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Asbury Park

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Asbury Park[3] is a popular beachside city among LGBT people and original live music fans at the Jersey Shore, in the state of New Jersey in the United States. It was made famous in the 1970s by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Southside Johnny.


Asbury Park was founded as a Christian retreat in the 1800s by a man named James A. Bradley. It remained one of the most popular family resorts in the United States until 1970, when race riots burned down much of the downtown area.

Soon radicals, beatniks, hippies, and musicians moved in. Rock clubs, gay bars and motorcycle bars coexisted and flourished making Asbury Park a very diverse place. The famous Bruce Springsteen song "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)", often known just as "Sandy" was released in 1973. It has been described as "the perfect musical study of the Jersey Shore boardwalk culture" and captures the mood and vibe of this time period.

However the city continued to decline as businesses closed, buildings were abandoned and the amusement areas were shut down. The only thriving business during this time were The Stone Pony and a few other clubs along the waterfront, and a number of gay bars and clubs in the downtown area. In 1988, the city finally decided it was time to do something. A plan to redevelop the entire waterfront went into effect. High rise hotels and condo construction began, but was then abandoned before they could be finished, leaving the waterfront an odd mix of abandoned buildings and rotting construction.

The city continued to decline in the 1990s, and nearly all businesses failed. Crime rose, and Asbury Park had higher crime than any other town in Monmouth County.

However, in 1998, Shep Pettibone, a DJ who mixed music for Madonna in the 90's, converted an abandoned Hotel into New Jersey's largest gay nightclub, drawing thousands of gay travelers to Asbury Park. Every Friday night the city became the only place on the East Coast that could rival Fire Island! Gay couples and artists began buying bargain homes, abandoned bars and nightclubs, closed storefronts downtown, and abandoned pavilions on the boardwalk. And so the gentrification began. It has suceeded as more of a ground up process rather than a top-down plan as the city proposed. The city's popularity once again began to rise, not coincidently, at the same time as Springsteen's album "The Rising" in 2002 which kicked off it's world concert tour with free shows at Convention Hall.

Today, Asbury Park is popular again, even amongst mainstream tourists as well as locals from the area for its shopping, beaches, restaurants, bars and clubs. Major summertime events hosted in Asbury Park include; the Wave Gathering, the Gay Pride Parade, Garden State Film Festival, Asbury Park Jazz Festival, "Road Trip", and the Tri-City Arts Tour.

Asbury Park was recently rated #5 in the top ten beaches of NJ. [4]

Get in[edit]

By car: Parkway to exit 102. Take Rt 66 / Asbury Avenue into Asbury Park. Follow Asbury Avenue Directly to the beach. Travel time from Philadelphia or New York is approximately one hour, fifteen minutes. Traffic during the summer months, particularly between Asbury Park and North Jersey/NYC, can make this trip much longer. For example, heading southbound from NYC on a Friday night or heading northbound towards NYC on a Sunday afternoon can take several hours so try to plan your travel around these peak periods.

By Train: From New York City, take the North Jersey Coast Line [5] directly to Asbury Park Train Station. North Jersey Coast Line trains also connect with other New Jersey Transit rail lines at Rahway, Newark and Secaucus Junction. Asbury Park Station is .75 miles west of the beach at 1st Ave. There is a taxi stand just outside of the station.

By Bus: NJ Transit [6] offers bus service to Asbury Park from Philadelphia (bus 317), Freehold(836), Long Branch(837), Red Bank(832), and Point Pleasant(830). See schedules for more information. Academy Bus offers express service to Asbury Park from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

Get around[edit]

Getting around in Asbury Park is easy by foot or by bike. Bikes can be rented at the boardwalk at hourly or daily rates. A car is not necessary for visiting Asbury Park.

Fall 2011 the city of Asbury Park numbered most of the downtown parking spots, so you need to pay up. This link is helpful.

During the summer months there are three lots near the beach that have an attendant - pay them the rate $5 or $10 to avoid feeding the meter. Off season these lots are usual free, so avoid the spaces.

If you are visiting Asbury Park for First Saturday[7] or a special event, trolley service is often provided at no cost. The trolley schedule and stops may vary depending on the event.

Taxi service is also available at the train station and by calling ahead.

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

Visiting art galleries, going to the beach, shopping, dining and more can all be done on foot and are within close proximity to each other. The downtown shopping district [8] offers antiques, beach accessories, cafes, art galleries, and more. The first Saturday of the month is celebrated with local discounts, events, and other promotions.

There are a smattering of shopping and restaurants on the boardwalk as well. As of June 2009, most shops are open. There are two clubs, the Stone Pony and the club at the Empress Hotel. The renovation of the Paramount Hotel and Convention Center is complete.

Located on the boardwalk parallel between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue is the Silverball Museum, a video arcade featuring a large collection of pinball machines from the '30s to present and arcade games from the '70s and '80s.

Along the south end runs Wesley Lake which separates Asbury from its picturesque sister town, Ocean Grove, which boasts having the highest concentration of authentic Victorian architecture in the country. The two towns are connected by the boardwalk or by the two footbridges which connect from Lake Avenue in the downtown section. On Lake Ave you will find new condo developments, restaurants, a jazz club, a fitness center, shops, and a paddleboat rental concession. Parallel with Lake Ave runs Cookman Avenue which runs through the heart of the downtown district mentioned above.

