7 Ways to Have Fun without Gambling in Atlantic City

Most of the 27 million people who visit Atlantic City each year come to gamble. However, if you are one of those looking for entertainment outside of the casinos, there is still plenty to do and see.

Check out the following list for some ideas on where to go:

  1. The Boardwalk

Lined with beaches, resorts, and five-star restaurants, the Boardwalk is a great place to do some serious people watching. The four-mile stretch, which dates back to 1870, is in walking distance to beaches, where you can surf or bask in the sun. Each night, the Moment’s Factory lights up the Boardwalk Hall every half hour for the Boardwalk Beat. The three-dimensional sound and light show runs for eight and a half minutes.

  1. Absecon Lighthouse

Absecon Lighthouse

Image courtesy Kenneth Hagemeyer | Flickr

The third-tallest lighthouse in the nation, the Absecon Lighthouse is a good place from which to view Atlantic City’s skyline. The structure, which was built in 1857, was restored in 2003. The renovation included the creation of a keeper’s dwelling as well as an overhaul of the two-acre site. Be prepared to climb 228 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse. Once there, you can relax and enjoy a 360-degree view of the city.

The lighthouse is open Thursdays through Mondays from 11 am to 4 pm year-round. It only closes for two weeks to observe Christmas and New Year’s. Make sure to arrive no later than half an hour before closing during July and August to ensure you gain admission.

  1. Qua Baths and Spa

For many travelers, a wonderful spa experience can be the highlight of a trip. Caesars Atlantic City is home to Qua Baths and Spa, the ultimate relaxation experience that puts a contemporary spin on Roman baths.

The stoned-walled sanctuary offers a tranquil environment with three pools, 15 treatment rooms, and four facial facilities. Among the services offered are the O2 Body Perfection Treatment and a classic Swedish massage. For a more extravagant experience, try the Qua Signature Dieci Mani. You get to enjoy Roman baths, full-body exfoliation, Swedish and hot-stone massages from four masseuses at once, detoxifying moor mud, a hand and foot treatment, a Shirodhara treatment, a facial, and a 180-minute paraffin treatment. The Dieci Mani finishes with chakra balancing.

  1. Steel Pier

Open on weekends from the end of March through mid-June, Steel Pier is an amusement and entertainment hub that extends 1,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The pier features traditional rides, like the Ferris wheel and carousel, as well as more daring ones, such as the Freedom Flyer and the Slingshot. The Steel Pier also provides helicopter rides that give you a great bird’s-eye view of the Jersey shore and Atlantic City. Prices range from $49 to $74 and include options for purchasing photos. If you want, you can also customize the experience and build your own tour.

  1. Atlantic City Country Club

Named the top public course in New Jersey by Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, and Golf Week, the Atlantic City Country Club is famous for being the place where the term “birdie” was coined. The 100-year-old championship venue offers well-maintained fairways and deep sand bunkers. It also provides challenges such as salt-water marshes and natural ponds that can only be cleared with a long drive. Depending on the time of year, you can reserve a tee time and a golf cart for as little as $59. Make sure to dress appropriately for the venue; it is a non-metal-spike facility.

  1. Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival

food and wine festival

Image courtesy COD Newsroom | Flickr

Presented by Caesars Entertainment, the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival resumes in 2016 following a hiatus in 2015. The annual summertime event has previously welcomed a host of celebrity chefs, ranging from Rocco DiSpirito to Robert Irvine.

In 2016, Gordon Ramsey and Hell’s Kitchen winner LaTasha McCutchen will join Guy Fieri and Steve Martorano to celebrate gastronomy with culinary demonstrations and tastings. As the festival nears, Caesars Entertainment will provide additional information about the event on its Facebook page.

  1. Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights, located in the Tropicana Casino & Resort, gives you a place to dance the night away. The club pays tribute to the disco era with 1970s- and 1980s-style decor and an illuminated dance floor equipped with a hanging mirror ball. Each evening, you can expect special appearances by celebrity impersonators, like Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Boogie Nights also plans special events, such as glow parties and singles mixers, and it welcomes private parties to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Call in advance to book one of their many themed rooms.

