Updated: May 7
Asbury Park packs at a ton of beach and Boardwalk activities in its one-mile beach between Loch Arbour and Ocean Grove. With its proximity to New York City, a renewed Boardwalk, plenty of
on-street parking and paid lots, Asbury Park and the Asbury Park Boardwalk are hopping from spring to fall. Despite the pandemic, last year was the busiest ever for season pass sales and the beach was packed all summer. See photo above from last July. This summer promises to be even busier.
North Beach: surfers and dog lovers
Walking south from Loch Arbour, a jetty separates the tiny beach town from popular Asbury Park. The jetty creates a decent surf break, so the city's beach staff has wisely designated the area as a surfing beach, and no swimmers are allowed during the summer season. After July 4th, throngs of kids and young adults take up the surfing challenge at surf camp (above left). South of the surfing beach, dog lovers flock to Eighth Avenue Dog Beach. From May 16 to September 14, bring licensed dogs to play on the beach from 6pm to 8:30am daily. Dogs can even be off leash if "properly supervised." The rest of the year dogs are permitted at all times on the Eighth Avenue Dog Beach. Dogs on a leash are allowed on Boardwalk off season.
Also, check out Yappy Hour at The Wonder Bar, where bar-goers are welcome to bring their dogs to a fenced-in, outside area. Times vary throughout the year.
After years of neglect on the north end of the Boardwalk, the developer iStar in conjunction with the city significantly improved the area with restrooms, dune space, bike racks, better lighting and
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more parking (see photos above). As critics will be quick to point out, iStar spent money to redevelop the area as part of being granted the right to develop two large, nearby vacant lots along the Boardwalk. Asbury is home to the Asbury Park Fishing Club, the country’s oldest saltwater fishing club, but fishing is prohibited near bathing areas. During the summer season, there aren't many fishermen along the beach.
Below is how beach looked in September 2000.
Greetings from Asbury Park - Music Capital of the Jersey Shore
Asbury Park's most iconic building is Convention Hall with its twinkling outside sign--Greetings from Asbury Park--which popularized when Bruce Springsteen's inaugural album Greetings from Asbury
Park, N.J. hit the airways. Inside the building are two venues -- the mixed-used convention hall and the 1600-seat Paramount Theatre with access from Ocean Avenue. Connecting the two is the Grand Arcade with restaurants and shops (pictured above in the middle and right). There are bars along both sides of Convention Hall, including one that in the summer on the north side spills out to the sand. In addition to Springsteen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones are some of
performers that have graced the Convention Hall stages.
Equally famous as Convention Hall is The Stone Pony right across Ocean Avenue. It's not open at the moment, but The Stone Pony outdoor Summer Stage will start rocking on July 3 with Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. This is an amazing outdoor venue adjacent to and behind the club. Other major venues in Asbury's thriving music scene include The Wonder Bar, Asbury Lanes, House of Independents and The Saint.
Make sure to stop at Puckers on the Boardwalk for the best lemonade at the Jersey Shore and fried oreos.
Restaurant goers and shoppers should make sure to walk a few blocks from the beach to Cookman Avenue and Asbury Park's rejuvenated downtown.
Boardwalk's future is looking up
South of Convention Hall, you see the modest storefront of Madam Marie's Temple of Knowledge, a fortune teller establishment that has been on the Boardwalk on and off since the 1930s. It became famous when Madame Marie was mentioned in Springsteen's song 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) with this lyric: "Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do?"
Madame Marie (aka Marie Castello) died at age 93, but her family still runs the business. The signs are all positive from the Boardwalk. In the photo on the upper left from May 2020, there was doubt about the effects of the pandemic. In the recent photo (above right), the owners are showing their positive vibes for the Asbury Park Boardwalk by ordering new furniture.
Mini-Golf and Water Park
With the absence of amusement rides, Asbury is generally more focused on teens and adult. However, kids will enjoy Asbury Eighteen, a mini-golf course on the Boardwalk, the Asbury Splash Park and The Silverball Museum Arcade, which is open year round. All three attractions have paid admission.
The Swan Song for Asbury
Each summer, giant swans, two green dragons, a blue heron, and a pink flamingo ply the calm waters of Wesley Lake which you can see from the southern end of the Boardwalk. As visitors have done for more than a hundred years, you can paddle in these oversized boats from late morning to dusk. Boats are limited to two adults and one child or an adult and two children.
Tips for Visiting Asbury Park
What's New: Asbury Ocean Club Hotel re-opens. The Stone Pony Summer Stage reopens July 3 with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Road Access & Parking: There is metered parking by the beach and on and near Cookman Avenue. Download the Asbury PARK app. It's easy to use.
Amenities: Restrooms are located in Convention Hall and across Fourth Street between Ocean Avenue and the Boardwalk.
Beaches: Beach badges are required weekends from May 29 through June 13 and then daily from June 14 to September 6. Daily beach badges are $6 Monday through Friday and $9 weekends and holidays and be purchased through the Viply app or at the beach. Seasonal beach badges are $70 for people 18 and older, $20 for people 13-17 and seniors 62 or older.
Starring Role: The Asbury Park Boardwalk has been featured in the movies The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke, Baby It's You with Vincent Spano and Rosanna Arquette, Woody Allen's Stardust Memories, City by the Sea with Robert DeNiro, Homeboy with Mickey Rourke, Blinded by the Light and an episode of the TV series, The Sopranos.
This spring, summer and fall, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he walks the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, from Old Barney to Beach Haven, from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Ocean Grove at Beach Walk Mile post 19. See all the Jersey Shore Walk stories at www.jerseyshorewalk.com