Like the ocean it’s named after, Atlantic City has risen and fallen with the tides over the years. The New Jersey icon was the Gilded Age’s preeminent playground by the sea, the Prohibition era’s wild gangland capital (as depicted in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire), and, following the legalization of gambling in the 1970s, the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas. More recently, the resort town’s fortunes have been at an ebb, thanks to an economic downturn that forced five casinos to close their doors.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino: A Total Makeover for Former Taj Mahal
One of the most encouraging signs of an Atlantic City renaissance is the 2018 opening of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (1000 Boardwalk) in the building once occupied by the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in 2016. A top-to-bottom overhaul banished the golden gaudiness of the previous iteration, replacing it with Hard Rock’s bold colors and guitar god aesthetic. Rock memorabilia on display: Elvis Presley’s Rolls Royce, John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “Imagine,” and a guitar signed by New Jersey’s own Jon Bon Jovi. There are several live music venues, too, and guests have access to perks such as curated playlists and electric guitars delivered to their rooms for free (on a first-come, first-served basis).