WHERE TO STAY: Three blocks from the beach and close enough to walk to the action, the Asbury Park Inn (732-740-4650) is private and romantic. Stay in the chicly appointed 1890s main house, which has three suites, or the secluded carriage house. The carriage house is coastal and bright, with a crisp, white sofa, vibrantly colored lanterns and a bistro set for two. A separate bedroom with queen bed continues the beachy theme with cobalt details offsetting white linens. Made-to-order breakfasts are the domain of the proprietor, Kate Lydon, a French Culinary Institute grad, who bought the inn with her husband, Joe Lazorik, four years ago. Amenities include complimentary beach passes, towels, chairs and carts. Room rates: $160–$440.
ROMANTIC EATS: Pascal and Sabine (732-774-3395) has the intimate and sophisticated feel of a Paris bistro. Settle into the plush, velvet chairs and enjoy the classic French cuisine. Newcomer Modine (732-893-5300) blends Southern-style hospitality with Low Country favorites, including fried chicken with hot honey, shrimp and grits, and classic cocktails. For a more rousing time, go for brats and beer at the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten (732-997-8767). This spacious former factory has family-style seating and live bands playing polkas. There’s plenty of room to spin your partner.
WHAT TO DO: Walk the boardwalk, dive in the surf, then hit the shops—from vintage goods to hip apparel. At Hot Sand (732-927-5475), you can blow glass hearts for each other. Take a cheesy but romantic paddleboat excursion in one of the retro swan boats of Asbury Park Pedal Boats on Wesley Lake (732-228-0466). Or dance the night away to live music at the Stone Pony—nostalgia equals romance here—with live rock acts nearly every night. Asbury Lanes is another option for music, food, drinks—and bowling. Finish the night with spirited cocktails at the oceanfront Watermark (732-455-3447).
ALTERNATIVE VENUES: The Asbury Hotel is the hip spot for a stay. Rooms are minimalist chic. There are two rooftop hangs: a garden with a water view and a romance-inducing lounge with lots of private nooks. There’s also a terrific pool with a food truck parked nearby. The ocean is two blocks away.