following for what I do. I stand my ground as far as being politically correct, but I do it with likability. Believe it or not, I win over crowds from every walk of life that attend my shows. They realize that I am not just making fun of them, I am making fun of everyone and we are all laughing together. There are plenty of disclaimers before the crowd gets there—I even tell them that if they’re easily offended, now is their time to bail. They stick around and realize that the world is a little bit screwed up and this is a pretty cool escape. I am equal opportunity and I mess with everybody and anybody from every walk of life. If I can mess with myself, I mess with everyone else. I do some jokes up front and then I go into the audience and say, “What’s your name, where you from?” and take it from there.
So many comedians are influenced by the ones that came before them. Who are some of the comedians that truly have influenced you?
I’ve always been compared to Don Rickles. Milton Berle actually made me an honorary member and I would always do the roasts at the Friars Clubs. I did a show one night in Hollywood after which Milton Berle called over all of the photographers after I got off the stage and had me sit with him and his wife. He said, “This guy’s new name is ‘Rickles with venom.’” It was perfect. George Carlin was a big fan of mine, when we both worked in Vegas at the same time. He is quoted as telling me, “You walk [the line] without crossing over it.” He said he has never seen anyone dig a hole and get out of it like I could and that I am a “rose sticking out of the cement.”
You have had so many rare experiences that many of today’s comics would not have been privileged to have. Is some of your success steeped in your Boston comedy roots?
I come from a great comedy town. When I came up, comedy was on every corner. We used to do shows at Nick’s Comedy Shop in Boston, six shows a night. There are just so many great comics out there right now, like Bill Burr who was a student of mine when I taught comedy. Basically, the comics today have stadium shows, God bless them, but I am just so happy with a 200-seat, intimate crowd where I show as much attention as I can to each of them. I was known for the most repeat business, and people have come up and said, “This is my twelfth time you still haven’t done me.” I just tell them, “You’ll have to buy another ticket then” [laughs]. I have hours of material I haven’t touched because I just don’t think I will be as funny as the crowd work can be.
Doing a show at HQ2 is a new experience for so many and completely unique to Ocean. What is it like to perform in a room like that?
We chose HQ2 because it is so Vinnie Favorito. With the couches and the pub tables on the dance floor; the whole setting of the room—it’s such a special room. You want a feel of a real club and that is in HQ2; I think it’s gorgeous. Once the show begins and it’s contagious, people don’t even like to get up to go to the restroom, they’re afraid that they’ll miss some- thing [laughs].
When Covid hit, it took the ability to perform on a stage away from live performers. Were you able to pick right up where you left off?
I picked up right where I left off. My fans are loving it because they thought maybe I would change because of the pressure of what is going on in the world, and I won’t.
I don’t talk about politics or religion or anything that splits a room; I’m too smart for that. In my room everyone feels equal in the show, and that is the key to what I do. It’s magical.
For tickets and information on Vinnie Favorito – “Just Kidding,” visit www.theoceanac.com.
GET IN THE GROOVE AT RESORTS
Things are heating up this summer at Resorts and there are plenty of reasons to book a room. Entertainment options abound with live music on the menu every day. Get in beach mode with live music daily at LandShark Bar & Grill and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Other major acts are also on tap including Forever Motown on July 29.
On Aug. 20, comedian and America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel takes the stage. A top performer for more than 30 years, he recently finished production on his new documentary Howie Mandel: But Enough About Me. It should be a great night of laughs.
For another entertaining option, check out Beach Ball Butcher – Murder on the 13th Floor on July 22 & 23.This is an interactive show with the audience becoming part of the action. During this hour-long event, audience members are set loose in a race to gather the clues and solve the case. But be careful, a killer is on the loose and no one knows who will be the next victim. Plenty more is planned at Resorts.
The Coral Lounge, the new under-the-sea–themed pop-up bar on the casino floor, will be a popular spot. Check out the fun ocean-inspired drink specials and live entertainment such as Bar Bingo with a musical twist every Sunday, Britany Lynn’s Queen Comedy Cabaret on Tuesdays and on Friday’s, live music from 5–8 p.m. and a DJ from 8 p.m.–2 a.m. Look for additional promotions and giveaways every Friday from 9–11 p.m., sponsored by major liquor companies.
For some outdoor chill time, the newly renovated pool deck debuts in July. Look for a new indoor/outdoor pool with customized tile work, a large bar area, and expanded space to relax.
On the casino side, expect plenty of promotions planned including a chance to win a Harley-Davidson Fatboy motorcycle as part of the new “Born 2 Ride” blackjack promotion. All new rewards club members play for free and existing Star Card Members earning two tier points will go head to head against the dealer. Any player dealt a suited blackjack instantly wins $100 and all participants receive an entry for the motorcycle.
