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The city is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar renewal plan that has already resulted in sparkling new convention and visitor centers, new bus and train terminals, a new outlet mall complex, and a generally more cleaned-up appearance. The opening of the Borgata in the Marina District in 2003 added quite a bit of luster to the city's revitalization efforts. And improvements are still being made: In 2004, the Tropicana will open up The Quarter, an Old Havana-themed complex consisting of added hotel space, several restaurants and retail venues, and an IMAX theatre. Meanwhile, Caesars is busy transforming the old Ocean One shopping pier into a multimillion-dollar retail and entertainment complex called (drum roll, please) The Pier at Caesars. And the Borgata hasn't even been open a year and it's already announced a new expansion on the retail and dining front.

Most important of all is a change in attitude. Atlantic City clearly has Vegas aspirations in trying to become a playground catering to adults. We couldn't help but notice all of the signs in the casino hotels politely but firmly telling kids who aren't guests to get lost (we also couldn't help but wonder at the irony of that given all of the kid-friendly stuff going on at the Boardwalk just outside the casino hotels' doorsteps). We doubt the Boardwalk is going to be as successful as Sin City in this regard (and, indeed, we saw plenty of families taking advantage of the beach while we were there), but we must note that we did, in fact, see few kids in the Marina District and the vacationing couples there seemed to be all the happier for it.