Asbury Park is a popular resort town among gay people and original live music fans at the Jersey Shore, in the state of New Jersey in the United States. It was made famous in the 1970s by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Southside Johnny.
Asbury Park was founded as a Christian retreat in the 1800s by a man named James A. Bradley. It remained one of the most popular family resorts in the United States until 1970, when race riots burned down much of the downtown area.
Soon radicals, beatniks, hippies, and musicians moved in, making Asbury Park a very diverse place where the famous "Stone Pony" saw the first performances of Bruce Springsteen and became symbolic of failed urban re-development in the 1980s and early 90s.
In 1988, the city had about enough of its new cultures, and a plan to redevelop the entire waterfront went into affect. Most businesses were ordered to be closed, so the boardwalk, casino, hotels and amusements all closed for the redevelopment. High rise hotels and condos began construction, but were then abandoned before they could be finished, leaving the waterfront an odd mix of abandoned buildings and rotting construction.
The city declined in the 1990s, after almost all businesses failed. Crime rose, and Asbury Park had higher crime than any other town in Monmouth County.
However, in 1998, Shep Pettibone converted an abandoned hotel into a gay nightclub, drawing thousands of gay travelers to Asbury Park. Every Friday night the city became the only place on the East Coast that could rival Fire Island! Gay couples and artists began buying cheap homes, abandoned bars and nightclubs, closed storefronts downtown, and abandoned pavilions on the boardwalk, and restoring them to they way they once were.
Today, Asbury Park is popular amongst even mainstream tourists for its shopping, beaches and restaurants. Major summertime events hosted in Asbury Park include; the Wave Gathering, the Gay Pride Parade, Garden State Film Festival, Asbury Park Jazz Festival, "Road Trip", and the Tri-City Arts Tour.
Asbury Park was once rated #5 in the top ten beaches of NJ.
Now the town is on the mend and is the next trendy area in central New Jersey, it can still be a little rough at night. You can go to the beach in Asbury in the middle of August and be one of maybe three families there. There is a boardwalk and a fishing pier. The beach gives an unwelcoming sort of appearance in Asbury Park, but the town is interesting enough itself. It is unofficially a ghost town, with many buildings still standing from the 1900s in deteriorating condition.
By car: Parkway to exit 102. Take Rt 66 / Asbury Avenue into Asbury Park. Follow Asbury Avenue directly to the beach.
By Train: From New York City, take the North Jersey Coast Line directly to Asbury Park Train Station.
- 1 Asbury Park railway station, Cookman Ave.
By Bus: NJ Transit offers bus service to Asbury Park from Philadelphia, Freehold, Long Branch, Red Bank, and Point Pleasant. See schedule for more information.
Travel time from Philadelphia or New York is approximately 1 hr 15 min.
Getting around in Asbury Park is easy by foot or by bike. Bikes can be rented at the boardwalk at hourly or daily rates. A car is not necessary for visiting Asbury Park.
Most of the downtown parking spots, so you must pay.
During the summer months there are three lots near the beach that have an attendant - pay them the rate $5 or $10 to avoid feeding the meter. Off season these lots are usual free, so avoid the spaces.
If you are visiting Asbury Park for First Saturday or a special event, trolley service is often provided at no cost. The trolley schedule and stops may vary depending on the event.
Taxi service is also available at the train station and by calling ahead.
Visiting art galleries, going to the beach, shopping, dining and more can all be done on foot and are within close proximity to each other. The downtown shopping district offers antiques, beach accessories, cafes, art galleries and more. The first Saturday of the month is celebrated with local discounts, events, and other promotions.
There are a smattering of shopping and restaurants on the boardwalk as well. There are two clubs, the Stone Pony and the club at the Empress Hotel. The renovation of the Paramount Hotel and Convention Center is complete.