5 Activities to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains

Escaping from the city for a week-long vacation in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains can be a revitalizing experience. Detach yourself from modern technologies to relax and reconnect with nature by staying in Pigeon Forge, an area just outside the mountains that offer numerous activities to keep you busy.

The following list is only a sample of things you can do:

  1. Zip Lining

ziplineSee the Smoky Mountains and its waterfalls by taking a ride on a zip line. Several companies, such as Smoky Mountain Ziplines and Canopy Tours, CLIMB Works, and Waterfall Canopy Zipline, offer several options for exploring the region.

Waterfall Canopy Zip Line, for instance, hosts multiple tours from its two sky bridges. The two-hour tours glide participants over the mountains’ treetops with a guide, who controls the progression with power brakes. This means you do not have to worry about wearing gloves or handling cables; you are just along for the ride.

If you decide to go on a zip line tour, make sure you check the company’s weight capacity, as well as minimum age stipulations, to ensure you meet the requirements. In addition, you should wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet.

  1. Picnicking

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to hold a picnic. From Cades Cove to Deep Creek, the park has 11 open-air dining areas that are available year-round. Select areas have grills and pavilions that you can reserve for private use. Fees range from $10 to $75.

If you decide to enjoy a picnic, be sure to properly dispose of food waste and clean your grill, so you don’t attract bears.

  1. Fishing

fishingWith approximately 2,900 miles of streams filled with trout and bass, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal place to fish. The park permits fishing all year long, from 30 minutes before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, as long as you have a valid license.

The park limits you to 20 rock bass per day and up to five rainbow, brook, or brown trout or smallmouth bass. A combination of the types, which must be larger than 7 inches, are allowed as well as long as the number does not exceed five per day.

Be prepared to have your tackle and equipment inspected by park authorities, who aim to preserve the streams. You may only carry artificial flies and lures with single hooks. Liquid scents and fish bait are not allowed.

  1. Hiking

Boasting more than 800 trails, the Great Smoky Mountains have much to offer hiking enthusiasts. Within the national park, you will find Rocky Top, Gregory Bald, Mount Cammerer, and The Jump-Off trails, which are rated among the park’s top-10 hikes.

The Jump-Off, in particular, makes a great picnic location following a steep climb. As you make your way up to the 1,000-foot cliff on Mount Kephart, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the view of Mount LeConte and Myrtle Point off to the northwest. At the summit, you can see the Appalachian Trail.

If you want a more leisurely stroll, you can attempt the Indian Creek Falls or Laurel Falls trails, both of which are less strenuous and span approximately two miles. The Indian Creek Falls trail climbs 150 feet in elevation, and the Laurel Falls trail takes you up 314 feet in elevation. Both hikes boast beautiful waterfalls.

  1. Backcountry Camping

backpackingBackcountry camping in the national park requires a permit and reservation for no more than three consecutive nights. To ensure your safety and protect the environment, you must follow the park’s backcountry regulations, which you can find here.

If you are planning to have a fire, make sure to reserve a campsite that allows one. These sites have designated fire rings in which you can burn dead wood as well as wood already lying on the ground. If you prefer not to look for wood, you can transport bundled heat-treated firewood that holds United States Department of Agriculture certification into the park. Firewood bearing a state department of agriculture seal is approved as well. You can find these products at stores in Smokemont and Cades Cove.

7 Sites to Explore in the Ozarks of Missouri

Dubbed the Show-Me State, Missouri offers entertainment and fun for the whole family, and visitors especially love the Branson area. You can easily access the many attractions and sites around Branson by staying at Bluegreen Resorts’ Paradise Point in Hollister, The Falls Village™ in Branson, or Bluegreen Wilderness Club at Big Cedar® and The Cliffs™ at Long Creek ™ in Ridgedale. From these resorts, you can visit the award-winning Silver Dollar City theme park or catch a live show at one of Branson’s more than 50 performance venues.

Branson, Ridgedale, and Hollister are surrounded by the beautiful Ozark Mountains, a  paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With lush forests, sparkling lakes and rivers, and more than 6,000 caves, the Ozark Mountains offer endless entertainment. Here are just seven of the must-see sites around Branson in the Ozarks of Missouri:

Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Conservation Area

Just 14 miles outside of Branson, immerse yourself in nature at the Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Conservation Area, a 2,502-acre expanse of creeks and rocky hills. Visitors have access to almost 20 miles of well-marked nature trails that are perfect for biking, hiking, and horseback riding.

