Take Advantage of Asbury Park’s Preseason

Beat the crowds to the Jersey Shore this spring.

asbury park

Asbury Park’s boardwalk runs right through Convention Hall. Photo by James J. Connolly

With a booming restaurant scene, plenty of shopping, bountiful street art and deep musical roots, Asbury Park is clearly the coolest place down the Shore. The city, while small, packs both beach-town appeal and downtown fun. And May is the perfect month to beat the seasonal crowds.

Ambitious souls begin the day with a sunrise stroll on the boardwalk. For an eye-opener, grab a coffee at Asbury Park Roastery, located in the historic Conventional Hall. Walk south to enjoy the ocean view, or north to take in the colorful seaside murals. Restaurants and shops line the boardwalk, but for a peak shopping fix, head toward Cookman Avenue and the downtown district.

Every weekend starting mid-May, Asbury Fresh, an outdoor market at Kennedy Park (104 Grand Avenue), offers everything from fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods to hand-crafted artwork, jewelry and clothing. If that doesn’t satisfy your shopping thirst, Asbury has plenty of appealing brick-and-mortar stores. For clothing, pop into Interwoven (511 Cookman Avenue), a funky-fun apparel shop with hip options for everyone. The Antique Emporium of Asbury (646 Cookman Avenue) has vintage clothing and more.

asbury park

Aerial view of the boardwalk and beach. Photo by James J. Connolly

Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, refresh with a before-dinner cocktail at Asbury Park Distilling (527 Lake Avenue) or head back to the boardwalk for oceanfront sipping at Watermark (800 Ocean Avenue). For a more laid-back experience, try happy hour on the patio at the classic Wonder Bar (Fifth and Ocean—and dog friendly).

Although Asbury’s most iconic music spot, the Stone Pony—along with other venues in the area—has gone silent (at least until summer) courtesy of Covid-19, there are other options come nightfall. Asbury Lanes (209 Fourth Avenue) offers bowling and brews every night; watch their online event calendar for live-music offerings.

STAY: The Asbury (210 Fifth Avenue) is a modern, ultra-chic hotel within walking distance of most of Asbury’s delights. The minimalist rooms, seasonal rooftop bar and bustling lobby—with pool table, bar, counter café and occasional live music—make for a memorable stay. Closer to the beach, the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (1401 Ocean Avenue) is a more traditional overnight option, offering ocean views from large, comfortable rooms and a newly revamped dining scene.

DINE: You’ve come to the right place. For fancy French fare and a killer espresso martini, book a table at Pascal & Sabine (601 Bangs Avenue). Barrio Costero (610 Bangs Avenue) is the spot for seasonal Mexican, and the Bonney Read (525 Cookman Avenue) has seafood lovers hooked. Or enjoy a top-notch pizza off the ever-changing menu at Talula’s (550 Cookman Avenue). For bratwurst and beer with a view, grab a rooftop table at Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten (527 Lake Avenue). For oceanside dining, check out Langosta Lounge or the Iron Whale, both on the boardwalk.

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