The Miss America pageant has always been synonymous with Atlantic City, New Jersey (even when they tried to move the pageant to Las Vegas – and ended up bringing it back to AC). The gowns, the crown, the pomp and pageantry of it all touches the heart of little girls all across America each September, and many an older woman, too 😉
The one and only place to see Miss America photos and memorabilia over the years is at the Sheraton Atlantic City. The Miss America Organization does not have an official museum, so this unofficial collection housed for free in the public areas of the Sheraton is the best place to revel in the crowning glory of Miss America’s past and present.
In all honesty, the Miss America history is the ONLY reason to visit Atlantic City. During a recent stay in the city, I was shocked at how bad the tourism industry was, and the shocking state of affairs in the casino hotels (4 of the city’s 12 have already closed). Yet this is a proud city, one that’s trying to figure out how to get back on its feet with no gambling revenue coming in, so I think Miss America is where it’s at!
We’ve already talked about being “crowned” Miss America at the Sheraton, so why not stay a little while longer and look at the dresses, shoes and pictures from the previous winners?
First of all, everyone is welcome to browse the contest artifacts in the Sheraton Atlantic City. You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel. It’s a decent walk from the outlet stores, so you don’t have to drive out of your way to explore the history.
When you walk inside, you’ll walk through the lobby to the circular room behind it. You can’t miss it. The large glass panels in the walls protect the gowns, scepters, shoes and other artifacts from previous Miss America’s, as well as the current reigning Miss America. No where else can you get this close to the Miss America crown.
Upstairs, there are additional displays on Miss America’s shoes. It’s a crazy fun tradition for the Miss America’s to show off elaborate shoes during the Miss America Shoe Parade, and some of the best have been put on display in glass boxes. Why not have a drink at the Shoe Bar – aptly named! – too?
Roam the halls and you’ll find massive portraits of Miss America’s, as well as historical panoramic photos that detail what it was like to film the show way back when. In fact, the hotel has a collection of 478 photos throughout the property, many of them part of a rare and rarely seen private collection.
Downstairs, even the Starbucks has a Miss America theme, with old murals of women in dowdy bathing suits gracing the walls.
Outdoors, the Miss America history continues with photos on display along the exterior wall, highlighting each decade from 1921 to 2000.
The Sheraton is not the only venue to have Miss America history, though. Walk along the Rose Walk situated in the sidewalk outside of Tanger Outlets. Each Miss America is honored with a plaque and a quote or a little more information about the young woman. Fittingly, the Rose Walk is lined with – what else? – Knockout Rose Bushes.
Hopefully, the Miss America pageant can add value to Atlantic City’s revitalization. Here’s hoping that beauty and talent will lead the way to a brighter tomorrow for the city!