Decidedly one of the state’s hippest destinations, Asbury Park was made famous by Bruce Springsteen who referenced the town in numerous
songs. In fact, Madame Marie still tells fortunes along the boardwalk, but the dark atmosphere Springsteen described in his 2002 lyrics “My City
of Ruins” is a far cry from what downtown looks like now. Artfully balancing its musical roots and creative energy with vintage architecture, sleek condominiums and new luxury hotels, Asbury Park is intent on retaining its unique Jersey Shore character.
Founded in 1871 by James Bradley, a New York brush manufacturer, Asbury Park began as an oceanfront resort. Soon after, a boardwalk was built to include an orchestra pavilion, public changing rooms and a pier extending into the Atlantic Ocean. Over the years, the boardwalk has been expanded, upgraded and re-born, serving as the scenic focal point of this resourceful city.
The main portion of the mile-long boardwalk is bookended by the 1920s Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre complex at the north end
and the Casino Arena and Carousel House to the south, all designed by Warren Whitney, a Beaux Arts architect from New York. In between are eateries, a pinball museum, a whimsical children’s splash park and views of the legendary Stone Pony which now also includes a huge outdoor stage with live music every summer. It is one of many venues for live performances ranging from rock and punk to jazz, funk and everything in-between.
Just off the boardwalk, the Wonder Bar features “Yappy Hours” for dogs and their owners. Painted with the grinning image of Tillie, it is another nod to the city’s recent past when Tillie’s face appeared on the Palace Amusements indoor amusement park, an 1888 landmark that was demolished in 2004.
High-energy Cookman Avenue pulsates with unique shops, art galleries, fine restaurants, lively bars and even a theater specializing in art and indie movies. Walk a few blocks away from the center of town to view a variety of older homes which have been restored to their original glory
by residents. These changes set real estate prices soaring while transforming the look and feel of the community. Daily commuters and day trippers alike take advantage of the NJ Transit train station right in town with service to Manhattan, Hoboken and other local destinations.
Asbury Park continues to celebrate its longstanding heritage while constantly adding a slew of festivals, parades and entertainment options not typically found at the Jersey Shore. This progressive small city appeals to multiple generations who are captivated by its one-of-a-kind atmosphere.