The Time to Enjoy Asbury Park’s Revival Is … Right Now
New Jersey’s best beach town has it all. But soon, too many people will know that.
Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.
Asbury Park, New Jersey, is not the Hamptons or Cape May. But it’s also not the Rockaways.
From afar, Jersey Shore’s campy retreat resembles a scene from the Lost Boys. It still has the nostalgic rock-and-roll roots of its heyday, and there’s still plenty of good people watching.
But look a little closer, and you’ll see that things are getting greener by the day. Once enough trendsetters deem a place cool, the money fill always follow to church it up. It happened in Williamsburg, it happened in Tulum, and now it’s happening on the Jersey Shore.
Enter iStar, the multibillion-dollar company planning to revamp Asbury Park. Even though the developer states that their aim is to elevate the city without losing the magic at its core, we’re confident in claiming that if you want that old school boardwalk charm, the time to go is exactly right now.
Here’s your plan.
iStar’s first contribution to the shoreline is a good one: the Asbury Ocean Club, a 54-room oceanfront boutique situated on the fourth floor of the Asbury Ocean residences. It’s artfully and thoughtfully decorated by a team of heavy hitters, including Anda Andrei (Gramercy Park Hotel), Handel Architects (the Rosewood Abu Dhabi) and Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture (Public Hotel NY). The lounge features piano players in the evening and DJs by night.
In terms of convenience and view, it really cannot be beat. The pool deck offers sweeping views of the Atlantic, sunken beds and an (almost too) eager staff that leaves little to be desired. And while the property’s state-of-the-art restaurant won’t be open until 2020, one can order from their diner menu in room, in the lounge or poolside 24/7.
There are other, more lavish line items in the works as well: a sorbet cart that cruises poolside, a caviar and floating champagne cocktail cart in the “glass house” lounge area. All in, Asbury Ocean Club is a fanciful addition to the area and likely to draw in those who were previously squeamish about the area’s somewhat murky past. Introductory rates start at $295, with city views at $425 and dune-view rooms running nearly $800. Worth it? For now, perhaps. The pool was about as a serene scene as you’re going to get on the boardwalk. But once the residences fill up (resident will also have access to the pool deck), that tune may change.
And watch out for the sprinklers: if you’re taking in the stars from your private patio, be ready to get doused.
If you’re not tied to slurping oysters and Chablis poolside, you’re well-advised to hit the boardwalk. For the best dang Philly Cheesesteak you’ll have outside of Philly proper, Tony’s is the place. Beyond the sammy, Mogo’s Korean Fusion Tacos and the go-to Pizza Porta are strong contenders for snagging some grub and setting up shop on a bench or lawn beachside. For brunch, you can’t go wrong with the no frills Frank’s Deli. And if you’re hunting for a date-night spot proper, hit up the formal-in-service but casual-in-vibe Seagrass. It’s BYOB.
Beyond the beach, Asbury is a throwback oasis. From the Silverball Museum and Arcade with pinball, skeeball and every ‘80s machine you can dream of to the Paranormal Museum to the freshly refurbished Asbury Lanes, nighttime is the right time to be wandering about. For music lovers, you’re in luck. The epic Stone Pony has live performances on constant rotation. Pro tip for parents with pups: cruise to Wonder Bar’s “Yappy Hour” for a cocktail-laden, pooch-friendly summer social hour.