Once a dilapidated relic of the glory days of the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park has now been restored, revived, and renewed. The late-nineteenth-century Boardwalk was the gem of its day, with an orchestra pavilion, pier, and public changing rooms. By the 1920s, visitation was so high the town build a larger music venue—Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall. Landscaped parks dotted the town and elaborately-painted Victorian houses lined the streets.
But the town fell behind the times, loosing visitors to newer, more modern shopping and entertainment, like theme parks and shopping malls. Recently, however, residents and former tourists have recognized its charm and begun to restore the old boardwalk buildings.
Main Street and Cookman Avenue are now lined with art galleries, boutiques, and gourmet restaurants. Try the fusion Latin-Spanish-Portuguese fare at Bistro Ole or a top notch pu pu platter at Langosta Lounge. For a sense of the town's past, sip cocktails on the porch or the Victorian home-turned-restaurant, Moonstruck.
Local clubs host established and rookie bands. The Stone Pony, who first welcomed classic Jersey acts Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, is still a charmingly divey spot to grab a beer and hear a band. Check out the newer scenes at the Saint and the Wonder Bar. You'll know the latter by the spooky smile of Tilly, long an Asbury icon.
Located just 60 miles south of NYC, Asbury Park makes a fine day trip or overnighter. Many old hotels have been restored, some to modern tastes, and others in their original Victorian mode. Try the Berkeley, the Empress, the Tides, or Sixth Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast.