FOR AN UPDATE ON ASBURY PARK AFTER HURRICANE SANDY, VISIT THIS COMPANION PAGE
Founder of Asbury Park James Bradley designed a seaside town that was unique in its day, 1887, for its open space plan with widened east-west streets, allowing beautiful vistas to the ocean and the movement of the sea breezes over the town. Revitalization projects are always ongoing, so a beautifully historic building will often be home to funky boutiques or happening art scenes.
Though some pockets of this city are still depressed, there is a vitality that pervades the place, even those areas with a run down façade. Asbury Park is unique in this and so many other ways.
Just one look will tell you that this is a town that is all about building its bright future while preserving its glorious past. The city's population is eclectic, and so is its architecture! Beautiful old, lovingly restored buildings nestle side by side with hot new condo spaces, and repurposed areas, such as the Beach Bar at the Convention Hall Building, with tropical drinks that rival the tropical view.
Through the early to mid twentieth century, this was one of the most popular seaside towns and has continually overcome misfortune such as hurricanes, fires and economic decline. This indomitable spirit of the "city by the sea" can be seen in the Stone Pony or The Saint, two pretty divey looking "boites". But step inside and you will find a hot music scene that can take on anything in New York, and often does.
Convention Hall and the famous Paramount Theater fill out the entertainment calendar with unique lineup of shows such as "Cirque Ziva", and wrestling and roller blading shows. A little something for everybody.
The Boardwalk and the Beach are the focal points during the day, and like most Jersey Shore beaches, the sand and the water are picture perfect. If all you want is to lay on soft sand and swim in refreshing ocean waves, any of the beaches on the Jersey coastline are perfect.
But the special ambiance of Asbury Park draws the visitor for so much more. How many towns in the United States would be proud to officially call themselves eclectic and diverse? The gay and lesbian community has become an integral part of this community and continues to work hard to bring new vitality to it.
Asbury Park abounds in happenings and events.
Music is a major part of the culture of the city, not the least because
"The Bossss", Bruce Springsteen, immortalized it by both singing in it
and about it. But hot new artists, like Nicole Atkins, pictured here, had their roots here as well.
The choice between big names and hot new acts is a difficult one to make on any given evening. Convention Hall is undergoing renovations and attracts old time big name stars such as Tony Bennet, while on the beach, the younger crowd can enjoy all day beach parties such as the First Saturday Summer parties.
And Asbury is known for its bars and dives, sometimes one and the same, so check them out on this ultimate list of the Bars of Asbury.
If music is main ingredient to Asbury Park's magic, food is the sauce. Jerseyans drive from far and wide for some of the best and most inventive menus from upscale, avant garde venues such as Bistro Olé and Moonstruck and Langosta Lounge to the famous Frank's Deli for perfect old fashioned breakfasts and deli lunches. As the city becomes more and more revitalized, new eating venues appear all the time. You are bound to find the perfect meal, whether casual or formal, from comfort food to nouvelle cuisine in Asbury.
If music and good eats are not enough for you, you have to check out the great shopping and antiquing on Cookman Avenue, the lively art scene, especially First Night and Arts Night. The Events Calendar has it all.
As much fun as it is to play in Asbury during the day, where to stay in Asbury is a serious question. There is not the usual wide choice of seasonal rentals, or even hotels and motels. There is the Berkeley at the northern end of town, of course, but at $175 a night, it may be a bit pricey for the summer vacation crowd. Of course, with its great location and beautiful renovation, it may be fun to stay there at least one night. Spoil yourself!
The Empress Hotel, at the other end of town, is a clean, reasonably priced and beautifully located jewel right on the boardwalk. It has a lively dance club/bar and some of the rooms have really spectacular views.
If you are looking to spend an extended time in the area, however, you may want to consider Asbury as your daytime hangout and then head to a rental in one of the nearby towns for a night's rest, instead of paying nightly hotel rates. Ocean Grove, with its cute Victorian B&Bs, is right next door (you can even walk over a small bridge to get there). Or drive 5 minutes and rent one of the great summer homes in Bradley Beach, Avon or Belmar.
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