Try Your Luck at These Nearby Casinos
A gambling newbie places her bets on adult playgrounds ranging from high style to old-school.
If You Go
Where to stay: Here again, the hotel is so outstanding in its own right, why would you stay anywhere else? If you’re lucky enough to book a suite, the abundance of windows allows for jaw-dropping views of National Harbor, D.C.’s monuments and the Potomac River. Downstairs you’ve got highend shopping, an awesome spa, sitdown restaurants, a food court and whimsical, larger-than-life seasonal displays that prompt smiles from visitors of all ages. Oh, and a very nice casino.
Where to eat: There’s a wide variety of dining options at MGM, including Shake Shack, Voltaggio Brothers Steak House and the enjoyable high-end seafood spot Fish by José Andrés. Visit the Bellagio Patisserie for breakfast croissants and coffee. TAP Sports Bar is everything you want a sports bar to be: a convivial spot to drink craft beer, indulge in bar food favorites such as nachos and crab dip, and catch a game on big screens.
Off to the Races
With its dark, den-like vibe and instantly detectable haze in the smoking areas, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia definitely veers old school. But what it lacks in high-end luxury, it makes up for with variety. West Virginia has looser betting laws than the ones you’ll find in Maryland, so this resort packs in locals and out-of-towners who want the novelty of betting on live horse races. You can also participate in sports wagering, which allows bets on off-site games of everything from football to cricket to hockey. Another nice perk: Free drinks for gamblers are legal here, and that’s a casino tradition not yet available in Maryland. The sprawling space features 2,500 slot machines, 87 table games and 24 poker tables.
The hotel affiliated with the casino, The Inn at Charles Town, isn’t nearly as glitzy or modern as those at MGM and Live!, but the staff is friendly, the rooms are clean and some of them feature balconies with prime views of the racetrack. You can see the hotel just across from the track, and there’s a free shuttle that bounces between the hotel and casino every 15 minutes or so.
Among the nine restaurants in the casino, try the Hollywood-themed Final Cut Steakhouse, which incorporates local meats and fish, plus veggies from a house garden. Starters such as applewood-smoked bacon glazed with Luxardo cherries and thyme, and a satisfying salad of iceberg wedge, fennel and herbed buttermilk dressing, set the scene nicely for the main event—a selection of perfectly cooked steaks that includes two wagyu options.
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, West Virginia; 800-795-7001, hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com
Rina Rapuano is a freelance writer who lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, her slot-crazy mother and her two kids. While she may never willingly shell out for plane tickets to Vegas, she’s keeping an open mind about casinos—because mama could always use a new pair of shoes. Find her on Instagram at @rinacucina or on Twitter at @rinarap.