Calling Asbury Park a secret would betray its tumultuous and long history: A source of American music, hidden all around Jersey’s swamp. A house of national symbols. A vibrant LGBTQ community. A city bearing the scars of the civil rights movement, ravaged for decades by mismanagement and distrust, is now in a powerful recovery fueled by the very soul that gave Asbury. reason to exist: music.
Now Asbury Park is called “The Coolest Small Town in America” by travel magazine and is regularly included in “top beach destinations” lists.
Still, just an hour’s drive from Manhattan with no traffic, Asbury Park still feels like an exploration, a New Orleans meet Dogtown by the sea overlooked by the busy Road traffic. The Long Island Expressway to the Hamptons, the crowded ferries that take day trips to Rockaway Beach, or the winding car-filled causeway to Long Beach Island.
Of course, they are ignored. Because as I’ve learned since my first trip to Asbury 25 years ago, to catch the Warped Tour with my father on the back lot Horse kickAsbury Park offers a play space in the Jersey Shore for everyone: rockers, diners, surfers, art patrons and just fans of a simple relaxing day on the beach. beach. I’ve kept a rotating and updated list of recommendations for friends and family for years now to help them have the perfect summer weekend. Now I will also share it with the readers of the Times.
A weekend on the beach
You’re here for the beach, so let’s start with that. Most importantly: This is the Jersey Shore, which has paid beach access and Harsh parking rules. Asbury Park, fortunately, has ample parking near the beach, and no time limit applies to metered parking, although it will cost you $3 an hour from 8am to 8am. 2am with no discount for all day rates. After that, an all-day beach pass costs $6 per person on weekdays and climbs to $9 on weekends.
Okay, time to choose the jetty. Surfers, head north, as the only summer surf beach during lifeguard hours is off 8th Avenue and Drive Lake Road (of course, there are no restrictions on weekdays). check sunrise or sunset). Those who don’t like to surf can sign up for lessons at the surf beach through Summer surfing. For those of you who are similarly active but have a rooftop crowd, head to the beaches near 6th Avenue and find volleyball nets for a pick-up game or host your own game.
The northern beaches are also home to “dog beaches,” a necessity in a city where bars build playgrounds for puppies, dog-friendly host “Yappy Hours“And the Mardi Gras Parade focuses on makeup pooches; It’s not uncommon to see dogs in party hats galloping along the boardwalk followed by a birthday coat. So early in the morning and every night after 6:30 p.m., the beach near Deal Lake is open to dogs (and their owners).
For those who just want to sit on the beach and relax, choose a beach read at Asbury Book Cooperativea single and locally owned bookstore that operates as a cooperative, with members given voting rights on decisions and discounts on new books.
The Asbury Park Boardwalk, cascading as it might appear in Springsteen songs and Sopranos scenes, isn’t the kind of water theme park many other Shore towns claim; many restaurants and plank bars here. But there are still some traditional beach delights, including Asbury Splash Park, where sprinklers, hoses and other sprinkler devices are lined up for children. And Silverball Pinball Museuma video game arcade that resembles a museum of historic pinball machines dating back to the 1950s, offering the chance to join the witches on Pinball Road.
A musical weekend
Every September, Asbury Park is the site of SeaHearNow, a nationally recognized two-day festivalbut on any given weekend, it can feel like its own music festival, as anywhere from a brewery to a bookstore, to a coffee shop to a hotel lobby, there are times when live music is played.
Starting in the afternoon at Transparent Clinch Library, where local artists perform on an intimate stage under the gaze of countless musical legends captured by renowned photographer Danny Clinch. A Jersey Shore native, Mr. Clinch has photographed Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Tupac and more, and his gallery at the east end of the Asbury Hotel is filled with portraits of iconic artists , including Mr. Springsteen leans against a muscle car on which visitors can pose for photos. Mr. Clinch will often join bands on stage with his harmonica, hosting a recent blues duet with local Seaside band Johnny Nameless.
From there, walk downtown to Independent house, a large sunken venue that can draw 500 fans to a Jersey punk gig, a more reflective indie night out, or simply host a DJ on stage and throw a party dance. End the night by heading a few blocks down Goda venue unchanged since opening in 1994, for a mix of local artists and national touring bands, packed into a small portion of a space that can easily be multiplied doubles into an interesting dive bar.
