How does this sound to you — a roaring ’20s tour of Atlantic City by the Great American Trolley Company, a scrumptious lunch, and a back-bay cruise, all in one afternoon?
Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Well the stars aligned last week when the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (ACCVA) put together this wonderful day of travel in order to celebrate National Tourism Week and the U.S. Travel Associations National Travel Rally Day.
The sun was shining and our tour guide Gail Donaghy was very insightful, knowledgeable and humorous.
On the tour she will point out various historical landmarks during the ride and give interesting facts that you rarely hear about.
For instance, we saw a house off the bay that belonged to Frank Sinatra, which is still owned by his estate. We also learned about the gin battles with the Coast Guard and rumrunners. We learned that New Jersey is the nation’s clam capital and that one third of all the clams harvested are done in N.J., many finding their way to large corporations such as Campbell’s Soup.
Other great facts came when we passed the Absecon Lighthouse. Most of us from the area know about the 228 steps to the top, and that it still has its original Fresnel lens. However, what is that lens? Take the trolley tour, which will run regularly starting Memorial Day weekend, and find out.
There were a couple of stops where we got off the trolley to stretch our legs and tour some historical places, one being the new Korean War Memorial on the Boardwalk and another, the Ritz Condominiums, which originally existed as the Ritz Carlton. Famous guests of the Ritz Carlton were Herbert Hoover, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (who lived on the entire ninth floor), mobsters Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, and many more.
The stairway in the entrance is the original architecture and in the vestibule from the Boardwalk you’ll see various wall hangings that tell stories of the rich history in Atlantic City.
Other unique attractions on the tour included historic Boardwalk Hall, the Knife and Fork Inn, the Greek Monument, the Dennis Hotel, the Carnegie Library and other local landmarks.
Being on a narrated tour can be boring sometimes because information overload can go in one ear and out the other, but on this tour the environment is spacious, the facts and history to be learned are pertinent, interesting and memorable, and the narrator keeps things going with fun, quick trivia facts and personal stories. Now when I travel through Atlantic City I see a whole different view!
After our lunch — provided to us fresh from the new Tony Boloney’s Mustache Mobile — we boarded the back-bay cruise line Crusin’1. Ship owner, operator and tour guide Jeff George kept us comfortable and handled the water-bound experience. Doing a tour on the water gives you a whole new appreciation for the rich tapestry that is Atlantic City.
We have a colorful history here in Atlantic City that you can certainly learn about through reading, but take advantage of the wonderful amenities offered such as the Great American Trolley tour and the Back Bay Cruise by Cruisin’1.
You can find out more at gatrolley.com and atlanticcitycruises.com.
Speaking of history, and on a more serious and personal note, I must recognize local entertainment legend and Elvis tribute artist Ted Prior. Sadly I found out the news Sunday that he lost his battle to cancer and passed.
The 68-year-old Prior was more than a local star in the southern New Jersey area, especially in the family resort of Ocean City, Cape May County, where he was a constant on the scene for his Elvis Presley-inspired performances at the beach town resort's many special events.
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