The best casino trips involve much more than gaming.
Though the thrill of gambling is always a draw, the activity options are endless. Casino resorts are destinations in themselves, with shopping, spas and fitness offerings, pool decks, entertainment, dining and golf courses. Near the resorts, natural attractions feature water sports, snow sports, trails for hiking or biking, and activities coordinated just for groups. Many travelers on group tours will appreciate the variety of choices they have to explore both on and off the resorts during free time.
These five casino resorts offer every type of amenity imaginable, from live concerts to horseback riding. Travelers may want to take a chartered fishing boat into the Gulf of Mexico near Biloxi, Mississippi; shoot clay pigeons in West Baden, Indiana; peruse the art galleries of Santa Fe, New Mexico; hike the trails of Lake Tahoe, California; or dance the night away at a nightclub in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With a balance between the fun group activities within the resort and the myriad options for lovers of the outdoors, these destinations offer enough options to keep groups entertained for days.
French Lick Resort
French Lick, Indiana
Founded in 1845, French Lick Resort comprises two historic hotels. They were founded to draw visitors to its healing natural spring waters. The famed Pluto Mineral Bath is still a popular treatment at one of the two five-star spas at the resort.
“Our hotels offer unique activities for groups,” said Hilary Burton, sales system analyst. “We have veggie races, where teams build cars out of vegetables and race them; a culinary class with a chef; an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt; bubble soccer; a selfie trail throughout the resort; wine and canvas; the Wild West Challenge with cowboy-themed activities; and group fitness options like yoga and 5Ks.”
The casino offers table games like blackjack, craps, roulette and poker, plus slots and sports betting. The resort is home to four award-winning golf courses and several golf tournaments. There are nearly 10 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding backed up against the Hoosier National Forest, and there is a stable and bicycle rental on-site at the resort. The dual resorts have both indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, and feature an arcade with a bowling alley and video games. There are nearly 20 shopping options, from boutiques offering equestrian merchandise to artisan crafts. The numerous wide-ranging dining options include a steakhouse, a chef’s table in the kitchen, pool-side deli service and a pizzeria. A historic restored trolley and walking tours are a great way for groups to explore the resort’s history.
Beau Rivage Resort
Within walking distance of the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Beau Rivage offers everything a group could want to experience at a AAA Four Diamond-rated destination. The resort has an award-winning full-service salon and spa and an outdoor pool that overlooks the Mississippi Sound. Its newest addition is a Topgolf Swing Suite with simulated golf, a fitting partner to its luxurious golf course, Fallen Oaks, which is open year-round.
“Gambling is just one little piece of the resort,” said Randy Whiteside, director of sales. “We want people to really experience the coast. They can take chartered fishing trips, sailboat cruises, a shrimping tour or ride a vintage paddle steamer.”
Gaming options include slots and a wide range of table games, including baccarat and poker. Within the resort, a dozen boutiques feature everything from fine jewelry to golf merchandise, making souvenir shopping convenient. Beau Rivage’s dining includes Italian, Asian, craft beer, a buffet and a steakhouse, among other options. The resort features three cocktail lounges, some with live music, to kick off or wrap up the evening and star-studded acts nightly, with headliners like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Martina McBride and game shows such as “Family Feud.”
Hard Rock Casino Resort
Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe’s Hard Rock Casino Resort is lined with musically inspired artwork and rock-’n’-roll memorabilia like instruments and autographed artifacts from greats such as Elvis Presley and Christina Aguilera. Music lovers will jam to personalized playlists, Fender guitars for in-room jam sessions and iconic vinyl played on classic turntables. Other in-room amenities include yoga gear and on-demand video instruction.
“Where our casino is located is just a block from Lake Tahoe, the Heavenly Gondola, and great skiing or hiking, depending on the season,” said Kelly Higgins, group sales manager. “We’re close to the best dining and shopping in Lake Tahoe, plus golf courses and spas.”
The Hard Rock Lake Tahoe is the only resort in the area with a pool and has partnered with other area resorts for golfing and spa options. The fitness center offers seasonal yoga classes in addition to fitness center staples like weights and treadmills. The Rock Shop offers rockers signature Hard Rock swag, and dining options are as wide-ranging as a grab-and-go coffee shop and Tahoe’s only raw bar. There are several lounge options, among them a sports bar, a steakhouse, a trendy cocktail lounge and a rustic bar that serves craft beer. Catch headliners, comedy acts and DJs at the resort entertainment venue Vinyl. Beyond the resort walls, there’s nothing on earth like the pristine scenery of Lake Tahoe. Options include hiking, biking, fishing, boating, horseback riding, downhill and cross-country skiing and even hot-air-balloon rides.
Borgata Hotel Casino Resort
Atlantic City, New Jersey
For over-the-top luxury, the Borgata Hotel Casino Resort in Atlantic City won’t disappoint. All gaming needs are covered, from poker tournaments and table games to slots, and guests that favor sports betting will want to spend time in the new $12 million-dollar Moneyline Bar and Book. Partygoers will want to join the revelry at Premier Nightclub, which features world-renowned DJs; lovers of live music will hang out in the tequila lounge Gypsy Bar; and cocktail aficionados will enjoy any of the multiple in-house bars, including Long Bar, Level One Bar and the seasonal Borgata Beer Garden.
“The Borgata is a Vegas-style casino like you’d find on the strip,” said Liza Costandino, director of communications. “We have multiple restaurants run by celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay; five heated indoor and outdoor pools; Immersion, a two-story spa on the 32nd floor; boutiques; entertainment; and nightlife, in addition to the casino.”
The resort features two spas: The Immersion’s 16 service rooms offer floor-to-ceiling views for travelers to unwind, and Spa Toccare features a pool with gardens and a fitness center. Additional entertainment options can be found at the Music Box, an intimate entertainment setting, or the Event Center, a 30,000-square-foot concert hall. Both venues welcome popular musical acts like Luther Vandross, magic and medium shows, and comedy acts like Steve Martin and Martin Short. At the Comedy Club, the laughs from local comedians run nightly. The resort also features retail outlets, from fine jewelry and clothing to a wine shop and a Borgata-themed gift shop.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gone are the days of the casino floor being dark and dungeonlike. Tesuque, Santa Fe’s newest resort, is surrounded by windows that overlook a scenic panoramic vista of the Tesuque Pueblo, which has inspired artists for decades. Local tribes contributed elaborate artwork to the casino and influenced the architecture at the resort. Tribal residents of the modern-day Tesuque Pueblo, where the resort is located, observe traditional holiday ceremonies and celebrations throughout the year, some of which are open to the public.
The gaming floor features 10 tables and 800 slot machines, plus sports betting. The on-site restaurant, the Cottonwood Kitchen, offers a spacious outdoor patio and an exhibition-style kitchen where guests can watch the culinary action.
“We’re the Santa Fe area’s newest casino, just seven minutes from the Plaza,” said Tim Brown, president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation. “We have live entertainment seven nights a week, and our casino features mountain views. We’re also close to attractions like Meow Wolf and the Santa Fe Opera.”
Tesuque’s accommodations are still being developed, but the resort provides an on-demand and regularly scheduled shuttle service to nearby hotels that are within minutes of the gaming floor. Santa Fe is known for its thriving art scene, its plethora of restaurants, historic churches, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the annual Indian Market held on the Plaza. Nearby Bandelier National Monument offers beautiful hikes with dwellings and petroglyphs made by the Ancestral Puebloans that lived in the area hundreds of years ago. Within a half-hour drive from the resort, travelers can visit modern-day pueblos, known for their artisan handicrafts.