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Atlantic City has come a long way since Sex and the City infamously dedicated an episode to a girls’ trip full of cheesy undertones and corresponding outfits. But with luxe new openings, a renewed culinary scene and big-name entertainers constantly passing through, the historic resort town is finally impressing even the most skeptical New Yorkers. Plus, you don’t even need a car to visit, with multiple bus options in and out of town each day. Here’s how to spend a non-cheesy weekend there—gambling optional.

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atlantic city lighthouse
donah/ Getty Images

Hit the Boardwalk

There’s a good reason Atlantic City was planned as a vacay spot: the beaches. Access the wide stretch of sand via the adjacent boardwalk, which links most of the casinos in town by foot and features a lot more than your standard Jersey Shore offerings of frozen custard, pizza and fries—though there’s plenty of that too. Indulge your inner kid with mini golfgo-carts, a vintage-style arcade and a pier full of amusement rides complete with an observation wheel, or take a short stroll to climb a historic lighthouse. Don’t fret if you visit during the off-season, either. In fact, it’s one of our favorite times to go, with a full-on Oktoberfest celebration, a holiday light show and a polar bear plunge on New Year’s Day.

hard rock hotel room atlantic city
Courtesy of Hard Rock Atlantic City

Stay in a Music Shrine

The recently opened Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City houses more rare, historic memorabilia than any other outpost, making it as much a music history museum as a resort. Many of the upscale rooms boast ocean views, and you can customize your stay with the hotel’s “Sound of Your Stay” program, which offers guests complimentary vinyl records or a Fender guitar to jam out on while in residence. You’ll also find an all-seasons pool and food opportunities at every budget to keep your belly happy. If you’re looking for a little vice, there’s Daer, a mega nightclub with an outdoor patio overlooking the boardwalk, as well as 2,200 slots and 120 sparkling new table games to keep you busy. Or bliss out at the massive spa that syncs its relaxing treatments to music.

sugar factory atlantic City mac and Cheese burger
Courtesy of Sugar Factory

Dine Like a Boss

Just like Vegas, Atlantic City’s food scene has exploded into a smorgasbord of celeb chefs and quality local eats. Breakfast at Gilchrist is a must—its famous blueberry pancakes are capable of curing any hangover. At lunchtime, you can’t beat White House Subs, an AC sandwich institution since 1946. For dinner, take your pick of Council Oak Fish, which serves a seafood-focused menu that includes wood-fired octopus and shellfish pots; Kuro for fresh sushi, contemporary izakaya-style eats and an impressive sake list; Old Homestead Steak House, an outpost of the NYC fine-dining staple; or Sugar Factory, a brasserie and candy store mash-up known for its insane milkshakes and giant, rainbow-colored cocktails. For a more immersive culinary experience, consider checking out Savor Borgata in November. It’s one of AC’s premier food fests, complete with celeb chef dinners, cooking classes and tasting events.

mariah carey atlantic city
Rich Fury/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Catch a Show

Need a concrete reason to make the trek to the shore in the non-summer months? The seriously impressive concert lineup includes Bob Dylan (November 17), John Legend (November 23), Toni Braxton (Feb 9), Fleetwood Mac (March 9) and Mariah Carey (March 30). If Mimi isn’t reason enough to plan a trip, we don’t know what is.

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