Although the creeks are too small for fishing, Busiek State Forest does offer seasonal hunting with a permit. The park also has an unstaffed shooting range that is open to the public. Open year round, Busiek State Forest allows pets on leashes and admission is free.

Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake

Image courtesy Doug Wertman | Flickr

One of the most popular destinations in the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake offers nearly 800 miles of shoreline and dazzlingly clear water. You can sunbathe and play volleyball in the soft sands of Moonshine Beach, or escape the crowds and go swimming in the Beaver area on the lake’s southwest corner.

For more fun on the water, rent a pontoon boat from the Indian Point Marina, take a guided tour on the 48-foot catamaran Spirit of America, or go on a SCUBA diving adventure. Table Rock Lake is also famous for being one of the top bass fishing spots in the country, and fishermen frequently catch large bluegill and crappie as well. If you enjoy relaxing on the water, you can book a trip on the Showboat Branson Belle for a two-hour cruise that includes live entertainment and lunch or dinner.

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

A free attraction just west of Branson, the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area features more than 1,500 acres of scenic wilderness and an observation tower and lookout with stunning views of the Ozarks. Hikers can explore the steep hills, oak and hickory forests, and open glades on paved or dirt trails dotted with benches.

Also within the conservation area is a permanent stream called Roark Creek, which is a relatively untouched Ozark headwaters stream. Bird watching is popular in the conservation area and four information kiosks explain the habitats in the park.

Marvel Cave

Opened to tourists in 1894, Marvel Cave is one of the Ozark’s most amazing sites and it was first discovered around 1500 by Native Americans of the Osage Tribe, who named the cave Devil’s Den. For hundreds of years, explorers and industrialists ventured into the cave, but it wasn’t until after 1927 that the site was renamed Marvel Cave. An entrepreneurial family went on to develop Silver Dollar City theme park around the opening to Marvel Cave, and the area has since become one of Branson’s most well-known attractions.

During the 60-minute cave tour, you’ll travel 300 feet underground in the wet limestone cave and discover intricate formations that continue to grow and change. The tour starts in the magnificent Cathedral Room, which is the most expansive cave entrance in the country. Led by an experienced cave guide, you will travel over ramps and climb approximately 600 stairs surrounded by carefully lit rock formations. The guide will also provide geological and historical information about Marvel Cave.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Spanning 10,000 acres, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park contains some of the most scenic landscapes in the Ozark Mountains and lies just 30 minutes outside of Branson on the Missouri and Arkansas border. While the park offers a gift shop and other conveniences, it’s known for its rugged terrain, which has remained largely untouched over the years.

You can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, including horseback riding, trout fishing, hiking, and back-country jeep tours. For the aspiring angler, the park maintains a popular fly-fishing school with two-day courses on the picturesque streams that run through the lush forests and meadows in the park.

Lake of the Ozarks

The largest man-made reservoir in Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks is located two hours from the Branson area in the heart of the state. The lake offers more than 1,150 miles of shoreline, with a 92-mile main channel that is ideal for boating, fishing, and sailing.

As part of Lake of the Ozarks State Park, the lake is surrounded by beautiful wooded terrain, with 12 winding trails for hiking and biking. The state park also features the Ozark Caverns, which are open for tours by lantern light.

Fantastic Caverns

Discovered by a farmer and his dog in 1862, Fantastic Caverns is the only cave in America that you can tour by vehicle. The jeep-drawn trams depart every half hour for 60-minute tours of the cave, which is located in Springfield, Missouri.

Open all year, Fantastic Caverns is an all-season destination because the cave remains comfortable year round at about 60 degrees. Fantastic Caverns is the perfect trip for families with young children and people with limited mobility who may not be able to explore some of the other caves in the Ozarks on foot.

5 of the Best Off-Broadway Theater Venues in New York City

If the bright lights and trendy streets of New York City are beckoning, you should book a stay at Bluegreen Resorts’ The Manhattan Club, located in the center of the city. Make this resort your home base from which to explore New York City’s iconic landmarks, its glorious art scene, and some of the best restaurants in the world.

