Eugene Fodor — a native of Hungary and a spy for the U.S. during World War II — later became a travel writer who wrote dozens of books with practical tips on visiting countless destinations.
And the winner is … not a spot too many New Jerseyans might have guessed:
“Atlantic City’s boardwalk is internationally famous,” the Fodors article, or listicle, enthuses. “It is said to be the world’s first and longest boardwalk dating way back to 1870. The structure’s original intent was to protect the nearby hotels from unruly ocean waves, but over time, as the boardwalk grew to its current length of 5.5 miles, it became an international entertainment hub.
“Explore the high-end hotels and casinos like the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, or take a swing at Atlantic City Miniature Golf. Walk the adjacent piers, which offer visitors several additional attractions and shopping spots. Check out the Central Pier Arcade and Speedway for extensive choices of arcade games. At Steel Pier, take a ride on the carousel or the observation wheel overlooking the city. Nearby Garden Pier is the arts and cultural center of the boardwalk, featuring the Atlantic City Historical Museum and Atlantic City Art Center.”
Recent casino upgrades not noted
Fodor’s could have bolstered its case by noting upgrades that have been made in the past couple of years at all six Boardwalk casinos — Hard Rock, Caesars, Ocean, Tropicana, Bally’s, and Resorts.
Caesars, for instance, is undergoing a $200 million facelift that includes 750 renovated rooms and suites in the Centurion and Ocean Towers; new restaurants Nobu Atlantic City and Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen (a first on the East Coast for the TV star and chef); and upgrades to its hotel lobby, casino floor, and valet area along with what Caesars touts as “a new outdoor pool experience.”
Bally’s, which is located next door to Caesars, has $100 million worth of upgrades including The Yard, an indoor and outdoor watering hole with daily concerts to attract passersby along the nation’s No. 1 Boardwalk. A slightly rotating Carousel Bar will gain the attention of hotel guests as they check in. Bally’s also has matched Caesars with upgrades of 750 rooms.
Caesars Entertainment last year announced that Tropicana, one of its three AC properties, will receive $100 million in upgrades of its own — although details have been hard to come by.
Hard Rock’s nearly 2,000 rooms and Ocean’s nearly 1,400 rooms are only 4 years old, of course, so no need for sprucing up just yet. Even Resorts — the Boardwalk’s smallest and oldest casino at age 44 — has spent tens of millions on upgrades in the past few years.
The runners-up are…
Long Beach Boardwalk on Long Island claimed second place from Fodor’s, which lauded its “quirky boutiques and unique eateries.”
No. 3 is the fabled Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach Boardwalk, while No. 4 likely is off the radar for many — The Floating Boardwalk of Couer d’Alene, Idaho, which is more than a half-mile long, 12 feet wide, and 10 feet deep, with a 60-foot-long bridge.
The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade in South Carolina and the Carolina Beach Boardwalk one state to the north placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
The Ocean City Boardwalk in Maryland, ranked 7th, is popular with Northeasterners — as are No. 8 Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk in Delaware and No. 9 Virginia Beach Boardwalk.
Heading back to the Pacific Coast, No. 10 is Mission Beach Boardwalk in San Diego. Navy Pier in Chicago no doubt ranks higher than No. 11 on many personal lists, while Kemah Boardwalk in Galveston Bay, Texas, grabbed the final spot.
What do visitors think of AC?
The stubbornly high crime rate in Atlantic City undoubtedly has many state residents skeptical of its Boardwalk’s newly lofty status above many in-state competitors — much less every peer across the U.S.
On nj.com, for instance, its 2018 ranking of the state’s Boardwalks placed Atlantic City a mere sixth — behind those in Ocean City, Wildwood, Asbury Park, Seaside Heights, and Point Pleasant Beach.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk gets 3.5 stars on the Yelp review website.
Suzanne A from Philadelphia (5 stars) comments there: “Atlantic City is so underrated. I love going to the beach here. It’s free and only about an hour from Philly. The beach is clean. If you’re not near the casinos, it’s not crowded and quiet.”
Robert Charles S., Orlando, Fla. (3 stars): “1st this city is very dirty trash on streets, sidewalks, boardwalk no pride in their city at all. You figure with casino’s and the money the city makes they clean it up. 2 it smells bad like rotten sewer or something. 3. The police arent nice especially to tourist. … However there are some good restaurants to eat at.”
Yelena R., Hightstown, NJ (2 stars): “2 stars here are just for the kids places because you can say, ok, there is this little option for the kids. Otherwise, I am sorry to say but AC is who’s who of human disaster. The ENTIRE Boardwalk reeks of weed, the stores selling weed, cigarettes, vapes, whatever crap in that category are blasting music with profanities while people are walking by with children ...”
Eric D, Cheektowaga, NY (5 stars): “Atlantic City is class, fun, and fine things all rolled into one. The boardwalk is so cool and was the highlights of my trip to Atlantic City and New Jersey in general. There was so much to see and do and we loved every bit of it. The boardwalk was exceptionally well kept up and clean despite the billion people there daily and mountain of garbage at each trash can. …”