This will be my second post tagged "travel," which is basically accurate to the amount of globetrotting I have done in my life. But that number is slowly growing, because I am making a concerted effort to get out more and add new cities to the list. My US state count, in case you were wondering, is 4. While I am at it, I might as well tell you my embarrassing Canadian province count, which is 1. A great thing about Philadelphia is all of the interesting cities nearby that are clustered together, everything a short bus or train ride away.
We took the New Jersey regional train, which was about an hour and a half ride, and only $10! We walked quite a bit on this trip (counted it later, around 15k) feeling the need to explore everything--I am glad Jory shares my city curiosity.
I think Boardwalk Empire is what made me want to visit, of course I didn't actually know what to expect. I didn't expect the elaborate early 20th century style and architecture, or romantic atmosphere from the show, but I also didn't have any other ideas in mind. I prefer to approach a new place with little preconceived notions of what it might be like. (I tend to start books and movies this way too, always ending up more satisfied with what I find)!
So the real Atlantic City didn't charm me like a scene straight out of Boardwalk Empire would have, but I enjoyed a few firsts here--salt water taffy (of course), real crab meat (yes, really), and stepping foot in the ocean for the first time! For people who are surprised by this, well, Southern Ontario isn't exactly on the ocean.
The place reminded us--if I'm going to compare it to anything--of Niagara Falls a bit, especially Lundy's Lane and the outlet malls. (Also of a never-ending carnival, with those trucks selling delicious fresh cut fries).
Above, some birds fighting over food. Now these were real sea gulls I guess... They were enormous.
Salt water taffy, which was kind of melty on this hot summer day.
There were a couple salt water taffy places, which were cute and held on to their historic roots, with charming window displays and keeping the original word marks on the signage.
This was a family oriented arcade, lots of gambling for children was present, kind of a weird vibe (seeing kids use slot machines). But it was also for adults, with prizes along the wall like Snuggies and small household appliances.
We didn't go swimming, but we took a walk on the beach, here's Jory in his sandal shoes. We walked around with shoes full of sand for the rest of the day... Worth it.
We wandered back and forth along the boardwalk, then visited a tourist center to look for a place to eat. I saw this menu for a restaurant at "Historic Gardner's Basin" which was a little ways away, but we were willing to walk to it. So that was our next item on the agenda!
Now, the surrounding areas go a little downhill, we explored parts of the city where tourists don't usually end up (at least not walking, maybe by car). But it wasn't too intimidating and it was so interesting to see the juxtaposition of "corporate wealth" and modest housing. There was a giant (and I mean giant) casino being built right next to a group of still occupied homes... I can't see those being there too much longer.
We reached a part in the boardwalk that was sectioned off, aka closed to tourists, so we ventured into the streets. We thought this sign was kind of great--a little over enthusiastic, I'd say.
Later we found that the boardwalk continues, and that the locals use it exclusively for fishing. So we took up our path there and continued along the much less maintained parts of the boardwalk.
Here's an area that is boarded up, the wood is rotting quite a bit, boards missing, and a lamppost had fallen into it.
Finally we end up at our destination, "Historic Gardner's Basin" which, did not really meet our expectations of a quaint seaside village. It consisted of a few wood buildings and a parking lot, two restaurants and this aquarium. We found the restaurant and were happy anyway because we were starving. And it was time to eat some fresh food from the ocean!
The view from our table was nice, fishing boats and ocean-front homes, with their doors opening right onto the water. They all had garages built underneath them for parking their boats.
On our way back, we caught sight of what could be the only pre-1900s building in the city.
Mixed up with some clubs and adult entertainment... 25¢!
I loved the signage for the outlet mall area. This is what I wanted the rest of the city to feel like!
Uh, yeah. Some fake history around the casinos.
It's too bad we didn't stay later, it is probably a beautiful place all lit up at night.
So glad we went, while at times it felt strange to us, we love the experience. Next time we will be exploring the south half of Atlantic City, or maybe venturing all the way down to Ocean city. We'll see!