Many public events leading up to the pageant are free. Tickets are required to attend the pageant and are sold in a package, which also includes the three-night preliminaries, ranging from $110 to $220. Here are some highlights:

The "Show Us Your Shoes" parade, Sept. 14 on the boardwalk, is free to bystanders, but reserved-seat tickets are $20. The event showcases floats, marching bands, musical performances and, of course, the Miss America contestants parading in an extraordinary collection of chic and silly shoes: haute-couture high-heels, flip-flops, glitzy sneakers, even bedroom slippers.

Take a self-guided "Road To The Crown" walking tour of past Miss America pageants. Eight gowns, the tiara and scepter are on exhibit in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel. Outside in the hotel's Tea Garden, burgeoning beauty queens can pose for photos of themselves being crowned Miss America by a statue of Bert Parks, the pageant's longtime MC.

Lining the "Miss America Rose Walk," on Michigan Avenue between Arctic and Atlantic avenues, are commemorative bronze plaques bearing chronicles of past pageants.

Information

Atlantic City, N.J., is about 155 miles from Baltimore. Info: atlanticcitynj.com To purchase tickets and for more information and schedule for the pageant, visit missamerica.org.