State One: New Jersey

What a way to kick off the trip….

Technically we flew in to New York, but our first road trip stop was a few hours due south, the gambling mecca of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

If you drive into the city at night from the north it does make for quite a spectacular view as the bright lights shimmer in the distance. It’s not quite Las Vegas, but there’s neon aplenty.

We didn’t arrive until 3am and after a bewildering few minutes hunting for the lobby in one of The Donald’s less salubrious establishments – the Trump Plaza – we crashed and slept soundly until sunrise.

We had a packed schedule but made time for the delicious ensemble you see on the left. Trump Atlantic City had a Hooters, plenty of abandoned one arm bandits and friendly waitresses. But not enough to keep us here for long.

We almost certainly didn’t do Atlantic City justice, we didn’t see the Boardwalk (or Nucky Thompson) and we didn’t see Lucy the Margate Elephant. We didn’t gamble away our holiday budget or wake up with killer hangovers. So next time we’ll rectify this and spend a few more hours in the Garden State.

On our avoid-the-highways (not deliberate – sat nav programming error…) trip from New York we passed a million roadside diners. You know the sort, those shiny metal boxes with the neon signs. We were spoilt for choice and planned to make a stop the next day. Don’t make the same mistake we did. New Jersey is the diner capital of the USA and you might never find the kind of choice elsewhere. If you’ve got time on your drive, stop for a milkshake and a burger in NJ.

It is a handy stop if you’re heading south when flying into New York (especially if you’re going into Newark) and need a place to rest your head. It’s also pretty inexpensive, like Vegas a lot of the hotels flog you a cheap room in the hope that you’ll fritter away all your money at the blackjack table.

Rate the State

Good for: Gambling, seaside, setting for awesome HBO crime dramas (Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire).

Bad for: We didn’t see enough to say too much, but it’s probably not the prettiest state.

Overall: 6/10

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