My Guide to Asbury Park, NJ

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The thing that always attracted me to Asbury Park is its one-of-a-kind charm. It's a chill beach town paired with the grittiness of the city that can only be best described as my ideal personal aesthetic. It's art, it's culture, it's music, it's inclusive, it's a good time. There's always something cool to see, a new place to try, and a fun experience to be shared.

I go to Asbury quite often, and I am still stumbling upon new places to eat, drink, and shop at. Below is a list of my personal favorite, go-to spots—which I will make sure to update as I keep exploring.

Johnny Mac House of Spirits

Johnny Mac House of Spirits

TO DRINK

  • Johnny Mac House of Spirits – Johnny Mac's is my favorite bar in the world. Not only is the ambiance amazing (no frat bros or thots), but the music they play will satisfy your 90's/early 00's nostalgic emo soul. It's a super dive bar and a lot of its charm comes from the random tchotchkes and quotes written on the walls. Every drink gets you a free personal pizza (don't forget to ask the bartender for a ticket). Every time I go there, it's a good time. Can't say enough great things.

  • Watermark – Situated right on the south boardwalk, Watermark is probably the classiest bar/lounge you will find in Asbury. The view is enough to put you in a good mood, but I love that they infuse a lot of their own liquors. I definitely suggest starting the night here when you are looking and feeling your best. 

  • Bond Street – Bond street gives you the best kind of gong out experience—it’s half bar and half space for dancing. Enter through Capitoline and go downstairs to find Bond Street. It’s similar to Johnny Mac’s in overall vibe but with a lot of space for dancing.

  • Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten – Your typical Biergarten experience, except with a roof and view of Ocean Grove.

  • Anchor's Bend and Beach Bar – both of these beach bars are located near the convention center and both give you access to drink on the beach (because what's better?)

  • Porta – If you are looking for a club type of experience in Asbury, Porta is your go-to. They transform their event space into a dance floor at night. During the day, Porta is great for grabbing rustic pizza and Italian food. It's such a versatile space!

  • Salvation at Asbury Hotel Rooftop – I love going here for day-drinking in Asbury, but it’s also great at night. Since it’s on the roof, you get an amazing view of the whole city and ocean. They also have a great cocktail menu!

Reyla

Reyla

TO EAT

  • Barrio Costero – Really thoughtfully crafted modern Mexican food in a creative environment. You won't find anything Tex Mex on this menu—which is probably a good thing. Also, they have a long list of flavored salts for all your margarita dreams!

  • Taka – Some of the most inventive and tasty Japanese food you will have—especially their sushi menu. The restaurant itself is also gorgeous.

  • Modine – A northerner's take on southern comfort. The vibe at Modine feels like a place where Gatsby would dine, but the menu is composed of homestyle favorites. The pimento cheese poppers are an obsession.

  • Reyla – Such a beautifully designed modern Mediterranean spot with fun dishes and cool cocktails. I still can't stop thinking about the Amaro-based cocktail I got from here at brunch.

  • Bonney Reed – Because every city needs a reliable and delicious seafood spot with a good ambiance.

  • Langosta Lounge – Langosta always has a soft spot in my heart as I used to work at its sister spot, Labrador Lounge, in Normandy Beach. It's also in a prime position on the boardwalk. I can honestly vouch for everything on the menu, but I especially recommend the Mediterranean platter, lobster mac & cheese, hari hari wrap, and veggie burger!

  • Talulah's – Talulah's is a fabulous spot to get brunch with a group. They have so many unique pizzas and egg dishes.

  • Pop's Garage – I have tried more enchiladas than I can count, and Pop's Garage BY FAR makes the best one I have ever had—chicken enchilada with salsa roja, extra crema—although you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu. This spot is also right on the boardwalk. Don't forget to order the guac and Cuban corn.

  • Cafe Volan – Particularly biased because it's co-owned by my cousin, but Cafe Volan is one of the most laidback coffee shops you'll ever hang at—there's a reason it's been an Asbury staple and has a cult-like following. They roast and brew their own brand of coffee—Maiden Lane Coffee Roasters—and my amazing aunt bakes their signature Banana & Nutella muffins (they sell out quick!). You also can't go wrong with any of the toasts.

  • Cubacon – Another really solid restaurant in Asbury (and where you should go if you're craving a delicious Cuban sandwich.)

The Asbury Park Hotel

The Asbury Park Hotel

TO DO

  • Walk the Boardwalk – If you're going to do one thing it in Asbury, it really should be this! Start at the run-down, yet super cool, casino/skate park on the Ocean Grove side, stroll north to the shops + bars at the convention center, and stop for photos at the murals at the end.

  • Asbury Hotel – Whether you're staying there or not, this hotel has no shortage of things to do. There's a pool, a lounge, and a rooftop with a killer view (and bar). Check out their schedule to see when you can catch a movie on the roof.

  • Asbury Lanes – I love Asbury Lanes because it was built to feel like you're in the 1950's. Play a quick game of bowling (it's pricey!) and then marvel at the sweet dinette in the back. You can also catch a show in their open area venue space.

  • Silverball Museum – When you want to feel like a kid, take a trip to the Pinball Museum. It seems unassuming at first, but once you enter you can play pretty much every pinball machine from every year since it was invented. There's also Pac Man, Duck Hunt, air hockey, and every other classic arcade game.

  • The Stone Pony – Basically the most iconic Jersey venue–and where Bruce Springsteen got his start–you can see many a show here!

Red Moon Shop

Red Moon Shop

TO SHOP

  • Red Moon Life & Home – Curated beauty, wellness, jewelry, and more in a really dainty space.

  • Flux Modern – This shop finds and restores the most unique mid-century modern furniture and sells it for such reasonable prices. Even if you don't stop in store, check out their Instagram for the best vintage finds! 

  • Glide Surf Co. – If you're looking to buy or just marvel at locally made surfboards.

  • Interwoven – Clothing shop that sells a lot of independent labels.

  • Shops at the Convention Center – Whether there's a pop-up bazaar or holiday market, you can always catch local vendors selling anything from clothing to antiques.

  • AP Greenery – The most drool-worthy floral arrangements.


Have any recommendations? Send them over!