Lots of folks dismiss Atlantic City as nothing but a tacky boardwalk and seniors playing slots. But for my partner and me, it’s actually become something of a favorite one-night stand. We swoop down occasionally for dinner and a show, throw a few coins in the casino, then hit the road before our slot machine has a chance to show cherry, cherry, black bar. Recently, though, we decided to hover for a few days. And we discovered that if you play your cards right, A.C. has all the makings of an impeccable gay getaway.
When it comes to lodging, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Revel. You’ve probably read that the year-old hotel is already in bankruptcy. Which is tragic, because the truth is the hotel is stunning, a city unto itself — 6.3 million square feet of restaurants, nightclubs, boutiques, cafes and gorgeous rooms. Our pied-à-terre, perched high on the 47th floor — and a steal at $189 a night — was sharply decorated and luxuriously comfortable. The other thing Revel got right: It uses the ocean as a marketing tool. Our entire eastern-facing wall was one big window overlooking the surf.
Dinners here are equally special. Michelin-starred chef Marc Forgione’s warmly lit American Cut features an à la carte menu teeming with hefty slabs of red meat, but my halibut en croute was orgasmic. Our second-night choice, Azure by Allegretti, took the prize for atmosphere. The energetic seafood spot, manned by a hip, helpful staff, is decked with a wall of ceiling-to-floor windows offering ground-level views of the beach.
Shopaholics could easily dedicate one full afternoon to the Tanger Outlets, which can be accessed via a quick and cheap jitney. Several busy blocks of name-brand stores tote mostly last-season threads, but if you’re in the mood to dig, you can discover some right-on-trend gems. I had the most luck at Calvin Klein and J. Crew Factory; the mister scored big at the Banana Republic Factory Store, where—quick tip—you can knock off an extra 10 percent if you flash your AAA card.
When looking for nightlife, the only truly gay options are squeezed onto a single floor of the past-its-prime Resorts Casino Hotel. Grab a ticket to Divas Do A.C., a boisterously fun drag show featuring gay icons like Madonna, Dolly Parton and Liza Minnelli. Afterward, nurse a martini in the Prohibition-era Piano Bar before heading down the hall to Pro Bar, where Atlantic City’s gays start shuffling in around midnight to drink, dance and slip a few bills into the briefs of a hunky go-go boy.
On our last day we spent several hours detoxing and relaxing in Revel’s zen-tastic Bask spa, a 32,000-square-foot sanctuary equipped with all the wet bells and whistles. Our hour-long couple’s massage (ask for Katrina) had us practically floating back to Philly — and looking at Atlantic City in a whole new gay way.Sign up to get a free subscription to G Philly’s quarterly glossy.