Shore 2009: Atlantic City

The best things to do from morning until … next morning

The best way to start a day in Atlantic City is at Stephen Starr’s Teplitzky’s, the sublimely sunny retro-chic diner inside the Chelsea. Get the homemade blintzes (just like Bubbe’s!), then move on to the giant Pier at Caesars for shopping. The new Gucci satchel, the latest Prada lip gloss, Ferragamo sale sandals — not exactly typical Shore buys, but A.C. isn’t exactly typical Shore, now is it? (The glamorati are already swarming new Tous — the chichi Spanish jewelry and accessories store — and the newer True Religion outpost.) If the Pier’s shopping is too rich for your blood, don’t fret — just take yourself down the street to The Walk and hit up the outlets, where you’ll find factory stores for Brooks Brothers, Coach, Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole, plus a giant BCBG (with the best deals ever).(Teplitzky’s, The Chelsea, 11 South Chelsea Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-428-4550; Pier at Caesars 1 Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City, 609-345-3100; The Walk, 1931 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-872-7002; Absecon Lighthouse, 31 South Rhode Island Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-449-1360, abseconlighthouse.org.)

Even though A.C. is unapologetically — and uniquely, for the Shore — about hedonism, consumption and consumerism, you still should take yourself away from it all for just a little bit and visit the soaring Absecon Lighthouse. Climb all 228 steps, take in the breathtaking view, and remember that, yes, A.C. is really a beach town. (Be sure to bring the binoculars, for some of the best people-watching of all time.) Pop by the Absecon Lighthouse Gift Shop for classic remembrances and battery-not-required pastimes, and then head down to a casual lunch. Try Flames, a beachy Mediterranean spot on the Boardwalk near the Chelsea (love its take on the frittata), or the good ol’ White House for sub sandwiches. (Absecon Lighthouse, 31 South Rhode Island Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-449-1360; Flames, 2641 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609-344-7774; White House Sub Shop, 2301 Arctic Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-345-1564.)

After lunch, squeeze in just a little more sightseeing: We highly recommend the Miss America Exhibit at the Sheraton. (See “Rainy Days”) Then — to hell with the recession — it’s off to one of the dozen or so spas in the city. The year-old QUA Baths & Spa at Caesars has a heavenly new organic treatment with products from Seaflora, made from mineral-rich seaweed harvested from the Pacific. Try the Body Renewal and Detox Therapy ($220) — 80 minutes of exfoliation, masques, firming gels and massage. There’s also the super-luxe Immersion Spa at the Borgata’s Water Club, where you won’t think twice about dropping $180 on an oxygenating facial, not just for the shining, plumped-up skin you’ll leave with, but because it’s more than a facial: It’s a lazy, berobed afternoon sipping herbal teas by a glassed-in 32nd-floor lap pool with ocean and bay views, and a dip in the whirlpool for a break. Harrah’s popular poolside Elizabeth Arden Red Door is excellent for classic services at slightly more budget-minded rates, while product-lovers love the impeccable mani-pedis and bikini waxes that are offered along with the selection of Nars, Laura Mercier, Jurlique and Fresh at Bluemercury’s massive beauty shop at the Quarter at the Tropicana. And the just-opened Sea Spa at the Chelsea offers a roster of appealing face and body treatments and the Solarium, a co-ed pool with heated benches, Jacuzzi, sauna, heated saltwater pool and steam room. (Atlantic City Sheraton Hotel, 2 Miss America Way, Atlantic City, 609-344-3535; QUA Baths & Spa, Caesars Atlantic City, 2100 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-343-2495; Immersion Spa, The Water Club, 1 Renaissance Way, Atlantic City, 609-317-8888; Elizabeth Arden Red Door, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, 777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City, 609-441-5000; Bluemercury, The Quarter in the Tropicana, 2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609-347-7778; Sea Spa, The Chelsea, 111 South Chelsea Avenue, Atlantic City, 800-548-3030)  

Phew. After all that beauty, you’re ready to get dressed up and hit the town. First, happy hour — if it’s Monday, get to the Borgata’s swanky new Japanese pub, Izakaya, for $7 sushi and drink specials. If it’s not, do classic cosmos at the purple-hued Sammy Davis Junior lounge at the Continental. Dinner presents you with an overwhelming array of choices. Let us help: Starr’s Chelsea Prime is flawless, a Shore version of Barclay Prime, with black-and-white photos of heyday-era A.C., and a porterhouse to remember. Get yourself a wedge salad and a serious bottle of barbaresco. Of course, the 112-year-old Dock’s Oyster House was made for big nights out, with a swanky piano bar and classic fare: Cape May Salt Oysters, crabmeat sauté, french-fried beets, lobster tail. Or try Michael Mina’s SeaBlue at the Borgata, where $45 buys four courses (Thursdays through Sundays) and the new “50 under $50” wine list helps you save some cash for the tables, if you so wish.  (Izakaya, The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 866-317-1000; Continental Inside the Pier Shops at Caesars, 2100 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-674-8300; Chelsea Prime 111 South Chelsea Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-428-4545; Dock’s Oyster House 2405 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-345-0092; SeaBlue The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 609-317-1000)

If, post-dinner, the tables aren’t your scene, you should hit the clubs (particularly the hot new D.J. AM project at Caesars, called Dusk, or the Terrace at the Chelsea, where there have been celeb sightings (e.g., Chloë Sevigny and, if you count him, John Mayer), cut loose atop the mechanical bull at Game On in the Pier, or get yourself into the pool after dark at Harrah’s (the movie nights are cheesy fun) or the aquatic lounge around the Water Club’s pools. Proceed to party till your heart’s content. Then stop by Tony’s Baltimore Grill, where thin-crusted pies are straightforward, available until 3 a.m., and best washed down with a $1.25 juice-glass of Bud. (Dusk Caesars, 2100 Pacific Avenue, 609-0348-4411; The Terrace at the Chelsea 111 South Chelsea Avenue, Atlantic City, 800-548-3030; Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City 777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City, 609-441-5000; The Water Club 1 Renaissance Way, Atlantic City, 609-317-8888; Tony’s Baltimore Grill 2800 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-345-5766)