The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. Photo by Shutterstock.

Best Things to Do in Asbury Park

BY Michele Laufik | January 31, 2021

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Asbury Park? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Asbury Park?”

Asbury Park has gone through ups and downs since Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. hit stores in 1973. Back then, the local legend’s debut was titled after a down-on-its-luck, beat-up little town with a budding local music scene. It’s still small. The eclectic creativity is still there too. These days it comes to life via street art and restaurants as much as the local rockers. And while you might not be inspired to write poetic lyrics like Bruce when you visit, you will experience East Coast beach moments straight off a vintage postcard. From the iconic funny face, known as Tillie, that’s painted on the facades to the modern hotels and eateries that are popping up, the town maintains a weirdly wonderful blend of Victorian-era history with a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll. Here are the best things to do in Asbury Park right now.

BEST SPOTS TO LISTEN TO LIVE BANDS

Many famous musicians and bands, including Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Patti Smith and The Ramones, have graced the stages of Asbury Park’s live music venues. And the tradition continues, with new acts performing nightly, which means you might be able to say, “I saw them when,” about the next big thing.

The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. Photo by Shutterstock.
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The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. Photo by Shutterstock.

The Stone Pony

913 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA

An important part of Asbury’s music scene, and practically synonymous with Springsteen and the E Street Band, this legendary joint still welcomes up-and-coming and seasoned acts to its stage.

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Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Photo by Shutterstock.
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Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Photo by Shutterstock.

The Wonder Bar

5th Avenue & Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Located just off the boardwalk, this iconic spot is known for live music and its carnival-inspired, can’t-miss exterior. Plus, you can bring your furry friend to Yappy Hour, which takes place in the bar’s fenced-­in outdoor space.

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View of Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, via their interactive web tour.
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View of Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, via their interactive web tour.

Asbury Lanes

209 4Fourh Ave., Asbury Park, NJ

Head to this bowling alley/music venue on the weekends to catch bands perform or to knock down some pins. If you want to check it out before you go, have a look at the cool interactive tour on their website (pictured).

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Sea.Hear.Now festival in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Sea.Hear.Now festival in Asbury Park, N.J.

Sea Hear Now

Asbury Park, NJ, USA

This two-day music, art and surf festival is held in the early fall every year and features a roster of well-known musicians and local bands. Past performers have included the Dave Matthews Band, The Lumineers, Bad Religion, Black Pumas, Dropkick Murphys and more.

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WHERE TO GRAB A COLD ONE

Shake off the sand and seek some shade at one of Asbury Park’s beachside bars, breweries and beer halls.

Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten. Photo courtesy of @apbiergarten Instagram
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Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten. Photo courtesy of @apbiergarten Instagram

Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten

527 Lake Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Gather at the communal tables, raise a stein of Hefeweizen and dive into some German grub such as wiener schnitzel and bratwurst at this authentic biergarten where you can also listen to live music. Plus, in October, the venue hosts Oktoberfest with polka music.

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Asbury Park Distilling Co.
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Asbury Park Distilling Co.

Asbury Park Distilling Co.

527 Lake Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

The first and only distillery in Asbury Park since Prohibition, this production facility currently distills vodka, gin and bourbon. Stop by the tasting room to sample the spirits and cocktails made with housemade bitters, tonics, tinctures and syrups.

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Asbury Park Yacht Club in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Asbury Park Yacht Club in Asbury Park, N.J.

Asbury Park Yacht Club

1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

This slightly swanky surf bar, located right on the boardwalk, serves brews and bites and hosts live bands and DJs.

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Asbury Park Brewery in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Asbury Park Brewery in Asbury Park, N.J.

Asbury Park Brewery

810 Sewall Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Try a flight or fill up a growler at the tasting room located inside the brewery. In addition to year-round beers like the Asbury Lanes Lager, the brewery also produces seasonal and limited-edition brews.

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BEST BEACH EATS

Just because you’re at the beach doesn’t mean you need to subsist on hot dogs and sno-cones — not that there’s anything wrong with that. But these restaurants and eateries take shore snacking to the next level.

Porta Pizza in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Porta Pizza in Asbury Park, N.J.

Porta Pizza

911 Kingsley St, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Arguably serving some of the best pizza in the country, Porta creates pies, which are made with local ingredients like housemade ricotta, mozzarella and meatballs, that attract locals and even New Yorkers alike. Patrons can also order fresh pasta dishes and sides.

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Pascale & Sabine in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Pascale & Sabine in Asbury Park, N.J.