After checking out the city’s world-class museums and exclusive shopping venues, don’t forget to buy tickets for a show at one of New York City’s famous theaters. The city is renowned for its Broadway productions, but you can enjoy a more intimate and more affordable theater experience at an Off-Broadway show.

The following are some of the best Off-Broadway theater companies and venues in New York City:

Delacorte Theater

Delacorte Theater

Image courtesy user gigi_nyc | Flickr

A beloved summertime destination, the Delacorte Theater is an open-air stage nestled in the southwest corner of Central Park’s Great Lawn. The theater is famous for hosting Shakespeare in the Park, a free series produced annually by The Public Theater. Since 1962, more than 5 million theater-goers have attended free productions by The Public at the 1,872-seat venue.

The nonprofit theater company produces a Shakespeare play for the Delacorte each summer. It also presents other classic plays, including Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht and Anton Chekov’s The Seagull. In addition to introducing emerging talents, the theater often casts celebrated performers like Meryl Streep.

While admission is free, you will need to obtain tickets on the day of a performance.

Astor Place Theatre

Astor Place Theatre was built in 1831 as a row of nine buildings along the historic Colonnade Row on Lafayette Street. Today, just four of those buildings still stand, fronted by marble columns in the Greek Revival style. The site, located in New York City’s “NoHo” area, has become famous as the original home of the Blue Man Group. Collaboration between the Blue Man Group and the Astor Place Theatre has resulted in one of the longest lasting Off-Broadway shows in the city.

Pershing Square Signature Center

Home to the Signature Theatre Company, the Pershing Square Signature Center is an expansive new venue on 42nd Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Midtown Manhattan. The center includes three distinctive theater spaces that deliver an immersive and intimate experience.

Modeled after the company’s original theater space, the Diamond Stage seats 294 people, while The Linney Stage seats 191 people in a flexible courtyard configuration. The Griffin Jewel Box Theatre also seats 191 audience members, but the space resembles a traditional grand opera house that has been miniaturized to promote the audience-performer engagement that is characteristic of Off-Broadway theater.

Along with the three theater spaces, the Pershing Square Signature Center offers two studios, a bookshop, and a café that is perfect for an after-show drink. The spacious center was designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry and enables the Signature Theatre Company to support more talented playwrights.

The Daryl Roth Theatre

The Daryl Roth Theatre is an unmatched space in the Union Square area, with high ceilings and an unobstructed layout. Located in the former Union Square Savings Bank on the corner of East 15th Street, The Daryl Roth Theatre opened to audiences in 1996, when producer Daryl Roth revitalized the historic 1840’s building. For seven years, the building housed DE LA GUARDA, an international Off-Broadway hit.

In 2002, The Daryl Roth Theatre also transformed the former Union Square Savings Bank annex into the DR2 Theatre, an intimate theatre venue with just 99 seats. The DR2 has presented a number of top productions, including The Velveteen Rabbit, Stars of David, and Ears On A Beatle.

Cherry Lane Theatre

In 1924, the Cherry Lane Theatre began as the Cherry Lane Playhouse, an influential and long-running Off-Broadway venue that hosted productions starring a variety of celebrated artists, from Geraldine Fitzgerald to Barbara Streisand. The Commerce Street venue in Greenwich Village was the birthplace of several major theater movements, and it became known for showcasing the work of emerging playwrights. Some of the most famous American plays, written by greats like T. S. Eliot and Sam Shepard, came out of the small theatre.

Cherry Lane was revived in 1996 by Angelina Fiordellisi, who went on to found the Cherry Lane Studio to support more aspiring playwrights. Currently, Cherry Lane Theatre includes a 60-seat studio and a 179-seat main stage.

Where to Go for the Most Unique Experiences in Kauai

From its clear ocean waters to its verdant forests, Kauai has something for every vacationer. At Bluegreen’s Pono Kai Resort, a 13-acre oceanfront oasis along Kauai’s Coconut Coast, you can take advantage of numerous on-site amenities, such as putting greens and tennis courts, or visit Guest Services to reserve a spot at the next luau. Kauai’s famous beaches and sparkling waters are also perfect for surfing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.