The second day of our self-styled festival starts with brunch at R Bar, a striking new New Orleans-themed restaurant on Main Street that hosts brass brunch on Saturdays and blues brunch on Sundays in the backyard garden. Grab a Kane Head High on draft and some blue crab beignets and settle for a perfect Jersey-meets-New-Orleans combo.
The main event is down Second Avenue, where the siren song plays legendary stone horse still echoing down the boardwalk, 48 years since first openingand Mr. Springsteen still shows up from time to time. The venue’s Summer Stage, set in the back, hosts major national reps from Phil Lesh to Jason Isbell to Rising Souls, while aftermarket can be inside Pony, where the bands local music has the same stage as Mr. Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt and Southside Johnny often called home.
If your ears are still not ringing, return to the boardwalk at Asbury Park Yacht Clubwhere there are often late-night concerts that last well past midnight on weekends, and sweaty dancers pour out in the salt air.
Food tour, Jersey style
Many of Asbury’s music venues might just be overshadowed by its booming restaurant scene. There’s a lot to eat, so start early.
This is New Jersey, after all, so for breakfast you’ll be eating that rich, savory minced pork shoulder product: Taylor Ham (or, as they call it in Asbury, Pork Roll). It’s available all over the city, but for the best experience, come Johnny Pork Roll Truck in the North Eats Food Truck park and buy Sandwich, a traditional pork, egg and cheese roll with “Saltpepperketchup,” a condiment that must be uttered in one breath.
If experimenting with the state’s most precious and special dishes isn’t on the card, come Main Terms for a fusion of traditional brunch standards and original dishes, such as egg cacio e pepe.
You’ll want to walk away from that breakfast, so take a stroll downtown towards Frank’s Deli and the restaurant for a classic, multi-page menu and formica-covered booths. There’s nothing bad about this menu, but you’re here for delicious Italian sandwiches. Order them as Anthony Bourdain once did: a pile of ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone, tomatoes, onions, chopped lettuce and hot peppers, drenched in oil and vinegar.
Now, dinner can go either way. You can be fashionable with a full pizza tour, sampling all the styles of New Jersey in the square mile of Asbury. Start at Maruca’s on the boardwalk for a slice of “Tomato Pie,” an original Jersey treat, where the sauce spins like a center-out spiral, blending with the cheese rather than being buried by it. . afterward Talula’s hawk some of the best Neapolitan pizzas in New Jersey or New York, sourcing all of their ingredients from local farms identified on the chalkboard above the bar. Or go to Killer Pies for a traditional slice and a custom, classic fountain soda.
For more on a sit-down dinner, go to Heirlooms at St. Laurent (where a $75 meal with a signature duck dish might be the best in town), Pascal & Sabine for French-inspired fare, or Coastal Neighborhood for upscale Mexican food and some of the best shrimp tacos on the shore. The boardwalk is where Langosta Lounge and its famous Curry Surf, with fresh seafood floating in a house that blends yellow and green curry. Newbie Cheap Bar offers classic Big Easy dishes like gumbo, but also Jersey-inspired spins like the fried pork roll sandwich, which is an homage to the famous fried bologna sandwich in Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans. And since the fish are swimming very close, there is a lot of seafood at Bonney Read.
If you’ve saved room for dessert, come Configuration of a Rockstar and order cupcakes and other treats like Macaroon 5, S’more than a Feeling or Oreo Speedwagon (I could go on but I’ll save some surprises for the visit).
Unlike many towns on the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park boasts many large hotels with full amenities and a wide range of price points. To experience the new, modern nature of Asbury, stay at Asbury, a hotel decorated in the style of the historic Salvation Army building that often features live music in the lobby, a rooftop bar, and an outdoor pool (weekdays start at $395, weekends is $660). Just across from Bradley Park is Berkeley Oceanfront Hotelan old hotel remodeled and upgraded (weekdays starting at $295, weekends $459)). At the other end of the beach is Empress Hotel (weekdays $229, weekends $339), a popular spot for LGBTQ travelers, with ocean views.
For those looking for new, luxury Asbury Ocean Club (weekdays start at $585, weekends $905), set in a shimmering glass tower in the center of the beach, it’s like stepping out of Asbury and into vistas of the Hamptons or South Beach. The lobby, bar and pool are all located on the second floor of the hotel, with the only street access being a small lobby with an elevator. And St. Laurent ($425 to $600 most nights), which recently opened this summer in the historic Hotel Tides building, has 20 individually styled rooms – each decked out with a custom-made surfboard. a local artist and comes with free beach access – above a huge restaurant, whiskey bar and backyard pool.