AC could be your jackpot

Everyone dreams of going to Las Vegas, putting a quarter in a slot machine and having the sirens and lights go wild. Most people don’t have such great luck, and Las Vegas is more than

Everyone dreams of going to Las Vegas, putting a quarter in a slot machine and having the sirens and lights go wild. Most people don’t have such great luck, and Las Vegas is more than 2,000 miles away from Philadelphia. Fortunately there is a solution to at least one of these problems. The prescription for this long distance isn’t more cowbell; it’s Atlantic City. Located less than 70 miles away from Main Campus, Atlantic City is a top tourist attraction for shopping, gambling and much more. The following are helpful hints about where to stay, play, shop, eat and party. Get ready.Where to StayDeciding where to stay in Atlantic City depends on two factors. First, the time of year you will be staying and second, where you want to stay. All of the major casinos and hotels will usually charge less than $100 a night during the week. These rates are always subject to change, so it’s a good idea to call ahead and check.Once the weekend hits, the prices go up. Prices range from a little more than $100 to upwards of $300, depending on whether the room is a standard room or suite.The best place to stay, if you want to save money, is the Quality Inn on 500 N. Albany Ave., or any of the other smaller hotels located near the strip. Rates are less than $100 for a weekend night and are within walking distance to the casinos, so you can drink and not have to worry about driving back to your room.Be aware though, the quality of these dive hotels are nothing compared to that of the major hotels located on the strip. So if you have no concept of money, or mom and dad are paying for the trip, the Trump Taj Mahal on 1000 Boardwalk at Virginia Avenue and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort at Boston Avenue and Boardwalk are both excellent choices.Where to PlayThe odds of winning at one casino are the same as the next, but one casino stands out above the competition.The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa at One Borgata Way features a variety of table games and slot machines, as do many other casinos in the Atlantic City area. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference.Blackjack tables seat six people instead of the usual seven at the Borgata, and the table minimums are reasonable so even the low-budget spender can have a good time.Other casinos worth visiting are the Tropicana on South Brighton Avenue and Resorts Atlantic City on 1133 Boardwalk. Both casinos are ideal for someone worrying about paying table minimums and having a comfortable atmosphere.Where to ShopIt’s easy to find stores in the casinos, but it’s The Walk and the Atlantic City outlets that offer the best shopping for travelers without breaking the bank account. Located on Michigan Avenue, between Baltic and Pacific Avenue, The Walk features more than 20 different clothing outlets for men and women as well as a variety of restaurants.Some of the outlets there are Timberland, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne.Other places to shop are the Siganos Plaza, which is located in front of the Sand Casino at 119 S. Indiana Ave., as well as the Tropicana Hotel and Casino, which features more than 30 shops. If you do choose to shop at the Tropicana, however, be ready to spend more money than you would at The Walk.Where to EatFor the poor college student, buffets are a key staple of dining. For just a few dollars you can eat as much as humanly possible until you have to move the belt a few notches over.While buffets will give you the most food for your money, Atlantic City is home to an excellent selection of fine dining restaurants. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, located in the Tropicana Hotel, offers the best Chinese cuisine in town, while the Oaks Steakhouse at the Atlantic City Hilton is arguably the best place to get a steak. The Hilton also hosts one of Atlantic City’s best restaurants, Peregrine’s.This restaurant received a five-star rating from the American Academy of Restaurant and Hospitality Sciences, and is quite possibly the place to eat in Atlantic City. Reservations are recommended by all three restaurants.Where to PartyUnless you’ve hit the sweet spot at the craps table and the vacation is already paying for itself, pull yourself out of the casinos for at least one evening and head over to hip-hop star Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club. This club is hands down the best part of Atlantic City nightlife. Located at 2120 Atlantic Ave., the $4 million club opened less than six months ago and features different lounges for club-goers to enjoy.The best part: There’s never any cover at the 40/40. Other places to visit are the House of Blues at 801 Boardwalk, and Casbah Nightclub at Trump Taj Mahal Casino and Resort.While there is yet to be a Monty Burns Casino in Atlantic City, a great time is only a stone’s throw away from Philadelphia and awaits anyone looking for good food, good shopping and a chance to hit the jackpot.Alex Yalch can be reached at

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