Pascale & Sabine

601 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

A sister restaurant to Porta, Pascale & Sabine is where you order caviar at the Jersey Shore. The upscale dining establishment serves authentic French brasserie fare such as trout almondine, coq au vin and steak frites.

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Taka in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Taka in Asbury Park, N.J.

Taka

660 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Here’s where you can satisfy your late-night sushi and sake cravings. The menu features an assortment of rolls and apps, plus classic Japanese dishes like chicken teriyaki and the less traditional such as a burger with wasabi coleslaw.

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Cardinal in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Cardinal in Asbury Park, N.J.

Cardinal

513 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

This casual daytime eatery specializes in a variety of sandwiches, salads and bowls that you can grab before hitting the beach.

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COOL PLACES TO STAY

Here’s how to upgrade your stay at the Jersey Shore and go from moldy beach motel to Instagram-worthy hotel.

The Asbury in Asbury Park, N.J.
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The Asbury in Asbury Park, N.J.

The Asbury

210 5th Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

This hip boutique hotel features rooms with a modern, pared-down aesthetic, along with hangout spots such as a rooftop lounge, outdoor movie theater and lobby bar called the Soundbooth where you can catch live music and open-mic nights.

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View of the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel. Photo via Shutterstock.
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View of the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel. Photo via Shutterstock.

Asbury Ocean Club Hotel

1101 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Looking for ultra-luxe digs? This five-star hotel offers private balconies, spa services and a rooftop terrace with a pool that overlooks the ocean.

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STROLL ALONG THE HISTORIC BOARDWALK

Once a glamorous destination for out-of-towners, Asbury Park went through some hard times starting in the 1970s. But a recent restoration project aims to bring back some of its historic landmarks, such as the Paramount Theatre located on the boardwalk.

Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., 2016. Photo credit Shutterstock.
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Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., 2016. Photo credit Shutterstock.

Convention Hall

1300 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Anchoring Asbury Park’s boardwalk, the Convention Hall is a mashup of Italian and French designs with nautical motifs. In addition to serving as an event and concert venue, it also houses shops and restaurants.

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VISIT SOME QUIRKY MUSEUMS

Celebrate Asbury Park’s eclectic past by stopping by these not-so-traditional historical experiences.

Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park, N.J.

Silverball Museum Arcade

1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Channel your inner pinball wizard at this museum/arcade, which is described as a “living, breathing and blinking tribute to our pinball and video gaming past.” Plus, you won’t have to dig in your pockets for quarters; passes to play start at $10.

And if ghosts are your thing there’s the Paranormal Museum. Here you can explore a curated collection of oddities including the Hand of Glory (a candle holder supposedly made from a severed hand), “haunted” dolls and a skull that is thought to be that of the Jersey Devil, the creature from local folklore that is rumored to have wandered the state’s Pine Barrens.

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VIEW SOME SURFSIDE STREET ART

Browse public artwork as you enjoy the ocean breeze.

Wide Open Walls in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Mural from the Wide Open Walls website. Wide Open Walls project is located in Asbury Park, N.J.

Wooden Walls Public Art Project

Asbury Park Boardwalk, Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

The Wooden Walls Mural Project, a collaborative initiative between Parlor Gallery and the Asbury Park Boardwalk, began as a way to adorn the town’s boarded-up buildings with vibrant art. Murals can be spotted at the historic carousel, casino and steam plant buildings. (And if you’re up for a drive, the burgeoning street art scene in Jersey City is an hour’s drive away.)

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WHERE TO PLAY DRAG BINGO

Known as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly towns in the U.S., Asbury Park boasts a thriving nightlife scene and is home to the Garden State’s annual gay pride celebration.

Paradise in Asbury Park, N.J.
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Paradise in Asbury Park, N.J.

Paradise

101 Asbury Ave, Asbury Park, NJ, USA

Adjacent to the Empress Hotel, Paradise is well known for its annual drag pageant, as well as “Bitchy Bingo” and karaoke nights. Just look for the rainbow-painted crosswalk outside the venue.

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WHAT TO DO WHEN SUMMER’S OVER

Don’t let cooler temps stop you from visiting Asbury Park and the surrounding area.

Silverton Farms
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Silverton Farms

Silverton Farms

1520 Silverton Rd, Toms River, NJ, USA

Located in Toms River, just off the Garden State Parkway, about 30 minutes from Asbury Park, Silverton Farms provides organic, Jersey-fresh produce year-round, as well as pumpkin picking and hayrides in the fall.

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