Nearby Wesley Lake connects the beach to downtown. On the south side of the lake are fresh condominiums, beach houses, and bed and breakfasts. The north side is split between the commercial area of downtown, a small patch of new luxury housing, and a rougher neighborhood with several active construction sites.
The city's website lists current events, has a feed from the radio station WKTU, and accepts contributions from visitors.
- Belmontes, 632 Cookman Ave. Italian cuisine.
- Brickwall Tavern, 522 Cookman Ave. Bar food, burgers, salads and sandwiches.
- Crust & Crumble, 658 Cookman Ave. Artisan style pizzas and great cupcakes.
- Lola's European Cafe, 539 Cookman Ave, ☏ . Italian-style gelato ice cream, panini and coffee shop.
- Moonstruck, 517 Lake Ave. Restaurant and cocktail lounge.
- Old Man Rafferty’s, 531 Cookman Ave. Local chain serving burgers, sandwiches and American style food.
- [dead link] Plan B Restaurant, 705 Cookman Ave. Featuring a frequently changing menu of seafood and American style cuisine.
- Synaxis Restaurant, 660 Cookman Avenue. Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Taka, 632 Mattison Ave. Fine Japanese contemporary cuisine.
At the Boardwalk
- Biggies Clam Bar - Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. Fresh and friend clams, fries, salads and beach fare.
- The Baker Boys - Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. Cupcakes and baked goods.
- Ketchup Grill, 101 Asbury Ave. Housed inside the Empress Hotel.
- Langosta Lounge, 1000 Ocean Ave. Vacation style cuisine.
- Saltwater Beach Cafe, 1200 Ocean Ave. Fresh and local American style cuisine.
- Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Ave. American style with many seafood offerings.
- O’Tooles Irish Pub - Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. Limited Irish inspired menu.
- Stella Marina, 1200 Ocean Ave. Italian cuisine.
- Paradise Nightclub, 101 Asbury Avenue. Dance club with outdoor pool, sundeck, piano bar, and lobby lounge. Big gay community, but straight people can come too.
- 1 The Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Avenue. The world-famous bar and rock music venue.
- Georgies, 812 Fifth Avenue. Neighborhood bar. Karaoke, live music, piano bar.
- Watermark, Ocean Avenue. High-class lounge with outdoor bar overlooking ocean. Inside is has a cozy fireplace.
- 1 The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, 1401 Ocean Ave, ☏ . Great historic hotel, beautiful lobby and catering halls in the lower levels. Amazing views on the beach side of the hotel. This very historic location has hosted dignitaries and world leaders. Sleep where Nixon slept! This hotel was also once owned by Johnny Cash, who had visions of turning the hotel into a casino resort.
- 2 The Empress Hotel, 101 Asbury Ave, ☏ . A primarily gay resort hotel set above a gay disco club. Judy Garland stayed here many times, and an oceanfront suite is named in her honor.
- Oceanic Inn, 201 6th Avenue, ☏ . A 1950s motel a block from the ocean. Has an outdoor pool. Cheaper than other hotels in the city.
- Tides Hotel, 408 Seventh Ave, ☏ . A beautifully restored 22-room hotel, spa and restaurant just blocks from the beach.
- Sixth Avenue House, 305 Sixth Avenue, ☏ . Pet-friendly Bed and Breakfast with six guest rooms. Open all year.
- Mikells Big House Bed & Breakfast, 405 Fourth Avenue, ☏ .
- First Saturday Asbury Park - A yearly event celebrating downtown businesses. Each month features a different theme.
- Gay Pride Weekend - Annual LGBTI festival and parade held on the first Sunday in June.
- The Wave Gathering Annual three day music festival featuring over 150 bands.
- Asbury Park Jazz Festival - A two-day outdoor jazz festival held in late June.
- Garden State Film Festival - Annual film festival showcasing upcoming independent directors and filmmakers.
|Routes through Asbury Park|
|Woodbridge ← Allenhurst ←||N S||→ Bradley Beach → Bay Head|