We were coming down from NYC for our wedding anniversary and my cousin's birthday party in Brigantine. Thanks to the nice folks here, we decided on the Claridge. We spent a lot of time romantically gazing into each other's eyes, of course, as one should on an anniversary trip, but here's a trip report for the actually relevant trip stuff. I'd love to hear locals' and DEs' thoughts on what we saw and what we missed!
We took the NJT 319 bus down after reading reviews saying that it was superior to Greyhound. The bus left promptly at 4:45, and it had a bathroom, luggage space and comfy seats. It's good that the seats were comfy, because the trip was scheduled for 2 hours, 35 minutes but we were on it for four hours solid. It took us two hours to get to Perth Amboy, and then two hours for the rest of the trip! It's not like any other bus would have been better, because it looked like every road was stuck in similarly gridlocked traffic. But wouldn't it be nice if there was a train to Atlantic City?
We got to AC and immediately knew we had picked the right hotel in the Claridge. We like to walk, and the Claridge is walking distance from the bus station, the outlets, restaurants, and the beach, and it's connected to Bally's and Caesar's. Our room was clean and spacious, with a big bed and a view of the city. We headed out to Los Amigos for dinner - average quality but super friendly and welcoming, just around the corner, and very local-feeling.
We walked home through all the connected casinos. Wild Wild West definitely has the most amusing theme, but something seemed ... off about everything. Big, howlingly empty spaces for a Friday night. Half the restaurants and snack bars in the casinos seemed to be shut down. We'd assumed things would be bustling because the weekend hotel rates were pretty high! We made note of what looked like an awesome buffet space at Caesar's, and wandered extensively around WWW being amused by the decor.
Then we finished with a drink at the Claridge's rooftop bar. Great view of the water.
We struck out for that awesome buffet, only to find it closed - everyone at Caesar's was eating from a tiny buffet in the coffee shop instead. Nope. So we headed to the Claridge, to find an even worse buffet experience; there appeared to be no staff, no bacon and no home fries. I'm not buffeting without bacon, that's for sure. We stole some pastries from the Claridge to hunt further and ended up at the buffet in Buca di Beppo at Bally's. Still not a great buffet - more Courtyard by Marriott than major casino resort. Rubbery eggs and canned peaches. But there was bacon, and the bacon was good.
Spent some time in the Claridge pool. It's shallow, but so delightfully heated, and the light coming down through the skylights is terrific. However, the men's locker room was closed and there was nowhere to check in, and once again - like with the buffet - seemingly no attendant. Hotel zombie apocalypse. Where was the staff? It was like the hotel was running at about a third of what seemed to be optimal staff. With no locker room, I dripped my way back up to my room to change.
Did some people watching. The rodeo was in town this weekend, and a ton of people were in rodeo garb! Neat. Saw one old guy with an obvious hooker, which felt oddly reassuring, like the machinery of sin was in fact functioning properly even though the place was a little deserted. Everyone was really friendly - friendlier than NY, for sure, and also friendlier than Vegas.
Walked out to the beach. Quiet beach was quiet and lovely. But it was SO COLD and the wind was really whipping up so we couldn't stay out long.
Then we went to the outlets. So, yeah, we have all of these stores in NYC, but shopping in NYC tends to be a dog-eat-dog experience - long lines, lots of elbowing and waiting. This is one area where the zombie apocalypse really came to our aid. The nearly empty shops were mellow, friendly, with super friendly and helpful staff. We got presents for our kid and ended up chatting with the staff for a while at Hot Topic. I scored actual Levi's jeans at Levi's for SEVEN DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS. Big savings mood.
We headed back to the hotel to drop our purchases, and then out to the party in Brigantine via the 501 bus. The bus terminal is surprisingly big and well-organized, and the buses leave on time and are efficient. Nice. On the way we passed the Borgata et al, which seemed a lot fancier than the hotel cluster we were in. We'll have to check those out next time. Sang karaeoke like an idiot and got blasted on rum until we closed the bar down and we took a $20 Lyft back.
Lounged around. Ordered room service; they only had french fries, not home fries or hash browns, which is super weird but whatevs. Ate all the french fries because I was hung over. Watched TV. Headed for the noon bus back to NY, which got us back in -less- than 2.5 hours!
* We hadn't expected the shopping would be so good!
* We'd love to see the beach actually in action!
* We hadn't expected the lack of hotel breakfast wealth! We wanted MORE BREAKFAST.
* It would be nice if there was a train.
* My cousin's party was awesome. No, you don't get to hear me sing "Under Pressure."