The city's website lists current events, has a feed from the radio station WKTU and accepts contributions from visitors.

  • Sunset RC Sailboat Rentals, Sunset Lake at Webb Street, 848-466-7418, [1]. May-Oct Sa-Su 11AM-6PM. Rent a remote control boat and sail it on the Sunset lake.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]


  • Belmontes - 632 Cookman Ave. Italian Cuisine.
  • Bistro Ole - 230 Main St. [9]. Latin-infused Spanish Portuguese cuisine.
  • Brickwall Tavern - 522 Cookman Ave. Bar food, burgers, salads and sandwiches.
  • Carmines - 162 Main St. Italian Cuisine. (relocated to Allenhurst)
  • Crust & Crumble - 658 Cookman Ave. [] Artisan style pizzas and great cupcakes.
  • Il Pavone - 539 Cookman Ave. [10] Italian style gelato ice cream and coffee shop.
  • Moonstruck - 517 Lake Ave. [11]. Restaurant and cocktail lounge.
  • Munch - 632 Cookman Ave. [12] Serving Lunch, Breakfast and Brunch on Weekends.
  • Old Man Rafferty’s - 531 Cookman Ave. Local chain serving burgers, sandwiches and American style food.
  • Plan B Restaurant - 705 Cookman Ave. [13] Featuring a frequently changing menu of seafood and American style cuisine.
  • Synaxis Restaurant - 660 Cookman Avenue. Greek / Mediterranean Cuisine.
  • Taka - 632 Mattison Ave. [14]. Fine Japanese contemporary cuisine.

At The Boardwalk

  • Biggies Clam Bar - Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. Fresh and friend clams, fries, salads and beach fare.
  • The Baker Boys - Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. Cupcakes and baked goods.
  • Ketchup Grill -101 Asbury Ave. Housed inside the Empress Hotel.
  • Langosta Lounge - 1000 Ocean Ave. Vacation style cuisine.
  • Saltwater Beach Cafe - 1200 Ocean Ave. Fresh and local American style cuisine.
  • Tim McLoone’s Supper Club - 1200 Ocean Ave.[15] American style with many seafood offerings.
  • O’Tooles Irish Pub - Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave. Limited Irish inspired menu.
  • Stella Marina - 1200 Ocean Ave. [16] Italian Cuisine.
  • Talula's, 550 Cookman Ave #108, Asbury Park, NJ 07712, 1-732-455-3003, [2]. 11AM - 10PM. Gourmet pizza, sandwiches & salads in a clean industrial space. $16. (40.21628983211313,-74.00930385136748) edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Paradise Nightclub, 101 Asbury Avenue, [17]. - Dance club with outdoor pool, sundeck, piano bar, and lobby lounge. Big gay community, but "straight" people can come too.
  • Cruisin' the Circuit, 911 Kingsley Avenue, [18]. Gay oriented dance club.
  • The Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Avenue, [19]. The World Famous bar.
  • Georgies, 812 Fifth Avenue, [20] Neighborhood bar. Karaoke, live music, piano bar.
  • Watermark, Ocean Avenue. High class lounge with outdoor bar overlooking ocean. Inside is has a cozy fireplace.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • The Berkeley Hotel, 1401 Ocean Avenue, Phone: +1 732-776-6700, [21]. Great historic hotel, beautiful lobby and catering halls in the lower levels. Amazing views on the beach side of the hotel. This very historic location has hosted dignitaries and world leaders. Sleep where Nixon slept! This hotel was also once owned by Johnny Cash, who had visions of turning the hotel into a casino resort. The hotel is gay friendly.
  • The Empress Hotel, 101 Asbury Avenue, Phone: +1 732-774-0100, Fax: +1 732-774-0401, [22]. A primarily gay resort hotel set above a gay disco club. Judy Garland stayed here many times, and an oceanfront suite is named in her honor.
  • Oceanic Inn, 201 6th Avenue, Phone: +1 732-988-0300. A 1950s motel located a block from the ocean. Has an outdoor pool. Cheaper than other hotels in the city.
  • Tides Hotel, 408 Seventh Ave, Phone: +1 732-897-7744, [23]. A beautifully restored 22 room hotel, spa and restaurant just blocks from the beach.
  • Sixth Avenue House , 305 Sixth Avenue, Phone: 1+ 732-361-6609, [24]. Pet-friendly Bed and Breakfast with six guest rooms. Open all year.
  • Mikells Big House Bed & Breakfast, 405 Fourth Avenue, Phone: +1 732-869-0988, [25].

Get out[edit]

  • First Saturday Asbury Park - A yearly event celebrating downtown businesses. Each month features a different theme.
  • Collide-a-scope - A monthly arts event held on the third Friday of the month.
  • Gay Pride Weekend - Annual LGBT festival and parade held on the first Sunday in June.
  • Tri-City Arts Tour - Annual weekend event showcasing local and regional artists in Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Red Bank.
  • The Wave Gathering Annual three day music festival featuring over 150 bands.
  • Asbury Park Jazz Festival - A two day outdoor jazz festival held in late June.
  • Garden State Film Festival - Annual film festival showcasing upcoming independent directors and filmmakers.Create category
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