Thanks to the hit MTV reboot, Jersey Shore Family Vacation, the Garden State is once again at the forefront of pop culture. But if you’re looking for more R&R and less GTL, then consider a trip to Asbury Park, a coastal town that’s basically become New Jersey’s alternative to the Hamptons.
Although there will likely never be a Real Housewives of Asbury Park (the residents are the opposite of dramatic), the town does offer great restaurants, rich music history, biking on the boardwalk and tons of bikini moments. So if you’re feeling the need to escape (too many Instagram photos of people next to palm trees with rosé in their hands can start to wear after a while), book a mini getaway to the town that Bruce (Springsteen) built and follow the guide below.
Where to Stay
The Asbury: You don’t have to even leave the hotel to get the Asbury Park/Jersey Shore experience. Boasting 110 guest rooms, The Asbury Hotel offers a wide range of accommodations, from queen rooms to suites with bunk beds that can sleep up to eight guests. And thanks to the classic music posters on the walls, you’ll quickly get a quick sense of AP’s rock-and-roll culture. Not to mention the gorgeous ocean views, live music in the lobby, full lobby bar and The Counter, an all-day eatery that offers snacks, sandwiches and beyond. (We suggest getting the pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast — an NJ signature.)
Where to Drink Cool Cocktails
The Asbury Park Distillery: One of the newest editions to the downtown business district, the APD marks Asbury Park’s first and only distillery since prohibition. All the alcohol, bitters, tonics and syrups are made on-site by an incredibly accommodating and knowledgeable team — and bottles are also for sale (they make for great souvenirs). While the cocktails are Instagram-worthy (and delicious!), the intimate bar area and impressive distilling equipment are even better, so you’ll want to put down your phone and take it all in. APD also offers tours, a newly launched food menu, and hosts private events, making it the perfect place for happy hour with friends or a birthday celebration.
Visit: 527 Lake Avenue, Asbury Park
Where to Eat
Porta: “Eat, Drink, Be Honest.” The restaurant’s motto featured on doors outside the entrance has become a popular photo op for visitors. Inside the food keeps guests coming back. Offering authentic Neapolitan pizza with at twist, Porta was one of the first restaurants to transform the culinary scene in Asbury Park. It’s since become a popular spot for weddings and offers a late-night dance club to work off the carbs. Tip: Don’t leave without trying the Carbonara pizza.
Reserve It! Porta, 911 Kingsley St, Asbury Park
Where to See Live Music
The Asbury Lanes: Asbury Park’s iconic 1960s bowling alley has been revamped and turned into a music venue by developer iStar opening this summer. Talent will be booked by The Bowery Presents and will include everyone from artists who got their start in Asbury Park to big name acts and beyond.
The summer line-up will kick off May 25 for what will be year-round performances. Expect performers including Lupe Fiasco, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Thursday, Bishop Briggs and more.
Where You’re Most Likely to Have a Bruce Springsteen Sighting
In New Jersey, we play six degrees of Bruce Springsteen. Everyone has a story of bumping into the Boss (or a story of a friend of a friend of a friend’s cousin who saw him riding his motorcycle or leaving the gym that one time…). But chances are, if you hang around AP long enough, you will see him. And while you shouldn’t run up to him and ask him to sign your Greetings from Asbury Park T-Shirt, you should stick around to see if he starts playing live. The most likely spots? The Stone Pony, an iconic music venue that Springsteen frequented early in his career and a place where he still makes cameo. Also, be sure to swing by the Danny Clinch exhibit connected to The Asbury where Springsteen’s friend, famed rock-n-roll photographer Danny Clinch, has been showing some of his most famous work.