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Frantic City

Gamble with fate in Atlantic City

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Las Vegas has been transformed from a den of iniquity into a desert Disneyland, but if you're more interested in high stakes than in high art, Atlantic City is still only a bus ride away. The Academy line will have you there in less than three hours (the bargains start here: the round-trip ticket costs just over $20, and you get an $18 coupon to be exchanged for cash in the casino where you're dropped). For lower stakes, try the Sands and the Claridge; big spenders can cash their chips at the newly renovated Caesars. The Prime Place steakhouse at Bally's Park Place is our favorite dining spot. Eventually, everyone follows the lights to the Trump Taj Mahal, with its glistening minarets and glitzy fixtures. While the rooms might make Martha Stewart cringe, it's a comfortable place to lay your head -- if you ever decide to go to sleep.

DETAILS Academy Bus Lines, 800-992-0451 (buses leave from the Port Authority Bus Terminal every half hour); Prime Place at Bally's Park Place, 800-772-7777; Trump Taj Mahal, 800-825-8888 (rooms start at $175 through April 30, $225 after that).


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