A Good Weekend in Asbury Park, N.J.


To name Asbury Park a secret would betray its tumultuous and storied historical past: A wellspring of American music, tucked across the swamps of Jersey. A house to nationwide icons. A vibrant L.G.B.T.Q. group. A metropolis that bears the scars of the civil rights motion, blighted for many years by mismanagement and distrust, that’s now within the midst of a hovering restoration fueled by the very soul that gave Asbury its motive for being: music.

Now Asbury Park known as “the Coolest Small City in America” by journey magazines and is repeatedly positioned on “high seashore locations” lists.

But simply an hourlong drive from Manhattan with out site visitors, Asbury Park nonetheless looks like a discovery, a New Orleans-meets-Dogtown metropolis by the ocean that’s ignored by the bumper-to-bumper site visitors of the Lengthy Island Expressway out to the Hamptons, the overcrowded ferries shuttling day-trippers to Rockaway Seaside or the snarled causeway lined with vehicles to Lengthy Seaside Island.

Ignored, in fact, at their very own loss. As a result of as I’ve discovered since my first journey to Asbury 25 years in the past, to catch the Warped Tour with my dad within the lot behind the storied Stone Pony, Asbury Park gives a Jersey Shore idyll for all comers: the rockers, diners, surfers, artwork patrons and simply followers of a easy enjoyable day on the seashore. I’ve been protecting a rotating and up to date checklist of ideas for family and friends for years now to assist them have the proper summer season weekend. Now I’ll share it with Occasions readers, too.

You’re right here for the seashore, so let’s begin with that. Most vital: That is the Jersey Shore, house to paid seashore entry and draconian parking guidelines. Asbury Park, fortuitously, has ample parking close to the seashore, and imposes no time restrict on metered parking, although it is going to run you $3 an hour from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. with no reductions on a full day price. Then an all-day seashore go prices $6 per particular person on weekdays, and climbs to $9 on the weekend.

OK, time to select a jetty. Surfers, head north, as the one summertime surf seashore throughout lifeguard hours is off Eighth Avenue and Deal Lake Drive (in fact, no restrictions on daybreak patrol or sundown periods). Non-surfers desirous to shred can guide classes on the surf seashore by Summertime Surf. For the equally energetic however terra firma crowd, make for the seashores close to Sixth Avenue and search for the volleyball nets to affix a pickup recreation or host your individual.

The northern seashores are additionally house to the “canine seashore,” a necessity in a metropolis the place bars construct pet playgrounds, host dog-friendly “Yappy Hours” and the Mardi Gras parade facilities on costumed pooches; it’s not unusual to see canines in get together hats trotting alongside the boardwalk following a birthday shindig. So, within the early mornings and each evening after 6:30 p.m., the seashore close to Deal Lake is open to canines (and their house owners).

For these simply trying to sit on the seashore and chill out, decide up a seashore learn on the Asbury Guide Cooperative, a novel and regionally owned bookstore that operates as a co-op, with members given voting energy over selections and reductions on new books.

The Asbury Park boardwalk, storied as it could be by its appearances in Springsteen songs and Sopranos scenes, shouldn’t be the form of amusement park-on-the-water that many different Shore cities declare; extra eating places and bars line the planks right here. However there’s nonetheless some conventional seashore enjoyable, together with the Asbury Splash Park, the place sprinklers, hoses and different water-emitting gadgets line the lot for youngsters. And the Silverball Pinball Museum, an arcade that doubles as a museum of historic pinball machines courting again to the Nineteen Fifties, gives a possibility to affix the wizards down on Pinball Manner.

Each September, Asbury Park is the location of SeaHearNow, a nationally acknowledged, two-day competition, however on any given weekend, it could really feel like its personal music competition, as anyplace from a brewery to a bookstore to a espresso store to a lodge foyer generally performs host to reside music.

Begin off within the afternoon on the Clear Clinch Gallery, the place native artists play on an intimate stage beneath the gaze of numerous music legends photographed by the famend photographer Danny Clinch. A Jersey Shore native, Mr. Clinch has photographed Bruce Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, Tupac and extra, and his gallery on the jap finish of the Asbury Lodge is full of portraits of iconic artists, together with a (practically) life-size Mr. Springsteen leaning in opposition to a muscle automotive that guests can pose with for an image. Mr. Clinch will usually be part of the bands onstage together with his harmonica, holding down a latest blues duet with the native Seaside band Johnny Anonymous.

From there, stroll downtown to the Home of Independents, a big sunken venue that may pack 500 followers in for a Jersey punk showcase, a extra reflective, indie marquee evening or just put a D.J. onstage and have a dance get together. Shut the evening by heading a pair blocks all the way down to the Saint, a venue that feels unchanged because it opened its doorways in 1994, for a mixture of native artists and nationally touring bands, which can be packed right into a sliver of an area that might simply double as a punky dive bar.

