As the entertainment columnist for NJ.com and a correspondent for Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, Whitney Ullman knows the inside dirt on her favorite town—and it’s a dream gig for her. “I was born in Atlantic City and still live there,” she says. “It’s truly a place that has something for everyone.” Ullman offers her picks for those looking to venture beyond the casinos.
Spend a summer afternoon at the Atlantic City Aquarium (www.acaquarium.com) in Historic Gardner’s Basin. Kids will love the exotic animal show, the loggerhead sea turtle and the baby stingray touch tank. AC’s iconic Steel Pier (www.steelpier.com) features carnival rides, classic boardwalk munchies, and arcade games. “All ages can have fun here,” says Ullman.
Atlantic City Cruises (www.atlanticcitycruises.com) offers hour-long trips around the bay, and the historic Absecon Lighthouse www.abseconlighthouse.org) is New Jersey’s tallest and the third highest in the country. If you’re up for some exercise, make the
climb the 228 steps, where you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the AC skyline.
The beach. It’s one of AC’s most overlooked—and best—assets. And it’s free. This year’s AC beach concert features The Voice’s Blake Shelton, who performs on July 31.
When the Fab Four performed at Convention Hall (now Boardwalk Hall), they could’ve picked anywhere to eat. They chose White House Subs (www.whitehousesubshop.net). Decades later, many visitors won’t leave AC without passing through the doors of this legendary sub shop. “Last year, Miss America contestants did a dance routine right in front of White House,” says Ullman. “It’s iconic to Atlantic City.” While it’s known for its Italian subs, you can’t go wrong with a belly-buster cheesesteak, either.
You might think you’re in for a typical pizza joint when you visit Tony Boloney’s (www.tonyboloneys.com). Think again. Owner Michael Hauke has made a national name for himself with his stunningly unique spin on “traditional” Italian food, winning accolades from the Food Network’s Guy Fieri and Best Food Truck honors from Live With Kelly and Michael. “I call him a food visionary because of all of his creations,” says Ullman. “He actually makes his own varieties of mozzarella cheeses on premises.” Some menu musts include the Ay Dios Mio-Mac! and Casino Carnivore pizzas, plus the Cheesesteak Olé. Hauke can make even brussels sprouts sing.
Around since 1912, the Knife & Fork Inn (www.knifeandforkinn.com) is the closest you’ll get to a Boardwalk Empire flashback in AC. Dive into classic dishes like Lobster Thermidor and Filet Oscar. “It’s easily one of the best-known restaurants in Atlantic City,” says Ullman.
Other Ullman favorites: The 24-hour Ducktown Tavern (www.ducktowntavern.com); the Caribbean-style offerings at Lenox Café; the Italian fare at Chef Vola’s (www.chefvolas.com), where reservations must be made months in advance; the crab pizza at Atlantic City Bar & Grill www.acbarandgrill.com); the Caribbean jerk chicken wings at Back Bay Ale House (www.backbayalehouse.com); the soul food at Kelsey’s (www.kelseysac.com); the Bronzino cooked in a block of salt and chipped tableside for diners at Girasole Ristorante & Lounge (www.girasoleac.com); and the legendary Irish Pub (www.theirishpub.com), filled with Miss America memorabilia.
For more tips, visit www.gotowhitney.com.