Growing up in New Jersey, hitting the slot machines in Atlantic City after you turn twenty-one is an unofficial rite of passage. From bars to restaurants, the boardwalk and more, it’s an escape from the everyday without going too far. Hotels such as the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has everything for you to recharge, relax, and unwind – all with a drink in hand.
This Summer you might want to switch it up and experience somewhere new. COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and travel has continued to seep back into our daily lives once again. With themes around the arts, beaches, restaurants and nightlife, here are some of my favorite destinations to add to your list if you’re a lover of Atlantic City.
1. Reno Tahoe, Nevada
Like Atlantic City, there’s a wide range of activities to add to the itinerary from casinos to kayaking and taking a stroll along the Reno Riverwalk District in Reno Tahoe, Nevada. It’s the closest airport city to the Burning Man festival, which is a weekend full of music, art and camping. Many sculptures from the festival find a permanent home in Reno which brings the city to life.
Where to stay: Whitney Peak Hotel is steps away from nightlife but also has an adventure park, Basecamp with a rock climbing wall that scales the outside of the building. That’s right – it stands at an impressive 164 feet tall! Are you up for the challenge?
2. Burlington, Vermont
While it might not have a boardwalk or flashy lights like AC, Burlington, Vermont is an oasis of locally crafted beer and eateries. Find your way to Church Street for a night out and during the day head up to Stowe for some high-altitude hikes.
Where to stay: Courtyard Burlington Harbor Hotel, located along Lake Champlain’s shores is steps away from downtown. This pet-friendly property couldn’t be any closer to everything happening in the Green Mountain State.
3. Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida, the southernmost point in the United States has a laid-back vibe balanced with the vibrant nightlife of Duval Street. Spend your day relaxing on the beach and dance the night away at Garden of Eden, a clothing-optional rooftop bar.
Where to stay: The Reach Key West, Curio Collection by Hilton has unique offerings from a vintage boutique shop named Kirby’s Closet which includes glam sessions by a RuPaul Drag Race makeup artist.
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
Of course, Las Vegas would make this list, crawling with dozens of casinos, entertainment, award-winning restaurants and pool parties. If partying isn’t your scene, venture outside of the hustle and bustle to the Instagram-famous Seven Magic Mountains.
Where to stay: With a location in Atlantic City too, Caesars Las Vegas puts you right in all of the action from entertainment to nightlife on The Strip. Relax after a night out in a pool cabana or at Qua Baths & Spa – I recommend the Signature Mojave Rain Treatment.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
From the Freedom Trail to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and shopping at Quincy Market, you won’t get bored in Boston, Massachusetts. For beer drinkers, Harpoon Brewery and Sam Adams Brewery are required stops on this weekend getaway.
Where to stay: An architectural gem opened in 2021, Omni Boston Hotel at The Seaport includes a rooftop pool and seven restaurants and bars which includes an all-day Mediterranean eatery Kestra. With so much offered on the property, it might be hard to venture out for the day’s itinerary.
6. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
With ample direct flights from Newark and Atlantic City, a weekend adventure in South Florida’s signature playground is always a good idea. Enjoy the shores of Fort Lauderdale Beach and stay up all night enjoying all that this city has to offer.
Where to stay: W Fort Lauderdale is in a prime location for a breezy beach day or the nightlife scene. Check out WET East, their pool with art-deco tiling, plush daybeds and live DJs on the weekends.
7. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach’s coastal beauty, accessible location and mild climate make for an enticing weekend visit this summer. Stretched along 35 miles of pristine shoreline and just a half day’s drive from Atlantic City, the city is the perfect destination for a vacation. Its wide, clean beaches offer ample opportunity to soak up the sun or splash in the surf.
Where to stay: Virginia’s most iconic hotel, Cavalier Hotel, overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Fun fact: this property has welcomed ten U.S. Presidents!
8. Poconos, Pennsylvania
If you love a good casino, the Poconos has you covered. Ideal to visit for a snowy Winter or a serene Summer on the lake, this getaway isn’t too far from home. For a shopping fix, stop by The Crossings Premium Outlets with over 100 brand name and designer stores.
Where to stay: The Great Wolf Lodge is an escape in itself with a complete indoor waterpark, spacious suites and outdoor activities for everyone in the family.
9. Santa Monica, California
The Santa Monica Pier with an arcade, Ferris wheel, funnel cake and a roller coaster will most definitely give you deja vu from the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk. Along the beach, take a surfing lesson in the morning or ride bikes along the shoreline.
Where to stay: Overlooking the Pacific Ocean with stunning views of the sunrise and sunset, Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows turned 100 years young in 2021 – a true Santa Monica staple. Be sure to make a reservation at FIG, and perhaps the most popular nightlife spot on the west side, The Bungalow, is located right on the property.
10. Provincetown, Massachusetts
Referred to as the “Biggest Art Colony in the World”, Provincetown, Massachusetts has attracted many New York City creatives from poets to artists. From enjoying the day at the beach to checking out local galleries and small businesses, it’s a haven for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Where to stay: Anchor Inn Beach House is a personable bed and breakfast to get the local experience. It’s location is perfect for exploring everything local from shops and galleries to restaurants.
About the Author/s
James Barrett is a freelance journalist covering everything from travel, interviews, personal essays and entertainment. He's a Syracuse University alum and New Jersey native. You can subscribe to his free weekly newsletter at jimmyrox.com.