The second day of our self-styled competition kicks off with brunch at R Bar, a brand new standout New Orleans-themed restaurant on Principal Avenue that hosts a brass brunch on Saturday and a blues brunch on Sunday within the yard backyard. Seize a Kane Head Excessive on draft and a few blue crab beignets and settle in for an ideal Jersey-meets-New-Orleans combo.

The principle occasion is down Second Avenue, the place the siren tune from the legendary Stone Pony remains to be echoing down the boardwalk, 48 years because it first opened its doorways, and Mr. Springsteen nonetheless reveals up from time to time. The venue’s Summer time Stage, housed within the again lot, hosts main nationwide acts from Phil Lesh to Jason Isbell to the Bouncing Souls, whereas the aftershow could be contained in the Pony, the place native bands grace the identical stage that Mr. Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt and Southside Johnny repeatedly referred to as house.

In case your ears aren’t ringing but, head again on the boardwalk on the Asbury Park Yacht Membership, which regularly has late evening concert events going previous midnight on the weekends, and sweaty dancers spilling out into the salt air.

Asbury’s many music venues might solely be eclipsed by the booming restaurant scene. There’s loads to eat, so let’s begin early.

That is New Jersey, in spite of everything, so for breakfast, you’re going to eat that greasy, salty chopped pork shoulder product: Taylor Ham (or, as they name it in Asbury, Pork Roll). It’s obtainable all around the metropolis, however for the perfect expertise, head to the Johnny Pork Roll truck within the North Eats Meals Truck park and get the Sandwich, a standard pork roll, egg and cheese with “saltpepperketchup,” a condiment accompaniment that have to be uttered in a single breath.

If experimenting with the state’s most valuable and peculiar delicacies shouldn’t be within the playing cards, head to Cardinal Provisions for a mixture of conventional brunch requirements and unique takes, just like the cacio e pepe eggs.

You’ll wish to stroll off that breakfast, so stroll downtown towards Frank’s Deli and Restaurant for a basic, multi-page laminated menu and formica-topped cubicles. There’s nothing unhealthy on this menu, however you’re right here for jaw-locking Italian sandwiches. Get them organized like Anthony Bourdain used to: a heaping pile of ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone, tomatoes, onions, shredded lettuce and scorching peppers, drenched in oil and vinegar.

Now, dinner can go in two instructions. You possibly can trend a full pizza tour, sampling all of the kinds of New Jersey within the Asbury sq. mile. Begin at Maruca’s on the boardwalk for a slice of “Tomato Pie” a Jersey unique the place the sauce swirls like a spiral out from the middle, mingling with the cheese somewhat than being buried by it. Then Talula’s hawks a few of the finest Neapolitan pizzas in New Jersey or New York, sourcing all their elements from native farms recognized on a blackboard above the bar. Or head to Killer Pies for a standard slice and a customized, basic fountain soda.

For extra of a sit-down dinner, head to Heirloom at St. Laurent (the place a $75 prix-fixe meal with a signature duck dish often is the best eating on the town), Pascal & Sabine for French-inspired fare, or Barrio Costero for elevated Mexican cooking and a few of the finest shrimp tacos on the shore. The boardwalk is house to Langosta Lounge and its well-known Surf Curry, with contemporary seafood floating in a home mix of yellow and inexperienced curry. Newcomer R Bar gives basic Large Simple dishes like gumbo, but additionally Jersey-inspired spins like a fried pork roll sandwich that may be a homage to the well-known fried bologna sandwich at Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans. And for the reason that fish are swimming so shut by, there’s loads of seafood on the Bonney Learn.

When you saved room for dessert, head to Confections of a Rockstar and order cupcakes and different treats like a Macaroon 5, S’greater than a Feeling or a Oreo Speedwagon (I might maintain going however I’ll avoid wasting surprises for the go to).

Not like many Jersey Shore cities, Asbury Park boasts a number of giant motels with full facilities and a variety of costs. To expertise the brand new, trendy essence of Asbury, keep on the Asbury, a lodge usual out of the historic Salvation Military constructing that always has reside music within the foyer, a rooftop bar and a pool out again (weekdays begin at $395, weekends $660). Simply throughout Bradley Park is the Berkeley Oceanfront Lodge, a long-running lodge that has been reworked and upgraded (weekdays begin at $295, weekends $459). On the different finish of the seashore is the Empress lodge (weekdays $229, weekends $339), a preferred spot for L.G.B.T.Q. guests, with views of the ocean.

For these in search of luxurious, the brand new Asbury Ocean Membership (weekdays begin at $585, weekends $905), housed in a shimmering glass tower on the heart of the seashore expanse, is like stepping out of Asbury and right into a Hamptons or South Seaside scene. The foyer, bar and pool is all on the second ground of the lodge, with the one avenue publicity a small vestibule with elevators. And the St. Laurent ($425 to $600 most nights), newly opened this summer season within the historic Lodge Tides constructing, counts 20 individually styled rooms — every is embellished with a customized surfboard by a neighborhood artist and comes with complimentary seashore passes — above an expansive restaurant, whiskey bar and yard pool.


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