Winter’s Beach: An Alternative Excursion

Even though I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, the Jersey shore has been a major part of my life since childhood. Simply mention saltwater taffy in Ocean City, Planters Peanuts and Skee-Ball in Atlantic City or ice cream in Cape May — they unlock great memories with vivid details. While most winter travelers head towards warm climates like Florida, this year I prefer avoiding the airports and flocks of snowbirds.

I recently went back to the Jersey shore and Caesars Atlantic City Resort. If you need a break from the daily grind and a quick getaway regardless of snow, here is my advice for winter’s beach. Following is an alternative excursion.

Many of the famous and notorious have paced these wooden boards. Some of the hottest performers graced the nearby stages from Frank Sinatra, Evelyn Nesbit (more about her at the end of this article), B. B. King and Dolly Parton, to Tina, Biance and the future Mrs. Taylor Swift Kelce. The list includes rappers, magicians, dancers and just about every Miss America winner. Atlantic City is where I heard Elton John perform live. The city booms in the summer while the off-season is a blissful getaway. My best advice is to just bundle up and take a stroll.

During my brisk and peaceful walk, I was able to smell the sea, eat a bag of popcorn, feed a flock of seagulls and take in several rounds of Skee-Ball. I was the only patron at this time — no lines of tourists or packs of teenagers with fists full of prize tickets. I competed against the owner of the arcade and learned that Skee-Ball was invented and patented in 1908 by Joseph Fourestier Simpson, a resident of Vineland, New Jersey. You will notice that some stores are boarded up for the season but enough are open and ready for business.

Pictured is what you can expect with a king-sized bed in their Centurion Tower — there are views of the Atlantic Ocean and Boardwalk below with diehard runners, a few bicyclists and peaceful pedestrians. It’s always been my belief that you spend very little time in your room when on hiatus or vacation. However, it is a bit different at winter’s beach. You may decide to spend more time in your cozy space with various Romanesque nods to design, and the itinerary is yours to choose. A good rest and room service might just be the ticket. The TV programming runs the gamut from recent sports events to gaming and classic movies.

Shopping? The Pier Shops are now called The Playground — I wasn’t able to visit them during this trip, but it’s easily accessible from the enclosed bridge at the hotel. I suggest that you book an appointment for a massage at Qua Baths & Spa. They offer several mind/body rejuvenating options with the healing powers of water. The facility is open if you just want to decompress, but a massage needs to be scheduled.

Note: The Qua Baths & Spa is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Back in the day, I was very lucky to experience a production by Spiegelworld when they set up a tent on a pier in Lower Manhattan. Currently, this amazing performance group is permanently housed at the Warner Theater in the Caesars Atlantic City complex. The Hook is a titillating spectacle of a circus with aerialists, acrobats and bawdy thespians who pay homage to the history of the Golden Age of Atlantic City, and it’s many celebrity visitors. The show is for adults only and runs Wednesday through Sunday and dark (closed) on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Perhaps the most important part of getting away from the home and daily grind is the experience of dining out. I have to admit that I am not a fan of the term celebrity chef. A chef is a chef, like a rose is a rose is a rose… A celebrity is just a celebrity. Regardless, I’ve learned over the years that some deserve credit where credit is due. Gordon Ramsay knows his business both on TV and in the culinary world. His Pub & Grill is on the main concourse level and Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is located in the basement. They are both popular and notable. Read more about my dining experience in our Travel & Food Section: The Culinary King in AC.

For decades, Atlantic City has attracted many people for a multitude of reasons. During the early 1900s it became the escape or exile for actress Evelyn Nesbit after her involvement in a New York City scandal and murderous ménage à trois to include elitist Harry Thaw and architect Stanford White. She subsequently became known as the girl on a swing for her performance in vaudeville in this beach city. Some may still perceive AC a bit seedy, edgy or honky-tonk, as my ancestors referred to it. I think differently. I believe you will find it relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful, most specifically when the masses have flocked to warmer climates. And that is why I call it winter’s beach.

Caesars Atlantic City
2100 Pacific Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Phone: 609-348-4411

Read more in our travel section on dining: The Culinary King at AC

Photo Credits: P. K. Greenfield, Caesars Atlantic City