The charming coastal community of Asbury Park, N.J., proves that life is better by the beach.If all you know about Asbury Park, N.J., is the cover of a Bruce Springsteen album, it’s time to get back in touch with this Jersey Shore city. Whether you want to play antique pinball machines or pay homage to The Boss, here’s a sampling of what Asbury Park has in store for you.
Twisted Tree Café
The Stone Pony
Mikell’s Big House
For pub grub, head to Brickwall Tavern in downtown Asbury Park. On top of feel-good meals, they have a knockout craft-beer selection. If you fancy a cocktail, stop by the Annex next door. Be sure to try the sangria.
Drink The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel has long stood tall by the boardwalk, but the bar inside hasn’t always matched — or even been open. The newest incarnation, the Berkeley Bar, opened its doors last summer and is now a must-visit, especially when good weather permits patio seating.
If your idea of a drink is a caffeinated one, stop looking for a Starbucks (there are none in Asbury Park). Instead, check out Twisted Tree Café, a charming downtown coffee spot that often boasts live music.
Be Merry Bowling and bands? It works at Asbury Lanes, a circa-1960s bowling alley that’s been updated while keeping its retro vibe intact. The middle lanes were converted to a stage so you can enjoy live tunes while you try for that turkey. The bar serves drinks and the snack counter has food (try the tater tots).
No trip to New Jersey would be complete without paying homage to Bruce Springsteen at the Stone Pony, the live-music venue where he cut his chops more than 30 years ago. Both up-and-coming and well-known acts take the stage here nightly — and even The Boss himself has been known to play impromptu shows from time to time.
Sleep You’ll miss Mikell’s Big House if you don’t know where to look. This bed-and-breakfast has no identifying marker — just owner Mikell Towery sitting on the porch with her basset hound, Ellie, waiting to greet guests. Despite the lack of signage, it’s a gorgeously restored historic home redone with midcentury-modern twists. If you want a lot of space, ask for the Gigantic Suite, which has a roof deck with one of the best views in all of Asbury Park.