an online resource for baby boomers

You're sitting outside on the Boardwalk enjoying the warm breeze off the Atlantic Ocean, bringing with it the invigorating smell of salt water and the call of sea gulls. You sip a refreshing glass of white wine while enjoying a forkful of fresh jumbo lump crab cake. People from all walks of life stroll by – from a couple walking hand in hand enjoying their second honeymoon to children running ahead of their parents, faces turned up to catch the sun's glow. As different as they are, they all have the same thing in common: they are all enjoying the most out of life. And they're all in one town.

Where are we? Well, what seaside resort combines the hometown feel and scenic beauty of a beach community, an array of unique attractions, and the action and excitement of high stakes gaming and headliner entertainment? Where do you find a kaleidoscope of elite shopping, non-stop nightlife, comedy and musicals, restaurants featuring famous chefs, and beautiful beaches and back bays? If Atlantic City isn't the first resort to spring to mind, think again because Atlantic City is one "Always Turned On" place.

You say you don't believe it? Just ask Bobby Flay, Michael Mina, Tommy Bahama, Jeffrey Chodorow, Louis Vuitton, Todd English, Stephen Starr, Hugo Boss, Dan Ackroyd, Jay Z or Wolfgang Puck. Because from The Pier at Caesars to House of Blues to the 40/40 Club to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, you'll find them all in Atlantic City, and they're all looking to show you the time of your life.

Never one to fear change, Atlantic City has gleefully redefined the word. Like the White House Sub Shop, whose walls are covered with pictures of celebrities who have dined there – from Frank Sinatra to George Clooney – there's room for it all. There's the past, the present and the future. The trendy and the long-time favorite. The casual and the chic. The serene and the action-packed. So, leave your old perceptions behind and enjoy the new Atlantic City.

According to the Washington Post, "Atlantic City is dancing to a new beat. And it goes all night." A part of that ‘new beat' is The Pier at Caesars, an entertainment, dining, and retail complex that resembles a 70-story glass skyscraper lying on its side. Inside, nine restaurants cater to virtually every taste or budget. There's Sonsie, a café with a bistro menu. Dubliner Irish Bar and Restaurant features contemporary Irish fare. A sports bar, Game On!, serves pub food. Restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow brings his Rumjungle and a family-style Italian restaurant with Chef Todd English. The popular Phillips Seafood Restaurant is open, along with a sushi bar named Blowfish. Philadelphia's Stephen Starr has re-created Buddakan and The Continental. Then, there are the retailers: A/X Armani Exchange, Bebe, Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Tommy Bahama's Vilebrequin, and Tiffany & Co. There's only one thing that could possibly top off this amazing list of names and concepts. Did you know there is a wedding chapel on the fourth floor called The Atlantic Club? Did you say, "I do?"

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has been credited for taking Atlantic City to the next level. And now they are in the middle of a 500,000 square foot expansion. The first phase has added slots and table games. Both the poker room and Spa Toccare have been expanded. And three famous chefs have hung an open sign on the door. Bobby Flay has introduced his first steakhouse, Bobby Flay Steak. Both Wolfgang Puck and Michael Mina have made their East Coast debuts in Atlantic City. Puck opened the self-titled restaurant, Wolfgang Puck American Grille, and Mina opened Seablue. The expansion's second phase, planned to end in 2007, will feature a 43-story hotel tower named The Water Club with 800 guestrooms and suites, and its own spa and indoor-outdoor swimming pool.

Another project in the midst of expanding is Atlantic City Outlets – The Walk. In early 2006, The Walk added London Fog, J. Jill, Borders Outlet and Ruby Tuesday to its 52 national brand outlet stores, entertainment venues, restaurants and clubs. Now, plans to more than double The Walk's size are underway. An additional 350,000 square feet of international brand retail stores, restaurants, parking, entertainment and class-A office and residential units are being added. When it's completed, Atlantic City Outlets –The Walk will encompass 15 city blocks.

Opened last summer, House of Blues at Showboat – The Mardi Gras Casino has brought a whole new attitude to the Boardwalk. Atlantic City's House of Blues is the largest on the East Coast and includes a casino and poker room, a southern-inspired restaurant, and a multi-level Music Hall with a dance floor and seated boxes for private viewing. There's also a private membership club called The Fountain Room.

Two years ago Tropicana Casino and Resort brought the charm and sophistication of Old Havana to Atlantic City with The Quarter, and things have never been the same. The Quarter features well-known eateries like Carmine's, The Palm, Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar and Red Square; entertainment such as The Sound of Philadelphia and an Imax theater; bluemercury spa and apothecary; and retail options like Rittenhouse Gift & Home, Jake's Dog House, White House/Black Market and the Spy Shop. Plus, an additional 502 rooms make Tropicana the largest hotel in New Jersey.

A simple walk along the famous Boardwalk will show the dramatic changes that have taken place in Atlantic City – changes that are continuing to unfold. A Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum has replaced a souvenir shop, Rainforest Café and Johnny Rockets restaurant have sprung up to the delight of visitors, and new hotel towers have grown, along with the resort's beach thanks to a beach replenishment program by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Don't worry, all your favorites are here, too. The saltwater taffy is as tasty as ever, but you might find some flavors that you aren't familiar with like mimosa, peanut butter cup, and mocha latte. Though diving horses no longer perform on the Steel Pier, you can enjoy a horseback ride on the beach from October through May. Rolling chairs are still the preferred mode of transportation up and down the wooden way. Lucy the Elephant continues to offer spectacular views from her "howdah." The historic Absecon Lighthouse is still standing proud, clearly visible to boaters navigating the back bays and Atlantic Ocean - it's just that those boaters may also be trailing a parasailer overhead.

Whether it's daytime or nighttime, there is always something to do in Atlantic City. Of course, there are casinos, each with a different theme and style all its own. One-armed bandits are as popular as ever and if poker is your game, there are plenty of tables to choose from.

Inside and outside the casinos, dining presents an eclectic choice with steakhouses, seafood restaurants and ethnic delights. Ring up the shopping on or off the Boardwalk. Say "ahhh" to a number of spas. Enjoy entertainment, shows and conventions at Boardwalk Hall, the Atlantic City Convention Center or at any of the casinos.

It's definitely worth the trip, and what an easy trip it is. Atlantic City is conveniently located in the heart of the northeast and is within easy driving distance of a third of the population of the United States. It is easily accessible by car and bus along three major highways or by air through two nearby International Airports: The Atlantic City International Airport and the Philadelphia International Airport. For easy convenience, rail service provided by New Jersey Transit arrives and departs through the rail terminal adjacent to the Atlantic City Convention Center in the heart of Atlantic City.

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide