Not your father's Atlantic City: It's time to give the New Jersey beach town another look

Boogie Nights in the Tropicana Hotel hosts LGBTQ-friendly events such as gay balls and tea dances.

A speakeasy entrance for a dining experience from a celebrity chef; luxurious spa treatments; Sunday drag shows; and pools that could rival a Miami nightclub — those are just some of the attractions that await visitors to the new Atlantic City.

The coastal New Jersey city is no longer the tired place that “Sex and the City” poked fun at as old, dingy and unsophisticated. The new Atlantic City has plenty of entertainment options for folks tired of the typical boardwalk and beach vacation.


Take the restaurants from celebrity chef Jose Garces.

The James Beard Award winner, who dominated the second season of “The Next Iron Chef,” owned four restaurants at the now-defunct Revel casino-hotel when it shuttered in 2014 after two years in business. The closing of those restaurants took its toll of Garces, who wound up filing for bankruptcy.


But Garces is back with two exciting restaurants — Amada, a high-end tapas spot, and Distrito, serving Mexican street food — in Ocean Resort Casino, located in the former Revel building.

Okatshe, is the Japanese Jose Garces restaurant with a speakeasy entrance through a candy storefront.

He also has two restaurants in Tropicana Hotel, which completed a $200 million remodel in 2018. Okatshe — a Japanese izakaya, sushi and ramen restaurant — has a speakeasy entrance through a candy storefront. Olon, a seafood restaurant with beachfront views, features a bar with 16 draft beers, 20 wines by-the-glass and more than 75 wines by the bottle.

And it’s not just Garces. The city is ripe with celebrity chefs with national followings.

Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and Geoffrey Zakarian headline restaurants at the 43-story Borgata hotel and casino, while the prickly Gordon Ramsay operates Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Caesars.

There are also a number of LGBTQ-friendly attractions and activities in Atlantic City.

Olon is the seafood restaurant from celebrity chef Jose Garces.

Boogie Nights, a cavernous club in the Tropicana with neon lights, private booths and bottle service, also hosts gay balls and Sunday tea dances.

Out at Borgata highlights all the property’s LGBTQ offerings, from weddings and parties, to concerts featuring Boy George and Cyndi Lauper, to performances by contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

The Water Club at Borgata completes the luxury property’s $600 million master plan development project. The 3,200-square-foot Roman-style outdoor pool features more than 400 chaise longues, daybeds, and VIP cabanas that fit 10 and include a television and stocked refrigerator.


Meanwhile, the most impressive indoor pool experience goes to The Pool at Harrah’s Resort. The glass-domed space is adorned with tropical greenery and 15-person aqua-colored bungalows equipped with a 50-inch flat-screen television, refrigerator, safe, and optional iPod docking station. The temperature of the massive space stays 82 degrees year round. If you closed your eyes, you would swear you were in Miami.

And there’s enough shopping to please the most discerning fashionista or the biggest deal hunter.

Tanger Outlets Atlantic City features more than 100 stores, including DKNY, Coach, Brooks Brothers, Nautica and Kate Spade New York. (Bonus: There’s no sales tax on clothing in Atlantic City.)

The Playground at Caesars, a mix of retail, nightlife and dinning built on a 900-foot pier, features luxury brands such as Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co.