Look for the blackjack table in the Margaritaville lobby every Friday and Saturday from 7–11 p.m. through June 30. “Born 2 Ride” sweepstakes kicks into overdrive from July 1–Sept. 4, allowing guests to enter every day of the week. The Fatboy winner will be announced Oct. 1.
Looking for a nice slot getaway? Resorts also boasts a recent gaming floor update with more than the newest and hottest games. The casino also has several fun promotions throughout the week, including:
Summer Fun T-Shirt Giveaway (Mondays); Midweek Gift Series (Tuesdays); Free Pull on First Slot Machine (Wednesdays); Mystery Money (Thursdays); King of the Sea $3,000 slot tournament (Fridays); and earn 22X entries intothe BMW 228i Coupe sweepstakes, (Saturdays).
TROPICANA SERVES UP SEVERAL NEW DINING OPTIONS, GAMING ADDITIONS
It seems every Atlantic City property is expanding with new dining options and that includes the Tropicana. The new additions are part of Caesars Entertainment’s $400 million investment into its Atlantic City resorts. Some of those have already opened, offering something new to look forward to on your next trip.
Wild Honey Smokehouse and Tavern opened for business in April and the 5,000-square-foot barbecue aims to “elevate classic American comfort foods.” Look for regional BBQ traditions from across the country and the finest quality meats and seafood. The bar program features an extended beer list, innovative large-format cocktails, and a selection of double-barrel smoked cocktails to complete the experience.
Fans of Asian cuisine will feel right at home at Ossu Japanese Tavern, offering a modern experience just in time for summer. The eatery focuses on small plates, yakitori, sushi and more. Another new summer option is Hash House A Go Go, adding some Midwest flair to the Jersey shore with “twisted farm food and crafted cocktails.” Purple Zebra also launched on the Fourth of July with a delicious daiquiri bar, as well as Gin Rickey’s with a live music sing-along bar featuring dueling pianos in The Quarter. The 4,000-square-foot venue is open seven days a week with nightly live performances, showcasing dueling pianos Thursday–Sunday. Even more dining options debut this fall.
In the casino, numerous gaming enhancements welcome players to the property. A new Caesars Rewards experience center combines digital and in-person gaming with tablets and a Caesars Sportsbook app center in a shared space. Look for 240 new games as well with over 200 new titles. The entire gaming floor is being revamped to offer a more pleasing guest experience.
DRINKS IN HAND, TOES IN THE SAND
Nothing says summer more than soft sand, warm waves, cool ocean breezes and an ice-cold cocktail. We know there’s no better way to end a day in the sun than a cold one in your hand, and these outdoor bars do it better than anyone.
Bally’s Beach Bar
Set on wooden planks atop the sand, the recently refreshed Bally’s Beach Bar rocks out with DJs and live bands all afternoon and night, featuring food and refreshing drinks seven days a week.
A new, designated beach— Bally’s Legends VIP Beach—is for Bally Rewards Legend members and offers private lounge seating and a beachside butler service, including towel service, specialty passed amenities, cool towels, beach massages, security, and private F&B offerings. www.ballysac.com.
Bungalow Beach AC
Nestled into a corner of the Boardwalk near Tropicana Casino & Resort at California Avenue, Bungalow serves up breakfast, lunch, dinner and hookahs in a Mediterranean atmosphere. Choose to dine indoors, out- doors or on the deck overlooking the beach. On weekend nights, the Beach Bar turns into a hot nightclub with resident DJs and entertainers. www.bungalowbeachac.com.
The Beach Bar at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Located on the warm, sandy beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Beach Bar at Hard Rock offers guests a tropical atmosphere with a rock star twist. Guests can relax in one of the new cabanas, grab a spot at the bar and sip your favorite frozen cocktail while soaking up the sun and socializing with friends at this one-of-a-kind Boardwalk bar. Daily beach chair rentals are also available. www.hardrockatlanticcity.com
Landshark Bar and Grill at Resorts Casino Hotel
It’s always 5 o’clock at Landshark, the beachy companion to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant, whose dining room and terrace bring tropical vibes to the ground floor of Resorts Casino Hotel. Built right into the sand, Landshark is the only year-round, full-service bar and restaurant on the ocean side of the Boardwalk, with an expansive deck and dining room that boasts retractable walls, live music, plus all the boat drinks and chilled bottles of cerveza one could want. If sitting on the deck doesn’t complete your ocean-side experience, you can head to the newly added beach dining area and dig your toes in the sand while you eat, sip and mingle. www.resortsac.com.