While you are staying at the Pono Kai Resort, be sure to enjoy all the sites and experiences that make Kauai special. Here are some of the most unique sites to explore:

Opaekaa Falls

Opaekaa Falls

Image courtesy Sarah Richter | Flickr

Widely known as one of the most accessible waterfalls in Kauai, Opaekaa Falls is conveniently located near the Pono Kai Resort in the Wailua area on the east side of the island. Just two miles up Route 580 from Highway 56, there is a roadside lookout point where you can admire the view of the falls and take pictures.

The waterfall is named Opaekaa, or “rolling shrimp,” because the creatures once populated the stream that feeds the falls. While visiting Opaekaa Falls, you can also walk above the lookout point to catch a view of the Wailua River valley and the surrounding plains.

Kilohana Estate

The Kilohana Estate is located just outside of Lihue, a 15-minute drive from Wailua. A restored plantation, the site features tours of a 16,000-square-foot 1930’s Tudor-style mansion. The historic 35-acre estate was once a sugar plantation that played a central role in Kauai’s business, social, and cultural life.

Surrounded by manicured lawns, the Kilohana Estate now offers tropical gardens, Gaylord’s restaurant, and distinctive shops, such as the Koloa Rum Company. You can also explore an old plantation village and tour Kilohana’s working farm with Classic Kauai Plantation Railway. Along with the regularly held Luau Kalamaku, Kilohana Estate often hosts weddings and other special events.

Nounou Mountain

For more adventures on the east side of Kauai, take a hike along the Nounou Mountain range, which is better known as the “Sleeping Giant” because of its distinct shape. Looking at the mountain range from a distance, many people see the shape of a human figure at rest. Hawaiian legend states that the giant slumbers because villagers long ago tricked him into consuming a large number of rocks concealed in poi and fish.

It’s less than two miles from the trail head on Halelilo Road in Wailua to the top of Sleeping Giant along the scenic Nounou Trail. At the top of the ridge, you are rewarded with stunning views of east Kauai.

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

Image courtesy Phillip MacAuliffe | Flickr

From Wailua, it’s only an hour’s drive to the Napali Coast on the North Shore of Kauai, where the 17-mile coastline has become one of the most famous sections of terrain on the island. The Napali Coast is renowned for its steep cliffs, lush hills, rugged valleys, and plummeting waterfalls.

If you’re interested in discovering the magnificent landscape on foot, you’ll need to start at Kee Beach and take the 11-mile Kalalau Trail—the only one through the Napali area—to its end at the quiet Kalalau Beach. Often a treacherous journey, hiking on the trail is discouraged in the winter, and camping permits are required if you spend more than one day on the trail.

Those who don’t want to hike the area can still appreciate the beauty of the Napali Coast by touring the coastline by water or air. Boat tours and guided kayaking trips offer breathtaking views of the sea cliffs, while helicopter tours deliver exquisite panoramas of the coastline.

Spouting Horn Park

In Spouting Horn Park on Kauai’s South Shore, you can discover one of the most photographed sites on the island, the Spouting Horn blowhole. The Spouting Horn blowhole is created by large swells on the Poipu coast that travel through a natural lava tube and explode out the top with “a hiss and a roar” that is part of a Hawaiian legend. According to the legend, the sounds are from a lizard that once defended the coastline and was trapped in the lava tube by a young boy.

Spouting Horn Park’s lookout point also offers spectacular sunset views and whale watching opportunities when humpback whales visit the coastline between December and May.

Kauai Gardens

As a tropical wonderland, Kauai has earned the title “The Garden Isle” and boasts three of the five National Tropical Botanical Gardens in the country. The north side of Kauai features the Limahuli Gardens, which is a 17-acre sanctuary for endangered native plants and agricultural terraces. On the South Shore, the McBryde Garden houses the world’s most extensive assembly of native Hawaiian plants and Allerton Gardens grows the giant Moreton Figs featured in Jurassic Park.

You can explore more Hawaiian flora at Smith’s Tropical Paradise Botanical Garden, Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, and the Kauai Coffee Plantation.