Long Weekend: Boardwalk Empire

Snobs turn their noses, but as a bargain-yet-luxe summer weekend, there's never been a better time to, as the ads say, "Do AC."

Revel's No. 1 sell: a stunning beachfront view.

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.

A near-exact replica of the room I stayed in at Revel.

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.

Iron Chef winner Marc Forgione at his restaurant.

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.

Revel's popular HQ Nightclub, a good option in AC if you're not looking for something ultra gay.

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.

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